Debra Prinzing

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Episode 248: Cooperation over Competition, Part Four of the North Bay Flower Collective series

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016
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.

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

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.

Sarah James, who owns Open Field Farm with her husband and partner Seth James, is featured in “part two” of this episode.

2016Badge with no background 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.

FINAL COLORING MAP-page-001

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

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.

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

Just one of the many high tunnels at Front Porch Farm; this one was filled with spring ranunculus

Early Spring at Front Porch Farm.

Early Spring at Front Porch Farm.

Mimi Buckleys signature wreaths

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.

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 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.

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

Jaclyn Nesbitt, floral designer and fine artist (c) Megan Clouse

A beautiful bridal bouquet designed by Jaclyn Nesbitt

A beautiful bridal bouquet designed by Jaclyn Nesbitt (c) Clane Gessel

More seasonal floral artistry from Jaclyn Nesbitt

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

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.

READ MORE…

Episode 247: Flowers and Happiness with LauraLee Symes of Portland’s Sellwood Flower Co.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

12931012_881008078682740_4476982057037024788_n When I was a teenager, I dreamed of someday owning a fabric shop. For many of you, I’m guessing that dream was to own a flower shop. How many of you ad a similar dream and realized it? Being able to work around flowers — whether you grow them, design with them, or do both, and ultimately selling them to satisfied customers — is clearly one reason you’re in this business, right?

Love this jumbo red-white-and-blue array, and if you look closely, LauraLee is peering out from behind it!

Love this jumbo red-white-and-blue array, and if you look closely, LauraLee is peering out from behind it!

Today’s guest is definitely one of those flower fanatics whose also dreamt of opening a flower shop You’ll enjoy the story and perhaps it will inspire you! Please meet LauraLee Symes, owner of the Sellwood Flower Company in Portland, Oregon, a Slowflowers.com member.

Specializing in flowers, gifts and plants, Sellwood Flower Co. is an inviting place, located in a century-old Victorian house on Antiques Row, in the Southeast Portland neighborhood also called Sellwood.

Love the black-and-white awning stripes, which are part of Sellwood Flower Co.'s visual brand evoking a Parisian flower shop.

Love the black-and-white awning stripes, which are part of Sellwood Flower Co.’s visual brand evoking a Parisian flower shop.

There, you’ll find LauraLee and her team tending their blooms in the garden just outdoors from their neighborhood shop filled for fresh, local flowers and plants, European and garden style floral design, and unique gifts from around the world.

LauraLee says she has been messing around with flowers since she was a little girl growing up on the family farm in Scholls, Oregon. Her other passion, happiness – or, more specifically, the study of what makes people happy – led her to pursue a bachelors degree in psychology, a masters in organizational development, and a career as a counselor and consultant to both individuals and business organizations.

Flower lover, LauraLee Symes of the Sellwood Flower Co.

Flower lover, LauraLee Symes of the Sellwood Flower Co.

Her most recent venture, the Sellwood Flower Co., is a marriage of her two passions, a Parisian-styled flower shop specializing in creative arrangements of fresh, local blooms and whimsical gifts curated to inspire joy and delight in her customers.

“I spend a whole lot of time thinking about, looking at, and dreaming of more creative ways to use the crazy abundance of plant life that surrounds us here in the Northwest. I look at a handful of flowers and I see a handful of happiness!”

In addition to being a busy entrepreneur and business owner, LauraLee hosts frequent floral design workshops and writes a blog on ideas and trends in the flower industry. She and her husband Bill live and work in the historic Sellwood neighborhood in southeast Portland, Oregon.

What a wonderful evening -- meeting and sharing our mutual passion at the Slow Flowers Meetup @Sellwood Flower Co.

What a wonderful evening — meeting and sharing our mutual passion at the Slow Flowers Meetup @Sellwood Flower Co.

I was in Portland last month for a series of events, including a Slowflowers.com meetup at Sellwood Flower Co., which I co-hosted with LauraLee.

sm_group_IMG_5026 We enjoyed meeting and reuniting with such a great group of flower friends — flower farmers, studio florists, retail shop owners — all who care about sourcing local and domestic botanicals for their businesses. I was so encouraged by the turnout and I especially thank LauraLee for sharing her beautiful store and nursery grounds for our gathering.

We shared Slow Flowers books & resources with our community

We shared Slow Flowers books & resources with our community

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 98,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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 and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Our British Floral Friends win RHS Chelsea Gold medal and New Design Award

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

New Covent Garden Flower Market wins RHS Chelsea Gold medal and New Design Award with ‘Behind Every Great Florist’, the show-stopping debut design by Veevers Carter

Chelsea pensioner Dewi Treharne poses with a floral tribute to Britain's Queen Elizabeth for her 90th birthday desinged by florist Veevers Carter on the New Covent Garden Flower Market stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 in London, UK Monday May 23, 2016. RHS / Luke MacGregor

Chelsea pensioner Dewi Treharne poses with a floral tribute to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth for her 90th birthday desinged by florist Veevers Carter on the New Covent Garden Flower Market stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 in London, UK Monday May 23, 2016. RHS / Luke MacGregor

·      The Flower Market travels a mile up stream to the RHS Chelsea Flower show to win Chelsea Gold & New Design Award with design by Veevers Carter, one of London’s most innovative floral design and  event styling companies

·      Flower Market’s floral tribute to HM the Queen is the most published image of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

·      360˚ floral installation illustrates the bond between London’s Flower Market and its customers

In its first ever Chelsea appearance as an exhibitor, New Covent Garden Flower Market has scooped an RHS Chelsea Gold medal and the New Design Award for the dramatic floral installation – ‘Behind Every Great Florist’ – that is taking the RHS Chelsea Flower Show by storm, and making the news pages worldwide.  Designed and created by Veevers Carter, one of London’s leading florists, event companies and a devoted customer of the Flower Market, the exhibit illustrates the close ties that bind Flower Market traders and their customers in flowering London and is a spectacular tribute to HM the Queen.

Why is this so cool?

