Debra Prinzing

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Episode 264: Red Daisy Flower Farm in Denver with Megan McGuire, grower, designer and antiques dealer

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016
Welcome to Red Daisy Farm in Brighton, Colorado

Welcome to Red Daisy Farm in Brighton, Colorado (c) Andrea K. Grist photography

Before I introduce you to today’s inspiring guest, Megan McGuire of Red Daisy Farm outside Denver, I want to share more details about the upcoming Slow Flowers Creative Workshop that I’ll be co-teaching with Dundee Butcher of Russian River Flower School in Sonoma’s wine country — Monday, October 17th and Tuesday, October 18th.

00539_DP_CreativeWorkshop-02 This valuable workshop experience is designed to help you clarify, document and communicate your personal aesthetic message as a floral professional – in both written and visual formats suitable for your web site, social media and mobile platforms.

In a safe, supportive and intimate setting, our small group will focus on YOU! We’ll go deep into Slow Flowers “brand building” as each participant finds his or her own voice as a floral storyteller. If you’ve been thinking about investing in your businesses’ future, now is the time to sign up.

Meg (center) led a tour of her fields and high tunnels for our Slow Flowers Colorado Meet-Up guests.

Meg (center) led a tour of her fields and high tunnels for our Slow Flowers Colorado Meet-Up guests. (c) Andrea K. Grist photography

Flowers grown and designed by Meg McGuire of Red Daisy Farm

Flowers grown and designed by Meg McGuire of Red Daisy Farm

Now, I’m so pleased to return, at least in my memory, to Colorado. I spent several days in the Rocky Mountain State during the month of August, visiting flower farms, meeting talented designers and seeing their work, and recording several interviews.

Our fabulous group of flower friends gathered at the Rocky Mountain Field to Vase Dinner. From left: Andrea K. Grist, me, Alicia Schwede, Robyn Rissman, Meg McGuire, and Robin Taber

Our fabulous group of flower friends gathered at the Rocky Mountain Field to Vase Dinner. From left: Andrea K. Grist, me, Alicia Schwede, Robyn Rissman, Meg McGuire, and Robin Taber (c) Certified American Grown/Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

Today’s conversation is the third in my Colorado series, so if you missed the interview with Denver floral designer Robyn Rissman and her collaborator Alicia Schwede — the design team that created the Field to Vase Dinner flowers at The Fresh Herb Co., or if you missed the recent interview with Don Lareau and Daphne Yannakakis of Zephyros Farm and Garden, here are the links to those episodes:

Episode 260: Blooming in Colorado with Robyn Rissman of BareRoot Flora and Alicia Schwede of Bella Fiori Floral Design and Flirty Fleurs

Episode 262: Luxury flowers on Colorado’s Western Slope with Daphne Yannakakis and Don Lareau of Zephyros Farm & Garden

Meg McGuire and I enjoyed a relaxing morning recording this episode on the porch of her beautiful historic farmhouse (c) Andrea K. Grist

Meg McGuire and I enjoyed a relaxing morning recording this episode on the porch of her beautiful historic farmhouse (c) Andrea K. Grist photography

Another gorgeous arrangement designed by Meg McGuire, using flowers from her Colorado fields and high tunnels.

Another gorgeous arrangement designed by Meg McGuire, using flowers from her Colorado fields and high tunnels.

For years, Megan McGuire and her husband Terry Baumann had their eyes on a charming early 20th century farmhouse in Brighton, Colorado, just outside Denver. By the time that they finally became the owners, it seems as if the Red Daisy Farmhouse possesses them – but in a good way, a very good way.

Meg is a Slowflowers.com member and we’ve corresponded for nearly a year about my wanting to visit her if I returned to Colorado.

READ MORE…

Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill: Slow Flowers on the Road

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
Some of our group gathered in the flower field at Spring Forth Farm to grab a photo before dusk.

Some of our group gathered in the flower field at Spring Forth Farm to grab a photo before dusk.

Spring Forth Farm, owned by Jonathan and Megan Leiss, is a modern homestead, a small-acre flower farm, and a beautiful North Carolina gathering place for kindred spirits in the Slow Flowers Community.

