Debra Prinzing

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Episode 271: The flowering of Philadelphia with designer Dan Fingerhut of Floradelphia

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
Flutter Magazine's portrait of Dan Fingerhut, shared here with permission.

Flutter Magazine’s portrait of Dan Fingerhut, shared here with permission.

I’ve had Dan Fingerhut of Philadelphia on my radar for a few years and now that my youngest son is a college student in Philly, I added Dan to my wish list of people to connect with during a mom-visit. Lucky for me, that occurred in September.

Between shopping visits to Target and Ikea for apartment supplies, I snuck away from the campus scene to spend a morning with this inventive floral designer.

Dan Fingerhut is the creator of a busy little floral studio called Floradelphia. Every bouquet he creates dazzles the senses with scent and soul. As you will hear in our conversation, recorded at his postage stamp of a studio that he sublets from a hip art gallery just outside the Center City district, Dan got his start in flowers by wandering Philadelphia’s farmers markets. He was able to source gorgeous flowers but found it challenging to find foliage he liked, so he improvised with scented herbs and became hooked.

As a child, Dan could be found in bright sneakers and a paper crown, smelling the flowers, and imagining everyone living joyfully in a more flowered world.

Floradelphia, the name says it all. Flowers for Philadelphia!

Floradelphia, the name says it all. Flowers for Philadelphia!

Dan poses with a dahlia at the peak of season.

Dan poses with a dahlia at the peak of season.

One of the larger bouquets designed by Dan for local delivery. The vase is locally made by potter Brian Giniewski, whose work Dan promotes and sells.

One of the larger bouquets designed by Dan for local delivery. The vase is locally made by potter Brian Giniewski, whose work Dan promotes and sells.

Today that’s what he’s driven to create for all of his clients. Floradelphia is for everyone who loves fragrance and color; wants a fresh, organic and happy aesthetic; desires local and seasonal ingredients; and values thoughtful, personal service. The studio also teaches floral design and takes a limited number of weddings and events each year, booking up quickly.

A lovely, seasonal Floradelphia centerpiece

A lovely, seasonal Floradelphia centerpiece

According to Dan, Floradelphia is the first in Philadelphia to offer online delivery of local flowers. His flowers, herbs and vase arrangements provide an energizing, joyful, and fully sensory experience for the aesthetically oriented and eco-minded Philadelphia customer, including flower lovers, gardeners, nature enthusiasts, foodies, chefs, design lovers, aromatherapy and fragrance connoisseurs, and everyone who seeks wonderful flowers.

I snapped these photos in September when I spent a morning with Dan Fingerhut and followed him to one of the urban farms that supply his bouquets.

I snapped these photos in September when I spent a morning with Dan Fingerhut and followed him to one of the urban farms that supplies his bouquets.

Dan often gathers his arrangements in a locally-made vessel by potter Brian Giniewski. The artist’s Drip Pots are handmade in Philadelphia. The glossy glazes contrast with the grainy, matte finish of each vessel’s body. The glaze has been developed to melt in a particular way so that the drips can be ‘frozen’ at the perfect time during the firing process.

Floradelphia bouquet, by Dan Fingerhut

Floradelphia bouquet, by Dan Fingerhut

Flowers, herbs, and succulents are sourced locally, grown sustainably, and change with the seasons. Martha Stewart Living named Floradelphia one of the top floral designers to book for your wedding, BuzzFeed called its arrangement “basically works of art”, and Design Sponge recommended Floradelphia as a florist to follow on Instagram.

Ready for delivery!

Ready for delivery!

A whimsical arrangement featuring Brian Giniewski pottery and local ornamental cabbage.

A whimsical arrangement featuring Brian Giniewski pottery and local ornamental cabbage.

Thanks for joining today’s conversation! Be sure to view our show notes to meet Dan Fingerhut, see photos of his work, and follow along at his social places.

Floradelphia on Facebook

Floradelphia on Instgram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 130,500 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

sponsor-bar_sept_2016 Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2016: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens… providing home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

A fond thank you 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

And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

PodcastLogo I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Episode 270: Meet Mary Coombs and Dawn Clark of A Garden Party Florist, a New Jersey-based floral design, events and workshop studio

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

2up I’ve been wanting to visit Mary Coombs and Dawn Clark of A Garden Party Florist ever since we first met at a Chapel Designers conference in 2014. The sisters are based in Elmer, New Jersey, which is in the southern, rural area of the “Garden State.”