Well, the Flower Market’s expert wholesalers have been quietly supplying the cut flowers, foliage, plants and floral sundries for award-winning Chelsea show gardens and exhibits for decades, but had never exhibited before this year. Every single stem on the ‘Behind Every Great Florist’ installation has come from the flower and foliage wholesalers at New Covent Garden Flower Market, including beautiful British-grown flowers.

“We are absolutely thrilled and proud to have won a coveted Chelsea Gold medal and the RHS Chelsea New Design Award on our first ever exhibit at the show,” said Helen Evans, Director of Communications at Covent Garden Market Authority (and past guest of the Slow Flowers Podcast–listen to our interview here).

“We wanted our exhibit to highlight the vital relationship between London’s iconic wholesale Flower Market and the talented independent florists who flower London. As a devoted customer of the Flower Market for over three decades, Veevers Carter instantly understood the concept and their design for ’Behind Every Great Florist’ encapsulates this in a spectacularly creative way.”

“We are absolutely overwhelmed that our installation for the Flower Market has been awarded not only an RHS Chelsea Gold medal but also the New Design Award,” said Ming Veevers-Carter, Creative Director of Veevers Carter. “’Behind Every Great Florist’ has been such an exciting and inspirational project, and our combined creative team of florists, designers and production staff have worked incredibly hard over the past six months to make it a reality. The response to our Chelsea debut has been just staggering, and I am so proud of what we’ve achieved.”

Britain's Queen Elizabeth views a floral tribute to her for her 90th anniversary, desinged by florist Veevers Carter, on the New Covent Garden Flower Market stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 in London, UK Monday May 23, 2016. RHS / Luke MacGregor

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth views a floral tribute to her for her 90th anniversary, desinged by florist Veevers Carter, on the New Covent Garden Flower Market stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 in London, UK Monday May 23, 2016. RHS / Luke MacGregor

On the Royal tour of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, New Covent Garden Flower Market was honoured by a visit by HM the Queen, who was photographed in front of her three-metre-high floral portrait, containing 10,000 cut flowers and and foliages.

The opposite side of the New Covent Garden display is covered top-to-bottom with buckets of flowers and foliage, as you would find on the floor of the wholesale flower market.

The opposite side of the New Covent Garden display is covered top-to-bottom with buckets of flowers and foliage, as you would find on the floor of the wholesale flower market.

‘Behind Every Great Florist’ is the story of two sides intrinsically bound together in flowering London: London’s famous wholesale Flower Market on one side and its customers, independent florists, on the other. On the Market side, the Flower Market is represented in a vast wall of 112 market buckets, iconic symbols of the Flower Market, each densely packed with fragrant green and white flowers and foliage echoing the massed displays at New Covent Garden Market. The uniformity of the rows breaks down towards the middle, as the buckets and flowers are pulled into a central core. Emerging on the opposite side, the Florist side, the flowers erupt in a breathtaking riot of colour; tiers of fragrant floral tapestry forming the iconic portrait of HM the Queen, representing the exquisite craft and creativity of London’s great florists.

Among the varieties of flowers and foliages on the Market side: philadelphus, freesias, arums, hydrangeas, lilies, guelder rose, lilac, freesias, tulips, phlox, lisianthus, phalaenopsis, hyacinths, carnations, roses, spray roses, gerbera, alstroemeria, euonymus, chrysanthemums, chincherinchee, skimmea, camellia, senecio.

On the Florist side, the massed tapestry of flowers includes hydrangea, delphinium, gladioli, clematis, sweet peas, anemones, lilac, carnations, lisianthus, gentians, phlox, cymbidium, gerberas, sweet williams, bouvardia, roses, arum lilies, chrysanthemums, snapdragons, ranunculus, alstroemeria, hyacinths, freesias, mokara and flag iris.

About New Covent Garden Flower Market        www.newcoventgardenmarket.com

New Covent Garden Flower Market is the UK’s largest Flower Market and supplies 75% of London’s florists. The Market flowers London and its customers range from small high-street shops, florist studios and flower stalls to high-end corporate, hotel and event florists.

New Covent Garden Market is currently going through an exciting redevelopment project. It will see the Flower Market relocate a few hundred metres down Nine Elms Lane where work has already started to build a new, better home for flowers. The new Flower Market will open in January 2017 and will ensure the wholesalers continue to flower London, and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, for many years to come.

About Veevers Carter      www.veeverscarter.com

Veevers Carter is one of London’s largest and most prestigious floral design and events companies. Established in 1984 by Ming Veevers Carter, the company has a fully-fledged team of florists, designers and operational staff that, alongside their sister company Event Concept, can realise an event of any size to an exceptional standard.

Veevers Carter works with some of London’s most sought-after venues and have built an enviable client list of corporate organisations, event organisers and private individuals both in the UK and internationally. This is among one of the most exciting projects the two companies have ever worked on.

American Grown Flowers at First Lady’s Luncheon

Friday, May 13th, 2016

americanGrownLogo Certified American Grown Proudly Sponsors First Lady’s Luncheon 

First Lady Michelle Obama makes remarks to an enthusiastic crowd at the Washington DC Hilton, as she is surrounded by American grown flowers.

First Lady Michelle Obama makes remarks to an enthusiastic crowd at the Washington DC Hilton, as she is surrounded by American grown flowers.

The Certified American Grown program was a proud sponsor of the 2016 First Lady’s Luncheon held May 12 in Washington, D.C.

An annual tradition hosted by the Congressional Club since 1912 to honor the first lady of the United States, the luncheon is 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.”

“This was a tremendous honor and opportunity for America’s flower farmers,” said Kasey Cronquist, administrator of the Certified American Grown program.

“We commend the Congressional Club’s decision to seek and source blooms grown here in the United States for such a wonderful tradition of honoring our first lady.”

The bouquets featured beautiful American Grown roses, peonies, stock, tulips, lilies, protea, Bells of Ireland, alstromeria, bupleurum, dianthus, freesia, lisianthus, ranunculus, viburnum, waxflower, ferns, leatherleaf and curly willow.