I arrived in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area after already traveling for 10 days (Iowa, Pennyslvania, New Jersey and New York). So while I was exhausted, it took no time to be energized by conversations with new friends who grow flowers and design with those flowers.

Jonathan and Megan Leiss took the lead in hosting a Slow Flowers Meet-Up/potluck on their farm on Sunday, September 19th and we had a fantastic turnout of folks attending from across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee! As you will meet Spring Forth Farm and its owners in a future Slow Flowers Podcast episode, I’ll save their story and photos for that episode’s show notes. We didn’t capture too many after-dark photos during the Meet-Up, but here are a few, pulled from various guest’s social media feeds.

Laura Dison of Green Door Gourmet in Nashville, Tennessee, posted this great image of our Meet-Up after dark.

Laura Dison of Green Door Gourmet in Nashville, Tennessee, posted this great image of our Meet-Up after dark.

raleigh-meetup_3

Melissa Cipollone of Southern Drift Farm in Guyton, Georgia, added this Instagram post.

Hungry for community and connections, no one was disappointed. Dusk soon fell but the twinkling lights were just enough for us to gather underneath a quartet of pop-up market tents, lashed together to create one large pavilion for a circle of chairs.

Then . . . the rains came and we were treated to much-needed precipitation (from the farmers’ point of view) and quite a funny and wet experience that didn’t stop the conversation. But boy, was it hard to drive back to Durham in that weather (hat’s off to my wonderful hostess Katy Phillips, owner of Poesy Flower Farm, for her driving skills in the downstorm).

Thank you to everyone who attended the meet-up, for sharing your enthusiasm, your stories and your friendship. We witnessed important connections beginning . . . ones that will likely lead to a larger, super-regional Slow Flowers presence in other parts of the South.

SLOW FLOWERS CREATIVE WORKSHOP

On the following morning, the skies opened to blue and the sunshine came out — a perfect late summer day with temperatures in the mid-70s. The next part of my visit began with a Slow Flowers Creative Workshop planned by the core team behind our Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Meet-Up and hosted by Maggie Smith of Pine State Flowers. Maggie’s story will also be the subject of a future Slow Flowers Podcast, so stay tuned for that episode in the coming weeks. She owns a charming retail shop in a small building filled with character and history — can’t wait for you to learn more!

Stretching our floral vocabulary with a writing exercise!

Stretching our floral vocabulary with a writing exercise!

About 20 of us began the workshop with a mini-storytelling exercise to stimulate the way we describe flowers, foliage and botanicals — and to think about new ways of writing and blogging about what we create. Imagine taking a full-day workshop curriculum and boiling it down to 45 minutes! So I hope the participants were inspired enough to explore those ideas and exercises in the future.

READ MORE…

Episode 260: Blooming in Colorado with Robyn Rissman of BareRoot Flora and Alicia Schwede of Bella Fiori Floral Design and Flirty Fleurs

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016
Amazing setting, beautiful flower farm, farm tables laden with local flowers and the gorgeous Colorado sky -- at the August 13th Field to Vase Dinner, flowers designed by today's guests.

Amazing setting, beautiful flower farm, farm tables laden with local flowers and the gorgeous Colorado sky — at the August 13th Field to Vase Dinner, flowers designed by today’s guests.

Earlier this month I returned to Longmont, Colorado, just outside Boulder, to a beautiful destination called The Fresh Herb Co.

Flower farmers Chet and Kristy Anderson, past guest of this podcast, again hosted an al fresco Field to Vase Dinner for the Certified American Grown campaign.

It was lovely to return to The Fresh Herb Co., Longmont, Co. I grabbed a photo with Niesha Blancas (F2V Dinner Tour social media expert) to commemorate the evening

It was lovely to return to The Fresh Herb Co., Longmont, Co. I grabbed a photo with Niesha Blancas (F2V Dinner Tour social media expert) to commemorate the evening

Kasey Cronquist (R) is the administrator of Certified American Grown and producer of the F2V Dinner Tour

Kasey Cronquist (R) is the administrator of Certified American Grown and producer of the F2V Dinner Tour

Slow Flowers and yours truly continues to be involved in the Field to Vase Dinner series — as a sponsor and co-host.

