Debra Prinzing

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Floral Friendship: The Florist (Betany Coffland of Chloris Floral) and The Farmer (Lennie Larkin of B-Side Farms) (Episode 188)

April 8th, 2015

Betany Coffland (left) and Lennie Larkin (right). This photograph captured the friends holding flowers they grew for Chica Bloom Farm (Betany) and Petaluma Bounty (Lennie).

Betany Coffland (left) and Lennie Larkin (right). This photograph captures the friends holding flowers they grew for Chica Bloom Farm (Betany) and Petaluma Bounty (Lennie).

Bsidelogo Chloris Floral logo Attention emerging flower farmers and #farmerflorists!

A B Side boutonniere.

A B-Side boutonniere.

I know you’ll appreciate this week’s guests because they are both in the early phases of launching their floral businesses.

Either you’ve already been there so parts of their stories will sound familiar or you’re in the thick of building a floral enterprise – farming and/or design – and will draw inspiration from their candor about the challenges, opportunities and decisions about the direction to take.

With planting and harvesting season and months of weddings upon us, I can assure you that our episode is timely. Like all of my guests on the Slow Flowers Podcast, there is much to learn from what they have to share.

Please welcome Betany Coffland of Chloris Floral and Lennie Larkin of B-Side Farm. Together, they embody a unique collaboration for people who are growing and designing American flowers. Be wowed by the collective beauty of their work.

Betany, performing "Carmen" - Photo by Pat Kirk

Betany, performing “Carmen,” photo by Pat Kirk

This episode was recorded in the San Jose hotel lobby after the conclusion of ASCFG’s “Growers’ Intensive” last month.

Betany Coffland has always possessed an artistic soul. Her first career lies in singing opera where she trained at the Juilliard School of Music.

Often gifted with an armload of bouquets on opening night, Betany frequently imagined herself in a Jane Austen novel.

The quintessential professional, Betany has given us permission to include snippets of her operatic performances, including the French art song, “A Chloris.” Check out her professional opera site here. 

After moving to Sonoma County and reading the book, The Dirty Life, she was inspired to volunteer at a local flower farm to see if she would enjoy getting dirt under her nails and having the outdoors as an office.

A Chloris inspiration, photo by Paige Green

A Chloris inspiration, photo by Paige Green

Betany Coffland, portrayed in an scene inspired by Chloris, the Greek goddess of flowers, photo by Paige Green

Betany Coffland, portrayed in an scene inspired by Chloris, the Greek goddess of flowers, photo by Paige Green

Betany swiftly and deeply fell entranced with how stunning and heartbreakingly gorgeous locally grown flowers are.

For 18 months, she co-owned Chica Bloom Farm, acting as the lead designer and wedding coordinator.

She especially loved getting to know her community through delivering weekly flower CSA bouquets.

In the winter of 2014, Betany launched Chloris Floral. The namesake Chloris perfectly combines her two artistic endeavors, classical singing and floral design.

Not only is Chloris the Greek goddess of flowers, she is also the heroine of Betany’s favorite French art song, “A Chloris,” by Reynaldo Hahn.

This song has special meaning because it was performed by a dear friend at Betany’s wedding to her husband Joseph. Now part of Betany’s repertoire, she continues to perform A Chloris.

A Chloris Floral spring bouquet inspired by Vivaldi's Spring Concerto from The Four Seasons

A Chloris Floral spring bouquet inspired by Vivaldi’s Spring Concerto from The Four Seasons

Betany and her floral arrangement, Inspired by Debussy's symphonic work- La Mer

Betany and her floral arrangement, Inspired by Debussy’s symphonic work- La Mer

Chloris Floral is a flower design studio in Sonoma County committed to using 100% local and seasonal blooms grown using organic practices. By supporting and building upon the strength of the local farming community, Chloris ensures the availability of fresh, locally grown blooms necessary to create achingly beautiful old world designs.

A little bit country: flower farmer, Lennie Larkin

A little bit country: flower farmer, Lennie Larkin

A lush B-Side bouquet, by Lennie Larkin.

A lush B-Side bouquet, by Lennie Larkin.

In her “day job,” Lennie Larkin is the community farm manager at Petaluma Bounty, a nonprofit community farm that  works to create a healthy and sustainable food system for everyone in Petaluma, California.

At Petaluma Bounty, Lennie grows lots of vegetables and a seriously beautiful patch of flowers that are sold locally, including at farmers’ markets.

She will share her story, so I don’t want to give too much away, but let me quickly introduce Lennie’s new flower farming business, B-Side Farm.

B-Side Beauty, by Lennie Larkin

B-Side Beauty, by Lennie Larkin

She describes B-Side as a small, bustling flower farm that grew out of her obsession with fragrant blossoms.

It sits on a fertile piece of land in the rolling hills of Petaluma, in the southern pocket of Sonoma County, California. From show-stopping dahlias to rare foliages and simple herbs, B-Side specializes in favorite old-fashioned flowers, picked daily and bursting with dreamy scents.

Lennie’s flowers and arrangement supply a family of local-minded florists and specialty stores in Petaluma, San Francisco, and Oakland, and she welcomes orders of loose flowers and specialty arrangements for pickup straight from the farm. Read Lennie’s extended bio from her new web site.

NBflowercollective Lennie and Betany are founding members of the North Bay Flower Collective, a group of flower farmers and floral designers in the North SF Bay Area.

I love the motivation that led to the formation of the North Bay Flower Collective: To lean on each other for support and pull our resources together to build a flower growers’ alliance helping each farmer and florist to grow and thrive. 

Here are the links to Betany’s social sites for Chloris, to Lennie’s social sites for B-Side and to the North Bay Flower Collective.

You’ll want to follow these talented individuals and watch how their coming design season unfolds:

Find Betany here:

Chloris Floral on Facebook

Chloris Floral on Instagram

Chloris Floral Web Site

Find Lennie here:

B-Side Farm on Facebook

B-Side Farm on Instagram

B-Side Farm Web Site

Thank you so much for joining me this week and please return again, as I continue to share insightful and educational episodes recorded exclusively for the Slow Flowers Podcast.

Listeners like you have downloaded the podcast more than 42,000 times. Until next week please 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 Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

2 Responses to “Floral Friendship: The Florist (Betany Coffland of Chloris Floral) and The Farmer (Lennie Larkin of B-Side Farms) (Episode 188)”

  1. Stephanie Dahlberg Says:

    Thank you for this wonderful artical about these two talented, hard-working and forward-thinking young women. I am so proud of them! What more does one have to do beyond creating and maintaining natural beauty? A sure ticket into Heaven, I think.

  2. Debra Prinzing » Post » Episode 241: Sonoma Flower Mart Brings Slow Flowers to California’s Wine Country Says:

    […] The origins of this visit date back a year when I met and interviewed two members of this new organization — Betany Coffland of Chloris Floral Design and Lennie Larkin of B-Side Farm — and featured our conversation here on the podcast. […]

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