Debra Prinzing

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

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016
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Daphne Yannakakis and Don Lareau (left) with three of their friends and design team members on an August bouquet-production day

Two weeks ago, you heard me mention my August visit to Colorado, to attend and speak at the Field to Vase Dinner at The Fresh Herb Co. in Longmont, CO, outside Boulder. Owners Chet and Kristy Anderson are past guests of this podcast and I’m a huge fan of their flowers and their leadership in the cultural shift to local, domestic and seasonal flowers.

Well, today you’re going to meet another amazing Colorado couple — the wife-husband team behind Zephyros Farm & Garden and its sister business, Studio Z Flowers. I have corresponded with Daphne Yannakakis and Don Lareau for a few years, and they have been early supporters and members of the Slowflowers.com directory and movement.

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Morning in Paonia, Colorado, at Zephyros Farm & Garden.

Morning in Paonia, Colorado, at Zephyros Farm & Garden.

I knew the 5-hour drive across Interstate 70 west from Denver would be a bit extreme, but it was so worth it to visit Paonia, Colorado. Don and Daphne welcomed me warmly and I fit right in as part family member-part floral crew for a wonderful day that ended with attending a live bluegrass concert on the lawn in the city park of downtown Paonia. Unforgettable! Before we left for the concert and picnic dinner to end the very long day of flower farming and bouquet-making, I sat with Daphne and Don to record our interview.

The flower wagon is filled after harvest.

The flower wagon is filled after harvest.

Zephyros is small, diversified family farm on 35 acres located on the Western Slope of Colorado in the North Fork Valley. The farm grows Certified Organic flowers and vegetables for farmers’ markets, restaurants, florists, wholesale and a unique Flower CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  In the spring, Zephyros provides a wide selection of Certified Organic vegetable and herb starts, as well as fun fruits and perennials just right for western Colorado. Not only food and flower growers, Daphne and Don are passionate floral designers who offer wedding and event flowers and have created an amazing place on their farm for couples to get married.  With their flower farm as a wedding backdrop and ceremony and personal florals created on site, weddings at Zephyros are entirely special events!

The design shed where all the bouquest are made and two huge walk-in coolers protect stems and blooms from Colorado's hot summer temps.

The design shed where all the bouquets are made and two huge walk-in coolers protect stems and blooms from Colorado’s hot summer temps.

Don tells the story of how he found their farm in this agricultural newspaper's classified ads.

Don tells the story of how he found their farm in the classified ads of High Country Shopper, an agricultural newspaper.

Here’s a bit more about Don and Daphne, from the Zephyros Farm web site:

Don is one of the fearless leaders of the farm.  Zephyros is a way of life for this man who loves to get lost in the field planting vegetables, planning for the next big project or keeping everyone laughing on harvest days.

He loves to telemark ski, hang out with his kids, coach soccer and donate many hours as a board member to the Organic Farming and Research Foundation, the local school and giving tours of the farm.  Don keeps the buildings kicking, the irrigation water flowing, and the farm pumping out the thousands of beautiful blooms and thousands of pounds of amazing certified organic produce.

Daphne has a deep connection with the plant world, although she has also been spotted many a time kicking the wheels of the ol’ tractor.  She has over twenty year experience in the plant industry working in large scale nurseries, small scale nurseries, permaculture design firms, small farms and of course running all aspects of Zephyros Farm and Garden.  Daphne is credited with putting the Garden in name Zephyros Farm and Garden!

She delights in her children and loves to work in the greenhouse, go skiing, design bouquets, plant and harvest veggies, and cook incredible food from the bounty here on the farm.  When she has time off she loves to plant more gardens full of the thousands of perennial plants she has learned to love, propagate, plant and sell.

Please enjoy our conversation — for me, just listening to it again transports me to a wonderful visit with inspiring flower folks and I can’t wait to return.

Follow Zephyros Farm & Garden on Facebook

Follow Studio Z Flowers on Facebook

See Zephyros Farm & Garden on Instagram

See Studio Z Flowers on Instagram

There is something so strategic about how Daphne and Don leverage their remote geographic location, which has them situated 2 hours away from the luxury destinations of Aspen and Telluride. It reminds me of how Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm have tailored their brand to serve Sun Valley and Jackson Hole. You may want to go back and listen to my interview with them, recorded last spring — Here is the link to that episode.

