Debra Prinzing

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Archive for the ‘Flower Farming’ Category

Episode 283: Harmony Harvest Farm and Floral Genius

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

1459132956 I’m so delighted to share today’s conversation with three women representing two generations of the Auville Family. Between them, they own two floral businesses.

Mom Chris Auville and daughter Jessica Hall operate Harmony Harvest Farm with their spouses (Chris’s husband and Jessica’s dad Martin Auville and Jessica’s husband Brian Hall).

And as you will hear in part two of this episode, Jessica and her sister Stephanie Auville have just launched Floral Genius, the reincarnation of a product line previously owned and marketed by Dorothy Biddle Service.

FloralGenius_CMYK_Main Here’s the Harmony Harvest Farm story, excerpted from the farm’s web site:

With a deep desire to set roots in a farm setting within the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Brian and Jessica, coupled with her parents, Martin and Chris Auville, created the vision for Harmony Harvest Cut Flower Farm.

In 2011 they purchased a historic 1890 farmhouse with a bank barn on 20 acres of fertile rolling fields. Only a few miles down the road from Jessica’s parents, it was the perfect homestead for Jessica and Brian to begin living out their dream.

Jessica Hall, chief flower grower, and partner in Harmony Harvest Farm, seen against the beautiful rural backdrop of the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Jessica Hall, lead floral designers, Master Gardener, and partner in Harmony Harvest Farm, seen against the beautiful rural backdrop of the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia (c) Picture Perfect Photography

 

The farm's historic "bank barn."

The farm’s historic “bank barn.” (c) Picture Perfect Photography

At that point, the work really began as each played an impressive role in designing water systems, building walk-in coolers, studio buildings, new entrance roads and greenhouses.

Over the past few years, not only has Harmony Harvest’s business and fields grown and expanded, but so has the Hall family.  When Jessica and Brian embarked on their cut flower farming journey, they had one child Adelaide Catherine.  Now, the picture is much different.  Adelaide became a big sister to firecracker Marion, and most recently twin brothers, Lincoln and Levon arrived.  While the business has flourished, so has their family of 6!

IMG_1644

Ranunculus inside one of the farm’s growing structures.

Weddings by Harmony Harvest Farm

Weddings by Harmony Harvest Farm

Harmony Harvest currently grows intensively on 3 acres and operates 3 growing houses, with plans to expand that in the coming season.  With over 200 different botanical offerings, the farm’s decadent selections, not to mention its heart and soul, are poured into each bloom grown and marketed.

With an eye for floral design, Jessica’s ability to arrange the bounty of the fields was a natural complement to the farming side of their business right from the start.  She has always had an artistic flair and dabbled in many creative mediums before finding her passion with the most fragile of paints — flowers. Having spent her teenage years working in a flower shop and taking design classes, she admits to never imagining having a floral profession until the farm came along.

Jessica Hall (left) and Jessica and Brian with their family of four.

Jessica Hall (left) and Jessica and Brian with their family of four.

Jessica Hall
As Lead Designer and Master Grower, Jessica is passionate about her client’s personal story. A vibrant and creative soul, she dabbles in all things magical.  She grew up in an agriculturally rich family, where tending to and growing a garden were everyday tasks and nurturing nature was instilled at an early age.

She pursued her love of growing and designing by majoring in horticulture at Virginia Tech. Jessica and Brian met there and together they decided to forge a path and build their own business and work in a family setting.

Today, Jessica runs the day-to-day operations on the farm, leads all the floral design projects, and is the mother of four children.  In just a few short years, they have quadrupled their growing space, added lots of new botanical selections to their floral availability list, and created a humming, growing rhythm for their farm and family.

Jessica admits on her web site:

People say my passion is contagious. If that’s the case, we are all doomed to have an oversized cutting garden and an insatiable thirst to paint with nature.

IMG_1896

Chris Auville. Don'tcha love how she and Jessica have such similar smiles?

Chris Auville. Don’tcha love how she and Jessica have such similar smiles?

Chris Auville
Chris Auville, Chief Flower Officer, is the business manager for Harmony Harvest Farm. If you have ever communicated with Harmony Harvest, be it by email, phone, or in person, Chris has most likely greeted you.  Chris corresponds with clients, schedules appointments, produces quotes, and coordinates floral aspects for wedding days and other events.

With a MBA and over 30 years of business experience, Chris is a perfect fit for the farm’s sales and business operations.  From working with brides to creating grocery store contracts, Chris gets it done.

Also serving as Mom to Jessica a Nana to her grandchildren, Chris plays an important role as they all work together under the family business umbrella. As a mother–daughter duo, Chris and Jessica are grateful to work together and complement each other with their backgrounds and experiences.

FLORAL GENIUS

IMG_5644 In part two of this podcast, you’ll hear from Stephanie Auville, Jessica’s sister, who joins us on the line.

The two wanted to honor their late grandmother’s legacy and they wanted to make her proud. A few weeks later a door opened on their future and they decided to walk through it.

Jessica and Stephanie purchased the manufacturing rights and all equipment to mold, make, package, and sell all styles of metal pin frogs.  They’ve named the new manufacturing enterprise Floral Genius.

As we discuss, the floral frog production has been part of the Dorothy Biddle Company for many years. Reintroduced as Floral Genius, Jessica and Stephanie are honored to take over the reins and continue to bring quality and innovative tools to the market for all designers.