I have loved spending time in Colorado over the past several years, getting to know flower farming leaders like Chet and Kristy, and meeting others in the floral world, including designers, florists and retailers who value local flowers.

I flew into Denver three days before the August 13th event at The Fresh Herb Co. and picked up a rental car for what turned out to be a 5-hour drive west — across the state to the Western Slope of Colorado.

My destination was Zephyros Flower Farm, where Slow Flowers members Daphne Yannakakis and Don Lareau hosted me for a few days.

You’ll hear my interview with them in September. Another upcoming Colorado episode will introduce you to Megan McGuire of Red Daisy Farm in Brighton, where I spent a few nights after returning to the Front Range/Denver area.

Today, I’m delighted to introduce you to the design team responsible for creating the floral presentation at Boulder’s Field to Vase Dinner. Typically featured Field to Vase Dinner florists are selected from those who are active Slowflowers.com members, and this is considered a valuable opportunity and perk. At the beginning of 2016 when Kathleen Williford, the dinner tour’s former event planner, and I put our heads together, we were in immediate agreement that Robyn Rissman of Bare Root Flora in Denver was our top choice.

Alicia Schwede (L) and Robyn Rissman (R) at the Field to Vase Dinner Tour at The Fresh Herb Co. in Longmont, CO

Alicia Schwede (L) and Robyn Rissman (R) at the Field to Vase Dinner Tour at The Fresh Herb Co. in Longmont, CO

Flirty-Fleurs-Screenshot-of-Magazine-Cover When I reached out to Robyn to chat about the opportunity, our conversation turned to the Flirty Fleurs Magazine, a collaboration between Robyn and her good friend Alicia Schwede, of the Flirty Fleurs blog.

The publication has been produced each of the past two years and I’ve contributed articles to both the 2014 and 2015 editions, so while Robyn and I didn’t really know one another, she was familiar with my work and I was certainly familiar with her work.

During our phone conversation I was hit with a brainstorm and said: What if we asked Alicia to work with you on the flowers for the Field to Vase Dinner? And that was the cincher for the deal! Alicia’s deep ties to Colorado, where she lived and worked as a florist for more than a decade, made their partnership a natural option.

A lovely F2V tablescape, designed by collaborators Alicia Schwede and Robyn Rissman. They used Colorado, Alaska and California-grown blooms and American-made vases from Syndicate Sales.

A lovely F2V tablescape, designed by collaborators Alicia Schwede and Robyn Rissman. They used Colorado, Alaska and California-grown blooms and American-made vases from Syndicate Sales.

Robyn and Alicia came up with a "Boutonniere Table" for dinner guests to DIY their own wearable flowers.

Robyn and Alicia came up with a “Boutonniere Table” for dinner guests to DIY their own wearable flowers.

READ MORE…

Episode 255 It’s Our 3rd Anniversary of the SLOW FLOWERS Podcast with special guest Kasey Cronquist

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

PodcastLogo You hear me say this every Wednesday morning:

“This is the weekly podcast about American Flowers and the people who grow and design with them. It’s all about making a conscious choice and I invite you to join the conversation and the creative community as we discuss the vital topics of saving our domestic flower farms and supporting a floral industry that relies on a safe, seasonal and local supply of flowers and foliage.”

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

This podcast has been downloaded more than 107,000 times during the course of three years — in fact, the number of downloads in year three equal year one and year two combined — and that means more and more people are hearing the message of American grown flowers and the farmers and florists who bring those blooms to you.

The popularity of this podcast shouldn’t be measured in metrics alone, but here is a telling one: I remember being thrilled that 15,000 individual episodes had been heard at the close of the first year. Look how far we’ve come. I’m honored and humbled that you’re listening today and that so many wonderful voices have agreed to be part of this podcast celebrating American flowers.