A vibrant palette of Colorado-grown flowers from Zephyros Farm & Garden

A vibrant palette of Colorado-grown flowers from Zephyros Farm & Garden

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 117,500 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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, Welcome to our new sponsor, the 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 261: Kathleen Barber of Erika’s Fresh Flowers, a one-woman flower show on the Oregon Coast

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016
Kathleen Barber of Erika's Fresh Flowers

Kathleen Barber of Erika’s Fresh Flowers

Earlier this summer, I joined my husband on a beautiful drive that culminated at the point where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean; the Columbia is the natural border between the states of Washington and Oregon.

Here, there is a historic maritime town called Astoria, which was first visited by explorers and fur traders in 1811 and founded in 1876.

The reason I wanted to tag along with Bruce was because I’ve been meaning to visit Kathleen Barber of Erika’s Fresh Flowers.

Kathleen grows and designs flowers in a secret garden adjacent to her home in Warrenton, Oregon, the town just south of the metropolis of Astoria.

Kathleen (right) and her customer Carly, owner of 3 Cups Coffee in Astoria

Kathleen (right) and her customer Carly Lackner, owner of 3 Cups Coffee House in Astoria.

erika_img_5614 We met up at 3 Cups Coffee House in downtown Astoria, where owner Carly Lackner displays Kathleen’s weekly arrangements. This is the seeming “heart” of the community where people come in for a designer cup of caffeine and a home-baked pastry and stay for meetings, conversation, reading and fascinating views of the Columbia River shipping traffic.

After we jumped in Kathleen’s car, I accompanied her on a bouquet delivery to the Astoria Co-op Grocery. Another important home-grown business, the Co-op is a source of local food from local farms, and local bouquets from Erika’s Fresh Flowers. After a delicious lunch at a farm-to-table restaurant specializing in vegetarian and vegan options, we drove back to Kathleen’s home and garden-farm.

Kathleen's delivery to Astoria Co-op Grocery.

Kathleen’s delivery to Astoria Co-op Grocery.

I followed her through the rows, raised beds, high tunnels and borders inside a fenced area about 3/4-acre in size. You can hear me asking her about specific flowers and foliage that she grew and harvested for an arrangement she had in mind to promote American Flowers Week.

And she delivers to the local wine bar!

And she delivers to the local wine bar! Kathleen poses with Rebecca (right) owner of WineKraft in Astoria.

Here’s more about Kathleen, from the Erika’s Fresh Flowers web site:

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Kathleen and her daughter Erika

Erika’s Fresh Flowers is named after my daughter, Erika, who at 14 years old took over my mother’s flower stand, which was simply a way to make extra money from the joys of gardening. As Erika picked and picked, another stand was built on the other side of town.

A local florist put in a request to buy several bunches at a time directly from Erika. On one delivery to the flower shop, the florist made the check out to“Erika’s Flowers“ and therefore named the business. Erika started her first job working for that florist at 17 years old and continued through college. She has since graduated, married and lives further South in the Willamette Valley but her passion for flowers is still part of her life.

Kathleen Barber inside one of her Warrenton, Oregon, high tunnels (hoop houses) for dahlias.

Kathleen Barber inside one of her Warrenton, Oregon, high tunnels (hoop houses) for dahlias.

Kathleen received a degree in Business Management and began a career as an Office/Operations Manager. After having her second child she decided to stay home with her children. In 2005, her passion for all things floral blossomed into a family business and Kathleen formally launched Erika’s Fresh Flowers.

A Kathleen Barber floral arrangement, which she photographed in her studio.

A Kathleen Barber floral arrangement, which she photographed in her studio.

1001993_589854187739739_425674889_n She also writes: I enjoy the ability to play with flowers and be with my family. I love creating lush bouquets and arrangements with ingredients that I grow myself. The pleasure of giving others something I created just for them and seeing their response is fun and fulfilling.

We are a locally owned flower farm and design studio with a garden style inspired by the wild, unique botanicals around us.  We tend to a cutting garden with a vast selection of flowers, foliage and herbs grown with sustainability practices in mind so as to preserve our land here on the North Oregon Coast.

Yes, she's very close to the beach! The Oregon coast is a backdrop for many destination weddings and designs by Erika's Fresh Flowers.

Yes, she’s very close to the beach! The Oregon coast is a backdrop for many destination weddings and designs by Erika’s Fresh Flowers.

