Episode 304: Slow Flowers from Ontario, Canada, with Janis Harris of Harris Flower Farm & ASCFG
July 6th, 2017
It’s July 6th and I’m still on a huge high thanks to the incredibly successful third annual American Flowers Week celebration which concluded with Independence Day in the U.S.
I will have a lengthier recap to share in next week’s episode — after all the numbers come in and after I’ve had time to compile highlights and accolades from around the country.
Suffice it to say that participation has reached new heights with American Flowers Week 2017. Last year, in the month leading up to American Flowers Week, the social media impressions hit 1.4 million on Instagram and Twitter. This year, we are at 4.9 million and counting, more than triple the impressions!
That is clearly only one metric but I’m happy we can point to it for validation that Slow Flowers has created something pretty awesome that everyone who touches American grown flowers can claim and adopt for their own place in the domestic floral scene — from our beloved growers to floral wholesalers, ecommerce, grocery stores and the floral artists and flower shops who connect consumers with their flowers.
Ultimately, it’s also for lifelong or passionate gardeners like me, those of us who fell in love with their flowers through horticulture and the simple act of clipping a bloom from plants we grow ourselves — and arranging them into a nosegay or posy to bring indoors.
I know we will continue the momentum all year long and I can’t wait to share all the news of 2017’s American Flowers Week, including our brilliant first-ever Slow Flowers Summit staged last Sunday on July 2nd. More in our full report next week.
This week, we’re turning to our Canadian neighbors, where there’s an amazing flower farming and floral design community, with equally passionate kindred spirits like my guest Janis Harris of Harris Flower Farm.
Janis is the Canadian regional director for the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers and she has been busy working on the group’s upcoming two-day conference called “Let’s Talk Flowers,” scheduled for August 7th and 8th in the Niagara region of Ontario.
I am so pleased that Janis and I recently recorded this conversation to discuss the conference and give us more insights into her floral business and her farm. Enjoy the photos she’s shared here — of her flowers, floral designs and family farm life.
Here’s a little more about Janis and her family’s flower-filled business. There’s a twist, and that’s the other “crop” grown at their farm — husband Mark’s pasteurized pork livestock enterprise. You’ll hear more about THAT — and how flowers and piggies live in harmony in my conversation with Janis!
Janis and Mark Harris and their three youngsters, Cameron, Nathan and Megan, live and farm just north of St.Thomas, Ontario. They have been going to the local market with their fresh cut flowers since 2010
Both Janis and Mark grew up on a family farm. Janis’ parents have an organic vegetable, poultry and beef farm and Mark’s parents have a cow/calf beef farm. They hope to instill the farm life and values to their children. Cameron already loves the farming life, he can be found playing with his tractor toys. Nathan loves helping in the fields picking and hauling in the flower harvests. Megan is already picking up tips on arranging flowers.
The fresh cut flower business is a family affair, everyone picks, packs and sells flowers. Cameron and Nathan have grown up at the market, they look forward to introducing Megan to the ins and outs of selling market bouquets.
Mark and Janis purchased Janis’ Grandparents former dairy farm where Grandma and Grandpa’s love of flowers is apparent throughout the property. There are many established flower gardens filled with collections of lillies, irises, peonies and lilacs. Currently with 3 acres in flower production, the farm is flourishing. Former corn and soyabean fields have been turned into sunflower fields. Lawn has been turned over for perennial beds. The farm is being revitalized and beautified with every growing season. Every year the flowers we grow have increased in number and variety.
As I mentioned, along with the flowers, pastured pigs are raised on the farm. Healthy, happy and MUDDY pigs.The pigs have access to outdoors and are cared for in the best way possible, hands on and one on one with each animal. You will often find Mark in the sows’ pens brushing them. Janis designs — literally – with her “Grandma’s garden” of flowers, as well as field production of flowers. She sells her mixed bouquets at the Horton Farmer’s Market every Saturday from Mother’s Day to Canadian Thanksgiving.
Here’s how to find Harris Flower Farm:
Harris Flower Farm on Facebook
Harris Flower Farm on Instagram
As we readied this episode for posting, the registration for ASCFG’s Ontario meeting has been so successful that there are now only about 6 or so spaces left for you to participate. Here is a link to ASCFG Conference Registration
And, the hotel reservation cut-off for the discounted rate of $119 is Thursday, July 6th. If you hear this information after that deadline, you can still grab a room, upon availability, but the rate may have increased. Here is the link to the hotel information.
Thanks so much for joining us today.
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 207,000 times by listeners like you. The month of June witnessed the highest listenership ever — at 11,730 downloads! You helped the podcast surpass March’s listenership of 11,518 downloads.
Hey, that’s pretty amazing considering flower farmers are usually even busier with their duties in June than March — so hey, thank you to each 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 family of sponsors:
And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: 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.
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
Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com
Longfield Gardens provides 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.
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.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.
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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.
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