Debra Prinzing

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Episode 289: Redefining “Harvest” with designers and authors Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis of Homestead Design Collective

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Alethea Harampolis (L), Stefani Bittner (R) – photo by David Fenton

One of the best things about being a veteran garden writer are the friendships I’ve forged over the years with my peers.

Today’s guests are definitely in that category of favorite professional friends who have become so much more than mere acquantances.

I really value my time with them, although sadly, it’s rare. Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis are partners in Homestead Design Collective, a Bay Area-based landscape design firm.

Stefani is the coauthor with Leslie Bennett of The Beautiful Edible Garden and Alethea is cofounder of Studio Choo, with Jill Rizzo, her coauthor for The Flower Recipe Book and The Wreath Recipe Book. Alethea and Jill are past guests of this podcast, and you can find that episode here.

Since these creatives teamed up to form Homestead Design Collective, they have focused their business on landscapes that are useful and most important, can be harvested year round.

The title of their new book, HARVEST, says it all. I’m so honored that they asked me to write the foreword. In those few hundred words that appear in the opening pages of Harvest, I wrote this:

I once believed that clipping branches and blooms to bring indoors was akin to denuding my garden. But about ten years ago, I began to interview America’s flower farmers and their customers: floral designers devoted to and creatively fueled by domestic and local botanicals.  Mesmerized by their uncommon floral crops, I began to regard the incredible beauty of my own backyard for all of its potential. That meant enjoying not just the small quantity of food (berries, herbs and vegetables) that my kitchen garden produced, but appreciating its abundance by displaying garden greenery and flowers in my vases.

This new-old philosophy of living with my garden’s generous harvest is best learned from true practitioners, such as Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis of Homestead Design Collective. These women are also proponents of good design, and they adhere to the guiding philosophy of choosing plants at once both ornamental and useful. Although not farms by any means, our urban and suburban backyards should be used in their entirety, say Stefani and Alethea. The culinary world has its own “nose to tail” way of eating; HARVEST, the book you hold in your hands, introduces the gardener’s version of that idea: call it a “fruit-to-root” way of growing, with an appreciation for all parts of the plant, from the first tender shoots in spring to the pods and hips of late fall.

I’ve learned so much from these two pioneers. Stefani is a role model for landscape designers, inspiring her harvest-minded clients to turn their once-unproductive yards into prolific (and lovely) sources of edible bounty. Alethea is a role model among the farmer-florist crowd, blending edibles with ornamentals; aromatics with the wild-foraged; house plants with weeds — all to create dramatic, moody, seasonal florals for everyday decor and magnificent occasions.

In HARVEST, they celebrate the Slow Food movement on a highly personal scale, integrated with a Slow Flowers ethos. When edibles meet botanicals, we live intentionally with plants throughout the seasons. And when you embrace this practice, you will be richly reward by your garden.

Lilac Flower Cream

LILAC FLOWER CREAM

An ancient French technique, enfleurage is the process of extracting a flower’s perfume into odorless animal or vegetable fat. The process used here is a simple method that will capture the fragrance of spring in a jar. The cream can be used directly on your skin or to flavor favorite sweet dishes. It is best to use the lilac’s tiny blooms straight from the shrub, picking them in the morning when they are the most fragrant.

MAKES TWO 16-OUNCE JARS

32 ounces extra-virgin coconut oil

10 cups lilac blooms picked from the heads in 2 cup increments as needed

Pick 2 cups of lilac blooms. Place the coconut oil in a small saucepan and melt over low heat until it is completely liquefied. Pour the liquid into a 10 by 10-inch (25 by 25-cm) casserole dish and allow it to harden. After the oil has hardened, score it with a butter knife. This will help the scent of the flowers penetrate it more deeply. Layer the tiny lilac blooms onto the oil, covering it with 2 inches (5 cm) of blooms. Place a second 10 by 10-inch (25 by 25-cm) casserole dish upside down atop of the first one. Use electrical tape to seal the two dish edges tightly, and place the dishes in a dark area.

After 48 hours, remove the tape seal and discard the spent blooms. Pick another 2 cups of lilacs, add another 2 inches (5 cm) of flower blooms to the oil, and seal again for another 48 hours. Repeat this process three more times, for a total of five cycles with fresh blooms each time.

Scrape up the oil from the casserole dish, place it into two 16-ounce jars, and seal the lids. Store in a cool, dark place; the flower cream will keep for up to 3 years.

