Episode 238: St. Louis’s Urban Buds: City Grown Flowers
March 23rd, 2016
Today’s podcast conversation took its time arriving here. I believe I first met Missouri flower farmer Mimo Davis of Urban Buds in 2012 at the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers annual meeting in Tacoma, where I was a speaker.
We have corresponded over the years and followed what each other was doing. Mimo even once asked me when I might come to St. Louis to speak and visit.
Well, earlier this month, finally, that happened, thanks to the good people at the St. Louis Art Museum who invited me to be a featured speaker for their annual spring extravaganza called Bouquets to Art.
Bouquets to Art is a celebration of springtime, art and floral design, a tradition found in a number of top art museums across the country.
I was excited to attend and speak during the weekend of activities beginning with a gala opening dinner on March 11th, and followed by lectures, demonstrations and exhibitions from March 12th to 14th, with ticketed events seating audience members in a luxurious theatre with plush chairs and a huge stage and screen.
It was an event complete with a celebrity speaker – this year it was Carolyne Roehme, a native Missouri daughter, fashion industry icon and author of numerous lifestyle books.
I followed Ms. Roehme and presented on the same stage, with 150-or-so floral enthusiasts learning about the Slow Flowers Movement as I created several arrangements.
I was definitely concerned about sourcing local flowers for my floral demonstration because of the time of year.
And fortunately, I had two Missouri sources from which to shop: Urban Buds, owned by Mimo Davis and Miranda Duschack – today’s guests; and Vicki Lander and Jack Oglander of Flower Hill Farm in Beaufort, Missouri.
Both local farms supplied me with super-fresh, organic, seasonal buds, blooms and flowering branches.
I augmented that very early and limited availability of local flowers with American-grown ingredients from four other states, including Washington, Oregon and California-grown blooms, many of which I brought with me (do you know that a flower-filled box checks as easily as a suitcase?) and some which the St. Louis Art Museum arranged for me to procure at their local floral wholesaler, Baisch and Skinner. Much to my delight, Baisch stocks beautiful seasonal tulips grown by Indiana Tulips in nearby Terra Haut, Indiana.
Mimo and Miranda are farmer-florists who together own and operate Urban Buds: City Grown Flowers. They grow specialty cut flowers and keep honey bees on one very busy acre in the Dutchtown neighborhood of St Louis, Missouri.
Their flowers can be found growing in the field, in a high tunnel and in a heated glass greenhouse, all farmed without harmful chemicals and with the use of Integrated Pest Management techniques, cover crops, compost, minimal tillage, and drip irrigation.
Urban Buds sells at Tower Grove Farmers’ Market, to area florists, and to wedding and event design clients. Miranda has a dual emphasis Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Sociology from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington (2003). Mimo has a Master’s Degree in Horticulture from North Carolina A & T University in Greensboro, North Carolina (2008). The women also have a dog named Rossi, a cat named Hunter and four laying hens collectively called Tina. Urban Buzz honey is unique blend seasonal nectar and pollen, and is available for sale.
Urban Buds was founded in February of 2012. This beautiful South St. Louis City farmstead is located 7 miles south of the St Louis Gateway Arch and dates to 1870. In 1905 it was purchased by the Held family.
For three consecutive generations, the Helds farmed the property in vegetables and flowers for sale in St Louis. In 1925 they opened a retail florist shop, and by the 1950’s were operating several glass greenhouses, one of which still stands.
The property shrunk over the years as pieces were sold off for development. In the mid-1990s the Helds sold the business. The property changed hands several times until Urban Buds purchased it in 2012 with the intention of continuing the farming tradition.
One glass greenhouse remains as does the former florist shop. Miranda and Mimo have been rehabilitating and renovating these distressed structures and they continue to improve and expand the farm. The side growing yard benefited from its years of dormancy, and at the time of tillage soil tests placed it at a stellar 8% organic matter. Now the property is planted in flowers, 70 different varieties are grown annually.
Mimo comes to Urban Buds after successfully running Wild Thang Farms in Ashland, Missouri, for a decade, and years of growing at Missouri Wildflowers Nursery specializing in native plants. Miranda brings over fifteen years of farming vegetables, livestock, and fruit.
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What a whirlwind of a 48-hour trip. The flower pickup at Urban Buds and our subsequent interview with Miranda and Mima was a highlight. And there were many more, including conversations with others you’ll meet in the coming weeks, including Vicki Lander of Flower Hill Farm and Jessica Douglass of a fabulous St. Louis flower shop called Flowers and Weeds.
A heartfelt Thanks to everyone who made my St. Louis visit special:
Kristin R. Lamprecht, Special Events Director at Saint Louis Art Museum and her team.
The designers I met, including Slow Flowers member Kate Estwing of City House Country Mouse and my Bouquets to Art dining companion Jenny Thomasson, AIFD, CFD, of Stems Florists in St. Louis.
And then there is Andrea Grist of Andrea K. Grist Floral Art, a past guest of this podcast. Based in the Kansas City Area, Andrea brought her wonderful presentation “Gatherings in Bloom” to the St. Louis Art Museum’s main stage and proved to be a great travel companion for the weekend. Her mother Libby Buss was along for the experience, along with Tiffany Buckley of Tiffany Marie Photography who served as our personal photographer.
Thanks for joining today’s podcast. I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately and everywhere I stop, you can be sure there is an interview or conversation to record. In the coming weeks, you’ll hear more from Missouri and also an entire Slow Flowers On the Road series with the flower farmers and floral designers of the North Bay Flower Collective. Stay tuned and please join us at The Slow Flowers Community on Facebook.
We’ve had a lot of great press lately and every time that the media features Slowflowers.com it shines the light on our members. Check out these stories:
Country Gardens’ Cut Flowers & Bouquets
The Wall St. Journal
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 88,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.
Until 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 Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.