Debra Prinzing

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Episode 323: What’s New with the Certified American Grown Program and the Field to Vase Dinner Tour?

November 15th, 2017

Efforts of Kasey Cronquist and others have led to the creation of this very special national brand for domestic flowers.

Does this look like a man who loves flower? Kasey Cronquist, Administrator of Certified American Grown labeling program.

Today we catch up with past guest of this Podcast, Kasey Cronquist of the Certified American Grown Program, which also produces the Field to Vase Dinner Tour, now in its third year.

Full disclosure, as you heard at the top of this show, Certified American Grown is a Slow Flowers sponsor and in the past I’ve participated as both an unpaid industry volunteer and a paid communications consultant on various projects . . . dating back to the initial launch of Certified American Grown in 2014.

The updates I asked Kasey to share with us today are timely and newsworthy and I hope will bring you up to speed on this emerging program for labeling millions of stems of flowers and foliage grown in the U.S.

SAFs Floral Management magazine put the Field to Vase Dinner Tour on its cover as part of the Marketer of the Year Award announcement.

And there’s some exciting news about a recent major award that the Field to Vase Dinner Tour just received. The Society of American Florists named the Field to Vase Dinner Tour “Marketer of the Year” for 2017.

Kasey and I sat down to record this interview when we were both in attendance at the October 8th Field to Vase Dinner Tour held at Hope Flower Farm in Waterford, Virginia, the farm owned by farmer-florist Holly Chapple and her husband Evan Chapple. It was a beautiful event and you can read more here about her farm, the beautiful decor and the historic barn where we all gathered at trestle tables underneath three magnificent floral chandeliers.

Here are links to past interviews I have conducted with Kasey:

Episode 107 (Septmeber 18, 2013)

Epsiode 151 (July 23, 2014)

Episode 203 (July 22, 2015)

Episode 255 (July 20, 2016)

Episode 291 (April 5, 2017)

Click here to learn more about the Certified American Grown labeling program — including details on how your flower farm can get involved.

Thanks so much for joining us today! As Kasey and I discuss, the final Field to Vase Dinner of 2017 takes place this weekend, on November 18th at Fern Trust in Seville, Florida.

And soon, the lineup of venues will be announced for 2018. You can sign up here to receive announcements and more details about next year’s tour.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 253,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

 

Thank you to family of sponsors

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at longfield-gardens.com.

Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.

And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Arizona-Grown Flowers & Bouquets are Flourishing

November 9th, 2017

Linda MacConnell’s arrangement close up (and above) . . . love how it pairs perfectly with the gold cylinder vase by Syndicate Sales!

Earlier this week I had the immense pleasure of collaborating with three Slow Flowers members to present a 2-part workshop at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

“Artisanal Flowers” invited gardeners, florists and flower enthusiasts to spend two evenings with Morgan Anderson of TheFlori.Culture, Anne J. of Anne ES Garden Fresh and Shanti Rade of Whipstone Farm.

Arizona Grown, folks!

The four of us reunited after our fantastic meet-up earlier this year when a number of Slow Flowers members visited Shanti and Corey Rade’s farm in Paulden, Arizona. You can read more about that event here and listen to my past Slow Flowers Podcast episodes with Shanti and Morgan.

Our dream for this workshop was to introduce the Slow Flowers, Arizona-grown message to students at the state’s largest public garden.

And early November is actually a good time to talk about local flowers and floral design because (as Anne explained during her portion of the presentation) fall in Arizona is basically a “second spring.”

Oh, my! I loved creating with these lovely ingredients!

We started off on Monday evening with a Slow Flowers overview in which I shared the story of our movement as well as my personal experience growing and arranging with flowers and foliage in all four seasons.

Learning from Shanti Rade of Whipstone Farm, a diversified operation of food and flowers.

