Debra Prinzing

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Brooklyn Grows Flowers! Meet Molly Oliver Culver of Molly Oliver Flowers (Episode 172)

December 17th, 2014

Meet Molly Culver, and a bouquet of beautiful larkspur she grew in Brooklyn.

Meet Molly Culver, and some of the beautiful  flowers she grew in Brooklyn.

One of the largest consumer marketplaces in the U.S., where floral design is a huge business, is sadly a little disconnected from where flowers grow. There is a cadre of flower farmers and floral designers who are working creatively to change that situation. And today’s podcast guest, Molly Culver, is at the forefront of this momentum.

The designer at work.

The designer at work.

Molly Culver is the owner of Molly Oliver Flowers, which she runs with partner Deborah Greig. In their day jobs, both women are deeply involved in urban agriculture. When the weekends roll around, you can probably find them designing bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces and more – for couples who love their fresh-from-the garden style. Together they create beautiful botanicals for New York area weddings with a huge emphasis on local.

A late June bridesmaid bouquet, designed by Molly and Deborah

A late June bridesmaid bouquet, designed by Molly and Deborah (c) Levi Stolove photograph

I’m so sorry Deborah couldn’t join us for this interview, recorded in late October when I was in New York for just a few days. Molly graciously helped me coordinate a Slow Flowers gathering – an after-hours affair that drew floral designers, flower farmers and one intrepid lifestyle blogger to 61 Local in Brooklyn.

Here's a fun photo from our NYC-Brooklyn Slowflowers.com gathering. From left: Gloria Battista Collins of GBC Style, me, Jessica Stewart and Justine Lacy of Foxglove Floral Design Studio, and Molly Culver of Molly Oliver Flowers.

Here’s a fun photo from our NYC-Brooklyn Slowflowers.com gathering. From left: Gloria Battista Collins of GBC Style, me, Jessica Stewart and Justine Lacy of Foxglove Floral Design Studio, and Molly Culver of Molly Oliver Flowers.

Over delicious food and beverages, we talked about our individual projects and collective vision for using and promoting American grown flowers. Molly brought the most lovely late-autumn floral arrangements to decorate the tables, wowing everyone with what she harvested from the growing fields that late in the season – the 3rd week of October.

Before I share our interview, let me share a little more about Molly Culver:

a Molly Oliver Flowers centerpiece for an October wedding.

a Molly Oliver Flowers centerpiece for an October wedding. (c) Kelly Kollar photograph

Molly has been working as a local food and flower activist in New York City since 2005. Early in her career, she kicked off a brand new CSA chapter and farmers market in the poorest congressional district in the US, and hasn’t stopped working to make growing food and eating local accessible to all. Molly has managed both rural and urban farms since 2009, and currently manages the 1-acre Youth Farm in Crown Heights, Brooklyn where she oversees flower production and sales and runs educational programming and farm training for adults. She is Farm School NYC’s Farm Manager and Director of the Urban Farm Training Program.

September bouquet by Molly Oliver Flowers (c) Amber Gress photograph

September bouquet by Molly Oliver Flowers (c) Amber Gress photograph

Molly has taught the 5-week course “Growing Soils” for Farm School NYC since 2011, and has made a soil worshipper out of many an urbanite. Molly holds a degree in Ecological Horticulture from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, UC-Santa Cruz and sits on the Board of Farm School NYC.

A flower crown by Molly Oliver Flowers.

A flower crown by Molly Oliver Flowers (c) Forged in the North

As I mentioned, Molly and Deborah Greig are partners in Molly Oliver Flowers, a sustainable floral design company launched in 2012. They are bringing new meaning to the term ‘green weddings.’

An April wedding bouquet by Molly Oliver Flowers (c) Clean Plate Pictures

An April wedding bouquet by Molly Oliver Flowers (c) Clean Plate Pictures

I hope that you’ll hear from Deborah in a future interview. She’s also the agriculture director for East New York Farms, a Brooklyn nonprofit that since 1998 has been working with youth, gardeners, farmers, and entrepreneurs to build a more just and sustainable community.

Yes, growing food is essential, especially when it feeds people who don’t otherwise have  access to fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs.

But then there’s flowers, which as Molly explains account for a significant portion of her work at Farm School NYC.

“Flowers are food for the soul; they feed me,” she says.

I couldn’t agree more!

Late August bouquet - photo credit (c) Elizabeth Andrews

Late August bouquet – photo credit (c) Elizabeth Andrews

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 27,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net.

3 Responses to “Brooklyn Grows Flowers! Meet Molly Oliver Culver of Molly Oliver Flowers (Episode 172)”

  1. Bethany Karn Says:

    …cilantro flowers and parsley umbrels…WOW! Such a great idea. So glad I tuned in yet again. Hoping to find Ms. Culver’s double here in the DC region or find time to head to Brooklyn to find her and this impressive farm myself. Thanks, Debra, for another great online-meet and greet!

  2. Molly Culver Says:

    Thanks, Debra, for the opportunity to sit down and chat with you! You are doing such important work to elevate everyone’s consciousness about American grown, local flowers. Thank you!!

  3. Meet Molly Oliver Culver of Brooklyn’s Molly Oliver Flowers | American Grown Flowers Says:

    […] Learn more about Molly and listen to her recent interview on the Slow Flowers Podcast.  […]

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