The debut of the Slow Flowers Podcast preceded the launch of the Slowflowers.com directory by 10 months, but with the Podcast’s third birthday, I feel like all our Slow Flowers’ Milestones of the past year are intertwined and here are some of the significant strides worth acknowledgement and celebration:

  1. With today’s episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast, we have produced 156 consecutive weekly episodes of this internet radio program. On average, listeners download about 5,000 times each month. You can find the archives of this program on the right column of our home page. I’m always pleased to see that new listeners who’ve just discovered the Slow Flowers Podcast return to download earlier episodes in order to “catch up” on those conversations. ScreenShotSFHomePage
  1. web_Lg_FINAL_SF_Insta-01 (1) Slowflowers.com now has 700 listings across the country and in our new Canada section, and we’re building toward 1,000 members. In a market filled with imported flowers, Slow Flowers gives you essential tools to differentiate yourself and your floral business. The Benefits far surpass the modest investment of a $50 Standard or a $200 Premium membership. The site currently enjoys more than 4k monthly visits and 21k monthly page views. That’s pretty powerful!Other benefits are too vast to list in detail, so we’ve decided to create an infographic about the Values of your Slowflowers.com membership. Stay tuned for that useful resource — it will be available in the coming weeks.The Slow Flowers Community is vast and its impact and influence is magnified when our voices and stories are joined together as one. You are part of this network of like-minded flower farmers, floral designers and industry leaders who share passion for saving our domestic floral industry. Our Facebook forum offers support, encouragement and ideas for everyone who joins.Finally, your Slowflowers.com membership helps pay for public relations efforts to position the Slow Flowers story with print and digital media outlets in search of new content. The payoff means we enjoy ongoing media coverage that few members could achieve individually, but that’s entirely possible when we come together with a unified voice.
  2. Social Media. With the recent wrap-up of the 2nd annual American Flowers Week, we’ve been blown away by your participation across new and conventional media platforms. The hashtag #americanflowersweek produced a record-breaking 1.3 million potential impressions tracked on Instagram and Twitter alone.
  3. If that seems impressive, consider the reach and impact of the #slowflowers hash-tag. Last week I alluded to the fact that use of this hashtag is at an all-time high, reaching nearly 3.0 million impressions in a single month. The frequency is only increasing, so thank you for engaging with the message of slow flowers in your own postings.
Kasey Cronquist (left) with me at Pamela and Frank Arnosky's Texas Specialty Cut Flowers in Blanco, Texas for the Field to Vase Dinner in May.

Kasey Cronquist (left) with me at Pamela and Frank Arnosky’s Texas Specialty Cut Flowers in Blanco, Texas for the Field to Vase Dinner in May.

Okay, let’s get going on today’s episode. As has become a bit of a tradition, I’ve invited Kasey Cronquist to be today’s guest. Kasey and I have walked side-by-side through this dynamic chapter of American-grown flowers and a week doesn’t go by when we aren’t sharing ideas or comparing notes on the various projects and exciting cultural shifts we’re witnessing in domestic and local flower farming and floral design.

Kasey Cronquist, CEO & Ambassador for the California Cut Flower Commission.

Kasey Cronquist, CEO & Ambassador for the California Cut Flower Commission.

CertifiedAmericanGrownLogoCard Kasey is the CEO and Ambassador for the California Cut Flower Commission. He’s served in this capacity since 2007. He also administers the Certified American Grown  program.

Since joining CCFC,  Kasey has spearheaded an aggressive public affairs program targeting lawmakers in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

He is recognized as a leading voice for the American Grown Movement in the floral industry, encouraging buyers, retailers and consumers to source more locally grown blooms from domestic flower farmers. In addition to ongoing governmental affairs outreach, Kasey has worked closely with the CCFC marketing and promotion committee to develop strategic plans on behalf of both California flower farmers and farms across the U.S. through the Certified American Grown program.

The Certified American Grown Program produces the Field to Vase Dinner Tour -- and is a sponsor of this Podcast. Shown from left: Bill Prescott of Sun Valley Flower Farm, NYT Bestselling author Amy Stewart of "Flower Confidential", Kasey and me.

The Certified American Grown Program produces the Field to Vase Dinner Tour — and is a sponsor of this Podcast. Shown from left: Bill Prescott of Sun Valley Flower Farm, NYT Bestselling author Amy Stewart of “Flower Confidential”, Kasey and me.

As we discuss, I volunteer as a member of the Certified American Grown Council to guide the national advocacy and marketing program and Certified American Grown is a financial sponsor of Slow Flowers for 2016.