Shanti followed with an engaging presentation about Whipstone Farm and her journey from growing food to growing flowers for many outlets. It was exciting to watch the expressions on all nine students’ faces as it slowly dawned on them that there’s a new paradigm for what’s considered “desert florals.” From ranunculus to sweet peas to peonies and dahlias, well, Shanti not only blew people away, she raised their expectations for what is possible here in Arizona.

Morgan Anderson, PhD, of The Flori.Culture, introduced floral design as a fine art medium

The following night, we returned ready to design! Morgan took the lead as design coach and instructor, discussing the art principles of floral design and sharing tips on both contemporary and garden-inspired styles. She taught everyone how to cut and use cacti as well as how to correctly wire succulents for arranging.

Tracey Locke’s beautiful bouquet

Roni Costa’s verdant arrangement showcases a lush succulent

Mary Mayfield was drawn to the tawny apricot palette.

Anne introduced the botanicals from her farm and from two other local growers – herbs, edible flowers, purple hyacinth bean pods and other lovelies from Emily Heller at Et Tu Frute Garden and seasonal millet and lavish scarlet hibiscus pods from Anne Kerr at Black Kerr Farm.

Focused on our design portion of the “Artisanal Flowers” workshop!

Someone provided vibrant zinnias and no one was shortchanged on their design elements. Because Shanti had to leave for Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers’ board meeting duties back east, I jumped in and introduced her crazy-beautiful palette of vintage-looking mums, as well as a generous array of lisianthus, scented geranium foliage and more!

Designing was a blast, aided by the chance to use American-made glass vases supplied by Syndicate Sales – and the gold and rose-gold cylinders struck a perfect seasonal note for the tawny floral palette. You can see more of the students’ and instructors arrangements here:

Karen LeDonne’s yummy design.

Julie

Fran Janis was drawn to the deeper botanical hues in this wild bouquet

Debbie Mittelman of MiViva Floral Design produced this gorgeous composition.

Tish Dunshie created this textural arrangement.

READ MORE…

Episode 322: Garden Media Group’s annual Garden Trends Report with Suzi McCoy and Katie Dubow

November 8th, 2017

Suzi McCoy (left) and Katie Dubow (right) of the Garden Media Group, which releases the Garden Trends Report on an annual basis.

As many of you know, my journalistic background includes working as a home and garden writer for the past two decades.

During that journey, I invested many years — the past 15 in fact — in the Garden Writers Association, including two years serving as its president. Many of my closest professional and personal friendships come from time spent serving on committees, as regional and national director and then, as an officer and member of GWA’s leadership.

And even though writing about flower farming and floral design has occupied my professional energy during the past nearly 10 years, I still consider myself a Garden Writer. After all, flowers are certainly an extension of the garden, right?

Today I am delighted to introduce two longtime professional friends who I originally met through GWA. They are Suzi McCoy and Katie Dubow of Garden Media Group.

Based outside Philadelphia, Garden Media Group was one of the very first marketing and communications firms to position itself in the “green” category. For many years, Garden Media Group has released an annual Garden Trends Report, which has become a must-have reference for writers, practitioners and companies in the gardening industry.

A snapshot of the 2018 Trends recently released by Garden Media Group

I love reading this report and to be honest, it has served as a template for my much younger Slow Flowers Floral Insights and Industry Forecast, which I started compiling annually four years ago.

Suzie and Katie agreed to talk with me about the Garden Trends Report for 2018 and share their graphics. Click the link to download your own PDF copy of the report.

Here are a few slides of the “trends” we discuss on today’s episode:

Find Garden Media Group on Facebook

Follow Garden Media Group on Twitter

See Garden Media Group on Pinterest

Watch Garden Media Group on Instagram

READ MORE…

Episode 321: My lovely conversation with Robbie Honey + Holly Chapple’s Flowerstock recap and Syndicate Sales’ product launch

November 1st, 2017

Robbie Honey at Flowerstock (c) Sarah Collier, Taken by Sarah

We all have our flower crushes and those we admire from afar, never expecting to actually meet. So the chance to not only meet and spend time with Robbie Honey, world floral traveler, proud son of Zimbabwe, curious accidental botanist and amazing designer . . . well, it was a certainly a highlight of 2017!