Representing American Grown from left to right are Daevid Reed, Tim Dewey, Bill Frymoyer, Diana Roy, David Register, Lane DeVries, Kasey Cronquist, David Beahm and seated are Andrea Gagnon, Debra Prinzing and Rita Jo Shoultz

Representing American Grown from left to right are Daevid Reed, Tim Dewey,
Bill Frymoyer, Diana Roy, David Register, Lane DeVries, Kasey Cronquist, David Beahm and seated are Andrea Gagnon, Debra Prinzing and Rita Jo Shoultz

The centerpieces were designed by 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.

Episode 245: A Strong and Beautiful Alliance, Part Three of our North Bay Flower Collective series

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016
Jordan Uth of Heidrun Meadery, Horticulturist & Flower Farmer, shows off the fresh spring bouquet made in collaboration with Heather Frye of Venn Floral.

Jordan Uth of Heidrun Meadery, Horticulturist & Flower Farmer, shows off the fresh spring bouquet made in collaboration with Heather Frye of Venn Floral.

download I’m really excited to share today’s episode with you, recorded during my two-day trip in March into a special kind of floral wonderland to meet the farmers, florists and growers of Sonoma County, north of San Francisco.

It’s our third episode featuring members of the North Bay Flower Collective who invited me to spend time touring flower farms, visiting design studios and learning more about the stories of their community.

Community is the operative word here, because there is such an intense, intentional and caring sense of purpose that the Collective embodies.

The idyllic landscape beyond Heidrun Meadery in Pt. Reyes Station, California.

The idyllic landscape beyond Heidrun Meadery in Pt. Reyes Station, California.

We recorded this segment at quite an amazing place in Pt. Reyes Station, California, where Daniele Strawn (my escort for the visit – and you’ll hear her voice occasionally), and I arrived on the morning of March 15th.

The place is called Heidrun Meadery, a beautiful destination that produces an old-world Champagne-style honey wine. There is a tasting bar, a garden patio, a greenhouse, bee garden and honey, as well as the magnificent fermented honey wine.

Heather Frye (left) of Venn Floral and Jordan Uth (right) of Heidrun Meadery, two members of the North Bay Flower Collective's core group.

Heather Frye (left) of Venn Floral and Jordan Uth (right) of Heidrun Meadery, two members of the North Bay Flower Collective’s core group.

Welcoming us were today’s two guests, Jordan Uth, Heidrun’s flower farmer and floral designer, and Heather Frye, co-owner of Venn Floral, an event floral and styling service based in Sebastapol.

Do the math!!! Plant and grow flowers!!

Do the math!!! Plant and grow flowers!!

The surprising array of Mead featuring nectar varietals grown or tended to by Jordan Uth.

The surprising array of Mead featuring nectar varietals grown or tended to by Jordan Uth.

READ MORE…

Happy Mother’s Day from Slow Flowers

Friday, May 6th, 2016
All local Northwest-grown flowers for Mother's Day from some of my favorite flower farmers, including Ojeda Farms, Triple Wren Farm, Jello Mold Farm, Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

All local Northwest-grown flowers for Mother’s Day from some of my favorite flower farmers, including Ojeda Farms, Triple Wren Farm, Jello Mold Farm, Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

Make it Local for Your Mother’s Day Bouquets
Debra Prinzing’s Slowflowers.com is a free, nationwide, online directory of American flowers and the farms, shops, studios and designers that supply those blooms. We’ve just added a special link for Canadian-grown flowers, farms, and studios, too. Show your love with local flowers on Mother’s Day, with more than 700 floral members in 48 states to choose from.

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Decolores Flores

Here is a gallery of the diverse American-grown offerings you’ll find at Slowflowers.com.

Tammy Chinn
Decolores Flores (Watsonville, California)

From seed to bouquet:

Alstroemeria, peonies, cerinthe, oenothera, plum branches and roses in an up-cycled cobalt vase. $35 plus delivery in Watsonville/Monterey Bay/Santa Cruz County.

Phone: 831-239-5954
email:  pordecoloresflores@gmail.com

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Erika’s Fresh Flowers

Kathleen Barber
Erika’s Fresh Flowers (Warrenton, Oregon)

Treat Mom to a bouquet-a-month during the farm’s prime growing season (May-September). Give her a bouquet that is locally grown, freshly picked and artistically arranged. Erika’s Fresh Flowers offers the five-month flower subscription for Mother’s Day 2016 for $125.
Order by May 8, 2016, at erikasfreshflowers.com/purchase/.

Erika’s delivers to homes and businesses in Astoria, Warrenton/Hammond, Gearhart and Seaside, Oregon.
Phone: 503-791-0538
email: Kathleen@erikasfreshflowers.com

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eTilth Urban Designs

Grace Hensley
eTilth Urban Designs (Seattle, Washington)
Grab-and-Go Contain Gardens for Mother’s Day, Both for shady porches, $100 each for pickup in Seattle:

  • An exciting Gold and Flame container featuring Coprosma ‘Tequila Sunrise’, Fuchsia ‘Autumnale’ Redhook Sedge (Uncinia rubra ‘Belinda’s Find’) and Begonia Illumination Golden Picotee.
  • A cool Mermaid Container, featuring Heuchera ‘Blackout’, Aquilegia alpina, Festuca ‘Beyond Blue’, Hosta ‘Hadspen Blue’ and Bacopa ‘Gulliver Blue’.

Phone: 206-388-6955
email: grace@etilth.com

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First & Bloom

Tami Meyer
First and Bloom (Issaquah, Washington)

Can’t take my eyes off you! This one-of-a-kind arrangement will capture all eyes with its vivacious spring colors and 100% American grown blooms, $140 local delivery or pick up for Seattle’s Eastside.