Kathleen Barber's locally-grown, designed and photographed arrangement

Kathleen Barber’s locally-grown, designed and photographed arrangement

A word about the quite excellent growing conditions that Kathleen enjoys. True confessions, this description comes from Wikipedia, but since I am a former Oregon resident, this feels pretty darned accurate: Astoria lies within the Mediterranean climate zone with very mild temperatures year-round, some of the most consistent in the contiguous United States; winters are mild for this latitude (it usually remains above freezing at night) and wet. Summers are cool, although short heat waves can occur. Rainfall is most abundant in late fall and winter and is lightest in July and August, averaging approximately 67 inches of precipitation annually. Snowfall is relatively rare, occurring every few years or so.

Astoria is tied with Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Port Arthur, Texas, as the most humid city in the contiguous United States. The average relative humidity in Astoria is 89% in the morning and 73% in the afternoon. (a side note, with cooler temperatures in the air, this ‘humidity’ is altogether different from what you’d experience in Louisiana or Texas, perhaps this is why Kathleen has such beautiful skin!)

Temperatures reach 80 °F only four days per year and only rarely reach 90 °F. Normally there are only one or two nights per year when the temperature remains at or above 60 °F.

With 191 days annually producing measurable precipitation, irrigation isn’t Kathleen’s problem! She enjoys the benefits of being able to grow and harvest some type of crop — flowers and foliage — nearly year-round, keeping her local customers quite delighted with Slow Flowers, Coastal Style.

Kathleen in her studio where she operates her portrait photography business.

Kathleen in her studio where she operates her portrait photography business.

A lovely bouquet featuring flowers and foliage grown, designed and photographed by Kathleen Barber.

A lovely bouquet featuring flowers and foliage grown, designed and photographed by Kathleen Barber.

In our interview, Kathleen demonstrates how she weaves together art and commerce in both her flower farming and floral design work, making it look much easier than I know it is.

Here is how to find and follow Erika’s Fresh Flowers:

Erika’s Fresh Flowers on Facebook

Erika’s Fresh Flowers on Instagram

Erika’s Fresh Flowers on Pinterest

Kathleen Barber Photography

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 116,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much. Last month marked our highest listenership to day — 5,561 people downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast during August. 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 the home page at right.

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.

Heartfeld thanks to 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, Welcome to our new sponsor, the 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 260: Blooming in Colorado with Robyn Rissman of BareRoot Flora and Alicia Schwede of Bella Fiori Floral Design and Flirty Fleurs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

READ MORE…

Slow Flowers Creative Workshop with Bonny Doon Garden Co.

Friday, August 26th, 2016

FINAL_with_Bonny_Doon_00539_DP_CreativeWorkshop-01 (2) This past weekend provided a hugely rewarding experience for my friend Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co. and me. We teamed up to teach the first-ever Slow Flowers Creative Workshop at Castle House & Garden, her private, “secret garden” setting in Santa Cruz.

The idea behind our curriculum was twofold:

I wanted to share “Floral Storytelling” techniques and Teresa wanted to share her approach to “Garden-Inspired Design.”

My arrangement, in Syndicate Sales' black cherry bowl. The palette inspired me to pick dahlias, grevillea blooms, zinnias and alstroemeria in the same color family.

My arrangement, in Syndicate Sales’ black cherry pedestal bowl. The palette inspired me to pick dahlias, grevillea blooms, zinnias and alstroemeria in the same color family.

Floral Storytelling and Garden-Inspired Floral Design concepts are central to the idea of creating a personal brand for flower farmers, floral designers and farmer-florists who support Slow Flowers, local sourcing and sustainable design practices — and who wish to differentiate themselves in a crowded and competitive marketplace.

Teresa (center) with several of our students. The group is standing under the massive redwood trees in Teresa's garden, a perfect source of inspiration.

Teresa (center) with several of our students. The group is standing under the massive redwood trees in Teresa’s garden, a perfect source of inspiration. From left: Dyana Zweng, Terri Schuett, Teresa, Daniele Allion Strawn, Laura Vollset and Liz Marcellus. Missing: Michelle Bull, Kellee Matsushita and Dawn Mayer.

READ MORE…

Episode 259: Beth and Jason Syphers of Oregon’s Crowley House Farm, a flower-filled life and design business

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016
Crowley House Flower Farm on display at the McMinnville (Oregon) Farmers' Market

Crowley House Flower Farm on display at the McMinnville (Oregon) Farmers’ Market

Beth and Jason Syphers

Beth and Jason Syphers

I’m so excited to share my recent interview with Beth and Jason Syphers of Crowley House Flower Farm in Rickreall, Oregon.