The artist at work ~

Robbie and I met at Holly Chapple’s Flowerstock, the two-day design and creativity fest held for the second year at Hope Flower Farm, the historic compound she owns with husband Evan Chapple – in Waterford, Virginia, not to far from the nation’s capitol.

Holly and Robbie have collaborated on many occasions as instructors, but this was my first experience seeing Robbie up close and personal. Prior to this, my knowledge of him has been mostly by watching his Instagram feed.

Robbie is the creative director at the design company bearing his name Robbie Honey, based in London.

Now and Then, Robbie Honey today and as a young boy in the flower fields of Zimbabwe

Robbie Honey has been immersed in botanical pursuits since he was a young boy roaming the wild grasslands of Zimbabwe. These adventures developed his already keen visual and olfactory senses and instilled in him a lifelong fascination with flowers and their scents.

By the age of seventeen, he was studying horticulture and went on to work in the floriculture trade in Holland and Kenya. Honing his creative sensibilities further, he studied interior design and photography at art school in Cape Town. Moving to London he trained with floral designer Ming Veevers Carter and gained a thorough grounding in event floristry. Incidentally, we posted a story about Ming’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s Gold Medal design for New Covent Garden Flower Market earlier this year. Check it out here.

Robbie’s floral installation for Christian Dior Parfum, London

One of Robbie’s installtions for Hermes, London

17,000 Carnations in an ombre pattern for Mary Katrantzou’s London Fashion Week runway show, designed by Robbie Honey

Setting out on his own at twenty-five, Hermès was his first fashion client, followed by Dior and Armani, establishing Robbie Honey as an in-demand florist within the fashion industry.

With this rare combination of expertise: in botany, floristry and the visual arts, he started lecturing around the world on floristry and writing for the Wall Street Journal.

I love this tablescape with all four of the Robbie Honey candles and the fragrant white flowers that evoke their scents.

Candle fragrances in the Robbie Honey candle collection — lily of the valley, Casablanca lily, jasmine and tuberose.

Robbie Honey’s first range of scented candles is inspired by individual white flowers, the scents of which have long beguiled him.

Robbie at Flowerstock (c) Sarah Collier, Taken by Sarah

It was a delight to not only learn more about what inspires and motivates this talented human as an artist, but a joy to watch him design with American-grown flowers, including many grown at Hope Farm and donated by others, including Harmony Harvest Farm, both Slowflowers.com members — as well as to play with branches and blooms that Robbie foraged with fellow instructors Ariella Chezar and Holly herself.

READ MORE…

Episode 320: Washington flower farmer Janet Foss of J. Foss Garden Flowers reflects on her 30-year-plus career

October 25th, 2017

Janet Foss, veteran specialty cut flower farmer and lifelong plantswoman.

I visited Janet in September on harvest day. Here she is with an armload of beautiful garden roses!

I’m so happy today to feature my recent interview with Janet Foss of J. Foss Garden Flowers, based in Onalaska, Washington, a community located halfway between Seattle and Portland.

Janet Foss has spent more than 30 years in flower farming, but her passion began when she was 10 years old. “I remember asking for my own flower bed,” Janet recalls. “My grandmother was a cut flower grower and florist – it’s a big thing in our family.”

As an adult, Janet and her husband Jim first raised unusual garden flowers on a 20-acre farm in Everett; since 2003, they have farmed on 40 acres in Onalaska, alongside the Newaukum River, with 5-plus acres specifically dedicated to field-grown, green house and high tunnel production.

Her natural ability to grow things has paid off, as Janet is known in flower farming circles as an expert in heirloom chrysanthemums.