Midseason Herb Salad, from HARVEST

Stef and Alethea maintain that every garden—not just vegetable plots—can produce a bountiful harvest. In their beautifully photographed guide to growing, harvesting, and utilizing 47 unexpected plants, readers will discover the surprising usefulness of petals and leaves, roots, seeds, and fruit.

Learn how to turn tumeric root into a natural dye and calamintha into lip balm.

Make anise hyssop into a refreshing iced tea and turn apricots into a facial mask.

Crabapple branches can be used to create stunning floral arrangements, oregano flowers to infuse vinegar, and edible chrysanthemum to liven up a salad.

This practical, inspirational, and seasonal guide will help make any garden more productive and enjoyable with a variety of projects–organic pantry staples, fragrances, floral arrangements, beverages, cocktails, beauty products, and more–using unexpected and often common garden plants, some of which may already be growing in the backyard.

With the remarkable, multi-purpose plants in Harvest, there is always something for gardeners to harvest from one growing season to the next.

Please enjoy this conversation with my two friends as we discuss their design philosophy and their collaboration on Harvest.

Stefani and Aleathea were recently featured speakers at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle and I was able to corner them in a hotel lobby to record this interview.

You can also enter to win the book — thanks to the generosity of Ten Speed Press, publisher of Harvest, we have two copies to give away in a drawing.

To enter, you must post a comment about your most useful garden plant in the comment section below. We’ll draw the winners on March 29th and announce them the following week.

Artichoke arrangement from Harvest

Instructions for the Artichoke Arrangement:

Artichokes are a favorite edible, but few know that their layers of prickly leaves can also be used to create a beautiful focal point in a mixed garden bouquet. Bring inside in a few cuttings from the garden to make a stylish and simple composition.

2 large artichoke heads, stems and leaves attached

1 or 2 stems with several small artichokes attached

5 to 8 stems wild carrot flowers (Daucus carota), 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 cm) long

2 nasturtium vines with flowers, each 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 cm) long

Fill a large crock or vase with clean, cold water. Remove any damaged leaves from the stems or leaves that would fall below the water line. Add the large artichoke heads in the front of the crock, with one head resting slightly higher than the other. This creates a focal point and showcases the gorgeous multilayered leaves.

Add in the smaller artichoke stems to the back and left sides of the crock. These heads should sit taller than the larger heads. They add height to the arrangement and create an asymmetrical look. Add in some of the wild carrot stems to fill in the space between the larger and smaller artichokes. These stems should be slightly taller than the small artichoke stems. Place the remaining carrot stems on the back right side of the crock to complement the wild carrot on the left and provide an airy backdrop to the arrangement.

Add the longest nasturtium vine to the front side of the crock, to the left of the large artichokes, so that it drapes over the side of the crock. This creates movement and softens the edge of the vessel. Use the other nasturtium vine to fill any gaps. Make sure that the flower heads are turned to be visible from the front of the arrangement.

Lemongrass Salt Scrub

Instructions for LEMONGRASS SALT SCRUB

Lemongrass has antibacterial, antioxidant, and other therapeutic properties. After a hard day working in the garden, we appreciate lemongrass as a remedy for our aches and pains. Use this salt scrub on your hands daily or on sore muscles once a week while taking a deep soak in the tub. If you have very sensitive skin, you may want to use the salt scrub only on your hands or substitute brown sugar for the salt as a milder alternative.

MAKES ABOUT 1½ CUPS

1 or 2 fresh stalks lemongrass

1 cup sea salt

½ cup almond or olive oil

Finely chop the lemongrass by hand or in a food processor. Combine the chopped lemongrass, salt, and oil in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon—or even better, use your hands. The texture should be moist enough to hold together but not overly oily. (If it does get too oily, add a pinch more salt.) Scoop the scrub into a 12-to 16-ounce jar and seal with a lid. Use within 2 weeks.

To use, simply spoon a small amount into your hands, gently rub it in, and then rinse your hands with warm water.

Marigold Bitters

Instructions for Marigold Bitters (AMARO)

Amaro is an Italian herb-infused bitter liqueur, originally used as an after-dinner digestif, chilled or over ice. Recently, however, there’s been a bitters revival, with cocktail enthusiasts mixing the bittersweet digestif into beverages beyond just classic cocktails such as the Manhattan and the old fashioned.