Under the leadership of Jessica and Stephanie, Floral Genius will continue as the leading U.S. manufacturer of pin, pin cup and hair pin flower holders. These sustainable, no-rust frogs make brilliant designs . . . “Genius.”

Naturally, there are some great synergies between Harmony Harvest Farm and Floral Genius, although they will operate as separate businesses, both housed at Harmony Harvest Farm. The next few months will entail moving large machines, learning production and building a website.

As Jessica recently wrote on her blog, “I fell head over heels for flower frogs while studying methods of construction with leading designers.  Flower frogs allow for the depth and wild abundance synonymous with luxury garden style design. We hope to give everyone the tools they need to create abundant beauty. From flowers to frogs, I’ve got you covered!”

Find Harmony Harvest Farm and Floral Genius at these social places.

Find Harmony Harvest on Facebook

Follow Harmony Harvest on Instagram

See Harmony Harvest on Pinterest

Catch up with Harmony Harvest on Twitter

Follow Floral Genius on Instagram (this is a brand new feed)

Thanks so much for joining me today. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 155,000 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.

2017SponsorBlock 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.

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.

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 shellandtree.com.

Music credits

Blue Jay
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Episode 282: Got Peonies? News from the Alaska Peony Growers Association Conference

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
A bridal bouquet featuring flowers from Alaska Peony Cooperative farms

A bridal bouquet featuring flowers from Alaska Peony Cooperative farms

Interior (Fairbanks), Central (Mat-Su Valley) and Homer (Kenai Peninsula)

Interior (Fairbanks), Central (Mat-Su Valley) and Homer (Kenai Peninsula)

If you’re as smitten with peonies as I am, this episode is just for you.

I’m delighted to share five short conversations with people involved in Alaska’s cut peony industry — all who attended the end-of-January Alaska Peony Growers Association winter conference in Fairbanks.

The conference invited me to speak to the 125-plus attendees about the Slow Flowers Movement and to share my insights and forecast about the American grown floral landscape. It was a great conference with so many passionate and motivated flower farmers, suppliers, educators and research experts.

This will be a longish episode, so to keep things moving along, I’ll introduce all seven guests to you now; and then each interview will flow from one to the next with a brief introduction.

In this order, you’ll meet:

Rita Jo Shoultz, a past Growers' Cup Winner from the Alaska Peony Growers Association, with some of her beauties.

Rita Jo Shoultz, a past Alaska Peony Growers Association “Growers’ Cup Winner,” with some of her field-grown varieties.

Rita Jo Schoultz, of Alaska Perfect Peony in Fritz Creek, Alaska, and the Alaska Peony Marketing Group in the Homer area. Alaska Perfect Peonies is a Slow Flowers member and Rita Jo and I serve together as members of the American Grown Counsel for Certified American Grown Brand.

gallery

Chris Beks, left, with his wife Elizabeth, and her parents Ron and Marji Illingworth, partners in North Pole Peonies + a view of their fields and a beautiful peony.

aapeonies_logo Chris Beks, of North Pole Peonies in North Pole, Alaska, and Arctic Alaska Peonies Cooperative, a major sponsor for Slow Flowers, including this podcast. The photos above are from my 2012 visit to North Pole Peonies when I first met Chris and his family.

That experience included a fabulous farm tour and dinner at the home of his in-law’s, Marji and Ron Illingworth, early Alaska peony farmers.

(Left), Camden on peony planting day; (Right, from top), Kellly and Camden; winter at Wasilla Lights Farm

(Left), Camden on peony planting day; (Right, from top), Kelly and Camden; winter at Wasilla Lights Farm

Kelly Dellan of Wasilla Lights Farm, with her sunflower crop

Kelly Deller of Wasilla Lights Farm, with her sunflower crop

Mother-and-son team Kelly Deller and Camden Deller from Wasilla Lights Farm in Wasilla, Alaska, which is located in the Matanuska Valley in Central Alaska.

When I met them and found out that 15-year-old Camden was the force behind the farm’s peony venture, and that this was the third annual Alaska Peony Growers winter conference he’s attended, I knew I wanted to share his story with you.

There are a lot of inspiring young farmers, but not that many who started their career while still in middle school! Mom Kelly is to be congratulated for nurturing Camden’s passion. She wrote this on the farm’s web site: Our teenage son thought growing peonies was a must-do idea and never let go of the thought. It didn’t take too much convincing from him to start making plans for our own peony farm. Who knew I’d eventually be growing a field of these beauties?!

Lush pink buds from Alaska Peony Cooperative farms

Lush pink buds from Alaska Peony Cooperative farms

Farm views: left, top, bottom

Views from Alaska Peony Co-op member farms: left, Far North Peonies; top, Mt. McKinley Peonies; bottom, Giggly Roots Gardens

smAPC Logo 2 Martha Lojewski and Maureen Horne-Brine of Alaska Peony Cooperative which includes farms in Matanuska, Susitna and Eagle River Valleys in Central Alaska.

Martha is the sales manager and also owns Mt. McKinley Peonies in Willow. Maureen handles social media for the co-op and owns Far North Peonies in Sunshine, Alaska.

Beth Van Sandt in her upper peony field at Scenic Place Peonies.