About 10 miles west of Salem, Oregon, the state’s capital, there is a charming turn-of-the-20th-century farmhouse where the gardens flourish, the fields are lush and colorful, and the activity inside co-owner Beth Syphers’ design studio is thoroughly inspiring.

I met Beth last year at the first Pacific Northwest Cut Flower Growers meet-up held at Our Table Cooperative outside Portland, and felt an immediate connection to her warmth, kindness, and support for Slow Flowers.

Jason joined her at our Portland meet-up this past April and I could tell he’s one of those super-essential spouses that creatives need in their lives.

When I asked them if I could visit their farm during an recent summer trip we had planned, I wasn’t surprised to be told YES.

I set aside a full day to drive about one hour south of Portland to Rickreall, where a curving country lane called Crowley Road led me to the driveway of a beautiful homestead.

The beautiful Crowley House

The beautiful Crowley House

A charming porch scene (c) Beth Syphers

A charming porch scene (c) Beth Syphers

Beth and Jason greeted me and led me on a tour of their property, including a peek inside the converted garage-studio where Beth processes and designs flowers, and hosts her workshops. We walked through the fields and into the high tunnel to see what was in bloom, and eventually sat down at the kitchen table to record this interview. Jason’s voice can be heard at the top of the segment, but we soon lost him to a business phone call.

Wedding florals by Beth Syphers

Wedding florals by Beth Syphers

A lovely arrangement from the Crowley House Flower Farm

A lovely arrangement from the Crowley House Flower Farm

Beth shares this introduction on the Crowley House Web Site: What started out as just a flower design hobby ten years ago, has grown over time into the family farm of today. The need to produce high quality blooms for my designs, and an ever changing parade of color, texture and fragrance; plus the appeal of the slower, simpler lifestyle for my family – the need to feel the soil on my hands and feet, to see the sun rise and set on our fields, and the smell of the country morning dew – has headed me down the path of flower farming and the amazing adventure that has become Crowley House.

The simple pleasure, or smile, that graces the face of our customers as they hold and smell a bouquet of our fresh flowers is one of the high points of our day. Crowley House is pleased to offer many garden heirloom roses, sweet peas, flowering vines, delicate woodland blooms and gorgeous berries in dozens of varieties, all of which represent just some of the flower varietals that we grow and which makes up the framework and style of our farm and design work. Nearly all of the flowers used in our designs are Crowley House grown, but occasionally we will use materials grown by other USA regional growers.

Crowley House offers a wide range of services from a simple bucket of flowers for the DIY creative folks, to full event styling and coordinating floral service – for weddings, corporate events, parties, memorials and various Family Events.

Lovely floral crown designed by Beth Syphers

Lovely floral crown designed by Beth Syphers

Details of a Crowley House wedding

Details of a Crowley House wedding

Thanks so much for joining us today. Be sure to follow Crowley House Flower Farm at these social places:

Crowley House Flower Farm & Studio on Facebook

Crowley House Flower Farm & Studio on Instagram

Sign up for Crowley House’s e-newsletter here

A woodland bride, with flowers by Crowley House's Beth Syphers

A woodland bride, with flowers by Crowley House’s Beth Syphers

You can tell we had a lot of fun together. Meeting Beth and Jason was a memorable highlight of my summer trip to Oregon!

download I have some news about Lisa Waud’s new project, Detroit Flower Week, which is coming up October 11-15, 2016. Inspired by her amazing 2015 production, The Flower House, Lisa has dreamed up a fantastic week of lectures, workshops and other events featuring all local and American-grown flowers.

I invited her to give us the details and listen for info about how you can take advantage of a special Slow Flowers promo code for discounted day pass tickets — if you act before the end of August. Follow the ticket link here and use “Slowflowers” for a 15% off discount on day passes (must be purchased by end of day 8/31). Perhaps I’ll see you there! If you can’t make it, the Slow Flowers Podcast will bring you recordings of some of the voices gathered at Detroit Flower Week, so stay tuned.

Now, on to the story of Crowley House!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 113,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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Please use the PAYPAL button to the right in the sidebar of our home page!

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 to the right.

Recently, a flower farmer in the Slow Flowers Community who is deaf asked me if we would ever consider producing transcripts of our episodes so she could read these conversations. It was a poignant reminder of how casually those of us who are in the hearing world take our senses for granted. So I am going to try to produce transcripts, which cost an estimated $50-$75 per episode to transcribe, edit and prepare for download. Your contributions will help make this possible and eventually, we’ll go back and transcribe the archives if we’re able to raise enough funds!

