Episode 388: Stacey Brenner of Maine’s Broadturn Farm on social entrepreneurship, leadership and sustainable business practices, Plus State Spotlight: California
February 13th, 2019
I’m delighted to share today’s conversation with Stacy Brenner of Broadturn Farm in Scarborough, Maine.
Back in May 2012, after the publication of The 50 Mile Bouquet, I received an email from my dear childhood friend, Shari Shambaugh.
We went to high school youth group together in Portland, Oregon, but she had since moved with her family to Portland Maine.
As part of her newsy email, Shari wrote:
Our CSA farm starts up soon, so we’ll be having our source of wonderful produce back from Broadturn Farm. We tried a meat share with another farm this winter, both stepping back from the amount of meat we eat and choosing better/local sources. I am also thinking of getting the flower share this year, a weekly bouquet of flowers from our food CSA.
You would love the blog site of our farmers (lovely people – we had dinner with them a few months ago at the home of mutual friends). Their daughter is a gifted photographer and Stacy (the mom) is a gifted arranger/grower. I knew they grew local blooms, but didn’t know there was a Slow Flower movement. Makes so much sense. I may go out and paint a few times this summer. I would be nice to get out into the open, and their farm has wonderful vistas.
Just months later, I met Stacy Brenner and John Bliss of Broadturn Farm when they traveled to Tacoma for the ASCFG Conference — and we connected the dots that my friend Shari was one of their CSA customers. Love the small-world personal connections that happen when you talk about local and seasonal flowers!
I don’t know why it has taken me so long to invite Stacy (and John, who was otherwise detained when we recorded today’s episode, reportedly working in their greenhouses) to be a guest on the Slow Flowers Podcast. So pleased we were able to record today’s episode via Skype this past week.
There has been a lot of excitement coming out of Maine in the Slow Flowers world lately, including two back-to-back successful years with the Flowering in the North conferences, not to mention Slow Flowers’ relationship with our sponsor Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and our support of Rayne Grace Hoke’s Slow Flowers-inspired design workshops.
So, the focus on Maine is growing. Let me tell you more about Broadturn Farm and its owners, Stacy Brenner and John Bliss:
John Bliss and Stacy Brenner share the work of running the farm and raising two daughters, Emma (22) and Flora (12). They both grew up in the suburbs of large cities, with no direct relationship to agriculture, but they started farming together in 2002.
In their bio on Broadturn Farm’s web site, John & Stacy describe themselves as middle aged, at times cynical, hardworking and always delighted to have a good laugh with friends and co-workers. Good food is a high priority, as is travel and plenty of time to binge on TV in the winter during a snow-storm. Access to real food, a strong need for connection to sustenance, and the potential to connect the verdant world with social justice is what urged this couple to put their hands to the earth.
While the desire to raise food was easy to intellectualize, flower farming is a hobby gone wild. Stacy and John both have a love for making and growing, thus flower farming and flower design work is like an extension of the challenges of food production melded with the art of design. Every bucket of blooms still makes them giddy. The first bunch of tulips, the perfect peony and the dahlia with just the right shade brings such joy. And, much like the first meal their family enjoyed with all farm-produced food, the first big wedding they produced with all farm grown and foraged goods made their hearts sing. John and Stacy are truly honored to put food on people’s tables and flowers in their arms.
They value Broadturn Farm as a gift, a real blessing, and they are open to sharing that with their community. There are trails to explore and fields to examine and there is always something going on with the livestock, from cud chewing to a mama hen trailed by her 6 chicks. And, if all that proves unexciting, the barn cats are sure to bring smile. If you come by, and you see John or Stacy puttering around, please say hello. They’re almost always busy in the season but never too busy to share a moment with a visitor. There are no regularly scheduled tours but don’t let that keep you from stopping by.
I’m so pleased to share this conversation with you. Stacy has a lot of exciting news to share as well as insights that may inspire you to take a step back and reconsider your farm or studio’s mission and practices.
So much going on and you’ll want to follow and connect with Broadturn Farm. Find and follow the farm here:
Broadturn Farm on Facebook
Broadturn Farm on Instagram
Broadturn Farm Flower Shop at FORAGE (Portland)
Thanks so much for joining my conversation with Stacy Brenner of Broadturn Farm. We briefly touched on the upcoming Portland, Maine, ASCFG conference that includes a tour of Broadturn Farm. The dates are July 14-15 in Portland and the theme is “In the Thick of it” — we’ll share more details as they become available.
And now, let’s meet Felicia Alvarez of Menagerie Farm and Flower — who shares a California floral spotlight.
