Episode 370: Meet Flower Farmer Melissa Smith of Fraylick Farm and SC Upstate Flowers
October 10th, 2018
I met today’s guest, flower farmer Melissa Smith,along with several others in the SC Upstate Flowers group a few years ago when they came to the Slow Flowers Meet-Up in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C. area.
I found their sense of collaboration and mutual respect for one another very encouraging, because they are basically creating a new market in their region.
Melissa and her husband Josh Smith own Fraylick Farm, based in Travelers Rest, S.C., about 10 miles north of Greenville, S.C., and 10 miles south of the S.C.-N.C. state line.
“The state of South Carolina in general is getting a whole lot more flower-focused,” she told me in a phone interview.
When Melissa and Josh moved their farming operation to the Greenville area in October 2015, Melissa felt the need for community. “I started meeting people through the Flower Farmer group on Facebook and I knew there were at least five of us here – and I thought ‘that’s enough for a group.’”
She teamed up with Julie Hill of Greenville-based Southern Wild Design and invited every flower farmer they knew about to a potluck dinner. “We ended up having eight and that’s where the idea for our group was born.”
Thanks to Melissa’s background in graphic design and computers, and since it was still early in the season, SC Upstate Flowers launched a simple web site in March 2016. A Facebook page and Instagram account, and the frequently-used hashtag #scupstateflowers, naturally followed. By the first weekend of April 2016, SC Upstate Flowers posted a wholesale availability/price list on its site and introduced itself by email to a list of florists in the area.
SC Upstate Flowers has produced a few fun events during American Flowers Week — basically a Farmer-Florist Design Party that invites florists in their area to play with the freshest, most beautiful, just-picked flowers from local farms.
SC Upstate Flowers is also included in an article I wrote last November 2017 for the Slow Flowers Journal section of Florists’ Review. That was the Southern-themed issue, and we focused the editorial content on floral design in the American South.
My story, titled “American-Grown Heroes: Southern Flower Hubs,” features five dynamic flower cooperatives and collectives. You can download Southern Flower Hubs as a free PDF here.
I reunited with Melissa in late August at the Southern Flowers Symposium in Charleston, S.C., hosted by Lowcountry Flower Growers. I spoke about the 2019 Slow Flowers Forecast and Melissa joined a panel of growers at various levels to discuss flower farming practices and share their wisdom.
We managed to grab about 15 minutes to record a quick interview, but I knew there was more you could learn if we had more time. I recently connected via Skype with Melissa to finish our conversation. I’m so glad we took the time to do so. You’ll learn how she is managing the evolution of her flower farm, adapting to market shifts and opportunities. And you’ll learn more about the SC Upstate Flowers group.
Here’s a little more about Melissa, excerpted from the Fraylick Farm web site:
Melissa and Josh Smith run Fraylick Farm in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. They are producers of specialty cut flowers and pastured pork, saying: “we aim to produce the most beautiful flowers you’ve ever seen and the best pork you’ve ever tasted.” Josh’s Ossabaw Island pigs are raised to forest-forage through the woods, eating the local flora as well as seasonal cover crops.
Fraylick Farm’s flowers are grown without harmful pesticides or chemicals to provide not only beauty but serve as valuable hosts to beneficial insects and pollinators. The farm serves the local florist trade and the public.
Find Melissa and her flowers at these social places:
Thanks so much for joining me today as you heard in real time how Melissa is planning to re-brand her farm with the tagline: We Grow Wedding Flowers. I love that idea so much! Look for the new hashtag showing up, too.
We have a vital and vibrant community of flower farmers and floral designers who together define the Slow Flowers Movement. As our cause 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 value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 367,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.
Thank you to our Slow Flowers Podcast Sponsors for 2018:
And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2018, Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market.
Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of passionate family farms in the heart of Alaska providing bigger, better 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 longfield-gardens.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
Mayesh Wholesale Florist. Family-owned since 1978, Mayesh is the premier wedding and event supplier in the U.S. and we’re thrilled to partner with Mayesh to promote local and domestic flowers, which they source from farms large and small around the U.S. Learn more at mayesh.com.
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.
And the Team Flower Conference – a professional floral event where flower lovers from all over the world gather for networking, learning, and celebration. It’s a special time for the floral industry to come together and whether you’re a farmer, designer, wholesaler, or just love flowers, you’re invited to attend as Team Flowers dreams big for the industry’s future. Head to teamflower.org/slowflowers to learn more about the 2019 conference in Waco, Texas!
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 soundbodymovement.com.