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Dawn Clark (left) and Mary Coombs (right) are a sister duo with so much love and passion behind their combined creative efforts.

I had an instant connection with Mary and Dawn when we met, because I sensed their passion for horticulture and floriculture, and appreciated their desire to weave local flowers into their business. As it turned out, what I sensed was incredibly accurate. These former 4-H’ers combine a cutting garden, floral design for weddings and events, and now design workshops and private gatherings at their new event space called A Milkhouse Party.

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Ready for the party! at A Milkhouse Party, the new event space.

On their web site, they write: we share gifts from our garden and treasures from our local growers. We spend an enormous amount of time and effort sourcing (and sometimes even growing!) these bits of beauty. The farm fresh deliveries are like Christmas morning!

sm_danielle-jeff-farm-to-table-wedding-photography-love-story-studios-0061 For many reasons, we focus on designing with as much locally grown material as possible:

  1. FRESHNESS: hand-picked from our garden by our team of designers and fresh deliveries from our local flower farmers, it just doesn’t get any fresher!
  2. VARIETY: Of those rare varieties, what garden gems they are! Also, we can hand pick the exact stems and the perfect shade of pink.
  3. ECO-FRIENDLY: This is a green industry for sure! Producing little non-compostable trash, much of our work goes back to the earth, so we should take care of it. Many of our local growers grow organically. The little bugs are a bonus in my book! 
  4. ORIGIN MATTERS: The farm to table movement has expanded to include the field to vase movement! We proudly sell locally grown and domestic blooms. We will admit that we do not sell 100% domestic product, but as the demand increases for US grown flowers, the US farms are growing as well!

We hope that our studio is aiding the SLOW FLOWERS movement in some small way. See our listing on SLOW FLOWERS or find another local florist near you committed to sourcing local flowers. 

Lush and local, a bountiful wedding bouquet by A Garden Party's Mary & Dawn.

Lush and local, a bountiful wedding bouquet by A Garden Party’s Mary & Dawn.

Mary, little sister, is mom to sons Lee – 6 and Sam – 3; she is a proud farmer’s wife (insert shameless plug for Coombs Sod Farms here), a hunter of garden gems, a lover of wine & cheese (who isn’t?), a collector of friends, a mama’s girl (youngest sibling trait?), a creator of pretty things, and a believer that the simplest things bring the greatest pleasure. Mary admits to being the extrovert in the partnership

Dawn, slightly older sister, is a happy mama to two beautiful girls (Grace, 11 and Leah, 7), an obsessive organizer, an avid reader with a kindle binge every now and then, a supporter of trashy reality tv, a true beach lover (work or play!) a hermit on Mondays, a loving wife to her even more introverted husband (she says she’s the outgoing one in that relationship) and a true believer in doing what she loves: flowers!

 

I am so encouraged by their involvement in Slowflowers.com, especially when I receive emails like on Mary sent me last season. Her subject line: “It is Working.”

 “I was meeting with a client last night and I asked her how she found us. Much to my delight, she found us via Slowflowers.com! She is a perfect fit for my company and I am proud to be listed on this site. Thank you for working so hard on this!”

READ MORE…

Episode 269: Living on a U-Pick Flower Farm and channeling your inner flower farmer, with Cathy Lafrenz of Miss Effie’s Country Flowers in Donahue, Iowa

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016
The cutting garden at Miss Effie's is filled with sun-loving annuals, old-fashioned favorites, and lots of surprises for U-Pick customers to take home. (c) Jean Zaputil Photography

The cutting garden at Miss Effie’s is filled with sun-loving annuals, old-fashioned favorites, and lots of surprises for U-Pick customers to take home. (c) Jean Zaputil Photography

Do you need to relax? Do you need a break from traffic jams and hectic schedules? Then you need to come to Miss Effie’s. Miss Effie’s is a U-Pick flower farm on the east coast of Iowa.

Called the "corn-zebo," this charming open-air structure is fashioned from a former corn-storage silo and decorated with a whimsical door and roof. Here's where tea is served, with views of farm fields beyond.

Called the “corn-zebo,” this charming open-air structure is fashioned from a former corn-storage silo and decorated with a whimsical door and roof. Here’s where tea is served, with views of farm fields beyond.

That’s the invitation from Cathy and Cliff “Honey” Lafrenz the real human flower farmers who preside over Miss Effie’s Country Flowers (and Garden Stuff), a picture-perfect, two-acre country farm. Visiting was on my to-do list this past September, when I traveled to the Quad Cities area, which is a metro hub that connects Iowa and Illinois across the Mississippi River.