Kasey and I share the mutual goal of promoting domestic and locally-grown flowers as the highest-quality and most sustainably-grown cut flowers option in the marketplace.

Thank you for joining our conversation today and for joining me to virtually celebrate the 3rd anniversary of this Podcast.

I love the idea of COMMON GROUND, a concept that Kasey and I discuss at the close of our episode. We have so much more to gain by supporting one another in the cause of domestic flowers rather than pitting the idea of Local versus American Grown. All of us have more to gain than to lose by taking this positive approach that saves America’s flower farms, no matter in which state they’re rooted.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 107,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

sponsor bar Thank you to our sponsors:
Certified American Grown Flowers.
Syndicate Sales
Longfield Gardens
Arctic Alaska Peonies

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 246: Perfect Harmony with Flower Duet of Los Angeles

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
Kit Wertz (left) and Casey Schwartz (right), sisters and design partners in Flower Duet, photographed at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA, April 2016.

Kit Wertz (left) and Casey Schwartz (right), sisters and design partners in Flower Duet, photographed at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA, April 2016.

A few weeks ago you heard my conversation with Mike A. Mellano of Mellano & Co., a third generation flower farm in based in San Luis Rey, California. If you missed that episode, check it out here.

Mike was our farmer-host of the 2nd Field to Vase Dinner held at the famed Flower Fields in Carlsbad, north of San Diego, on April 13th. We discussed his Italian heritage that brought grandfather Giovanni Mellano to the U.S., as well as the founding of Mellano & Co. in 1928. We also talked about the current landscape for American grown flowers and attempted to forecast the future of our domestic flower-farming renaissance.

The Flower Duet design team on camera at The Flower Fields.

The Flower Duet design team on camera at The Flower Fields.

Today’s guests were also intimately involved in that dinner and they are part of the reason why Mike and I feel so optimistic about the future.

It is designers like Casey Coleman Schwartz and Kit Wertz, partners in Flower Duet, who are making a conscious effort to source their flowers and foliage from local farms in Southern California.

The beautiful Field to VaseDinner table amid a sea of ranunculus, designed by Flower Duet.

The beautiful Field to VaseDinner table amid a sea of ranunculus, designed by Flower Duet.

Sisters, Casey and Kit were the featured floral designers who created a lush, textural tablescape, wowing 150 guests seated at a farm table stretching between rows of a rainbow of Mellano-grown ranunculus. So the following morning we sat down to record this conversation.

My 2013 visit to Flower Duet led to a blossoming new friendship with Casey (left) and Kit (right).

My 2013 visit to Flower Duet led to a blossoming new friendship with Casey (left) and Kit (right).

FlowerDuet_white_Logo_web1 I’ve known Kit and Casey for three years, ever since they reviewed Slow Flowers for their Flower Duet monthly newsletter.

That prompted me to ask the sisters if I could schedule a book-release event at their studio as part of my Southern California tour in spring 2013. They generously agreed and we had a wonderful evening demonstration, reception and book signing for clients, students and friends.

Rich floral hues and a gold vessel, by Flower Duet.

Rich floral hues and a gold vessel, by Flower Duet.

It has been a load of fun to watch these two floral entrepreneurs take on a wide array of creative projects, including teaching at some of Southern California’s top cultural institutions, designing weddings from San Diego to Santa Barbara and everywhere between, and sharing their expertise and passion with others.

READ MORE…

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 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.

Episode 239: Flora Organica Designs and Faye Krause at the Arcata, CA Field to Vase Dinner

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

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On March 12th the first of several Field to Vase Dinners for 2016 took place inside a state-of-the-art greenhouse in Arcata, California –  Humboldt County, located way, way up north in the Redwoods.

What a stunning installation, transforming a working greenhouse into a glorious dinner party setting at Sun Valley Flower Farm (c) Amy Kumler

What a stunning installation, transforming a working greenhouse into a glorious dinner party setting at Sun Valley Flower Farm (c) Amy Kumler

Faye's concept for the installation was Tulips + Bulbs overhead as the chandelier and color blocked tulips in vases down the center of the table (c) by Amy Kumler

Faye’s concept for the installation was Tulips + Bulbs overhead as the chandelier and color blocked tulips in vases down the center of the table (c) by Amy Kumler

The venue: Sun Valley Flower Farm, a leading grower of cut bulb and field flowers in the United States. According to its web site, Sun Valley chose this area as an ideal environment for growing bulb flowers, due to its mild winters, cool summers, generous humidity and coastally moderated sunlight. The fields surrounding the greenhouses also provide excellent growing conditions for spring, summer and fall iris, and summer flowers including crocosmia, hypericum, and monkshood.