Phone: 425-455-4614
email: info@firstandbloom.com

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Gorgeous and Green

Pilar Zuniga
Gorgeous and Green (Berkeley, California)

A hand tied bouquet: Fresh, local grown and organic flowers wrapped in paper and delivered by bike to Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville or available for pickup from the Oakland studio, $50, $85, $120 or $195.
Phone: 510-665-7974
email: shop@gorgeousandgreen.com

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Kailla Platt Flowers

Kailla Platt
Kailla Platt Flowers (Portland, Oregon)

Garden-inspired floral design for Mother’s Day using 100% locally grown flowers like Peonies, Iris, Ranunculus, Snapdragons, Columbine and Roses, with lush greens and botanical textures, tucked into a vase for easy presentation. For pick-up or local delivery in Portland, Oregon. $50 and up plus $10 delivery fee.
Phone: 503-709-6680
email: k@kaillaplattflowers.com

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Mary Clark Flowers

Adele Hinkley
Mary Clark Flowers (Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada)

This delicate display in a vintage Canadian-made mason jar is the perfect Mother’s Day gift. Sweet and simple flowers fill this vase, expressing your sentiment, $50-$70. Delivery for each of these items is included for Agassiz, Chilliwack, Rosedale and Sardis, B.C. Visitors are for studio pick-up.
Phone: 604-796-0666 or 866-792-0666
email: sales@maryclarkflowers.com

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Mudy Feet Flower Farm

Kristin Burrello
Muddy Feet Flower Farm (Ashford, Connecticut)
Fresh, local, farm-grown spring flowers artfully arranged in muddy feet flower farm’s signature style and displayed in a vintage tea cup and saucer,  $50. Order online at muddyfeetflowerfarm.com. Pick-up locations available on Saturday, May 7:

  • Wintertime Farmers Market at Hope Artiste Village, Pawtucket, RI,  9am-1pm
  • Ellington Farmers Market, Ellington, CT 9am-12pm
  • Muddy Feet Flower Farm in Ashford, CT 2pm-6pm

Delivery available to Westport, CT Friday, May 6

Phone: 773-355-0177
email: muddyfeetflowers@gmail.com

sparrow nest the best

Rose Mountain Floral

Janet Walsh
Rose Mountain Floral (Kalispell, Montana)

“Sparrow’s Nest,” a Mother’s Day garden with local lilacs, and a variety of spring tulips, ranunculus, roses, spray roses, lisianthus and local huck with a symbolic nest tucked among the flowers. The moss-touched stone planter is ideal for plantings after Mother’s day, $79. Local delivery or pick-up available. This arrangement was designed for The Sparrow’s Nest, which provides housing for homeless high school students, with 12% of proceeds donated to the cause.

Phone: 406-752-7673
email: rosemountainfloral@gmail.com

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Sellwood Flower Co.

LauraLee Symes
Sellwood Flower Co. (Portland, Oregon)

A birch box complete with French striped ribbon, filled with premium Oregon- and Washington-grown flowers, $65 plus $10 delivery in the Portland Metro area or for pick-up at Sellwood Flower Co.

Phone:  503-719-5390
email: info@sellwoodflowerco.com

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Stargazer Barn

Stargazer Barn (national shipping from Arcata, California)

Send your mother 10 stems of American Grown “Rose Lilies” (variety is ‘Natalia’)  paired with 10 stem of Horsetail (Equisetum), $69.99+ $14 (FedEx Overnight Shipping nationwide) (+$10 to include vase)

web: https://www.stargazerbarn.com/

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Tanglebloom

Melissa Hessney Masters
Tanglebloom (Brookline, Vermont)

IMG_5520 Bouquets of sustainably-grown spring blooms including specialty tulips, flowering branches, and heirloom narcissus (photos of current harvest) for $20. Ready for giving, bunches are wrapped and tied with ribbon for pick-up at the Brookline, Vermont, farm. Also available at local markets including Vermont Country Market in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Or, Mom can enjoy beautiful local flowers all season long with a gift subscription to Tanglebloom’s Flower CSA (community supported agriculture). We’ll mail (or email) her a lovely gift card designed by an independent artist in time for the holiday. CSA subscriptions start at $95.

 

more info: tanglebloom.com/flower-csa
Phone: 802-365-0252
email: tanglebloomvt@gmail.com

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Terra Bella Flowers

Melissa Feveyear
Terra Bella Flowers (Seattle, Washington)

Terra Bella Flowers & Mercantile offers unique florals featuring premium, locally-sourced blooms and botanicals. Each vase and wrapped design is inspired from our surrounding woodlands, seasides and flower fields with prices starting at $45. Offering daily delivery throughout the greater Seattle area, we invite you to visit our store or to place orders online 24/7 at www.TerraBellaFlowers.com.

Phone:  206-783-0205
email: info@terrabellaflowers.com

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The Herb and Garden

Cindy Hanson
The Herb and Garden (Helena, Montana)

The Herb and Garden Bouquet in a ceramic vase, $25, with refills for $120. Local deliveries available.

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The Local Bouquet

Phone: 406-439-6478
email: theherbandgarden@gmail.com

Mary Kate Kinnane
The Local Bouquet (Compton, Rhode Island)

Consider a Mother’s Day gift for the mother who loves flowers and has a green thumb. The Farmer-Florist Design Series feature one-day intensives co-taught by Mary Kate Kinnane and a local flower farmer. Workshops highlight farming and design topics while allowing hands on growing and design techniques, a farm tour, a stylized mini shoot, and a beautiful farm-to-table dinner. Meet and learn from flower farmers and designer who support local and American grown flowers year round. Choose between one of three classes, each with a specific farm and design topic: $425 per workshop, with a 15% discount when you sign up for all three.

Phone: 401-598-6812
email: marykate@thelocalbouquet.com

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Two Little Buds

Mindy Francis
Two Little Buds (Hamilton, Ohio)

Gorgeous, locally grown ranunculus and anemones in a keepsake compote bowl, from $55 to $85 and up. Delivery available to Cincinnati and surrounding areas (check website for delivery range), $12-15. Pick-up available: Two Little Buds, 3431 Princeton Road, Ste 103, Hamilton, Ohio 45011 (513-737-8527); or Lane and Kate, 29 East High Street, Oxford, Ohio 45056 (513-523-1004)

email: twolittlebuds@fuse.net
web: www.twolittlebuds.com

Episode 244: Meet Mike A. Mellano, 3rd generation American flower farmer & ranunculus expert

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

aapeonies_logo This week we welcome a new Sponsor to the Slow Flowers Podcast — 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.