2016 American Flowers Week Sponsors

2016 American Flowers Week Sponsors

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.

And finally, 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

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 258: Flower Farming Genius, Gonzalo Ojeda of Ojeda Farms

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016
Gonzalo Ojeda with a bouquet he grew and designed.

Gonzalo Ojeda with a bouquet he grew and designed.

A grorgeous detail of Gonzalo's June arrangement.

A grorgeous detail of Gonzalo’s June arrangement.

In the world of self-promotion in which we all live (or some may say “endure”), it’s always refreshing to meet someone who just lets his or her work speak for itself.

I’m married to someone like that and since I’m a clinical extrovert, I sometimes find frustrating to see someone who is so incredibly talented, someone who actually possesses an innate gift, who doesn’t want to broadcast their story to the world.

Maybe that’s the job of the Slow Flowers Podcast — to share stories of those modest, unsung heroes who are doing amazing work in our profession.

So today I want to share one of those voices with you and let you hear his story. His name is Gonzalo Ojeda and he and his wife Maria own Ojeda Farms in Ethel, Washington. Ethel is located southeast of Washington State’s Mt. Rainier–more importantly for customers of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, it’s about 1 hour 45 minutes south of Seattle — on a good day. Gonzalo or one of his farm crew makes at least one if not two round-trips a week to deliver a huge selection of healthy flowers to the market floor, driving on I-5 – one of the worst traffic corridors on the West Coast. You never hear him complain, though. He’s a passionate grower who started cut flower farming as a side gig while handling a full-time job at a commercial nursery that grows ornamentals for local big box retailers.

Touring a high tunnel where dahlias and clematis are growing.

Touring a high tunnel where dahlias and clematis are growing.

This is Gonzalo’s bio from the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market “about us” page:

Gonzalo was born and raised on a farm in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico. His family grew volumes of tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers and onions for many generations and sold them to large-scale wholesale buyers.

When southern Mexico began experiencing major droughts a few decades ago, vegetable production went into decline and Gonzalo came to the U.S. to work for a short period so he could help pay off his family’s farm debts. He was just 21 and his mother worried for him because he only knew a few words in English. “I knew how to say ‘chicken’ and ‘table’ and that’s about it,” he recalls. Gonzalo arrived in Washington State, got himself just enough schooling to learn how to ask for a job in English and began working picking strawberries and raspberries.

Within the year, he had secured a job working in greenhouses, propagating ornamental plants. He liked the work and has stayed with the same company for nearly 20 years. At first, he always thought he would return to Mexico, but the droughts continued… and then he met his wife Maria. They bought their Ethel farm in 2000. Gonzalo began experimenting with growing perennials in his spare time after work and on weekends–starting with a few hundred feet of astilbes, soon adding several acres of peonies and other perennials. Through hard work and a strong drive for quality, Gonzalo and Maria now have ten acres of perennials in production. Like their beautiful flower crops, the Ojedas have become firmly rooted in Washington State, with their three sons, Ricky, Fernando and Esau.

Gonzalo gets a lot of "help" from his kids, especially during summer break from school.

Gonzalo gets a lot of “help” from his kids, especially during summer break from school.

Gonzalo and Maria's youngest two posed for me inside one of the high tunnels

Gonzalo and Maria’s youngest two posed for me inside one of the high tunnels

Because of our schedules, I rarely run into Gonzalo when he’s at the Market (ie, he’s in and out long before I’m up and about).

But I’ve been wanting to visit his farm and record an interview for this podcast. I made time for that visit in mid-June when I had a trip scheduled to Portland for another assignment. And because it was Saturday, Gonzalo was home with the boys but Maria was not — she has begun to sell their flowers at the nearby Olympia Farmers Market, a year-round farmers’ market, open every Saturday, with extended Thursday-through-Sunday hours in the peak season.

Astilbe, the first perennial Gonzalo planted at his farm.

Astilbe, the first perennial Gonzalo planted at his farm.

A dark shade of Astilbe

A dark shade of Astilbe

I turned on the recorder and Gonzalo and I began by walking around the vast farm, starting with a peek inside the high tunnels and hoop houses. We moved to the fields of woody ornamentals, perennials and annuals, a beautiful quilt of bloom color and healthy, vigorous plants. Along the way, I asked Gonzalo about his life as a flower farmer, about specific varieties and about how he manages two jobs and tens of thousands of stems.