Endless tulips!! (c) by Amy Kumler

Endless tulips!! (c) by Amy Kumler

On March 12th, the celebration was all about American-grown tulips and other-spring flowering bulbs — hundreds of thousands of them in all their colorful glory.

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The Flower House Virtual Tour Part 4 with David Beahm and Daevid Reed (Episode 232)

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016
Daevid Reed (l), Lisa Waud (c) and David Beahm (r), captured in a moment of sheer joy by photographer Heather Saunders at the Field to Vase Dinner, The Flower House, Detroit.

Daevid Reed (l), Lisa Waud (c) and David Beahm (r), captured in a moment of sheer joy by photographer Heather Saunders at the Field to Vase Dinner, The Flower House, Detroit.

Another view of the hanging pieces

The Seattle floral design community’s reimagined, Flower House-inspired botanical art installation

I have two cool Flower House-related segments to share with you today.

First, I want to share a short conversation with photographer Andrew Buchanan of Subtle Light Photography as we discuss his innovative idea to document the sculptural floral art installation at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, which was led by Lisa Waud of The Flower House for the Seattle design community on January 19th. I featured highlights of the January 19th installation day in an earlier episode here.

Enjoy my quick interview that I recorded with Andrew and then view the amazing time-lapse movie that he filmed and edited – shown below. I’m amazed by the power of visual storytelling through this medium and applaud Andrew’s artistry and generosity. I’m honored and grateful that he volunteered his talents for everyone to enjoy!

Based in Seattle, Andrew Buchanan specializes in architectural photography, interiors photography, helicopter aerial photography, land design photography, and hotel and resort photography in Seattle and throughout the Pacific Northwest. Andrew offers photography of architecture, interiors, commercial and public spaces, and other built environments to design and marketing professionals, hotels and resorts, developers, magazines, and advertisers needing compelling, graphic photos of The Spaces Where We Live, Work, and Play. Please start on a Gallery page to see some of Andrew’s work or download his PDF portfolio to keep with youRead more about Andrew here.

ENJOY THIS FABULOUS VIDEO, COURTESY OF ANDREW BUCHANAN:

SeattleWholesaleGrowersMarket-LisaWaud-16Jan from Andrew Buchanan on Vimeo.

You can find the video and all of Andrew’s “motion” work at his online gallery here.

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Floral Spectacle in Seattle, inspired by The Flower House (Episode 230)

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

“We can imagine it and we can do it,” Diane Szukovathy, Jello Mold Farm & Seattle Wholesale Growers Market

Lisa Waud, artist, innovator, entrpreneur, floral designer and creator of The Flower House (Detroit). She's standing in front of the base of the tree-inspired sculpture installed by her students at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

Lisa Waud, artist, innovator, entrpreneur, floral designer and creator of The Flower House (Detroit). She’s standing in front of the base of the tree-inspired sculpture installed by her students at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

A botanical tree grows up the walls and across the ceiling of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market

A botanical tree grows up the walls and across the ceiling of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market

Last week I told you about a series of Flower House activities taking place in Seattle with creator Lisa Waud. As I noted, Lisa has been on a West Coast tour which began on January 19th in Seattle, took her to Olympia and Portland, and continues until early next week in California.

As it turns out, I had a scheduled interview be postponed, so today, I’m bringing you a series of clips, short takes and conversations from the various events held at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market when Lisa was here. Please enjoy these sound-bites, beginning with remarks from flower farmer Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm, board chair at the Growers’ Market, as she introduced Lisa Waud’s Wednesday morning lecture.

Diane is followed by Lisa’s introductory remarks; then we’ll jump to several short interviews with designers who took part in a Master Design Class led by Lisa. Thirteen designers teamed up to experience a mini-version of the Flower House installation, creating a massive botanical sculpture within the Market’s walls in just under 4 hours on January 19th.

