Episode 245: A Strong and Beautiful Alliance, Part Three of our North Bay Flower Collective series
May 10th, 2016
I’m really excited to share today’s episode with you, recorded during my two-day trip in March into a special kind of floral wonderland to meet the farmers, florists and growers of Sonoma County, north of San Francisco.
It’s our third episode featuring members of the North Bay Flower Collective who invited me to spend time touring flower farms, visiting design studios and learning more about the stories of their community.
Community is the operative word here, because there is such an intense, intentional and caring sense of purpose that the Collective embodies.
We recorded this segment at quite an amazing place in Pt. Reyes Station, California, where Daniele Strawn (my escort for the visit – and you’ll hear her voice occasionally), and I arrived on the morning of March 15th.
The place is called Heidrun Meadery, a beautiful destination that produces an old-world Champagne-style honey wine. There is a tasting bar, a garden patio, a greenhouse, bee garden and honey, as well as the magnificent fermented honey wine.
Welcoming us were today’s two guests, Jordan Uth, Heidrun’s flower farmer and floral designer, and Heather Frye, co-owner of Venn Floral, an event floral and styling service based in Sebastapol.
It was fun to tour the meadows surrounding the mead-making operation, to see where Jordan tends to a diverse spectrum of plants both wild and cultivated that serve as the nectar sources for the bees. Follow me here . . . the honey produced by these hardworking bees is so distinct that each becomes the basis for the varietals that are bottled by Heidrun. It is all about season and place, and a careful intentionality in both farming practices and the craft of making this unique beverage. I love what Jordan shares about the mead: “it is the essence of tasting the nectar of a flower,” which is a good reason Heidrun uses the slogan: “flower to flute.”
We also took a walk through the enormous production facility that looks quite a bit like the nearby wineries and craft breweries in Sonoma County. Mead-maker Gordon Hull gave us a quick tour to introduce me to the story of Heidrun Meadery and then, we enjoyed sips of his pretty spectacular beverage, accompanied by Jordan and Heather’s lovely spread of crackers, fruit, cheese, flowers and the great conversation you’re about to hear.
Here’s more about Jordan:
Jordan Uth grew up beneath the oak woodlands and within the “bee garden” wildflower fields of the central coast of California. Imbued at a young age with a deep reverence for plants, she is never far from awe for the beauty and sense of place that comes from plants, soil and climate.
Jordan obtained her B.S. in Environmental Management and Biology with a focus on Plant Restoration and Agroecology at UC Davis. During her studies she worked as the horticultural assistant at the UC Davis Arboretum where she became enthralled with the vast biodiversity of plants through tending the abundant and beautiful collections.
A path through landscape design/maintenance and organic farming led Jordan to a wonderful opportunity to apply all aspects of her plant love and experience as the Horticulturist/Farmer for Heidrun Meadery, where she grows a multitude of blooms to feed honey bees and native bees.
The honey collected from the onsite apiary is used to produce Heidrun Meadery’s local wildflower mead varietal with floral notes from the 16-acre property. While feeding the bees, Jordan is proud to be producing clean, chemical-free, pollinatorfriendly flowers for her own floral designs and other local supportive floral designers.
She offers a CSA named “Bee Blooms” for members to receive bouquets lush with bee-friendly flowers. Heidrun Meadery gently encourages the appreciation of ecological connections between humans, the flower and the bee as guests taste the mead in the greenhouse and walk the pollinator gardens with a champagne flute full of nectar in their hand and a posy of flowers for their homes.
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My second guest, Heather Frye, is also part of the core leadership team of the North Bay Flower Collective. At Venn Floral, along with her business partner Camille Rowan-White, Heather specializes in natural, expressive, and sustainable designs for weddings, events, styled shoots and interiors around the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
The two are drawn together by a mutual love for flowers, design in nature, sculpture, and good ol’ manual labor, creating original designs inspired by their obsession with plants and informed by their art practices. They use the concept and image of a Venn Diagram as their logo, a representation of their duality, collaboration with others, and where they intersect.
Heather and Camille are committed to sourcing the finest quality materials that are sustainable, locally farmed, personally harvested and foraged. and they say this: “We believe each material has something to say and we aim to let our designs be expressive of nature and celebratory of the seasons.”
Here’s more about Heather:
Heather studied Sculpture at San Francisco State University and is also a metalsmith with a passion for gardening. She found her way into the floral business through a job as a delivery driver at a flower shop where she soon saw a new career path combining everything she loved with the opportunity to explore.
Working alongside experienced floral designers and finding inspiration while hand-harvesting unique materials as the seasons changed, Heather was able to develop her own approach. Drawn to playful structure, wild textures, and varied color palettes, the importance for her designs lies not only in cultivating creativity and showcasing local and seasonal beauty, but also in building and nurturing relationships with our community of farmers, gardeners, and friends to support a healthy and sustainable floral economy. Heather and her friend & business partner Camille met while working at a flower farm and full service florist in Healdsburg, California, where they became fast partners in their work.
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Here is the Mission of the NB Flower Collective, which Heather read during our interview. I share it again for you to consider, because I believe it embodies a new way of blending commerce and values, as well as making a living in community:
The North Bay Flower Collective is an alliance of flower growers and floral designers in the North San Francisco Bay Area with a fierce dedication to the slow flowers movement. We are champions of locally grown flowers and sustainable design, lovers of the natural world, community, and generosity. As flower farmers and floral designers, we share resources, support, and educational opportunities while implementing environmentally and socially responsible practices to build a thriving floral economy. Our mission is to work together to build a strong and beautiful alliance where locally grown flowers are celebrated and each member can grow and thrive.
Thank you to all of the members of the Collective who hosted, fed, housed, transported, shared and inspired me! You showed me an amazing time and I’m excited to see where this season takes you!
Community is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, so I invite you to find The Slow Flowers Community on Facebook and join us. Here’s where you’ll find kindred spirits, beginners and veterans, people passionate about both growing and designing and saving our domestic floral industry.
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