Gem marigolds are a perfect component because of their distinct bitter flavor and for the lovely amber hue that results. For amaro’s signature tartness, we’ve added some chinotto orange rind, the key ingredient in Campari, the popular Italian herbal aperitif.

MAKES 1 QUART

Enough herbs and edible flowers to fill a 1-quart jar, for example:

  • 1 cup gem marigold flowers and leaves
  • 1 to 3 sage leaves
  • 2 to 6 anise hyssop flowers and leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 to 6 lavender blooms
  • Small bunch of thyme (such as French, English, or lemon)
  • 1 to 6 calendula flowers
  • 1 to 6 bee balm flowers and leaves
  • Small handful of rose petals
  • 1 to 8 viola petals

5 to 10 alpine strawberries or other berries

Rind of 2 chinotto oranges

2 (750-ml) bottles Hangar One Vodka or a similar good-quality, unflavored vodka

SIMPLE SYRUP

MAKES ABOUT 1-1⁄4 CUPS

1 cup water

1 cup organic sugar

Gently rinse the herbs and flowers, leaving the blooms intact to capture the bitter attributes of their centers. Add them all, along with the berries and citrus rind, to a 1-quart jar. Fill the jar with vodka to just below the rim (you might not need it all) and seal with a tight-fitting lid. Store it in a cool, dark place.

Check the amaro daily or every couple of days, and give it a good shake to ensure that there are no floating leaves or flowers. After 4 weeks, taste the amaro. If you prefer it stronger, allow it to infuse for another week or so. Once you’ve achieved the flavor you like, strain out the herbs, edible flowers, berries, and rind.

Next, make the simple syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a nonreactive pan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to prevent sticking. Once the sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes), remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool slightly.

Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the strained amaro liquid and let infuse for an additional 2 weeks, then taste. If you find the amaro more bitter than you’d like, add more simple syrup but remember the sweetener is meant to take the edge off of the bitter taste rather than mask it. Once the bitters are to your liking, store indefinitely.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 170,000 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.

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: 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.

We’re also grateful for support from 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 welcome to our newest sponsor, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com.

Longfield Gardens has returned as a 2017 sponsor, and we couldn’t be happier to share their resources with you. Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.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.

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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
Blue Jay; Cottonwoods
by Blue Dot Sessions
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 278: Slow Flowers’ 2017 Floral Insights & Industry Forecast

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

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Happy New Year and Welcome to the third annual Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights and Industry Forecast.

Unlike most TREND reports, this compilation tracks changing shifts, emerging ideas and new concepts that are taking hold in the American floral world.  Think of it as your Next, New and Now Report. These topics are gleaned from my conversations and interviews that took place with many of you during 2016– Slow Flowers members, including farmers, florists and creatives.  I know some of you have already experienced these emerging developments and your influence has inspired this list.

If you would like a copy of this report, please click here: 2017-floral-insights [PDF download]

I look forward to your reaction, thoughts, and input on the Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights and Industry Forecast, including the ideas and themes I may have overlooked! I invite you to share yours in the comment section below.

Let’s get started:

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#1 WHOLESALERS ARE DISCOVERING AMERICA
. In the midst of global floriculture, with trade in cut flowers estimated at more than $100 billion per year, $13 billion of which takes place in the U.S., we’ve been seduced by the notion that the world is our oyster (or flower field).

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

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

In many markets around the country, the wholesale florist is the only commercial cut flowers and foliage source for floral designers, flower shops and studios to purchase product.Yet after branding themselves as the only way to access a world of floral options, some wholesale florists are returning to their roots, at least in part. They are proactively sourcing from American flower farms large and small to stock their coolers and shelves. And beyond this step, many are also using signage and labeling to inform buyers of the origin of that product.

I believe the explosion of farmer-florists and the growth of small-scale floral agriculture in markets across North America has occurred in part because of frustration with the lack of or limited local sourcing by conventional wholesalers. Let me say that again: Farmer-Florists and small-scale floral agriculture have stepped into the gaping void created when wholesalers turned their backs on local flower farmers. And now they’re waking up to the missed opportunity.

The success of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, well-documented by me and on this podcast over the past several years, as well as the continued growth of the farmer-owned Oregon Flower Growers Association market in Portland underscore that demand for local flowers is already in place.