Click here to learn more about Alaska peonies and listen to Episode 102.

Follow Arctic Alaska Peonies on Facebook

Find Arctic Alaska Peonies on Instagram

Catch Arctic Alaska Peonies’ tweets on Twitter

Next up, today’s engaging guest is Mike Anthony Mellano.

I met “Mike A,” as he’s often called, in 2012, when the California Cut Flower Commission invited me to speak to their board meeting about The 50 Mile Bouquet and my passion for connecting consumers with the source of their flowers.

Mike A. Mellano, 3rd-generation flower farmer for Mellano & Co., speaking at the recent Field to Vase Dinner Tour at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

Mike A. Mellano, 3rd-generation flower farmer for Mellano & Co., speaking at the recent Field to Vase Dinner Tour at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

Grandfather Giovanni Mellano and his family in the early days after establishing Mellano & Co. in Los Angeles, 1925.

Grandfather Giovanni Mellano and his family in the early days after establishing Mellano & Co. in Los Angeles, 1925.

Early days at the Los Angeles Flower Market. The Mellano family has been involved for more than 90 years.

Early days at the Los Angeles Flower Market. The Mellano family has been involved for more than 90 years.

We’ve since crossed paths at many industry gatherings and I’m so impressed with Mike’s commitment to flower farming. His approach is to blend old-world Italian family traditions with modern and commercial innovation to grow and provide millions of American Grown flowers to today’s floral marketplace. Click here to read the History of the Mellano Family of Flower Farmers.

A rainbow of ranunculus at The Flower Fields, farmed by Mellano & Co.

A rainbow of ranunculus at The Flower Fields, farmed by Mellano & Co.

Love this! All photography, courtesy of Certified American Grown/Field to Vase Dinner.

Love this! All photography, courtesy of Certified American Grown/Field to Vase Dinner.

This interview took place on the morning of April 13th, prior to the Field to Vase Dinner held at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California. For the 2nd year, Mike was the “farmer-host” for that must-attend event. Unlike last year, I planned ahead for the podcast and was able to corner him for an interview at Mellano & Co. earlier in the day.

Mellano & Co. is a Certified American Grown flower farm.

Mellano & Co. is a Certified American Grown flower farm.

Here is a bit more about Mike Anthony:

Michael Anthony Mellano, Ph.D. is Chairman of the Board and Vice President of Production for Mellano & Company, a third generation cut flower production and distribution operation in San Luis Rey, California.  He joined the family business in 1988 after graduating from UC Riverside.

He is a Past President for the San Diego County Farm Bureau and past chairman for the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC).  He is currently a commissioner for the CCFC and chair of their Grower Research and Economic Development Committee.  He has been a long standing member of the USDA Floriculture Research Initiative Task Force, chairman and a Director of the Kee Kitayama Research Foundation and has served the last 8 years as the University of California representative to the national “Council for Agricultural Research, Extension & Teaching”.  Most recently Mike has accepted a board position with the American Floral Endowment.

Michael in the past also served as chairman for the California Ornamental Research Federation (CORF), was on the UC Davis Environmental Horticulture Department Advisory Committee and the grower representative to the USDA-Pacific Area Wide Program for Methyl Bromide Alternatives.

Michael received his B.S. in Plant Science and Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of California Riverside under Dr. Donald Cooksey where he focused on the molecular genetics of bacterial pathogens and copper resistance. The San Diego County Farm Bureau named him Farmer of the Year in 2015.

Michael is married to Valerie Mellano, Ph.D. the current chair of the Plant Science Department at Cal Poly Pomona. Together they have four wonderful and exceptional kids and one grandchild.

The Flower Fields has become a major tourism destination - connecting consumers with local flowers.

The Flower Fields has become a major tourism destination – connecting consumers with local flowers.

Dinner in The Flower Fields was divine!

Dinner in The Flower Fields was divine!

I know you’ll learn a great deal from our conversation and appreciate the passion and commitment Mike devotes to his family’s business.

Find Mellano & Co. on Facebook

Follow Mellano & Co. on Instagram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 95,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

American Flowers Week. Our Flower 'Fro designed by Susan McLeary, Passionflower Events.

American Flowers Week. Our Flower ‘Fro designed by Susan McLeary, Passionflower Events.

00507_DP_AFW_Logo_LRG-01 Just two days ago, On May 1st, we announced the 2016 American Flowers Week campaign. If you thought it was fun to be involved in this social-media-campaign last year, get ready for a bigger, better celebration this year — June 28 through July 4th.

Last year was our first time to devote an entire week promoting American Grown flowers, farmers and floral designers. This year, we’ll have a huge flower bucket filled with fun — all for the cause that is near and dear to our hearts.

2016 American Flowers Week Sponsors

2016 American Flowers Week Sponsors

Four industry sponsors have signed on with their financial support, including Certified American Grown Flowers, Syndicate Sales, Longfield Gardens and Mayesh Wholesale.

As I said in the press announcement, “Consumers are more conscious than ever about the origins of the goods they purchase, especially when it comes to food — and flowers. It’s important to raise awareness for and celebrate American grown flowers, as well as flower farmers who grow a diverse selection of botanicals for the cut flower trade. At the same time, we salute floral designers whose ethos and intent inspires them to source domestically.”

Earlier this week, I shared details about the 2016 American Flowers Week campaign with more than 700 Slowflowers.com members, unveiling new graphics and a “50 States of American Flowers” contest. The contest encourages farmers and florists to post photographs of their red-white-and-blue bouquets along with the hash-tag americangrownflowers on social media platforms. Entrants will be included in a drawing for a number of prizes.

2016Badge with no background You’ll find more information and resources at americanflowersweek.com. Downloadable fact sheets, infographics and the 2016 American Flowers Week logo and social media badges are available for growers and florists to use for their own marketing and promotion efforts.