Two views of "The Summer House" at Miss Effie's, a tiny country crafts store where flowers, fresh eggs, and fine handcrafted linens can be purchased.

Two views of “The Summer Kitchen” at Miss Effie’s, a tiny country crafts store where flowers, fresh eggs, and fine handcrafted linens can be purchased.

I was lured to the area for several reasons, including an invitation from a local garden club in Moline, Illinois, which invited me to present a lecture about the Slow Flowers Movement, followed by a hands-on design workshop for 25 members using only Iowa-grown flowers.

Jean Zaputil captured the character and detail in every view -- from quilting fabric (and kitty) to a small wood stove.

Jean Zaputil captured the character and detail in every view — from quilting fabric (and kitty) to a small wood stove.

When the garden club booked my lecture, I told them I wanted to source local flowers — and fortunately, Miss Effie’s isn’t too far outside of the urban core. The garden club members arranged their pickup of hundreds of Cathy’s beautiful blooms and took time to process and every beautiful stem in time for our workshop.

Cathy Lafrenz (aka Miss Effie) and I enjoyed refreshments and recorded this podcast episode inside the cool shade of her "corn-zebo"

Cathy Lafrenz (aka Miss Effie) and I enjoyed refreshments and recorded this podcast episode inside the cool shade of her “corn-zebo”

That left room in the schedule for me to visit Cathy for a private tour, for refreshments and to record this podcast. I couldn’t have done any of this without the help from my dear, longtime friend Jean Zaputil of Studio Z – Design & Photography in Davenport, Iowa. I’ve called Jean my “garden muse” for years and now that she has moved back to her childhood state after being in Seattle for more than two decades, I don’t get to see her very often. The occasion of coming to Quad Cities to lecture was really a chance to visit and play with Jean, tour Iowa, go antiquing, sit by the fire as her husband Mark played old Beatles songs on his guitar, and generally soak up the Iowa life.

Gotta love a motto like this one, spotted high on a barn in the cutting garden.

Gotta love a motto like this one, spotted high on a barn in the cutting garden.

As it happens, Jean and Cathy are also friends, and we made a fun morning of our visit. Jean documented Miss Effie’s charm, character and creativity with her camera, and I have her permission to publish those photos on the podcast show notes. All images are (c) Jean Zaputil.

Find all-American and all-local Iowa-grown flowers at Miss Effie's.

Find all-American and all-local Iowa-grown flowers at Miss Effie’s, plus the clothesline and flagpole flapping in the breeze.

Here’s more about Miss Effie’s from the farm’s welcome page:

READ MORE…

Slow Flowers Creative Workshop with Russian River Flower School

Thursday, October 27th, 2016
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Our wonderful group, from left: Dundee, Naomi, Julia, Susan, Kate, Debra & Emily, photogaphed in Dundee’s private garden in Healdsburg, CA

Dundee with her sweet Lab, "Joyce Muriel," who wasn't thrilled with her floral collar.

Dundee with her sweet Lab, “Joyce Muriel,” who wasn’t thrilled with her floral collar.

00539_DP_CreativeWorkshop-02 Earlier this month I had the distinct pleasure of teaching with Dundee Butcher of Russian River Flower School in Healdsburg, California.

This was a lovely chance to share the Floral Storytelling and Floral Memoir curriculum in one of the most inspiring places for followers of our Slow Flowers ethos.

I believe our inspiration comes from “place,” and there was no shortage of beautiful scenery, gorgeous botanicals and the most to-die-for studio space you’ve ever seen.

rrfsimg_2643 Dundee and her colleague Naomi Mcleod, along with their volunteer Vicki McFadden, hosted our workshop for two days in which we exercised our writing skills, stretched our perception of language, and stepped outside the comfort zones as florist-writers.

One of the participants said this about the value of the experience:

“The topic interested me since I have been on a mission to find where I am going with my business and how to incorporate our family farm and tell our story.

“I plan to use this as I update and rebrand my business and where I am going with it.”

 

Writing about flowers . . . it's kind of like meditation.

Writing about flowers . . . it’s kind of like meditation.

This is the third Creative Workshop and what I am finding most inspiring is how willing our participants suspend fear or apprehension and dive into unfamiliar exercises to express themselves through words. I salute everyone involved for the way they encouraged and supported one another — that makes a huge difference during any creative process, right?!