Now we are witnessing a shift among some conventional wholesalers to align their brand with American Grown and Locally-grown flowers. Mayesh Wholesale Florist is the most active in this arena, with active support for Slowflowers.com, American Flowers Week, Lisa Waud’s Flower House Detroit, and other sponsorships.

When Mayesh opened its renovated Portland, Oregon, branch in early November, the company asked me to make a design presentation. The team there was very supportive of my request for all locally-grown product — hat’s off to Mayesh and I certainly expect that their success at the cash register will motivate other conventional wholesale florists to get onboard.

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I’ve previously singled out Santa Barbara-based Florabundance, led by Joost Bongaerts, for making the effort to label all California-grown floral and foliage offerings on his online wholesale site. It is an effective tool — one I hope others will emulate. It is certainly a step that demonstrates excellent customer service and an awareness that Florabundance shoppers want to know the origin of the flowers they purchase.

This past fall, I surveyed Slowflowers.com members for their take on a number of topics and trends. When I asked, “If you shop with Conventional Florists, are you finding more American grown and locally-grown product than in the past?” 70 percent of respondents said yes.

Here are a few of the specific comments to elaborate:

  • I request American grown from my Rep, and I think there are more boutique, seasonal items that are coming from smaller farmers
  • I have been asking my conventional wholesalers to bring in more American grown product and I think it is helping. The “American Grown” branding really helps us to know that is happening.
  • It’s definitely taking place and some people at the conventional wholesalers are proud to share that their products are American grown.

This last comment reflects that the industry still has far to go. One member noted:

  • It’s a toss up. They say they want to add more but I’m not sure if they are working really hard at. And they don’t do a very good job at advertising what is local and what is not. My Rep knows that I want American grown but still have to ask every time

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#2 MORE FARMS SELLING DIRECT
. This insight is closely connected with item number one.

In general, the conventional wholesale model is changing, as traditional channels of floral distribution are disrupted. I predict that more flower farms will seek and establish new ways to bypass the conventional wholesale pipeline and market direct to florists and consumers. This is a hot topic and certainly one that’s hard to find anyone willing to go on record to discuss.
Our Slow Flowers survey revealed numerous sales channels among flower farmers. Granted, the majority of Slow Flowers farm-members are small-scale producers, but I believe they are the ones modeling how diversification and direct-to-florist commerce can succeed. When asked about their distribution channels, our respondents cited the following top three outlets:

  • Seventy percent are growing flowers for their own weddings and event clients;
  • This is followed closely by farms selling direct to other florists and wedding designers, at around 67 percent
  • With 53 percent of flower farms reporting they sell to local flower shops
    After this top tier, the percentages drop down to one third of respondents who sell flowers via farmers’ markets and CSA subscribers (basically consumer-direct) and about one-quarter who sell to local wholesalers and grocery/supermarket buyers.There is another farm-direct model, and here’s where I think the disruption is most revealing. A number of large farms are experimenting with direct-to-florist and direct-to-consumer models.

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There is another farm-direct model and here’s where I think the disruption is most revealing. A number of large farms are experimenting with direct-to-florist and direct-to-consumer models. A few successful single-crop models have been in place, such as Danielle Hahn’s Rose Story Farm, which in the past few years has shifted almost completely away from selling through wholesalers to florist-direct fulfillment, and many of the Alaska peony growers who sell direct to florists and consumers.

Now, diversified, large-scale growers are beginning to spin off consumer-focused web shops, such as Sun Valley’s Stargazer Barn or Resendiz Brothers’ Protea Store. In the scheme of things, these new ventures are moving only a small fraction of their parent farms’ floral inventory.

But I predict that as large farms bend to demand for farm-direct sourcing of flowers (by consumers and florists alike), the path from field to bouquet will speed up and perhaps take fewer detours through brokers and wholesalers. That means fresher, more seasonal and better value for all floral customers.

READ MORE…

Episode 276: Slow Flowers’ Holiday Special with Ellen Zachos — from Broadway Stage to Backyard Foraging

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

First of all, Happy Winter Solstice! You may be celebrating tonight with a Garden Walk, a concept proposed by Sue Nevler, a Seattle friend of mine who is active in the American Public Garden community.

The idea she has is that we light a candle and take a nighttime walk in a garden with others as a peaceful gathering of community — by extension, I’m suggesting we celebrate Solstice in cutting gardens and on flower farms. If today is the first you’ve heard of her suggestion, follow this link for more details about Solstice Garden Gatherings.