Submissions to the “50 States of American Grown Flowers” contest will highlight local flowers from across the country. Slowflowers.com member farms and florists are invited to submit their designs to a gallery that we will share with the media during American Flowers Week. Our goal is to showcase the botanical and seasonal beauty from flower farms and designers in all 50 states.

Participate in the “50 States of American Grown Flowers” Contest here.

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 and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Announcing 2016 American Flowers Week

Sunday, May 1st, 2016
Slowflowers.com member Susan McLeary of Passonflower Events designed our 2016 Flower 'Fro, worn by the beautiful Monique Montri; makeup by Hannah Butler; photography by Amanda Dumouchelle

Slowflowers.com member Susan McLeary of Passonflower Events designed our 2016 Flower ‘Fro, worn by the beautiful Monique Montri; makeup by Hannah Butler; photography by Amanda Dumouchelle

I know it’s May Day and perhaps that’s early to be thinking about Independence Day, but I want you to plan ahead for the second annual American Flowers Week celebration, which will take place June 28-July 4, 2016.

Today we announced the launch of American Flowers Week 2016. You can read the entire press release here. I wanted to get you the news early to encourage The Slow Flowers Community of farmers, designers, florists and wholesalers to have advance details for own marketing and social media activities.

Here are some of the ways you can get involved:

  1. 2016Badge with no background Download the “I’m Joining American Flowers Week” badge and add it to your web site, blog, or social sites. Please use #americanflowersweek when you post. We’ve hired Keyhole.co to track our social media impressions on Instagram and Twitter, so let’s make sure every single mention is counted!
  2. Share our Social Media Tools, including graphics formatted for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Find those here. Please link to americanflowersweek.com when you do so! You can also follow and tag @myslowflowers on Instagram and Twitter. We’ll follow you back!
  3. Create your own promotions! Some of our favorite ideas include designing a special bouquet or flower offering during American Flowers Week and advertising it to your customers. Use our graphics and encourage your own tribe to join the fun of this celebration. Create some floral fireworks!

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    Our logo is available in 3 sizes for your use.

  4. Design a Red-White-and-Blue bouquet and share it as part of our 50 States of American Flowers contest. This is open to all members of Slowflowers.com — you can sign up here, either as an individual or a team. Submit photography of a bouquet or arrangement between May 1st and June 15th and we’ll add it to our US Map of Flowers.
  5. Share your ideas! We want to hear them — and your suggestions will encourage others to get involved.

Last year, in just 30 days, #americanflowersweek generated more than 400,000 impressions on Instagram and Twitter (Facebook is hard to track, so we didn’t count those — meaning, the number was likely even higher).

Let’s boost those numbers for 2016. In doing so, we’re changing the conversation about American Grown Flowers and the farmers and florists behind those blooms.

Episode 243: More About Missouri Grown with Two St. Louis-based Slow Flowers Voices

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

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Seasonal branches from Flower Hill Farm paired with seasonal blooms from Urban Buds for my stage arrangement at St. Louis Art Museum.

Seasonal branches from Flower Hill Farm paired with seasonal blooms from Urban Buds for my stage arrangement at St. Louis Art Museum.

In March I visited Urban Buds, a flower farm in the heart of St. Louis owned by Mimo Davis and Miranda Duschack.

And I know the conversation we recorded for this Podcast (click to hear Episode 238) inspired many of you interested in flower farming in the heart of a city as an alternative to using only rural land.

On that same visit to St. Louis, I also met others in The Slow Flowers Community, including several who attended my lecture and design presentation at the St. Louis Art Museum’s Art in Bloom. Two of those Missourians are guests of today’s podcast.

Vicki Lander and Jack Oglander of Flower Hill Farm.

Vicki Lander and Jack Oglander of Flower Hill Farm.

First up, you’ll hear my conversation with Vicki Lander of Flower Hill Farm.

Vickie and her husband Jack Oglander grow flowers on 35-acres of rolling hills, fields, and woods located in Beaufort, Missouri, one hour west of St. Louis.

In their fifth year of production, it’s their mission to continuously improve the art and science of flower farming.

Flower Hill Farm sells flowers to florists, designers, DIY brides restaurants and distributors, and at a local farmer’s markets  in the greater St. Louis area.

Flower Hill Farm's fields at the peak of summer.

Flower Hill Farm’s fields at the peak of summer.

The farm offers wedding and special event customers the freshest, locally-grown flowers possible and is a popular destination for “pick your own” custom parties designed for couples, families and friends preparing for their wedding ceremony.

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A heart filled with lovely Flower Hill Farm zinnias

Flower Hill Farm is guided by Sustainable practices, using organic farming methods. The farm has not pursued USDA Certified Organic labeling.

Vicki and Jack participate in a farmer-to-farmer certification program called Certified Naturally Grown, which is based on similar standards. Instead of using synthetically-derived fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, the couple strives to build good soil by amending with organic materials and minerals.

They tackle weeds and insect pests in a way that honors their commitment to long-term care of their farm, their watershed, their environment and the earth. To Vickie and Jack, farming practices matter, even if you don’t eat the flowers.

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At work on Flower Hill Farm.

Flower Hill Farm delights in providing to those who value and seek out locally grown choices. As they explain on their web site: “What gives us pleasure is offering the freshest flower-buying experience. We love it when someone looks at our flowers, a smile emerges, and the thought, the question arises: Who can I give these flowers to…..?”

Vicki describes herself this way: Somebody loves flowers.  Somebody loves sourcing just the right seeds that, if not collect and saved from her own farm, come from organic (if possible) and caring growers. Somebody loves planning, planting and caring for each seedling, watering, transplanting and tending to it. Somebody loves “vase life trials.” Somebody especially loves hands in dirt (soil, that is) and casting her shadow on her growing field. That someone would be Vicki Lander.

