Episode 277: A Year in Review – Slow Flowers’ Highlights for 2016
December 28th, 2016
Welcome to the final Slow Flowers Podcast of 2016
Last year at this time, I mentioned that the Slow Flowers Podcast had been downloaded 76,000 times in two-and-one-half years.
Today, I can tell you that 2016’s listenership nearly doubled that total, meanings as many people tuned into this weekly episode in 12 months than in the previous 30 months combined.
That’s the best news I could ask for as we reflect on the successes and strides of 2016.
Every single week this year; in fact, every single week for 178 weeks, it has been my privilege to feature the voices of our Slow Flowers community with you.
You’ve heard from flower farmers and floral designers, pioneers and personalities, who together are changing the floral landscape, disrupting the status quo, and bringing flower sourcing and growing practices, not to mention eco-conscious design methods, to the center of the conversation.
As I have done since the beginning of 2014, I would like to dedicate today’s episode to the Slow Flowers Highlights we’ve witnessed this year.
Next week, on January 4th, I will share my 2017 floral industry forecast with you.
As the Slow Flowers Movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.
I’ll start with some ACCOLADES
2016 kicked off with a lovely surprise as the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market honored me with the Growers’ Choice Award for outstanding contributions to revitalizing the local floral community. The flower farmers and staff of this innovated farm-to-florist wholesale market are near and dear to my heart, and it’s so gratifying to receive their recognition. My efforts to promote and sustain domestic flowers is especially sweet because of those who gave me this award.
In September, the Garden Writers Association, my professional community, honored Slowflowers.com – the web site – with a Silver Medal in the digital media category. The organization also inducted me into the Hall of Fame, an honor given to one person each year — an unexpected and humbling acknowledgement for my work in gardening communications.
And then there’s VALENTINE’S DAY
The opportunity for engaging the media in a discussion about American grown flowers, local flowers and the origin and growing practices of flowers at Valentine’s Day is an obvious one — and we have been vocal about sharing the Slow Flowers story.
The 2016 press was major, with Martha Stewart Living’s mention of Slow Flowers and the slowflowers.com directory in its February 2016 issue –
Here’s the text:
“The benefits of choosing locally grown foods over those from all over the world extends to flowers as well. That’s why garden and features editor Melissa Ozawa likes Slowflowers.com, an online directory of more than 600 florists and flower farms across the United States. The site offers local blooms in season (for instance, winter tulips or anemones, if you’re in the Northwest). Have your heart set on classic roses? It also helps users find growers in California and Oregon that ship nationally.”
There you have it! Short and VERY sweet!
Individually, none of us could have earned this type of media attention from a magazine with paid circulation of more than 2 million subscribers, monthly newsstand sales of 115,000 issues and total audience reach of more than 9 million. The demographics of the Martha Stewart reader are in close alignment with your own floral business.
You can feel especially proud of what we’ve accomplished knowing that the value of this earned media mention is $45,000, something that none of us could have ever afforded if we purchased advertising space in the magazine.
As for travel, in 2016, well, I retained my MVP Gold status on Alaska Airlines, which means I spent more than 40,000 miles in the air in 2016.
Perhaps not an accomplishment when it comes to burning jet fuel, but to me, the amount of travel I was able to make on behalf of floral promotion, including connecting with many of you, was significant — and to compensate for that travel footprint, I tried to engage with as many flower farmers and florists at every destination!
I attended seven lovely and inspiring FIELD TO VASE DINNERS, serving as co-host and sponsor.
Slow Flowers partnered with the Certified American Grown campaign’s Field to Vase Dinner Tour, which took me to flower farms in California, Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Washington State.
I teamed up with Kasey Cronquist, administrator of the Certified American Grown brand, to welcome more hundreds of dinner guests who enjoyed local food AND local flowers, who heard the Slow Flowers message and met and learned from Slow Flowers member farms and designers.
It has been a huge honor to be part of the Field to Vase Dinner tour for the past two years — and I am confident that the dinners helped to change attitudes, assumptions and understanding about the origin of flowers at the center of the table. And a footnote, the Field to Vase Dinner Tour dates for 2017 should be announced soon.
At many of my travel destinations, I was able to meet Slow Flowers members and even take part in Slow Flowers Meet-Ups.
I can’t tell you how meaningful it has been to put faces and voices to names I perhaps only before knew via social media.It was thrilling to visit cities and towns where I was welcomed into beautiful shops and studios, as well as onto prolific farms where domestic flowers flourished.