Beth Van Sandt in her upper peony field at Scenic Place Peonies.

and finally, my good friend Beth Van Sandt of Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, and the Alaska Peony Marketing Group. Scenic Place Peonies has been a member of Slow Flowers since we launched in May 2014.

Beth shares quite a bit of information about the upcoming events and activities that may lure you to Alaska at the end of July 2017. She and her husband Kurt Weichand are opening up their farm, Scenic Place Peonies, will play host to the first-ever Field to Vase Dinner held in Alaska on Saturday, July 29th.

F2VScenic As you will hear us discuss, the amazing al fresco dinner will serve up delicious local seafood and all-local flowers, including peonies and you can find ticket details here.

Beth and I discuss several other bonus events taking place during the peony-filled weekend, including a private floral design workshop with Ariella Chezar, featured designer for the Field to Vase Dinner.

This will be an incredible opportunity to study in a small-group master class with one of the most inspiring and inventive floral artists of today. Ariella is a past guest of this podcast and I adore her aesthetic and ethos.

Beth personally invited Ariella to design the Field to Vase Dinner and host the workshop the day prior to the dinner. The Friday, July 28th, workshop details will be announced soon, so if you’re interested in learning more, sign up here for Ariella’s 2017 workshop announcements.

And on Sunday, July 30th, there will be a special post-dinner tour of the peony farms of Homer, Alaska. They include Alaska Perfect Peony, Chilly Root Peonies, Scenic Place Peonies, all members of Slowflowers.com, and Joslyn Peonies. I have visited all of these farms and I promise, you will be blow away by the beauty of the flowers, the breathtaking scenery, and the incredible talent of the farmers.

Seriously the most spectacular sight I've ever witnessed: Peony fields in the foreground. . . Glaciers in the distance!

Seriously the most spectacular sight I’ve ever witnessed: Peony fields in the foreground. . . Glaciers in the distance!

Close to perfection

I came home from Alaska with these luscious peonies – and it seemed as if no other flower could compete for room in the vase.

I’ve been reporting on Alaska Peonies for nearly five years and if you’re interested in some context and history, you may want to go back and listen to my prior episodes about those beautiful flowers and the people who grow them.

Episode 102 from August 2013, Peonies from America’s Last Frontier (Episode 102)

Episode 154 from August 2014,  Debra & Christina’s Alaska Peony Adventure (Episode 154)

You can also find a link to my story: America’s Last Flower Frontier in September 2012, prior to launching the Slow Flowers Podcast.

 

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 152,500 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.

 

2017SponsorBlock 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

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.

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 shellandtree.com.

Music credits:
Manele; Flagger
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Episode 281: The Pursuit of Local Flowers in Florida with Lindsey Easton and Annie Schiller

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017
Annie Schiller of From left: William's Wildflowers, Lindsey Easton of L. Easton + Co., and Debra Prinzing of Slow Flowers

Annie Schiller of From left: William’s Wildflowers, Lindsey Easton of L. Easton + Co., and Debra Prinzing of Slow Flowers

WWLogo leaston-logo-web-16 Today’s podcast features two voices from a new chapter in Florida’s cut flower industry, Lindsey Easton of L. Easton + Co. based just north of Tampa Bay and Annie Schiller of William’s Wildflowers in Sarasota.

The three of us met and recorded this podcast episode on January 12th at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa, which was centrally located — about one hour in different directions for Lindsey and Annie.

Florida is a huge state with numerous gardening zones and microclimates, but there is a common thread that resonates with anyone in Florida agriculture — which includes the reality of humidity, tropical rains and high temperatures.

And unlike most of the rest of the country where flower farmers are just thinking about planting seeds and roots, Florida cut flower farmers are in their busier season because their peak blooms thrive in the cooler winter and early springtime.

Screen grab from Lindsey's feed ~ makes me happy!

Screen grab from Annie’s feed ~ makes me happy!

My trip to Florida was at the invitation of the wonderful folks at the Boca Grande Garden Club, a vibrant, intellectually curious, engaged group of people who love the region, who care about conservation and sustaining Florida’s fragile environment. They invited me to share the Slow Flowers story with them, which I did the day prior to meeting Lindsey and Annie.

I loved my visit and I loved seeing the wilder beauty of the Florida Gulf Coastline. I toured a few cool botanical gardens while driving up and down that coastline, and I even brought home two gorgeous species bromeliads (in a carry-on tote) to satisfy my newfound passion for tropicals, along with some amazing seashells collected with permission from Boca Grande.

In a state known for agriculture, including everything from ferns and foliage galore to citruses and tropicals, it is sad to realize that the cut flower industry is proportionally very small compared to so many other states.

Yet, a dynamic collective of farms that specialize in cut greenery and ferns put Florida in the top 5 states for floriculture. There is even one amazing cut clematis farm called Roseville Farms, but small-scale flower farming a la Slow Flowers is rare.

It is rare, but returning, thanks to people like Lindsey and Annie, farmer-florists who are innovative and experimental. There’s no playbook — they are making it up as they go along through experimentation, trialing, plugging into other communities like Master Gardeners (for Lindsey) and the Native Plant community (for Annie).

