Debra Prinzing

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Episode 262: Luxury flowers on Colorado’s Western Slope with Daphne Yannakakis and Don Lareau of Zephyros Farm & Garden

September 14th, 2016

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Daphne Yannakakis and Don Lareau (left) with three of their friends and design team members on an August bouquet-production day

Two weeks ago, you heard me mention my August visit to Colorado, to attend and speak at the Field to Vase Dinner at The Fresh Herb Co. in Longmont, CO, outside Boulder. Owners Chet and Kristy Anderson are past guests of this podcast and I’m a huge fan of their flowers and their leadership in the cultural shift to local, domestic and seasonal flowers.

Well, today you’re going to meet another amazing Colorado couple — the wife-husband team behind Zephyros Farm & Garden and its sister business, Studio Z Flowers. I have corresponded with Daphne Yannakakis and Don Lareau for a few years, and they have been early supporters and members of the Slowflowers.com directory and movement.

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Morning in Paonia, Colorado, at Zephyros Farm & Garden.

Morning in Paonia, Colorado, at Zephyros Farm & Garden.

I knew the 5-hour drive across Interstate 70 west from Denver would be a bit extreme, but it was so worth it to visit Paonia, Colorado. Don and Daphne welcomed me warmly and I fit right in as part family member-part floral crew for a wonderful day that ended with attending a live bluegrass concert on the lawn in the city park of downtown Paonia. Unforgettable! Before we left for the concert and picnic dinner to end the very long day of flower farming and bouquet-making, I sat with Daphne and Don to record our interview.

The flower wagon is filled after harvest.

The flower wagon is filled after harvest.

Zephyros is small, diversified family farm on 35 acres located on the Western Slope of Colorado in the North Fork Valley. The farm grows Certified Organic flowers and vegetables for farmers’ markets, restaurants, florists, wholesale and a unique Flower CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  In the spring, Zephyros provides a wide selection of Certified Organic vegetable and herb starts, as well as fun fruits and perennials just right for western Colorado. Not only food and flower growers, Daphne and Don are passionate floral designers who offer wedding and event flowers and have created an amazing place on their farm for couples to get married.  With their flower farm as a wedding backdrop and ceremony and personal florals created on site, weddings at Zephyros are entirely special events!

The design shed where all the bouquest are made and two huge walk-in coolers protect stems and blooms from Colorado's hot summer temps.

The design shed where all the bouquets are made and two huge walk-in coolers protect stems and blooms from Colorado’s hot summer temps.

Don tells the story of how he found their farm in this agricultural newspaper's classified ads.

Don tells the story of how he found their farm in the classified ads of High Country Shopper, an agricultural newspaper.

Here’s a bit more about Don and Daphne, from the Zephyros Farm web site:

Don is one of the fearless leaders of the farm.  Zephyros is a way of life for this man who loves to get lost in the field planting vegetables, planning for the next big project or keeping everyone laughing on harvest days.

He loves to telemark ski, hang out with his kids, coach soccer and donate many hours as a board member to the Organic Farming and Research Foundation, the local school and giving tours of the farm.  Don keeps the buildings kicking, the irrigation water flowing, and the farm pumping out the thousands of beautiful blooms and thousands of pounds of amazing certified organic produce.

Daphne has a deep connection with the plant world, although she has also been spotted many a time kicking the wheels of the ol’ tractor.  She has over twenty year experience in the plant industry working in large scale nurseries, small scale nurseries, permaculture design firms, small farms and of course running all aspects of Zephyros Farm and Garden.  Daphne is credited with putting the Garden in name Zephyros Farm and Garden!

She delights in her children and loves to work in the greenhouse, go skiing, design bouquets, plant and harvest veggies, and cook incredible food from the bounty here on the farm.  When she has time off she loves to plant more gardens full of the thousands of perennial plants she has learned to love, propagate, plant and sell.

Please enjoy our conversation — for me, just listening to it again transports me to a wonderful visit with inspiring flower folks and I can’t wait to return.

Follow Zephyros Farm & Garden on Facebook

Follow Studio Z Flowers on Facebook

See Zephyros Farm & Garden on Instagram

See Studio Z Flowers on Instagram

There is something so strategic about how Daphne and Don leverage their remote geographic location, which has them situated 2 hours away from the luxury destinations of Aspen and Telluride. It reminds me of how Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm have tailored their brand to serve Sun Valley and Jackson Hole. You may want to go back and listen to my interview with them, recorded last spring — Here is the link to that episode.

A vibrant palette of Colorado-grown flowers from Zephyros Farm & Garden

A vibrant palette of Colorado-grown flowers from Zephyros Farm & Garden

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 117,500 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2016: 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.

More sponsor thanks goes to 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.

A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens… providing 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.

A fond thank you 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

And finally, Welcome to our new sponsor, the 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.

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 and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

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