Many of those events only took place because so many of you stepped up to host me and I want to thank the following folks for making connections possible when I was in their towns:
In early February, Gloria Collins, GBC Style, hosted me at her Manhattan apartment when I visited NYC. We recorded a podcast episode and took Laura Dowling’s design workshop together at Flower School New York — what a fabulous experience.
Later that month, for the third consecutive year, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet up with a motivated group of American Flower Farmers for the annual “Fly In” sponsored by California Cut Flower Commission and Certified American Grown.
I participated in the day-long advisory board meeting for Certified American Grown, where I fill the Consumer Advocate seat. And I joined farmers on visits to meet staff in congressional and senate offices, as we shared the message of domestic and local flowers. A highlight for Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm, and me was meeting our own amazing Senator Patty Murray, and thanking her for support she and her staff have given Washington state’s local flower farmers.
During my time in D.C., I also hosted a Slow Flowers Meet-Up at Tabard Inn, a beautiful historic venue in the nation’s capitol. There was a crazy storm that caused some of our members in the Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., area to miss the event, but we had about two dozen together for cocktails and conversation — and I was inspired by our conversations and connections made.
In March, I was welcomed by the entire North Bay Flower Collective, including my “handlers” Nichole Skalski of California Sister and Sonoma Flower Mart, and Daniele Allion Strawn of JoLee Blooms, and my hosts Sarah and Seth James of Open Field Farm, and Mimi Buckley and flower farmer Zoe Hitchner of Front Porch Farm, who provided me fantastic farm stays, all made two-and-a-half days feel like a week-long getaway.
I recorded numerous episodes for this podcast and you can find them all by searching this site’s archives for “North Bay Flower Collective.” This is an example of a vibrant micro-community for flower farming and floral design — a model that others are beginning to emulate.
It April, it was off to St. Louis, Missouri, where many in the Slow Flowers community, including Mimo Davis and Miranda Duschack of Urban Buds, Jessica Douglass of Flowers & Weeds and Vickie Lander and Jack Oglander of Flower Hill Farm, welcomed me to their corner of the world.
I was there to present at the St. Louis Art Museum’s “Art in Bloom,” which allowed me to put a 100% focus on American grown and Missouri-grown flowers. It was a fabulous few days — and I can’t overlook my adventurous co-presenter at the St. Louis Art Museum, Andrea K. Grist, who made it extra fun and ensured my visit to the famous Gateway Arch.
Later that month, I joined Portland’s amazing Slow Flowers community as we gathered for a potluck and networking Meet-Up at the Sellwood Flower Co. That was possible, thanks to my lovely host, LauraLee Symes, who scheduled the meet-up at her shop in Portland’s Sellwood district, and lodged me in her charming guest-house-boat. The Oregon Slow Flowers community is alive and well and is another fabulous model for collaboration and connection.
In May, I had the immense privilege of being part of the team that brought Certified American Grown florals to a very special event honoring First Lady Michelle Obama.
The First Lady’s Luncheon is an enduring annual tradition produced by the Congressional Club since 1912 to honor the first lady of the United States.
It was attended by over 1,500 people, including Congressional spouses, associates of members of Congress and Cabinet members.
The Certified American Grown program worked with the Congressional Club’s First Lady’s Luncheon Committee to help ensure that 100 percent of the flowers and foliage used during this year’s event were American Grown.
With beautiful stems of flowers and greens from California, Oregon, Washington, Florida and Virginia, over 200 centerpieces and arrangements filled the Washington Hilton Ballroom in a theme of “Posh, Peach, Southern Hospitality.” The centerpieces were designed by Slow Flowers member Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Studios, a Certified American Grown farmer, floral designer and American Grown Council member. David Beahm Experiences of New York carried out Gagnon’s vision and provided logistical support for this large and prestigious floral installation.
Each year, the luncheon supports a nonprofit of the first lady’s choice. Funds raised from this year’s event will go to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, an advocacy, research, education and service unit that provides support for both professional and family caregivers. Centerpieces were purchased by attendees to help raise those funds.
In August, Megan McGuire Beauman and Terry Beauman of Red Daisy Flower Farm in Brighton, Colorado, hosted an unforgettable Slow Flowers barbecue at their beautiful homestead outside Denver, where so many people attended, including new faces and names who have since joined Slowflowers.com.