I hope you enjoy our conversation and be sure to follow Ojeda Farms’ new Instagram feed here.

Here is a gallery of the Ojeda Farms’ Peonies.

From this vantage point, you can see Mt. Rainier (on a clear day)!

From this vantage point, you can see Mt. Rainier (on a clear day)!

perfection!

perfection!

Thanks for listening! Rumor has it that Gonzalo and Maria will open up their farm for a private Seattle Wholesale Growers Market tour next spring during the peak of peony season, so if you’re a buyer’s card holder, you’ll be lucky enough to get in on that event. You can find Ojeda Farms’ lush, Salmon Safe flowers at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market right now — and I promise you — the farm cranks out super healthy, fresh flowers. I want to add that Tammy Myers of First & Bloom, a Slowflowers.com member and past guest of this podcast, wrote a blog post last summer about her visit to Ojeda Farms, which you can read here. Something Tammy wrote is worth repeating here:

“Optimal flower picking time is in the early morning or late evenings, especially during the summer months.  Not only is it easier for the farmers to work in cooler conditions, but it’s also best for the crops.  The flowers, commonly referred to as cuts or stems, are picked from the fields and immediately placed in coolers.  As soon as a flower starts to warm up in warmer temperatures, it begins its blooming cycle. The longer the cut stays in cooler temperatures, the longer it stalls the blooming cycle.  From the moment that flower is cut from the field, it’s an absolute race to get them from field to florist to customer.

I wasn’t going to mention it…. BUT…… can you actually say that about imported grocery store varieties????  

I don’t think sooooo!

This crucial step in flower farming and probably agriculture in general, is just part of the everyday grind flower farmers face.  Yet, there was something so special and personal about Ojeda Farms, I had to know more.”

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A beautiful Ojeda dahlia

 

Like Tammy, the curious urge to “know more” is an emotion that leads many of us to consider the faces of farmers behind faces of flowers. Thank you for joining us today.

Recently I was encouraged to add a “donate” button for this podcast. I sheepishly did so and this week we received our first  contribution — from listener Ann Carper of Washington, D.C.

save as button

Please use the PAY PAL button in the right column of our home page.

I’m not sure I know Ann, or whether we’ve met in the past. That she would make a small donation to sustain the production and broadcast of the Slow Flowers Podcast was a lovely thing.

We spend out-of-pocket about $5,000 each year to record and produce 52 episodes. Thanks to the financial support of our four sponsors about half of that is underwritten, but it still doesn’t come close to covering my travel or time spent to bring you stories of flower farmers and floral designers in as many geographical areas as possible.

So 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 the home page at debraprinzing.com.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 111,000 times by listeners like you. We ended the month of July with our second-highest episode download count ever — 5,015 times. That’s amazing considering we’re at the peak of flower farming season and I know people are busy! THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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.

And finally, 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.

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 257: Pistil & Stamen, Growing Botanical Beauty and Creating Community in New Orleans

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
My guest is Denise Richter (right) of New Orleans-based Pistil & Stamen, who I recently met in person during her West Coast travels

My guest is Denise Richter (right) of New Orleans-based Pistil & Stamen, who I recently met in person during her West Coast travels

FINAL_with_Bonny_Doon_00539_DP_CreativeWorkshop-01 (2) I want to start this episode sharing more details about the upcoming Slow Flowers Creative Workshop that I’ll be co-teaching with Teresa Sabankaya of Santa Cruz’s Bonny Doon Garden Co. on Sunday, August 21st and Monday, August 22nd.

This valuable experience is designed to help you clarify, document and communicate your personal aesthetic message as a floral professional.

In a safe, supportive and intimate setting, our small group will focus on YOU! We’ll go deep into Slow Flowers “brand building” as each participant finds his or her own voice as a floral storyteller.

00571_DP_SlowFlowers_Meetup (2) If you’ve been thinking about investing in your businesses’ future, now is the time to sign up. Today’s podcast interview features my conversation with Teresa about some of the content that we plan to cover.

You’re also invited to join the Slow Flowers Meet Up from 3-6 pm on August 22nd! Check out details here.

In August 2014, a writer named Susan Langenhennig of the Times Picayune, the major daily newspaper in New Orleans, published an article, which she titled:

The farm-to-vase movement: Local flower farms sprout on urban lots around New Orleans.