For several years, Janet popularized vintage varieties of specialty mums through a mail-order venture.

After selling that business to another grower, Janet now focuses exclusively on raising uncommon cut flowers.

“Something different” is her guiding principle when it comes to choosing which crops to grow. “We specialize in high-quality flowers that are different and unusual from the standard garden flowers normally available.”

The beautiful setting for J. Foss Garden Flowers, in southwest Washington State.

That includes 3,000 dahlias and rare pussy willows and more than 200 varieties of flowers and floral ingredients, including astrantia, calla lilies, campanula, cosmos, delphinium, garden roses, gentiana, grasses, hypericum, lady’s mantle, ninebark, ornamental wheat, pussy willow, saponaria, scabiosa, sunflowers, sweet peas and zinnias.

Janet with her famous dahlias!

Janet regularly sells at her stall inside the Oregon Flower Growers Association, which is located at the Portland Flower Market. In Seattle, you can find her seasonal offerings at Northwest Wholesale Flowers. She was a founding member of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market in 2011.

Calla lilies have been in Janet’s family for more than 50 years, originating from her grandmother’s cutting garden.

Here’s more background from the “about” page of J. Foss Garden Flowers:

We started our farm in 1981, a few days after we were married. Jim was a school teacher at the time and had the summer free; I needed to go back to work. The day I went back to work, he went to town and got the business license and signed us up for the farmers market. I had been gardening all my life. Jim was a city boy, and gardening seemed like a big expense which he felt would never be recovered. I told him we could make money selling at farmers markets, he took me seriously. The first item on his agenda was to put this garden to work making money. He has never been a procrastinator, without him I would still be thinking about getting a business license. Our first farm, close to the Everett, WA city limits, was only about an acre. We sold at the farmers market, did custom picking for local customers, and had a florist who bought most of what we grew.   

We were really enjoying growing flowers, so next we bought 20 acres in the Snohomish Valley. It was all sub-irrigated, was awesome soil, and grew beautiful cut flowers. We specialized in plants that loved damp peaty soil, like the Giant White Calla.   We soon became know for the Callas, although we also grew dahlias, pussywillows, cosmos, Queen Anne’s Lace, and many other unusual cut flowers.

The circumstances of life often change, and the need for us to change occured after Jim suffered a stoke in 1998.  It became clear that life would be simpler in order to be closer to family, so we moved south back to my roots in Lewis County Washington.  We found a beautiful field near Onalaska, WA, on the Newaukum River.  We purchased this land in 2001 and started shaping it into our current farm. Giant White Calla are still our specialty, but we are also growing roses, garden flowers, and clematis.  We grow over 200 varieties of flowers, and have flowers available most of the year.

J. Foss Garden Flowers’ original booth at Seattle Wholesale Growers Market (2011-2013)

I know you’ll enjoy our conversation and listen for the tale of how Janet and I actually went to college at the same time — as Home Economics majors. I guess all roads lead to flowers, though, because horticulture has been both of our passions long after we gave up the sewing machine and that patternmaking training from college days.

Here’s how you can find Janet Foss at her social places:

J. Foss Garden Flowers on Facebook

J. Foss Garden Flowers on Instagram

I also  want to share an opportunity that might strike a chord with you, as it has with me. So many of us have watched in horror as the wildfires of Northern California, specifically in Sonoma County, have destroyed homes, businesses and agricultural land.

We have a number of Slow Flowers members who have experienced devastating loss and destruction and our hearts go out to them. There are opportunities to support these friends. I’ve seen offers of labor, studio and cooler space, housing and design support crossing the social media channels and I’m inspired to do what I can, as well.

I just learned through Mud Baron, floral activist and educator at Muir Ranch in Pasadena, California, that there is a ‘Just and Resilient Futures Fund’ in the works, as part of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, a nonprofit agency.