I’m delighted to share a very special Holiday episode — and I hope it feeds your spirit as much as has mine. Last year’s Holiday episode featured musician-songwriter-flower farmer Dennis Westphall of Jello Mold Farm in Mt. Vernon, Washington. In case you missed that spirited program in which Dennis played some of his original songs and sang for us, here’s the link to that episode.

Today's uber-talented guest foraging expert and amazing vocalist Ellen Zachos.

Today’s uber-talented guest foraging expert and amazing vocalist Ellen Zachos.

I worried for a while that Dennis and his music would be a hard act to follow, but then my friend Ellen Zachos agreed to join me, sharing her lovely vocals and the story of her love affair with plants. I’m so pleased she said YES when I asked.

I first learned about Ellen in the pages of Harvard Magazine, which my husband Bruce receives each month as an alumni.

It was probably a dozen years ago when Harvard profiled one of its alums, a New Hampshire native who had moved to New York City after graduation and joined the stage.

She also studied horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden.

Ellen Zachos as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre, Jacksonville, Florida

Ellen Zachos as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre, Jacksonville, Florida

 

Ellen is possibly the only cast member of Les Miserable who has also run a planting design business that served Manhattan’s elite owners of rooftop greenhouses. What a wonderful story and I couldn’t wait to meet her.

Since the garden writing world is as intimate and interconnected as the slow flowers world, it didn’t take long for Ellen and me to meet in person. I’m not sure when we actually connected, but I’m guessing it was more than a decade ago at a Garden Writers symposium.

Today you will hear more of her amazing story — and enjoy her music, my holiday gift to you.

Ellen Zachos, longtime Broadway cast member of Les Miserables.

Ellen Zachos, longtime Broadway cast member of Les Miserables.

Ellen’s journey from theatre to horticulture to her current platform — as the top backyard foraging expert — will wow you.

Here’s a little more about my friend. On her web site, Ellen writes: “I moved to NYC sometime in the last century to be an actor. I know, I know, it’s an age-old story, small town girl moves to NYC, lands a role on Broadway, decides she’d rather be a horticulturist, and starts her own garden design, installation, and maintenance business. You’ve heard it many times before.

“But seriously, after leaving the cast of Les Miz on Broadway, I went back to school at the New York Botanical Garden and earned certificates in both ornamental horticulture and ethnobotany. For many years I taught at the NYBG on a wide range of subjects and ran my roof top gardening business: Acme Plant Stuff.

“As I learned more about plants I noticed that many traditional ornamental plants had edible and medicinal histories. I wondered why we didn’t eat hostas any more, and people planted hopniss for its flowers rather than its delicious, potato-like tubers.

 

Ellen holds foraged wild garlic.

Ellen holds foraged wild garlic.

unnamed-3 “Gradually, my emphasis shifted from plants that were merely ornamental to plants that fed both body and soul, the eyes and the stomach.

I started out foraging in the garden, because that’s where I could identify the plants and I knew they were safe from potentially dangerous insecticides and herbicides.

Soon I ventured out into the wilds of Central Park, the woods of Pennsylvania, the deserts of New Mexico, the islands of Scotland, and the gorges of Greece. In other words, I’m always looking for delicious, free food!”

As the Foraging Expert at About.com,
(foraging.about.com) Ellen shares seasonal recipes and tips on foraging every month. She also works with Remy Martin USA, teaching foraging mixology workshops across the US, and she is currently working on a book about foraged cocktails, due out in 2017.

I love this line from her blog at backyardforager.com:

I want to get you hooked on wild edibles so maybe next time you’ll be sitting in that car with me when I pull over to harvest burdock flower stems. Because so much of the joy of foraging is sharing it with someone who also appreciates the flavors and the adventure.

Green Up Time, Ellen Zachos sings Botanical Broadway

Green Up Time, Ellen Zachos sings Botanical Broadway

The author of six books previous books, including Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat, Orchid Growing for Wimps, and Growing Healthy Houseplants,  Ellen also writes a monthly column for the National Gardening Association and she is the Senior Advisor for New England for Garden Compass (the # 1 rated iTunes gardening app).

She loves to teach and is a frequent lecturer at botanic gardens, flower shows, and for garden clubs around the world. Ellen’s show business background taught her how to engage an audience, and she combines this natural skill with years of practical experience and plenty of book learning.