It was a special evening of touring the farm, greenhouses and antiques-filled barn, followed by dinner under the twinkling lights and stars. The Beauman family hosted me and several others in their cozy guesthouse and I felt like it was the best flower vacation ever.
The next night, we all enjoyed the lovely Field to Vase Dinner, held for the second year, at my friends’ Chet & Kristy Anderson’s farm, The Fresh Herb Co., with florals designed by Slow Flowers members Robyn Rissman of BareRoot Flora and Alicia Schwede of Bella Fiori What a summer dream!
Teresa and Nezhih Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co. invited me to stay in their bridal cottage tucked under the trees at their magical Santa Cruz area compound. Teresa and I teamed up for the first Slow Flowers Creative Workshop, a two-day experience that combined writing, storytelling and floral design. At the end of our workshop, the participants, along with Teresa and I, were delighted to participate in another Slow Flowers Meet-Up at Teresa’s garden, an al fresco summer gathering of kindred spirits.
September offered several great opportunities to gather, including Slow Flowers meet-ups in Hudson, New York with the emerging Hudson Valley Flower Growers Network, held at the Etsy Annex (and thank you to my host Marybeth Wehrung of Stars of the Meadow Flower Farm).
That was followed by two full days in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina area with inspiring flower farmers and florists, including a few extra generous souls – Jonathan and Megan Leiss of Spring Forth Farm (Jonathan instigated the entire schedule, actually) and Maggie Smith of Pine State Flower Co., where I taught a mini-session of the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop. My lodging was generously provided by Katy Phillips of Poesy Flower Farm — another kindred spirit who I will never forget.
October took me to Detroit, where I joined so many floral industry luminaries including the extraordinary Lisa Waud to present at Detroit Flower Week – you can’t have missed that excitement online and in Instagram feeds.
It will be hard to top this, but I have a feeling Lisa will cook up another amazing reason for everyone to travel to Detroit in the coming year.
I left Detroit and returned to the West Coast just in time for the Field to Vase Dinner at Cornerstone, the new Sunset magazine trial gardens in Sonoma County.
That stop allowed me to spent a few days teaching with Dundee Butcher of Russian River Flower School in Healdsburg, for another Slow Flowers Creative Workshop. Our time with the students was super rewarding and if you’ve been following the podcast, you’ll have heard the recent episode featuring Dundee and several of those participants.
In November, Slow Flowers participated in the ASCFG conference as a sponsor. It was amazing to realize this was the fourth national conference I’ve attended since 2010, an opportunity to reconnect with so many creative and innovative flower farmers from across the US and Canada, to hear their stories and to share my vision for a better way to connect consumers with the source of their flowers.
What a year – and I didn’t mention everything, just the travel highlights. As you can infer, I do not board an airplane without knowing where the flower farmers and floral designers are located at my ultimate destination. I take advantage of every opportunity to make connections and build bridges in this movement. If I can turn on the recorder to interview someone with a fascinating story, of course I will do that, too! 2017 promises to bring many new connections and I’m looking forward to perhaps meeting you while I’m on the road.
Next Up, AMERICAN FLOWERS WEEK 2016
For our Year Two of American Flowers Week, we definitely refined and focused the branding and the message — and consequently, the impact of the campaign.
As you may have heard me say in the past, Slow Flowers produces American Flowers Week during the seven days leading up to July 4th. I was inspired to launch this project in 2015 with encouragement from the team behind British Flowers week in 2013. So this past June and July, American Flowers Week returned for its second year as a social media campaign to advocate, educate and raise awareness about American flowers.
In 2016, we benefitted from the support of four sponsors. Certified American Grown, Syndicate Sales, Longfield Gardens and Mayesh Wholesale Florist. That financial support allowed me to commission our fantastic floral visuals and share images of it widely for others like you to use.
That visual was hard to miss: a beautiful model wearing a red-white-and-blue floral “‘fro,” the creation of Slow Flowers member Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Numerous flower farms donated their blooms to the cause and I want to acknowledge them here:
Camflor Inc. (Watsonville, California)
Choice Bulb Farm (Mt. Vernon, Washington)
Ocean View Flowers (Lompoc, California)
Oregon Coastal Flowers (Tillamook, Oregon)
Peterkort Roses (Hillsboro, Oregon)
Resendiz Brothers (Fallbrook, California)
Sonshine Farm (Whidbey Island, Washington)
American Flowers Week asked the Slow Flowers Community to post photos of red-white-and-blue flowers and designs on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #americanflowersweek.