Farmer-florist Lindsey Easton

Farmer-florist Lindsey Easton

Pretties from Lindsey's Instagram feed

Pretties from Lindsey’s Instagram feed

Stylish packaging and marketing reveals Lindsey's background in art and interior design

Stylish packaging and marketing reveals Lindsey’s background in art and interior design

Before we turn to the interview, here’s a bit more about Lindsey Easton:

As she writes on her web site, Lindsey’s childhood was spent amongst the farm fields of the Midwest. That instilled in her a love of wide open spaces which allowed freedom to create and dream. Originally a fine arts major turned interior design major, her passion is in the creative process. Having spent the last decade working in the design field with excellent mentors and peers, Lindsey reconnected with her agricultural roots after having two children and seeking ways to get closer to where she started.

That’s when L. Easton & Company was born. Her farm and studio are a celebration of the seasons, of cultivating beautiful blooms and creating a wonderful childhood for my children. She and her husband consider themselves lucky to raise their family on a beautiful piece of land and she is excited to share it with her clients and community. L. Easton & Co.’s brand is “grown, gathered, styled.” 

Follow Lindsey at these social places:

Lindsey/L. Easton + Co. on Facebook

Lindsey/L. Easton + Co. on Instagram

Love this sweet pic of Annie Schiller, with a couple of my books xoxo

Love this sweet pic of Annie Schiller, with a couple of my books xoxo

The "wild" design work of Annie Schiller (Florida, left) and Rachel Andre (New York, right)

The “wild” design work of Annie Schiller (Florida, left) and Rachel Andre (New York, right)

Annie Schiller is a returning guest so you may recognize her from last April when I featured a conversation about Williams Wildflowers, and the twin, sister-run design studios, one in Florida (which Annie leads) and one in upstate New York (which Rachel Andre leads). That conversation centered on their philosophy of integrating wildflowers and native plants into beautiful floral design, drawing from their respective regions.

Annie has worked at Florida Native Plants Nursery in Sarasota, Florida, for five years, a destination co-owned and operated by her mother Laurel Schiller, a wildlife biologist with an extensive background in  higher education and in the native plant world.

Annie was born in the Bronx and raised in both Chicago and in Florida. She designs butterfly gardens, grows and maintains native and Florida-friendly plants, designs and maintains social and print media (including Williams Wildflowers’ web site) and that of Florida Native Plants. She is interested in wildlife and edible gardening, permaculture, homesteading, vermicompost, sustainable practices, eco art, and floral design. Annie has a background in visual art, art history and graphic design from Florida State University and from her years spent living and working in New York City. Annie currently arranges and designs wildflower bouquets for the Florida branch of William’s Wildflowers.

Follow Annie at these social places:

William’s Wildflowers on Facebook

William’s Wildflowers on Instagram

Listen to Annie on Micro-Macro-Enviro Radio

This podcast shares an update on Annie’s work, and introduces the two young women to you and to each other. I loved being the connector to bring them together and it left me feeling a warm place in my heart for these intrepid flower farmers in Florida. I hope to return soon!

Hurrah!!! We've hit the 150,000 mark for listener downloads this week! THANKS everyone!

Hurrah!!! We’ve hit the 150,000 mark for listener downloads this week! THANKS everyone!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 150,000 times by listeners like you. How about that, folks?!

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. And PS, Certified American Grown is the producer of the Field to Vase Dinner Tour, now in its 3rd year. Last week saw the announcement of the 7 venue for 2017, and you can find a link to that calendar of events at Debraprinzing.com. I’m very excited that three of the seven venues are Slow Flowers members, so check it out and plan to attend!

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.

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.

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 shellandtree.com.

Music credits:
Parapassargada
by Zoe
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0
Brass Buttons; Cradle Rock
by Blue Dot Sessions

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

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

slide1
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:

slide2
#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.

slide5
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

slide6
#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.

slide9
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 277: A Year in Review – Slow Flowers’ Highlights for 2016

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

2016-year-in-review Welcome to the final Slow Flowers Podcast of 2016

PodcastLogo Last year at this time, I mentioned that the Slow Flowers Podcast had been downloaded 76,000 times in two-and-one-half years.

Today, I can tell you that 2016’s listenership nearly doubled that total, meanings as many people tuned into this weekly episode in 12 months than in the previous 30 months combined.

That’s the best news I could ask for as we reflect on the successes and strides of 2016.

Every single week this year; in fact, every single week for 178 weeks, it has been my privilege to feature the voices of our Slow Flowers community with you.

You’ve heard from flower farmers and floral designers, pioneers and personalities,  who together are changing the floral landscape, disrupting the status quo, and bringing flower sourcing and growing practices, not to mention eco-conscious design methods, to the center of the conversation.

Take the Pledge!!!

Take the Pledge!!!

As I have done since the beginning of 2014, I would like to dedicate today’s episode to the Slow Flowers Highlights we’ve witnessed this year.

Next week, on January 4th, I will share my 2017 floral industry forecast with you.

As the Slow Flowers Movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.


I’ll start with some ACCOLADES

This happened and it came as a total surprise!

This happened and it came as a total surprise!

2016 kicked off with a lovely surprise as the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market honored me with the Growers’ Choice Award for outstanding contributions to revitalizing the local floral community. The flower farmers and staff of this innovated farm-to-florist wholesale market are near and dear to my heart, and it’s so gratifying to receive their recognition. My efforts to promote and sustain domestic flowers is especially sweet because of those who gave me this award.