I love Kate's concentration as she writes about a dahlia!

I love Kate’s concentration as she writes about a dahlia!

What drew people to take this workshop and invest in themselves in a new way? Here’s a sampling of the reasons:

“I lost track of my connection to creativity. I could stand behind another designer and sell someone else’s work, but not my own. I want to use flowers to tell a story.”

“I became so separate from who I am, and I started thinking ‘what would I do if I could do anything I dreamed of?'”

Our writing exercises ranged from simple botanical descriptions (describe a rose without using the word rose, for example), to playing with new ways of naming color, to journaling about our earliest memory of nature, flowers or art. The ultimate goal? To identify our “why,” our “North Star,” our personal value system that underscores our brand.

READ MORE…

America’s Flower Farmers and Floral Designers Reveal “Slow Holiday Decor” Tips and Techniques Using Local and Seasonal Botanicals

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016
Use a grapevine wreath base to simplify DIY decor. Beth Syphers of Crowley House Flower Farm in Rickreall, OR, taught her student Kaylean Martin how to create a lush harvest wreath with foraged greens and more.

Use a grapevine wreath base to simplify DIY decor. Beth Syphers of Crowley House Flower Farm in Rickreall, OR, taught her student Kaylean Martin how to create a lush harvest wreath with foraged greens and more.

Rediscover dried flowers as they extend the harvest when winter arrives early, such as in Mt. Horeb, WI, where the Larsen family operates Sunborn Flower Farm and Florist.

Rediscover dried flowers as they extend the harvest when winter arrives early, such as in Mt. Horeb, WI, where the Larsen family operates Sunborn Flower Farm and Florist.

Put a twist on the ubiquitous carved pumpkin, cornucopia filled with gourds, or poinsettia plants wrapped in plastic and take inspiration from America’s flower farms, fields and meadows when you design for harvest, home and holiday, say members of Slowflowers.com.

 

NOTE: This is the first of six Editorial Packages that Slowflowers.com will produce in the 2016-2017 season.

Instead of predictable designs or palettes of the past, creative flower farmers and florists suggest fresh and unique seasonal options such as adding hot peppers or ornamental kale to autumn centerpieces or “planting” pumpkins with succulents for harvest tables.

Use everyday pumpkins as vases for seasonal flowers. Deb Bosworth of Dandelion House Flower Farm in Plymouth, MA.

Use everyday pumpkins as vases for seasonal flowers. Deb Bosworth of Dandelion House Flower Farm in Plymouth, MA.

Embellish novelty pumpkins and ornamental gourds with succulents and seashells. Kathleen Barber of Erika's Fresh Flowers in Warrenton, OR, suggests beginning with an unusually colored or textured pumpkin.

Embellish novelty pumpkins and ornamental gourds with succulents and seashells. Kathleen Barber of Erika’s Fresh Flowers in Warrenton, OR, suggests beginning with an unusually colored or textured pumpkin.

Decorate edible pumpkins with dried flowers. Jane Henderson of Commonwealth Farms in Concord, N.C., decorates pumpkins with foraged and dried flowers, feathers, seed heads and pods, creating a long-lasting harvest arrangement that is far easier than carving.

Decorate edible pumpkins with dried flowers. Jane Henderson of Commonwealth Farms in Concord, N.C., decorates pumpkins with foraged and dried flowers, feathers, seed heads and pods, creating a long-lasting harvest arrangement that is far easier than carving.

Come December, Slowflowers.com designers say “Season’s Greetings” is best communicated with updated florals, including snowy white palettes or traditional red-and-green bouquets containing elegant lilies.

Create a snowy scene with whites and silvery hues. Betany Coffland of Chloris Floral in Sonoma County, California, designed a winter-themed arrangement using white and pink Queen Anne's lace, white statice and silver dollar eucalyptus foliage.

Create a snowy scene with whites and silvery hues. Betany Coffland of Chloris Floral in Sonoma County, California, designed a winter-themed arrangement using white and pink Queen Anne’s lace, white statice and silver dollar eucalyptus foliage.

Add scarlet leaves and ornamental grains to convey autumn's rich palette. Hannah Morgan of Fortunate Orchard in Seattle, WA, tucked vibrant foliage from local maple, oak and liquidambar trees into seasonal centerpieces.

Add scarlet leaves and ornamental grains to convey autumn’s rich palette. Hannah Morgan of Fortunate Orchard in Seattle, WA, tucked vibrant foliage from local maple, oak and liquidambar trees into seasonal centerpieces.