A diverse coalition of community-based organizations has established the campaign; resources from this fund will be provided to victims of fires, especially those suffering losses not covered by insurance or traditional relief services, and to support initiatives that build more just, healthy, and resilient communities and that better prepare us for future catastrophe.

As Mud posted on his Facebook feed, “because so many farmers lost so much in the  🔥 🔥 🔥#sonomafire, this mad farmer with pruners and an iPhone is raising funds to help the rebuilding efforts at Oak Hill Farm, Flatbed Farm and Let’s Go! Farm via @thefarmersguild”

Follow this link to make a contribution online. When you donate, @bakercreekseeds will match gifts up to $1k.

Thanks for getting the word out, Mud!

Sonoma Flower Mart’s recent Instagram Post

I also want to give a heartfelt shout-out to Nichole Skalski and Kathrin Green of the Sonoma Flower Mart, what has essentially become the heart and hub of the Slow Flowers community of farmers and florists in the North Bay region. Let’s support North Bay flower farmers by buying their flowers!

Our community is strong and resilient — and we are driven by the essential vision of supporting the vibrant domestic floral marketplace. Thanks for being part of this movement.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 247,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors

Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:

Bending the Reed
by Gillicuddy
Licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License.

Episode 319: Connecticut artist-florist Michael Russo of Trout Lily Farm

October 18th, 2017

Several current and prospective Slow Flowers members in Connecticut joined me at Trout Lily Farm in early October — what a wonderful Meet-Up at an inspiring place!

Slow Flowers comes to Trout Lily Farm (floral arrangement by Michael Russo)

A charming roadside sign hangs from Trout Lily Farm’s vintage boathouse-turned-farmstand.

Whenever I travel, even for pleasure, I’m likely to add three things to my itinerary:

First, I visit Slow Flowers’ members to see their places of business — flower farms, floral studios and retail florists locations.

Next, I team up with one or more of those generous folks to schedule a Slow Flowers meet-up.

And third, I turn on the digital recorder to interview at least one of these folks for a Slow Flowers Podcast episode.

Yes, I do travel quite a bit, the “non-slowness” of which is a bit ironic, as my friends and family have pointed out.

But I’m so passionate about getting out “on-location,” so to speak, to capture your stories.

Sharing the stories of American flowers and the people who grow and design with them is at the heart of the Slow Flowers mission.

Last month, you benefitted from my interviews in Montana. This month, it’s Connecticut and Virginia. Next month, it will be Massachusetts and Arizona. And then, maybe I’ll stay home for the holidays!

Michael Russo and Raymond Lennox, owners of Trout Lily Farm, led a walking tour for our autumn Slow Flowers Meet-Up

Michael leads us through the gourd tunnel, where heirloom and decorative varieties are trained along a metal structure.

What a beautiful spot!

So enough of that. Let me introduce you to Michael Russo, a farmer-florist and gifted artist who co-owns Trout Lily Farm in Guilford, Connecticut. He and his husband, Raymond Lennox, who works in the health care industry when he’s not co-farming, purchased Trout Lily about 13 years ago. The farm is located on picturesque Lake Quonnipaug in North Guilford, where Michael and Raymond grow and sell organic edibles and seasonal cut flowers for the table, weddings and events.

Sunset behind the hill, which created a beautiful back-lit moment.

I’ve been wanting to visit Trout Lily Farm ever since I first met Michael in the fall of 2014 at a floral design workshop I taught in Rhode Island at the wonderful estate home and garden called Blithewold Mansion.

Ellen Hoverkamp, lifelong artist-friend of Michael’s, facilitated our transportation and I’m so happy to have reconnected with her!

My friend Ellen Hoverkamp of My Neighbor’s Garden, an botanical artist and photographer who is a previous guest of this podcast, came from her home in New Haven, Connecticut and brought Michael along. I was so enchanted with their long friendship dating back to high school and college, as artists and former public school art teachers, both of whom both took early retirements to pursue new creative ventures.

READ MORE…