In September, the Garden Writers Association, my professional community, honored Slowflowers.com – the web site – with a Silver Medal in the digital media category. The organization also inducted me into the Hall of Fame, an honor given to one person each year — an unexpected and humbling acknowledgement for my work in gardening communications.

And then there’s VALENTINE’S DAY

Yay! Check it out!!!

Yay! Check it out!!!

The opportunity for engaging the media in a discussion about American grown flowers, local flowers and the origin and growing practices of flowers at Valentine’s Day is an obvious one — and we have been vocal about sharing the Slow Flowers story.

The 2016 press was major, with Martha Stewart Living’s mention of Slow Flowers and the slowflowers.com directory in its February 2016 issue –

Here’s the text:

“The benefits of choosing locally grown foods over those from all over the world extends to flowers as well. That’s why garden and features editor Melissa Ozawa likes Slowflowers.com, an online directory of more than 600 florists and flower farms across the United States. The site offers local blooms in season (for instance, winter tulips or anemones, if you’re in the Northwest). Have your heart set on classic roses? It also helps users find growers in California and Oregon that ship nationally.” 

There you have it! Short and VERY sweet!

Individually, none of us could have earned this type of media attention from a magazine with paid circulation of more than 2 million subscribers, monthly newsstand sales of 115,000 issues and total audience reach of more than 9 million. The demographics of the Martha Stewart reader are in close alignment with your own floral business.

You can feel especially proud of what we’ve accomplished knowing that the value of this earned media mention is $45,000, something that none of us could have ever afforded if we purchased advertising space in the magazine.

view from airplane As for travel, in 2016, well, I retained my MVP Gold status on Alaska Airlines, which means I spent more than 40,000 miles in the air in 2016.

Perhaps not an accomplishment when it comes to burning jet fuel, but to me, the amount of travel I was able to make on behalf of floral promotion, including connecting with many of you, was significant — and to compensate for that travel footprint, I tried to engage with as many flower farmers and florists at every destination!

I attended seven lovely and inspiring FIELD TO VASE DINNERS, serving as co-host and sponsor.

Slow Flowers partnered with the Certified American Grown campaign’s Field to Vase Dinner Tour, which took me to flower farms in California, Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Washington State.

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

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

I teamed up with Kasey Cronquist, administrator of the Certified American Grown brand, to welcome more hundreds of dinner guests who enjoyed local food AND local flowers, who heard the Slow Flowers message and met and learned from Slow Flowers member farms and designers.

It has been a huge honor to be part of the Field to Vase Dinner tour for the past two years — and I am confident that the dinners helped to change attitudes, assumptions and understanding about the origin of flowers at the center of the table. And a footnote, the Field to Vase Dinner Tour dates for 2017 should be announced soon. 

00571_DP_SlowFlowers_Meetup (2) At many of my travel destinations, I was able to meet Slow Flowers members and even take part in Slow Flowers Meet-Ups.

I can’t tell you how meaningful it has been to put faces and voices to names I perhaps only before knew via social media.It was thrilling to visit cities and towns where I was welcomed into beautiful shops and studios, as well as onto prolific farms where domestic flowers flourished.

Many of those events only took place because so many of you stepped up to host me and I want to thank the following folks for making connections possible when I was in their towns:

With my friend Gloria Battista Collins of GBC Style, we posed happily with our finished arrangements.

With my friend Gloria Battista Collins of GBC Style, we posed happily with our finished arrangements.

In early February, Gloria Collins, GBC Style, hosted me at her Manhattan apartment when I visited NYC.  We recorded a podcast episode and took Laura Dowling’s design workshop together at Flower School New York — what a fabulous experience.

Later that month, for the third consecutive year, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet up with a motivated group of American Flower Farmers for the annual “Fly In” sponsored by California Cut Flower Commission and Certified American Grown.

Tony Ortiz of Joseph and Sons in Santa Paula, Calif., past Slow Flowers Podcast guest, and I were happy to deliver American grown flowers to decorate the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus hearings. Farmer-florist Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Studios designed the bouquet.

Tony Ortiz of Joseph and Sons in Santa Paula, Calif., past Slow Flowers Podcast guest, and I were happy to deliver American grown flowers to decorate the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus hearings. Farmer-florist Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Studios designed the bouquet.

I participated in the day-long advisory board meeting for Certified American Grown, where I fill the Consumer Advocate seat. And I joined farmers on visits to meet staff in congressional and senate offices, as we shared the message of domestic and local flowers. A highlight for Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm, and me was meeting our own amazing Senator Patty Murray, and thanking her for support she and her staff have given Washington state’s local flower farmers.

During my time in D.C., I also hosted a Slow Flowers Meet-Up at Tabard Inn, a beautiful historic venue in the nation’s capitol. There was a crazy storm that caused some of our members in the Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., area to miss the event, but we had about two dozen together for cocktails and conversation — and I was inspired by our conversations and connections made.

READ MORE…

Episode 275: Meet the Authors and Their Fab Floral Books: Louesa Roebuck’s Foraged Flora and Heather Saunders’ Flower House Detroit

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

twoup We’re coming in on the close of this year — and what a year for Slow Flowers it has been. The final few episodes of 2016 are coming together and I know they will inspire, inform, and instigate — focusing on the creative process as each of us tries to set aside time to recharge body, mind and spirit.