Transform the holiday table, front porch or fireplace mantel with local and seasonal flowers. Nothing is fresher or more long-lasting than just-picked botanicals.The best harvest, home and holiday florals begin with the source, says Debra Prinzing, founder and creative director of Slowflowers.com, which promotes American grown flowers.

READ MORE…

Episode 268: Where are they now? Updates Mary Kate Kinnane of Rhode Island’s The Local Bouquet and Heidi Joynt & Molly Kobelt of Chicago’s Field & Florist

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

2up One of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced since launching the Slow Flowers Movement has been meeting emerging floral entrepreneurs and witnessing how their businesses flourish. Today, we’re returning to two floral enterprises featured on previous episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast to share updates with you.

First, you’ll hear from Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet in Little Compton, Rhode Island, and next you’ll hear a conversation with Molly Kobelt and Heidi Joynt of Field & Florist, which operates a Chicago design studio and a Three Oaks, Michigan-based flower farm.

Mary Kate Kinnane, The Local Bouquet, our return guest.

Mary Kate Kinnane, The Local Bouquet, our return guest.

Mary Kate and The Local Bouquet were originally featured in Episode 138, which aired April 2014.

You’ll hear our follow-up discussion about how the business changed from a partnership with Maureen Azize, Mary Kate’s sister-in-law, to a sole proprietorship.

Mary Kate and I will discuss the pain and pleasure of going solo — and what that has meant as she also juggles three small children and the demands of countless wedding clients.

Here’s more about The Local Bouquet, from the web site:

A MISSION TO SUPPORT THE AMERICAN FLOWER FARMER

At The Local Bouquet we have taken the two things we love; weddings and fresh, seasonal flowers and combined them to bring you the most beautiful designs for your special day. We are committed to creating gorgeous floral decor that compliments the chosen time of year of your wedding using 100% local and American-grown flowers only.

The Local Bouquet's American Grown Weddings -- love this slogan!

The Local Bouquet’s American Grown Weddings — love this slogan!

Design by The Local Bouquet ~ lovely!!

Design by The Local Bouquet ~ lovely!!

A beautiful bridal bouquet designed by The Local Bouquet's Mary Kate Kinnane.

A romantic bridal bouquet designed by The Local Bouquet’s Mary Kate Kinnane.

The Local Bouquet’s ingredients are gathered or foraged fresh from flower fields and sourced from local flower farmers.

Mary Kate believes that origin matters and values providing unique, fresh, and stunning flowers that are eco-conscience and organic.

“We think flowers should come from local farms and free of chemicals,” she writes.

“That is why we are committed to the field to vase movement that is happening across the United States as we celebrate local flowers and American flower farmers!”

FLOWERS FROM THEIR FARM

The second part of today’s episode features Field & Florist’s Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt.

The women were my podcast guests for Episode 148 in July 2014.

I photographed this portrait of Heidi Joynt (left) and Molly Kobelt (right) behind the Jam Handy Building in Detroit. Isn't it cool that the signage "Miracles" frames this shot? I totally unexpected detail.

I photographed this portrait of Heidi Joynt (left) and Molly Kobelt (right) behind the Jam Handy Building in Detroit. Isn’t it cool that the signage “Miracles” frames this shot? I totally unexpected detail.

At the time, these entrepreneur farmer-florists were farming on their second piece of land, owned by a friend of a friend outside Chicago. Wow, a lot has changed in 2016, with Field & Florist’s move last fall to a larger parcel of land in Three Oaks, Michigan. In the works for a while, the shift to a more permanent place to farm flowers has allowed Field & Florist to significantly scale its growing operation.

field-florits-farm-2_082

The new farmland offers so much potential for Field & Florist’s expansion! (c) Jaclyn Simpson Photography

With the opportunity to experiment with spring greenhouse production of ranunculus, Icelandic poppies and more, a large increase in acreage for field production (peonies, garden roses, and of course, more dahlias) and the chance to wild-forage, the duo has continued to serve Chicago’s floral marketplace in year one of their new chapter.

Molly and Heidi at their new farm site.

Molly and Heidi at their new farm site. (c) Jaclyn Simpson Photography

From April-October Heidi and Molly grow and harvest direct from their farm. In the winter months, they source flowers from certified sustainable sources within the United States.

In 2015 Apartment Therapy included Field & Florist in its “Top 10 Under 40: Design & Food” and Martha Stewart Weddings named Field & Florist on its list of 62 Top Floral Designers. To quote Molly and Heidi on their blog post about the inclusion, “whoa”!