A long-time instructor at the New York Botanical Garden, Ellen recently moved to Santa Fe, NM, which means she splits time between the desert southwest and the lush northeast. It’s quite a contrast, botanically-speaking, and one that keeps her learning new plants as well as new ways to eat them.

Ellen's new book will be released in May 2017.

Ellen’s new book will be released in May 2017.

Today’s episode will feature a conversation between two professional colleagues who greatly admire one another — and you’ll hear the warmth of friendship in our voices.

Here is a peek at the cover of Ellen’s new book, at right.

Seattle fans can hear Ellen speak at the upcoming Northwest Flower & Garden Show in February, where she’ll be speaking twice:

Sat, Feb. 25 at 5:30 pm / Hood Room, Backyard Foraging: Gathering from the Garden

Sun, Feb. 26 at 10:00 am / Hood Room, The Blended Garden: Discover Plants that Do Double Duty

Follow Ellen on Facebook

Follow Ellen on Twitter

Find Ellen on Instagram

Ellen is a foraging-mixology expert for The Botanist, a luxury gin

Ellen is a foraging-mixology expert for The Botanist, a luxury gin

Here’s more about Ellen’s foraging-mixology work for The Botanist, from the company’s blog.

She shared this lovely winter cocktail recipe for you to try:

Ingredients: 2 ounces bourbon, 1/2 ounce crabapple syrup, seltzer

Combine the bourbon and syrup in a shaker full of ice and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a coupe and add seltzer to taste. I add 1/2 ounce but some people like more.

To make the syrup: Put your crabapples (2 cups is a good, minimum amount to start with) in a saucepan and barely cover with water. Bring the contents to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for five minutes, mashing occasionally with a potato masher to release the juices. Pour the fruit through a jelly bag and let it hang until all the juice has been extracted. Resist the temptation to squeeze the jelly bag or the liquid may turn cloudy. Measure the juice and return it to your saucepan. Add an equal amount of sugar and whisk to combine. You want the sugar to be fully dissolved; rub a little liquid between your fingers, it should feel smooth.

Ellen shared these lyrics from “Misalliance,” with her edits to Americanize the English:

Misalliance by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann*

The fragrant Honeysuckle spirals clockwise to the sun

and many other creepers do the same.

But some climb counter-clockwise,

the Bindweed does for one,

Convolvulus to give her proper name.

Rooted on either side of the door,

one of each species grew,

and raced up to the window ledge above.

Each corkscrewed to the lintel in the only way it knew,

where they stopped, touched tendrils, smiled,

and fell in love.

Said the right-handed Honeysuckle to the left-handed Bindweed,

“Oh let us get married if our parents don’t mind, we’d

be loving and inseparable, inextricably entwined, we’d

live happily ever after,”

said the Honeysuckle to the Bindweed.

To the Honeysuckle’s parents it came as a shock.

“The Bindweeds,” they cried, “Are inferior stock.

The uncultivated, of breeding bereft.

We twine to the right and they twine to the left.”

Said the counterclockwise Bindweed to the clockwise Honeysuckle,

“We’d better start saving,

our reserve mustn’t buckle.

Run away on a honeymoon and hope that our luck’ll

Take a turn for the better,”

Said the Bindweed to the Honeysuckle.

A bee who was passing remarked to them then,

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Consider your offshoots if offshoots there be.

They’ll never receive any blessing from me.

Poor little sucker, how will it learn

When it is climbing, which way to turn.

Right, left, what a disgrace.

Or it may grow straight up and fall flat on its face.”

Said the right-hand thread Honeysuckle to the left-hand thread Bindweed,

“It seems that against us all fate has combined.

Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Columbine,

thou art lost and gone forever,

we shall never intertwine.”

Together they found them, the very next day.

They had pulled up their roots and just shriveled away,

deprived of that freedom for which we must fight:

to veer to the left or to veer to the right.

*Americanized by Ellen Zachos

Please enjoy our conversation and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!  If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the gardener or flower lover in your life, there’s definitely still time to order Green Up Time as a CD or downloadable Mp3 album.

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The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 140,000 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.

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

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 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.”

a-garden-party-tami-melissa-photography-0204

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.

sm_danielle-jeff-farm-to-table-wedding-photography-love-story-studios-0048

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
groupdsc00522

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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