The one-week crusade encouraged everyone involved in flower farming and floral design to get involved and draw attention to the cause. Their enthusiasm and efforts paid off in measurable ways. In a one-month period encompassing American Flowers Week, we generated more than 1.3 million impressions on Instagram and Twitter alone, up from 400,000 mentions during the same campaign period in 2015.
That’s notable, friends. One other noteworthy metric hints at the huge potential for those who get involved in American Flowers Week and use it as a marketing, promotion and branding tool.
Town & Country Markets in Washington State, led by Melanie Cherry, ran in-store American Flowers Week promotions in their six grocery outlets and according to Melanie, (quote) “Sales for our floral program as a whole were up 24 percent for the week (June 28 to July 4) over last year. All of our stores showed growth.”
Get ready for 2017 when American Flowers Week continues during June 28th to July 4th.
We’ve added more stories throughout the year to the blog at Americanflowersweek.com to stimulate and spark your planning. We have commissioned some amazing floral fashion shoots, inspired by iconic American cut flowers, and I’m confident that 2017 will be bigger and better than ever, as we encourage even more people to ask for American grown flowers at the cash register and from their local florist. Having a single week devoted to promoting this message is a benefit you can definitely use to your advantage in your own market.
More Slow Flowers resources:
In 2016, we launched the Slow Flowers Community Page on Facebook, which now has more than 1,000 members. It’s a forum for you to share your creativity, your curiosity and your story with kindred spirits. Please find us online and join in the fun.
2016 was also the year we began our relationship with PR Web to produce a series of six Editorial Look Books, image packages released to the press for stories and blog posts. All Premium members of Slowflowers.com are invited to submit images of their flowers and designs for inclusion in these themed campaigns. The first one — Harvest, Home & Holiday, was beautiful and inspiring, and it was picked up by countless news outlets across the country (see above). The next package will be released in early January, showcasing American grown Valentine’s Day floral ideas as an alternative to imported options.
And in January, we launch the new online magazine SlowFlowersJournal.com — it will be created entirely with Slow Flowers Content from our members and friends. If you have a story you want to suggest, reach out, please! I’ll keep you posted when the site goes live!
I want to thank the many wonderful guests who have appeared on the Slow Flowers Podcast this year. Their generosity of time and talents inspired me greatly, and I know our listeners were equally motivated to respond to our conversations. My hope is that you can take one compelling idea or suggestion and adopt it for your own floral business.
I also need to acknowledge and thank a few of the essential people in my life who made this year a personally rewarding one. First of all, thank you to my husband Bruce Brooks for his unwavering support of all my Slow Flowers endeavors. He is my financial and strategic advisor and I would be pretty lost without him. Next, my close colleagues with whom I spent so much time involved in the 2016 Field to Vase Dinner Tour, including Kasey Cronquist, Kathleen Williford, Adrienne Young and Niesha Blancas.
I also have to give a shout-out to the amazing staff, farmers and board members of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. So much that I now know about the art and science of flower farming and flower marketing comes from these incredible human beings.
And finally, I have to thank the amazing editors who continue to accept my pitches and who hire me to create editorial content for their pages. Without their belief in my storytelling talents, I would have considerably fewer financial resources to reinvest in building Slowflowers.com. Thank you to James Baggett of Country Gardens, my longtime friend and patron. He believes in American Grown Flowers and he loves it when I bring him a new story about a flower farm worthy of his pages.
There are many other editors who have been supportive and I must mention them here, as well: Thad Orr and Jim Peterson of Garden Design magazine; Stephen Orr and Jane Austin Miller Kurns of Better Homes & Gardens, Alicia Schwede of Flirty Fleurs, Lara Douglass of Alaska Airlines Magazine, Shaunn Alderman of Floral Business, Travis Rigby and David Coakes of Florists’ Review and others.
We’re closing up the year with more than 141,000 downloads of the Slow Flowers Podcast and we ended the month of December as the all-time high for downloads and listenership — this show was downloaded more than 7,500 times in this month alone. WOW. What a great way to end the year — and thank you to those who take the time to reach out and tell me how valuable this content is to you.
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. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.
If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.
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, thank you 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
I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. 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. A very special thank you to Andrew for his tireless and loyal support. He shows up and edits this podcast week in and week out — and it’s such a gift to work with him. Learn more at shellandtree.com.