Louesa Roebuck, co-author of Foraged Flora

Louesa Roebuck, co-author of Foraged Flora

Heather Saunders, creator and photographer of the book Flower House Detroit

Heather Saunders, creator and photographer of the book Flower House Detroit

Please meet two floral instigators, book creators whose new projects will introduce you to what’s possible when art and the artistic process are respected, honored and allowed to work magic.

My first guest is Louesa Roebuck, co-creator of a new book called Foraged Flora.

My second guest is Heather Saunders, the genius photographer who just released her new book Flower House Detroit.

You are in for a big treat to hear from these two innovators, artists who document floral installations in the printed form, with results that I find incredibly moving.


Listen carefully because we’re giving away one copy of Foraged Flora and one copy of Flower House Detroit — and you may be a lucky winner.

MAY: roses | philadelphus | mint geranium

MAY: roses | philadelphus | mint geranium

First, Louesa. I met Louesa in 2013 when Sunset magazine asked me to write a short piece on her tiny, eponymous flower shop in SF. You’ll hear us recall lunching together in Marin County for that interview — and since then, we’ve occasionally stayed in touch and definitely followed each other’s separate but parallel floral journeys. I just looked up the small Sunset article I wrote about Louesa- and this will make her smile when she hears this – I titled the piece “Foraged and Gleaned”

NOVEMBER: roses | clematis gone to seed | magnolia | rose hips | hydrangea

NOVEMBER: roses | clematis gone to seed | magnolia | rose hips | hydrangea

Foraging and gleaning are the subtext to Louesa’s newest project, the book we’ll discuss. Utterly unconventional in the best way, Louesa has charted a course in her professional life that is motivated by her season and nature-first ethos and the results are gathered in a gorgeous new book called Foraged Flora, released in late October. We’ve been trying to coordinate our schedules to record an interview and here it is, just in time to add Foraged Flora to holiday gift lists – for giving and receiving. As I mentioned, listen carefully for details on how you can win a copy of the book!

READ MORE…

Episode 274: Russian River Flower School and new voices from the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
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.

In October, I had the distinct pleasure of teaching with Dundee Butcher of Russian River Flower School + Events in Healdsburg, California.

Our Slow Flowers Creative Workshop provided a lovely chance to further share the Floral Storytelling and Floral Memoir curriculum I’ve developed. Our group gathered in one of the most inspiring places — Northern California’s wine country.

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

Dundee and her colleague Naomi Mcleod, along with their frequent volunteer Vicki McFadden, hosted our workshop for two days during which we exercised writing skills, stretched our perception of language, and stepped outside the comfort zones as florist-writers. It was such a wonderful experience that allowed me to talk about our Slow Flowers ethos with kindred spirits.

Our group celebrated the conclusion of a successful two days. We gathered for dinner and a garden tour at Dundee Butcher's wine country home (Dundee is first on the left in this shot)

Our group celebrated the conclusion of a successful two days. We gathered for dinner and a garden tour at Dundee Butcher’s wine country home. From left: Dundee, Naomi Mcleod, Julia, Susan, Kate, Debra and Emily.

This Podcast episode will introduce you to Dundee and her story, and to four of the students in our workshop: Susan Chambers from bloominCouture in San Francisco; Emily Carey from ETC Designs in Sebastopol; Julia Beckstoffer of Kiss my Chicks in St. Helena; and Kate Rowe from Aztec Dahlias in Petaluma. Follow this link to my earlier blog post about the workshop – and to see more photos of the designs that emerged that day.

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.

On Day Two, Dundee led the students in a floral design exercise to think differently about how their botanical creations reflect a personal aesthetic. We had some amazing flowers to play with, both from local flower farms like Aztec Dahlias, Home Farm, and Chalk Hill Clematis, as well as cuttings from Dundee’s personal garden. Enjoy these photos of the exquisite and distinct designs.

Dundee demonstrated her inventive use of natural elements in design.

Dundee demonstrated her inventive use of natural elements in design.

Here’s more about Dundee and Russian River Flower School:

Dundee opened Russian River Flower School in 2013 after training and working with some of the top floral design houses in London for many years. As well as teaching, she was privileged to create arrangements for a variety of events and occasions, including private parties, intimate dinners, corporate functions, weddings and even a palace!

Dundee’s vision has been to teach a form of “unstructured formality” by fusing what she learned working in a more formal style of floristry in Europe with the excitement of the natural beauty and materials found in abundance in Northern California.

Russian River Flower School’s mission is to teach people to wander with their eyes open, see differently and enjoy the creative process. The flower school is located in the heart of the California wine country, in the town of Healdsburg.

Follow Russian River Flower School at these social places:

Russian River Flower School on Facebook

Russian River Flower School on Instagram

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

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

Thank you to our students — you trusted me and you were open and accepting of expressing your creativity in a new way. That’s sweet and I can’t wait to see where it takes you and your creative businesses! It was pretty special to see our group come together as a cohort of peers — and to experience the value of setting aside a few days to invest in each of our personal growth. Thank you to Dundee, Naomi and Vicki for making our experience so unforgettable!

Here are the video interviews with each student, produced by Davis and Ludell Jones of Eazl.co

Kate Rowe:

Aztec Dahlias on Facebook

Aztec Dahlias on Instagram

Kate Rowe, from Aztec Dahlias. Love her simple study.