Inviting Felicia to join me here on the Slow Flowers Podcast was a big decision because we have a good number of members in the Golden State — 85 in all, including flower farms, floral wholesalers, online florists, retail florists, studio florists and farmer-florists.
It’s a highly diversified landscape and Menagerie Farm is unique because of its food and flower mix and the hot categories of garden roses and branches, both flowering and fruited.
Find and follow Menagerie Farm & Flower here:
Menagerie Farm & Flower on Facebook
Menagerie Farm & Flower on Instagram
Here are more details and a LINK to the new garden rose workshop just announced by Felicia and her friend Danielle Hahn of Rose Story Farm. These two Slow Flowers members have dreamed up an amazing workshop experience — you’ll want to check it out!
Connect, learn and create – The Gathering Rose is a partnership between Danielle Hahn of Rose Story Farm and Felicia Alvarez of Menagerie Farm & Flower. With over 40 years of combined farming expertise they wanted to create unique experiences to share their love of garden roses. Their inaugural workshop, A Rose For All Seahttps://www.thegatheringrose.com/sons, will be held, April 1 & 2, 2019 at Rose Story Farm. To celebrate the kick off of the inaugural workshop and give back to the global community of farmers and rose lovers, the women are awarding 15 exclusive tickets to this workshop through an application process. For more information and to apply visit thegatheringrose.com.
And a fun news item to share. Slow Flowers has joined a new project launched this month by Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore and Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet, called The Floral Field Trip, taking place this year in Vermont, September 22-24th.
Kelly and Mary Kate are longtime Slow Flowers members and past Slow Flowers Summit speakers, so you’ll be interested in learning more about this project — it is an unique farm tour and design workshop created for florists interested in expanding their domestic product sourcing approach. Now through February 14th — that’s tomorrow — you can enjoy a $250 discount on your registration as part of their “Treat Yo Self” sale. You can also read my Q&A with these innovators here.
Thanks so much for joining me on this journey, seeking new and inspiring voices, people with passion, heart, commitment and expertise to share with you. I hope today’s episode gave you at least one inspiring insight or tip to apply to your floral enterprise. What you gain will be multiplied as you pay it forward and help someone else.
It’s so nice to hear from listeners and this past week, two listeners sent me email notes that put a smile on my face.
Last week, in the interview with Nan Matteson of Queen City Flower Farm, I mentioned that she was a super-podcast-fan, likening her to David Brunton of Maryland’s Right Field Farm, a past guest. He heard the mention (of course) and sent this note:
I loved the podcast and I loved the name check 🙂 I’m obviously very interested in others who are dong the side hustle and you’re such a great interviewer. I found you later than episode five, but I did catch up and for a year yours was the ONLY podcast I listened to. Anyway, thanks for it all. You make me feel more connected to all these folks.
|The same day this email showed up in my in-box — from Elaine Vandiver of Gholson Gardens in Walla Walla, Washington.|
Yesterday I purchased a much needed “new” 2003 minivan. It will replace my 1994 van and will tote my flower cart to the farmer’s market this coming season. Aside from being the perfect craigslist score (a granny’s rig that was garaged, with only 90k miles) I bought it with the cash proceeds from my first flower season! I drove it home from the Tri Cities with a big smile on my face, as I watched the sunset — the first sun we have had in weeks — all while listening to yesterday’s Slow Flowers episode.
Just wanted to share because you’re one of the few people that would get the significance of that simple moment, and because I so appreciate your podcast, Debra!
Truly, 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 Summit is five months away on July 1st & 2nd in St. Paul, Minnesota, and I’m pleased to announce we are nearly 50 percent sold out on tickets! If you’re listening today — Feb 13th, take advantage of our Galentine’s/Valentine’s Day ticket promotion and register with a friend by midnight on February 14th to enjoy our rolled-back Early Bird registration of $275 per person. This is just a two-day promotion so you’ll need to jump on it ASAP!
Sign up here at slowflowerssummit.com to learn all about the many opportunities to join us — from flower farm tours and dinner on a flower farm to business and branding presentations to interactive and inspiring design sessions . . . all designed to serve you! Sign up to receive updates at slowflowerssummit.com.
Thank you to our Sponsors!
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. Take advantage of the special subscription offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community.
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.
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.
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.
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 408,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much. Thank you all!
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.
Children of Limuel; Dolly and Pad; Rabbit Hole; Gaena; Perspirationby Blue Dot Sessionshttp://www.sessions.bluehttps://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Lovely by Tryad http://tryad.bandcamp.com/album/instrumentals
In The Field