Susan wrote: “The mantra of the eat-local food movement is heading into the flower fields. Decades ago, that ethos began opening eyes to agricultural practices and sparking questions of how and where food is grown. Now a nascent cut-flower farming industry in New Orleans hopes to get consumers to think as much about the provenance of the bouquets they buy as the food they eat.
Within the last year, several local flower farmers — all of them growing on small urban lots — formed the 
New Orleans Flower Growers Association to pool resources and share advice. The group’s farmers use sustainable practices, without the synthetic herbicides and pesticides typical in the commercial flower industry. Selling locally, they hope to reduce the average bouquet’s carbon footprint to just tiptoes.”

Pistil & Stamen's lush, over-the-top urn design

Pistil & Stamen’s lush, over-the-top urn design

Susan quoted today’s guest, Denise Richter, who owns Pistil & Stamen, a flower farm with business partner Megan McHugh. She also highlighted veteran and emerging flower growers in the New Orleans Flower Growers Association, and she asked me to comment on the “trend” that’s called Slow Flowers.

“It’s a gradual awareness in where our flowers come from. Food is way ahead… It’s the same customer who will ask in a restaurant, ‘Where was this salmon caught or raised?’ What’s the food mile? What’s the flower mile?”Foodies and gardeners “get it first,” Prinzing said.

When the story was published Slowflowers.com was literally two months old and no one from Louisiana had joined as members. Through the article, I connected virtually with Denise and other New Orleans Flower Collective members and invited them to join Slowflowers.com.

They did and their involvement has helped visitors to the site — people from across the country — to find and connect with some wonderful resources for local, Louisiana-grown cut flowers and floral design. Here is their mission:

The New Orleans Flower Growers Association (NOFGA) is a small group of New Orleans based flower growers that share a love of growing and a commitment to natural and sustainable practices. Growers exchange knowledge, marketing and production resources to support a burgeoning organic and local flower production industry. NOFGA also connects buyers with the flower farmers who are producing locally and sustainable grown flowers.

Denise Richter (left) and Megan McHugh (right)

Denise Richter (left) and Megan McHugh (right)

Last month, I met Denise in person. As you’ll hear in this episode, she visited the Pacific Northwest recently and was warmly welcomed by the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market community of farmers and florists. We met over pizza and beer when Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall invited Denise to stop by Jello Mold Farm for a community gathering after the Market’s flower farm tour.

I was jazzed to make a human connection to someone I only previously knew through social media, but I couldn’t let Denise sneak out of town without turning on the recorder to capture a conversation with her about Pistil and Stamen. I asked her to update the Slow Flowers Podcast audience on the New Orleans flower scene, two years after that original article appeared.

Megan McHugh and Denise Richter

Megan McHugh (foreground) and Denise Richter (standing)

Here’s some background on this dynamic team:

Denise Richter left a fashion career at Calvin Klein to study food systems and community organizing at NYU, and has been working on farms and urban gardens ever since.  She came to New Orleans to start the Edible Schoolyard NOLA, an organization that aims to change the way students eat, learn and live in 5 public charter schools in the city. As a garden educator and garden manager for seven years, she spearheaded curriculum development, staff mentoring, and garden builds.  Building garden classrooms that were as aesthetically pleasing as they were functional and educational, she has always loved and cared about making beautiful spaces for community members of all ages to enjoy.   This extended to bringing the outside in, making bouquets from the garden for the cafeteria tables, front office desk and for special school events.

A beautiful Pistil & Stamen bouquet

A beautiful Pistil & Stamen bouquet

Megan McHugh came to New Orleans to start a garden education program at MLK Charter School in the Lower 9th ward.  With a degree in Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing, she has been always less interested in the nitty gritty science behind agriculture (soil scientist she is not!) than the utter delight and magic behind growing food and flowers.  Her passion for creating meaningful and fun experiences for students within their regimented school day led her to garden education, along with her years of community gardening experience. When her small program lost its funding, she began working with Denise at ESY NOLA, developing gardens.  She soon became the resident florist of the school, fielding bouquet requests regularly, and her plant choices became very influenced by her need for design material!  This creative, multi-functional gardening is one reason Pistil & Stamen is so adept at using edible elements in their work such as unique herbs, peppers, asparagus and more.