Kate Rowe, from Aztec Dahlias. Love her simple study.

Emily Carey:

ETC designs on Facebook

ETC designs on Instagram

Love the olive branches with fruit! Florals by Emily Carey of ETC designs

Love the olive branches with fruit! Florals by Emily Carey of ETC designs

Susan Chambers:

bloominCouture on Facebook

bloominCouture on Instagram

Designed by Susan Chambers

Julia Beckstoffer:

Kiss my Chicks on Instagram

Julia Beckstoffer, floral designer and Bantam Poultry farmer.

Julia Beckstoffer, floral designer and Bantam Poultry farmer.

What I found most inspiring was the willingness of our participants to suspend fear or apprehension and dive into unfamiliar exercises as they learned how 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?!

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?’”

00539_DP_CreativeWorkshop-02 If you’re interested in participating in an upcoming Slow Flowers Creative Workshop, be sure to let me know. I’m planning one for the Seattle area in early March — details to come!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 136,000 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.

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

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

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.

How one flower farmer thanks his florist-customers

Sunday, December 4th, 2016
Hats off to Dennis Westphall, one half of Jello Mold Farm, for his inventive method of thanking customers for a fabulous season!

Hats off to Dennis Westphall, one half of Jello Mold Farm, for his inventive method of thanking customers for a fabulous season!

Dennis wrote:
I wanted to thank everyone for using our flowers, while at the same time following and putting up with my goofy antics. Miss you already, love you all, and I am so grateful to be connected by your creativity, your artistry and four sets of Scrabble.

If you haven’t met Dennis yet, follow him on Instagram here: @mister.mold

Diane Szukovathy, his partner and wife, can be found here: @dianeszukovathy

Episode 273: A Tale of Two Floristas in Raleigh, North Carolina: meet Stephanie Hall of Sassafras Fork Farm and Maggie Smith of Pine State Flowers

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016
Maggie Smith of Pine State Flowers (left) and Stephanie Hall of Sassafras Fork Farm (right)

Maggie Smith of Pine State Flowers (left) and Stephanie Hall of Sassafras Fork Farm (right)

Before I introduce today’s two guests, I have to share a lovely note that I received this past week from Slow Flowers Canada member and loyal podcast listener, Jessica McEwen at Periwinkle Flowers in Toronto. She wrote:

Jessica McEwan of Periwinkle Flowers in Toronto

Jessica McEwan of Periwinkle Flowers in Toronto

I just had to send you a quick note – I have just finished reading the blog post about the newest podcast episode on Michael from Summer Dreams Farm.  I try to look at the post first, because I actually listen to the interviews while driving out to our local flower growers co-operative just outside Toronto twice weekly and like to have their images in my head to match the voices that I hear.

Thank you for sharing these wonderful people with us, and to address what you say towards the end of your blog post- never doubt that what you do is important! Sharing people’s stories, asking the questions and letting us peek behind the curtain of social media is a true gift from you to all of us in this crazy flower world.

You make me feel a part of a much larger network of people who care about the things that I do: That flowers be bought from growers who love what they do, at a fair price, and be valued at all steps along the way. And, that small business owners and creative entrepreneurs who, let’s face it, are definitely NOT in it for the money, (but) are in it because we can’t help but be consumed by the amazing world of flowers and the joy that they bring to the world, are also valued.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Debra- you truly make my world a brighter and happier place, Jessica.

Thank you, Jessica. I needed to hear that this week, and I appreciate you agreeing to let me share your note here.

You may recall my recent episode featuring Jonathan and Megan Leiss of Spring Forth Farm in Hurdle Mills, North Carolina outside of Raleigh-Durham. I spent a few wonderful days in their community in September, which included a fun Slow Flowers Meet-Up on the Leiss farm and a hands-on Slow Flowers Creative Workshop at Maggie Smith’s Pine State Flowers in Durham. I met so many passionate and inspiring women and men on this trip, people who came together from four southern states, each of whom is changing the conversation around local flowers in their own markets.

twoup It’s been an honor to share their stories with you. Now, I want to include two additional interviews I recorded on that trip. You’ll hear from a floral designer who grows flowers and a flower farmer who also designs, both of whom care deeply about disrupting the conventional floral industry model.

The first is Maggie Smith, who, as I mentioned earlier, served as host for the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop. Maggie owns Pine State Flowers, a charming retail flower shop in Durham. Our second guest is Stephanie Hall of Sassafras Fork Farm, one of the many farms that provides local botanicals to Pine State Flowers. I’ll first introduce Maggie; you’ll meet Stephanie in part two of this episode. A special thanks to Jonathan Leiss for  helping me facilitate both interviews.

Maggie Smith, at work inside Pine State Flowers, her old-new flower shop. (c) Samantha Leonetti photo

Maggie Smith, at work inside Pine State Flowers, her old-new flower shop. (c) Samantha Leonetti photo

Maggie's arrangement from our Slow Flowers Creative workshop this past September.

Maggie’s arrangement from our Slow Flowers Creative workshop this past September.

Maggie is an East Tennessee native who moved to Durham in 2009 to attend the Center for Documentary Studies. Being familiar with the local farming community, she knew plenty of flower farmers in the area but realized there were no florists sourcing 100% locally grown flowers.