A beautiful centerpiece by Field & Florist

A beautiful centerpiece by Field & Florist (c) Levi & Val Photography

2up

Exquisite details in two designs by Field & Florist’s Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt. Left image (c) Roots of Life Photography; Right image (c) Jaclyn Simpson Photography

 

Here’s how to find and follow today’s guests:

The Local Bouquet on Facebook

The Local Bouquet on Instagram

The Local Bouquet on Pinterest

Field & Florist on Facebook

Field & Florist on Instagram

Field & Florist on Pinterest

Thanks for joining today’s conversation! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 126,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Flowers from Sonoma County inspired designs at the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop in October.

Flowers from Sonoma County inspired designs at the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop in October.

Wow, what a fabulous season we’re having for local flowers! So much creativity and beauty has been going on as many of you are closing up the season for field-grown flowers. The frost has arrived for many flower farmers, but the planning for off-season activities continues. And I love how much inventiveness is out there, extending through winter as you generate income and sustain your business model. For designers, florists and their clients, thoughts of harvest, home and holiday are top of mind.

By the time you hear this, Slowflowers.com will have released its first Editorial Content package to the media and yes, our imagery and story tips focused around harvest, home and holiday.

Our next package, Slow Valentine’s Day, will be released on January 5th but we need your submissions by December 1st. This package will highlight  romantic American-grown/Canadian-grown floral designs with an emphasis on domestic roses (as an alternative to imported ones) OR new botanical options for V-day. Participation is open to all Premium members on Slowflowers.com or for a nominal fee to Standard members. Look for details in our next Slow Flowers newsletter, out November 1st. And by the way, you can subscribe to the newsletter here.

sponsor-bar_sept_2016 Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2016: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens… providing home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

A fond thank you 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

And finally, thank you Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

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 266: North Carolina’s Spring Forth Farm with Megan and Jonathan Leiss, Homesteaders and Flower Farmers

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
Jonathan and Megan of Spring Forth Farm, a North Carolina homestead and sustainable flower farm. Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography

Jonathan and Megan of Spring Forth Farm, a North Carolina homestead and sustainable flower farm. Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography

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Earlier this year, in January, I received an email from Jonathan Leiss of Spring Forth Farm in Hurdle Mills, North Carolina. His message was ultimately responsible for today’s episode. After introducing himself, Jonathan wrote: “My favorite episodes are your interviews with farmers . . . I know you aren’t in the Southeast often, but if you are, I want to recommend the Durham-Chapel Hill area as a great place to visit to see the resurgence of local flowers on the small farm and the creative ways farmers and designers are building relationships with customers.”

I snapped these cute portraits of Jonathan and Megan at the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop in Durham last month (held at Pine State Flowers)

I snapped these cute portraits of Jonathan and Megan at the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop in Durham last month (held at Pine State Flowers)

The email continued as Jonathan listed many of the folks in the NC “Triangle” (which also includes Raleigh) who comprise the progressive flower farming and floral design community there.  I loved the inclusive point of Jonathan’s story — he told me about Spring Forth Farm and what he and his wife Megan are doing — and he listed florists and fellow farmers whose work is notable and worthy of my attention. “This is a very dynamic area for farming in general and right now that energy is reflected in the burst of local flowers on the market. If you are ever this way, please consider visiting . . . to see the energy of the American-Grown flower industry.”

Love the openness of this farm, with the blue of the sky and the blue farmhouse providing a consistent palette.

Love the openness of this farm, with the blue of the sky and the blue farmhouse providing a consistent palette.

It took some creativity with the scheduling and dozens of emails and a few phone calls, but that initial email from Jonathan sparked my interest in visiting an area of the country that I knew would teach me more about the Slow Flowers Movement. We have 23 Slow Flowers members in North Carolina and another five members in SC, so I felt the pull to connect on a more personal level.

Here's a quick group photo that we grabbed at the Slow Flowers Meet-Up before dusk.

Here’s a quick group photo that we grabbed at the Slow Flowers Meet-Up before dusk. We lost a few folks who were touring the flower field, but this is a representation of the amazing talent and passion of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area.

Last month, I flew to Raleigh after several other travel stops, including attending the Field to Vase Dinner at Thistle Dew Farm in Quakertown, Pennsylvania and spending the previous day in NY’s Hudson Valley with emerging flower farmers and florists in that region.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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