On the other hand, Farmer Jack (Jack Oglander), says he thinks farming is challenging. Farmers wear lots of hats, and must know how to handle many tools, responsibilities and physical tasks. Building and machine maintenance, irrigation, pruning, grounds keeping and fencing are current and ongoing projects– not to mention tilling, weeding, trimming and taking out the compost… Many farmers make invaluable use of a lifetime of experience when they wake up to a new morning…  Some don’t have that lifelong advantage.  At Flower Hill Farm, many of these tasks are up to Jack….  He’s still new to farming.  He thinks his title should be: Assistant Branch Manager.

Aerial view of Flower Hill Farm~ lush, green, magical.

Aerial view of Flower Hill Farm~ lush, green, magical.

Vicki and Jack reached out to me before I came to St. Louis and offered to supply what they could for my design demo and lecture, despite the early time of year. They cut the most beautiful quince and forced it for me, as well as tender curly willow branches just starting to leaf out. We didn’t think we would have time to record a conversation, but when Vicki delivered the branches to me, we grabbed a short interview in her car. You’ll enjoy hearing her story and how she and Jack are developing a beautiful chapter of their lives at Flower Hill Farm.

Follow Flower Hill Farm on Facebook

Flower Hill Farm on Instagram

Flowers (left) and Plants (right) at Jessica Douglass's cool flower & plant shop in downtown St. Louis, called "Flowers and Weeds."

Flowers (left) and Plants (right) at Jessica Douglass’s cool flower & plant shop in downtown St. Louis, called “Flowers and Weeds.”

Flowers and Weeds

Flowers and Weeds

On the same trip, I also met and spent time with St. Louis florist Jessica Douglass.

Jessica and I were introduced virtually by our mutual friend Sally Vander Wyst, a Slow Flowers member in Milwaukie, Wisconsin, whose voice and story you’ve heard previously on this Podcast (we met and recorded that interview during The Flower House opening last October).

When Sally heard  that I was heading to St. Louis, she told Jessica and I that we must meet — and I’m so happy that we did.

Jessica is the owner of a perfectly-named business: Flowers and Weeds, a retail floral studio and plant emporium on Cherokee Street in St. Louis. There is a greenhouse and a cutting garden, as well as a design studio where Jessica and her team create a popular selection of terrariums as well as romantic, free-form floral designs that allow flowers to have their own movement, inspired by the garden and nature.

The Cutting Garden at Flowers and Weeds

The Cutting Garden at Flowers and Weeds

Jessica Douglass and I posed near her beautiful floral entry for the St. Louis Art Museum's Art in Bloom exhibition.

Jessica Douglass and I posed near her beautiful floral entry for the St. Louis Art Museum’s Art in Bloom exhibition.

With an on-site cutting garden of beautiful, seasonal flowers and herbs, Flowers and Weeds freely expresses year-round creativity.

Jessica believes it’s important to use what is currently beautiful and blooming, embracing seasons to include anything from spring’s ranunculus and freesia, to winter’s juniper and kale.

Her goal is to be as sustainable as possible as a designer and she states: If we can’t grow it, then we are committed to finding locally sourced flowers that are sustainably grown.

I didn’t have my wits about me when I met Jessica for dinner just after I arrived on my flight from Seattle to St. Louis.

We recorded this interview via Skype a few weeks later to combine with Vicki’s and my conversation. As it turns out, Jessica is a customer of Flower Hill Farm and she often features their flowers in her designs. So this is a perfect pairing to share with you today.

A Flowers and Weeds mini-terrarium

A Flowers and Weeds mini-terrarium

The Planting Bar at Flowers and Weeds

Jessica gets hands-on at the Terrarium table at Flowers and Weeds

Follow Flowers and Weeds on Facebook

Follow Flowers and Weeds on Instagram

Thanks for joining today’s podcast. I learned so much and gained new insights into the business of flower farming and floral design through these conversations — and I know that you’ll want to check out Flower Hill Farm and Flowers and Weeds via their online sites . . . and if you should ever make it to St. Louis, be sure to visit them and see their flowers.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 94,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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.

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 and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Episode 242: North Bay Flower Collective, a Progressive Farmer-Florist Community

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

download This is the second episode featuring members of the North Bay Flower Collective who invited me to spend two days in Sonoma County last month to tour flower farms, visit design studios and learn more about the stories of their community.

We recorded this segment at Full Bloom Farm, located just outside Sebastopol.

There, flower farmer Hedda Brorstrom welcomed me to her family’s idyllic property where old fruit trees and a flock of hens populate the grounds, along with a greenhouse and huge fenced growing area for Hedda’s organic flowers.

Inside the farmhouse, we gathered around the kitchen table for a delicious home-made meal to break bread with Daniele Strawn and Seth Chapin, other members of the North Bay Flower Collective. After lunch, we walked outdoors to record this episode while seated in the heart of the garden with sunshine on our shoulders and the breezes of an almost-spring day blowing by.

Today's guests, from left: Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Farm; Daniele Strawn of Chica Bloom Farm; and Seth Chapin of Evermore Flowers

Today’s guests, from left: Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Farm; Daniele Strawn of Chica Bloom Farm; and Seth Chapin of Evermore Flowers

Our topic: The Evolution and Events of North Bay Flower Collective, including its origins, the individual paths that led each of these three to the collaborative group, and highlights of the past year’s accomplishments, especially in public education, outreach and promotion.

Daniele Strawn, one half of Chica Bloom Farm

Daniele Strawn, one half of Chica Bloom Farm (c) Julian Lindemuth

We didn’t plan it this way, but it seemed fitting to begin this episode with a bonus interview I recorded with Daniele, who is a partner in Chica Bloom Farm.

Daniele was one of the people who offered to chauffeur me around, so we spent quite a bit of time chatting about the business model that she and past and present business partners created for Chica Bloom.

I asked Daniele to let me record a little background about her flower farm, so you’ll hear that conversation first before I reintroduce her along with Hedda and Seth who share their stories as well.

Here is more about each one of these talented individuals. All three farmer-florists are Slow Flowers members with their individual businesses as well as through the North Bay Flower Collective.