The creation of Pine State Flowers came out of opportunity. She knew there was demand and interest for locally-grown flowers in her community at the same time that the historic Roll’s Florist building became available for lease.

Love the Carolina cotton in this wedding's personal flowers.

Love the Carolina cotton in this wedding’s personal flowers, by Pine State Flowers

So with only a good idea, a little savings, and no background in the floral industry, Maggie reopened Roll’s Florist as a flower shop and started a small flower farm on the adjacent land.

The main goals of Pine State Flowers are to support local flower farmers and nurture good land stewardship, connect consumers with locally grown flowers, and create a neighborhood space.

The 1930s building that was built to house Roll's Florist, is now home to Pine State Flowers

The 1930s building that was built to house Roll’s Florist, is now home to Pine State Flowers, complete with the original copper-framed bay window

This rotating display features local farms whose flowers are currently on offer.

This rotating display features local farms whose flowers are currently on offer.

Pine State Flowers only sources sustainably-produced flowers grown in America—no chemicals, no imports—and customers know their money stays in the local economy.

More than 95% of the flowers used at Pine State Flowers are grown in North Carolina. In fact, Maggie features 16 local flower farms on her web site. She doesn’t “hide” her sources; rather, she is 100% transparent about her sources – I applaud that practice.

Entering the historic Roll’s Florist shop, now called Pine State Flowers, is like stepping back in time.

As Maggie writes on the Pine State Flowers web site, the business is rooted in the history of one of the largest floral suppliers in the Southeast, and is now a small independent shop sourcing flowers locally.

sm_dsc00304 This legacy symbolizes the American flower movement over the past 115 years. Having emigrated from Germany, Mr. Roll became a florist for the legendary Duke family, and later established his own business in 1899.

Inside the original flower shop, circa 1930s

Inside the original flower shop, circa 1930s

The original Roll’s Florist included 7 acres of botanical gardens, a flower nursery, and 5 glass greenhouses (the last one was torn down a few years ago). Maggie has saved and is preserving some elements and materials from the original flower shop, including light fixtures in the front room, the wooden walk-in cooler, the copper framed front window, rounded front door, and several receipt books dating back to 1920.

A Pine State Flowers wedding

A Pine State Flowers wedding

Pine State Flowers is North Carolina’s first exclusively local flower shop. Maggie believes that using local flowers strengthens the local economy, supports small farms using organic growing practices, and reduces waste. Pine State Flowers has received local recognition from Indy Best of the Triangle for 2015 and 2016.

A beautiful arrangement designed by Maggie Smith of Pine State Flowers

A beautiful arrangement designed by Maggie Smith of Pine State Flowers

Meet Maggie and follow her at these social places:

Pine State Flowers on Facebook

Pine State Flowers on Twitter

Pine State Flowers on Instagram

READ MORE…

Episode 272: A Dahlia Love Story with Michael Genovese of Summer Dreams Farm

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016
Today's guest, Michael Genevese, of Summer Dreams Farm (c) Heather Saunders

Today’s guest, Michael Genevese, of Summer Dreams Farm (c) Heather Saunders

Today’s guest shares his inspiring story, a narrative that keeps me motivated to continue with this podcast. Please meet Michael Genovese of Summer Dreams Farm.

Here's that photo I mentioned taking when I first met Michael at The Flower House Detroit

Here’s that photo I mentioned taking when I first met Michael at The Flower House Detroit

The first time I met Michael, his arms were filled with dahlias and he had a big grin on his face! That was just over a year ago, when I traveled to Detroit to experience The Flower House and serve as co-host of the Field to Vase Dinner that took place during the weekend exhibition.

Michael showed up on set-up day and frankly, things were a mess. The area where the big event tent was erected needed some major TLC, including grass cutting and the removal of some tree stumps and a beat up chain link fence. We had volunteers and time, and maybe a rake or two, but nothing close to what was needed to turn a wild yard into a gourmet dining experience in just a few hours.

Beautifying the chain link fence at The Flower House in Detroit - an amazing gift from Summer Dreams Farm.

Beautifying the chain link fence at The Flower House in Detroit – an amazing gift from Summer Dreams Farm.

Michael arrived from his dahlia farm in Oxford, about 45 minutes north of Detroit. His truck was filled with buckets of gorgeous and fresh dahlias that he wanted to donate to the Flower House project to support florists who were his new customers from his first year as a flower farmer.

I was blown away by the variety, color and health of his dahlias as he unloaded the gifted flowers. He must have chatted with a few of the volunteers inside the tent, because someone asked him about tools. I’m not exactly sure how this happened but we noticed that Michael disappeared. As it turns out, he drove all the way back to his farm and returned with enough of the right tools to (a) remove those trip-hazard stumps; and (b) yank out that relic of a chain link fence. A miracle!

Here's a beautiful centerpiece designed by Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events for the Field to Vase Dinner Tour in Detroit, 2015. Dahlias by Michael Genovese.

Here’s a beautiful centerpiece designed by Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events for the Field to Vase Dinner Tour in Detroit, 2015. Dahlias by Michael Genovese.

Kasey Cronquist, administrator of Certified American Grown brand and Bill Stotz, whose spouse Liz Andre-Stotz was deeply involved in The Flower House core team, were part of this magical transformation, too. It was a sight to behold, and it made the dinner a huge success. That kind of kismet, connection and community only happens because of people like Michael. He is a rare individual.

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