Early in the class, a team started building the "bones" of the sculptural installation, while other designers worked on the floral pieces, called "amoebas"

Early in the class, a team started building the “bones” of the sculptural installation, while other designers worked on the floral pieces, called “amoebas”

The team of amazing designers who were led through a 4-hour session with Lisa Waud (lisa is front, far left)

The team of amazing designers who were led through a 4-hour session with Lisa Waud (lisa is front, far left)

Love this hot, orange-red amoeba palette!

Love this hot, orange-red amoeba palette!

Led by Lisa, the designers went through the entire process that a Flower House designer probably experienced — from visioning, brainstorming, creative problem-solving and execution. Having watched the process first-hand, I have to say it was nothing less than Spectacular!

One of the fun things Lisa threw into the mix was a series of surprises that added pressure and tested the mettle of the designers, much like the Flower House team endured during the 3 days when they installed the Flower House.

So I played along as a member of the press, who showed up unannounced expecting people to stop what they were doing while I conducted an interview. That was just one of the crazy twists Lisa threw at her students. Another of her surprises was to add a “last minute” delivery of flowering branches — and challenging the designers to figure out how to incorporate those elements into an almost-finished composition.

In the end, well, all I can say is, these designers rose to the challenge and proved that the sum of their parts was far greater than anyone could have individually achieved.

The final installation is gloriously wild and magical.

The final installation is gloriously wild and magical.

The Seattle Wholesale Growers Market's 18-foot-high ceilings are perfect for the installation -- check out the I-beams.

The Seattle Wholesale Growers Market’s 18-foot-high ceilings are perfect for the installation — check out the I-beams.

Each of the five "amoebas" were woven with foliage, branches and flowers, with a specific color emphasis.

Each of the five “amoebas” were woven with foliage, branches and flowers, with a specific color emphasis.

Another view of the hanging pieces

Another view of the hanging pieces

Details of the pink and fuchsia amoeba

Details of the pink and fuchsia amoeba, fashioned with flowers and foliage from the farms that supply the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market

As you hear a series of clips, I will ask each person to introduce herself and her business, followed by a brief series of questions; and then we move onto another group of designers. This patchwork quilt of a podcast episode concludes with a 10-minute wrap-up session, a debrief with Lisa and the 13 designers, as they compare notes about the challenges and results of their time together.

Here is a list all the participants and their social media links — these are women you will want to follow if you haven’t yet discovered them!

Floressence, owned by Anne Bradfield

Terra Bella Flowers, owned by Melissa Feveyear

Splash Floral and Interiors, owned by Lisa Behringer

Columbia City Bouquet, owned by Emily Kopca

Gather, owned by Amy Kunkel-Patterson

Bash and Bloom, owned by Eleanor Blackford

Lola Creative, owned by Emily Ellen Anderson

Camas Design, owned by Erin Shackelford

First & Bloom, owned by Tammy Myers

Smashing Petals, owned by Keita Horn

Melanie Benson Floral, owned by Melanie Benson

Vases Wild, owned by Tobey Nelson

Casablanca Floral, owned by Maura Whalen

Finally, I have to state publicly, that this entire week of events could not have happened so successfully without the leadership and talents of the three staff of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market: Molly Sadowsky, Danielle Bennett, and Agnes Cwalina. They are amazing!

NEWS TO SHARE

This happened and it came as a total surprise!

This happened and it came as a total surprise!

I want to thank the flower farmers of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market for surprising me with a huge honor. Here is a link to the Market’s press release.

On January 19th, Slow Flowers hosted a dinner to honor Lisa Waud and to showcase the floral art installation she and her team had installed earlier that afternoon.

At the dinner, Diane Szukovathy took the mic and announced that the farmers had created a new award, called the Growers Choice Award, and that I was the first recipient. Later she told me it was the most fun scheming she’d had in a long time, which puts a huge smile on my face. I truly was astonished to receive this recognition–and the language is most meaningful because it recognizes “outstanding contributions to revitalize the local floral community.”

80K

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 80,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each and every 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 Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Music provided by: Audio Nautix