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Dirty Hands, Pretty Flowers (c) Betany Coffland

Daniele Allion Strawn is a youth advocate, farm advocate and an ol’ fashioned country girl at heart. She paired up with partner Ariana Reguzzoni and Chica Bloom in February of 2013.

Among the many perks of working on a farm and designing flowers, she appreciates getting her hands dirty (weeding = therapy), observing the complexity of flower growth from seed to seed and creating unique arrangements – ripe with diverse textures and bold colors.

In her free moments, she enjoys riding and spending time with her horse-friend, Penguina. Daniele and her husband, Jeremy, live in the quaint hamlet of Bloomfield, CA (just down the road towards the coast) along with their princess-diva kitty, Ammi majus(ty). They were lucky to get married on the farm with their flowers grown and designed by Chica Bloom Farm.

A Chica Bloom bridal bouquet. Photo, courtesy of the bride, Emily Hunt

A Chica Bloom bridal bouquet. Photo, courtesy of the bride, Emily Hunt

Chica Bloom Farm is a small sustainable flower farm in Petaluma that grows over 60 varieties of cut flowers for unique bouquets, special events and a Flower CSA program.

The farm specializes in a “farm-chic” design style based on seasonal varieties that grow well in coastal Sonoma County.

Ariana and Daniele say this on the Chica Bloom web site:

We believe that growing these beautiful plants should help soil, water, air and other creatures instead of hurt them. For this reason, we don’t use chemicals or pesticides that are harmful to the environment or ourselves in our farming practices.”

Chica Bloom’s web site: http://www.chicabloomfarm.com/
Chica Bloom on Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/chicabloomfarm/
Chica Bloom on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/ChicaBloomFarm

 

Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Flower Farm.

Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Flower Farm.

Next up, Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Flowers. Hedda lives for flowers. An interest in agoecology took hold from a young age, which she credits to having grown up in agricultural rich Sonoma County. Hedda completed her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley in Conservation and Resource Studies specializing in urban food landscapes and garden education. She worked in San Francisco for six years as a garden teacher and coordinator in the school system and at the Academy of Sciences. She holds a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz where her love for flowers grew out of control. Hedda also earned a certificate in herbalism from the California School of Herbal Studies and she makes a line of herbal products.

Here's Hedda, flower harvesting with one of her young nephews

Here’s Hedda, flower harvesting with one of her young nephews

Hedda says this on her web site:  “A strong believer in plant medicine, I love the power, elegance and joy a bouquet gives people. The craft and skill of both being the grower and the florist is an opportunity to give extra care and attention from planting the seed to designing the centerpiece.  Thank you so much for supporting organic, local flowers. The slow flower movement is the most beautiful revolution and I am proud to call it my passion.”

Full Bloom Flower Farm is proud to design lush, gorgeous arrangements using flowers grown in  abundant, chemical-free flower fields. Sitting on what was once a worm farm, Hedda farms  on about an acre with nearly 200 flower varieties.  Memorable designs are created with unique floral varieties, colors, textures and shapes to honor the season and bring plants to ceremony.

A Full Bloom Farm local & seasonal bouquet

A Full Bloom Farm local & seasonal bouquet

Full Bloom Flowers web site
Full Bloom Flowers on Facebook
Full Bloom Flowers on Instagram

Seth Chapin of Evermore Flowers

Seth Chapin of Evermore Flowers

And finally, please meet Seth Chapin of Evermore Flowers. Seth moved to California in 2009, wide-eyed and eager to dive into the thriving organic farm scene.

His Golden State beginnings overlooking the Monterey Bay at the fabled UC-Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems flooded his mind with inspiration and scientifically-based growing knowledge – and perhaps most importantly a love for cut flowers!

He has carried this love for the color, shape, and texture of flowers with him over the past five years, alongside a deeply seeded yearning to connect with the land.

With an ideal growing climate and the agricultural pulse of Napa as a foundation, Seth took note of the scarcity of local flowers in a valley where they play such a strong role in homes, restaurants, wineries, and events.

A whimsical Evermore Flowers design

A whimsical Evermore Flowers design

The genesis of Evermore Flowers* is rooted firmly in the belief that flowers should be grown locally with sustainable, soil-centric growing practices. Many conventional flower farms have traditionally been focused on production – flowers as a commodity. Much is harvested, but not enough is given back to the earth. As Seth explains: “We should remind ourselves that every seed we plant represents an intimate relationship with the land. A balance between input and output leaves us with invigorated soil that will sustain flower production for years to come.”

And by the way, the origins of the name “Evermore” can be traced to the beautiful folk ballad “The Battle of Evermore” by Led Zeppelin. A line within the song reminds us that “The ground is rich from tender care. Repay, do not forget.

Evermore Flowers web site: http://www.evermoreflowers.com/
Evermore Flowers on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sethkchapin/
Evermore Flowers on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seth.chapin.9

I know you’ll enjoy these conversations as we learn more about the North Bay Flower Collective. Here is more about the group, including their values and code of ethics:

GUIDING VALUES
As a collective, we aim:

  • To value cooperation over competition.
  • To be environmentally and socially responsible business people.
  • To provide our collective with educational and enrichment opportunities.
  • To work together to ensure economic viability within our flower collective.
  • To pay dues to the collective for providing us with educational, marketing and business opportunities and resources.

CODE OF ETHICS
Members of the collective agree:

  • To support locally grown flowers.
  • To make decisions based on majority consensus.
  • To promote transparency within the group.
  • To hold themselves accountable to environmental and socially responsible practices.
  • To pay an annual due, currently $25 per year, January­-January. This will not be prorated.
  • To attend at least 5 meetings per year and to volunteer a minimum of 5 hours per year.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 92,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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.

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.

Congratulations to Hannah and Andrew!!!

Congratulations to Hannah and Andrew!!!

At the end of each weeks episode, you hear me say this: The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Today I want to give my best wishes to Hannah and Andrew in honor of their upcoming marriage, which takes place this Saturday on April 23rd. I’m so excited that they’ve allowed me to create the florals for their ceremony and I wish these two talented friends much joy, love, happiness and a beautiful lifetime together.