Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Subscribe: iTunes | Android |
Our March gathering of the North Bay Flower Collective & Slow Flowers, pictured inside the barn at Open Field Farm (c) Betany Coffland, Chloris Floral Design.
Zoe Hitchner of Front Porch Farm (left) and Jaclyn Nesbitt of Jaclyn K. Nesbitt Designs (right) are featured in “part one” of this episode
Sarah James, who owns Open Field Farm with her husband and partner Seth James, is featured in “part two” of this episode.
American Flowers Week is only one month away, scheduled for June 28th through July 4th.
Check out our dedicated web site here to read stories about members who are involved with this cool media and consumer awareness campaign. Find free downloads of graphics, a badge for your blogroll and images to use on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
And here is our brand new fun coloring map of the USA, which you can download and print here to share with customers. Get out your pens and pencils and color to your heart’s content. Then PLEASE post your creation and tag #americanflowersweek — we look forward to seeing your work. A grateful shout-out to Jenny Diaz, our designer, for hand-drawing and hand-lettering the adorable 50-state map.
You’re also invited to contribute a bouquet of your own by designing a red-white-and-blue arrangement with local flowers from your state — and be sure to post and send us a photo of the results. Sign up here.
We’ll add it to our “50 Weeks of American Grown Flowers” gallery that will live on americanflowersweek.com and at the Slow Flowers Community on Facebook. So far, we’ve had people from 11 states volunteer to contribute a photo of their patriotic bouquet –and we’d love to receive your imagery by mid-June. Please share the love and get involved!
And by the way — all submissions will be eligible for several prizes donated by our sponsors, including three $100 dollar shopping sprees from Syndicate Sales. We’ll have more swag to announce in the future.
This map of Sonoma County shows the geographical diversity of the region north of San Francisco Bay in California
I’m really excited to share today’s episode with you, recorded during my two-day March floral excursion hosted by the farmers, florists and growers of Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, also known as the North Bay Flower Collective.
If you’ve been listening to this series, I can only imagine you shared the same response as I’ve experienced — that of being awed and inspired by the basic human truth that we each need a tribe; we each can soar to achieve that which we imagine or dream, when we are not alone.
Together, this community of people who make their living on flower farms and in design studios tells an important narrative of collaboration over competition.
I recorded this segment in two parts at two Sonoma County farms, both of which provided me lodging and meals, not to mention friendship and breathtaking scenery.
Zoe, me, Mimi and Jaclyn at Front Porch Farm.
First, you will hear my conversation with Zoe Hitcher, the head flower farmer at Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg, California, and Jaclyn Nesbitt, owner of Jaclyn K. Nesbitt Floral Design based in Santa Rosa, California, two Slow Flowers members who are part of the North Bay Flower Collective. You’ll also hear a few comments from my ever-present escort Daniele Strawn of Chica Bloom Farm.
Just one of the many high tunnels at Front Porch Farm; this one was filled with spring ranunculus
Early Spring at Front Porch Farm.
Mimi Buckley’s signature wreaths
Here’s a bit of background about Front Porch Farm.
Mimi Buckley, my lovely and generous host for the first night of my farm stay.
After other successful careers, Peter and Mimi Buckley started a 110-acre organic farm outside Healdsburg six years ago. Front Porch Farm lies along a wild stretch of the Russian River, due east of Healdsburg, California.
The farm rests on a bench of rich alluvial soils, surrounded by low hills forming a lovely pocket valley. There, they tend a mosaic of fruit, nut, and olive orchards; fields of grains, alfalfa, and pasture grass; a wide variety of heritage vegetable crops; and wine grapes on the sunny hillsides.
Blackberry cultivars ripen along the fences and the Russian River flows nearby, alive with osprey, herons, deer, and the occasional mountain lion. Organic farming depends on biological diversity and flowers are an integral part of the farm’s ecosystem.
By attracting pollinators and beneficial insects, the flowers that Zoe grows keep fruit trees and berry bushes productive as well as row crops protected. They add beauty and bring joy to those who work with and receive them. Front Porch Farm’s flowers are sold at the farm, at local farmers’ markets, and in local floral shops around Healdsburg and Sonoma County. In addition, as flower manager, Zoe provides elegant and natural design work capturing the spirit of the farm customized to unique clients and events.
Zoe Hitchner, Front Porch Farms flower farmer.
Zoe’s bio originally appeared in the Field to Vase “grower’s spotlight” blog, written by our second guest, Jaclyn Nesbitt and used with permission:
Zoe has a rich background in flowers and gardening. She has worked at a flower shop, urban community gardens, and a school garden. She participated in the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at UC Santa Cruz and finally, before joining Front Porch Farm, she and two colleagues ran a thriving farm in Santa Cruz.
The farm’s owners, Mimi and Peter, are two vibrant, beautiful souls who are dedicated to biodiversity and sustainable agriculture in a region solely focused on wine.
Zoe with one of her designs.
In Zoe’s words: “Our vision at Front Porch Farm is to create a diverse farm in the midst of wine-country monoculture. We see ourselves as stewards of the land which means it’s our job to look after the health of the soil and the Russian River that runs through our valley. We want to create habitat for the honey bees and the migratory birds. We also want to create the highest quality produce, most cared-for meat (look into our heritage pig operation!) and, my charge, the most beautiful flowers! Thanks to my partner Mimi Buckley and her vision, we are in the process of turning two acres of our farm into a vibrant flower garden, including over sixty varieties of annual flowers and many perennials and bulbs as well. Ultimately we aim to be a training ground for new farmers and a resource for our local community.”
Jaclyn Nesbitt, floral designer and fine artist (c) Megan Clouse
A beautiful bridal bouquet designed by Jaclyn Nesbitt (c) Clane Gessel
More seasonal floral artistry from Jaclyn Nesbitt; Left photo (c) Jaclyn Nesbitt; Right photo (c) Megan Clouse
Here’s an introduction to Jaclyn Nesbitt:
Jaclyn K. Nesbitt Designs specializes in flowers and botanicals for special events and styled shoots. She takes pride in sourcing local and seasonal materials for her unique, organic, and artful designs. She wholeheartedly believes in supporting the incredible flower farmers she has made personal relationships with in the Greater Bay Area. Rooted in her strong values, Jaclyn is able to honor the earth, the local economy, and the region’s rich agricultural heritage. Formally trained in painting, photography, printmaking and textile design, Jaclyn is a true artist that can put her creative sensibilities to work through any medium.
A tabletop design from Jaclyn (c) Clane Gessel
She writes this manifesto on her web site: Our work thrives where art + nature collide. Our passion for design, fine art, and fashion is balanced by a lifelong love relationship with the wild, mysterious natural world. Articulating this fine balance is what motivates our work.
We love and respect our local flower farmers. Through our commitment to using seasonal and locally sourced materials, we strive to honor the earth, our local economy, and our region’s rich agricultural heritage. Celebrating the diversity of people and their extraordinary stories is what makes our work meaningful.