P&S logo The women share this from the Pistil & Stamen web site:

Seven years ago, we met over coffee to chat about our mutual profession, school gardening, and realized we had even more in common than that. Both of us having designed, tended to and taught in gardens throughout the city, we found in each other a shared passion for creating the most beautiful spaces we could –  growing native plants, cut flowers and gorgeous perennials along with our veggies.  Growing food for people on its own wasn’t enough.  We wanted to grow beauty for them as well.
And now, we happily hand our clients arrangements grown in urban gardens on St. Claude Ave and Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard.  We design bouquets as we do our gardens –  with respect for natural forms and movement.  And we are quite pleased to create habitat for increasingly threatened pollinators, and that our gardens inspire many a passerby to stop and smell the roses, or the sweat peas, or the jasmine.
Community-minded and eager to share these green spaces in the heart of our city, we love having people to our gardens for workshops, parties, and volunteer days.

Follow Pistil & Stamen on Facebook

Find Pistil & Stamen on Instagram

Be Inspired by Pistil & Stamen on Pinterest

I love one point that Denise made about the New Orleans Flower Growers Association/Collective. She noted that the local media “would not have done a story about one of us – but collectively, there is a story.” I couldn’t agree more.

If you are involved in an interview or photo shoot with media in your region, be sure to add a rich layer of relevance to the narrative by telling the writer or editor to the Slowflowers.com community. We can help give your story national context and validate that you are a pioneer in bringing local and sustainable flowers to the marketplace. Put that journalist in touch with me so I can share a voice of affirmation to what you’re doing. Don’t miss the opportunity to place yourself in the national conversation about domestic and local flowers.

And please get in touch with me if you would like more statistics and sources to validate the metrics around local flowers. As always, I’m available at debra@slowflowers.com When you highlight Slow Flowers in your local press, you’re helping sisters and brothers in the Slow Flowers movement everywhere as well as yourself!

00559_DP_SlowFlowers_Value_1UP

DIG DEEP: Our new collateral piece outlines the many benefits of your Slowflowers.com membership.

This week we also published a new piece listing the Value of your Slowflowers.com membership. It’s a membership that is so much more than helping customers find you. It is about branding, marketing, connections and community. Download a high-res version of this piece here and share it with colleagues who’ve yet to invest in themselves or their businesses by being part of this important national cause.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 110,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

sponsor bar

Thank you to our 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.

And finally, 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

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.

Music credits:
Gillicuddy – “Fudge”
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/gillicuddy/UpDown_1844
Josh Woodward – “Perfect (Instrumental Version)”
Josh Woodward – “Once Tomorrow (Instrumental Version)”
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Josh_Woodward/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 256 All My Thyme – Dawn Severin’s love affair with garden roses

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
ScreenShotSFHomePage

GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators, is honoring Slowflowers.com with a SILVER AWARD of Achievement for 2016

I have some very special news to share with you – GWA | The Association for Garden Communicators — announced last week that Slowflowers.com is a SILVER MEDAL winner in the 2016 Media Awards program.

This follows last year’s Silver Award for our infographic titled: “Where do your flowers come from?”

We’ve poured so much creative effort into developing Slowflowers.com’s valuable, meaningful content and it’s thrilling to receive industry recognition for this important digital resource that connects consumers everywhere with American Grown flowers across the country.

logo_gwa

Please celebrate with me — together we’ve created this success!

Dawn Severin of All My Thyme, shown with her lavender crop

Dawn Severin of All My Thyme, shown with her ‘Grosso’ lavender crop

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Dawn Severin (c) Mary Grace Long

Dawn Severin (c) Mary Grace Long

Today’s guest is flower farmer Dawn Severin, owner of All My Thyme, which is based in Mount Vernon, Washington.

All My Thyme is a wholesale flower farm dedicated to hand-tending English garden roses, a variety of cut flowers and herbs, and fresh and dried lavender — all for the floral trade.

Dawn is a gifted grower — a civil engineer-turned flower farmer and current member of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

On a recent visit to her farm I saw beautiful perennials, herbs and annuals, and of course, beloved garden roses. Thousands of rose plants occupy the heart of Dawn’s farm, a well-organized layout of rows, beds and one high tunnel cover a four-acres-plus area, part of the 15-acre homestead in Washington’s Skagit Valley.

The tall wands of Dawn's eremurus frame the view of her home and barn in Skagit Valley.

The tall wands of Dawn’s eremurus frame the view of her home and barn in Skagit Valley.

2upAllmyThyme

All you have to do is track Instagram to know that roses are more popular than ever before, especially in the wedding floral world. Dawn grows David Austins, Kordes, old-fashioned and hybrids alike, with a petal palette ranging from whites and creams to the deepest burgundies.

sm_IMG_5326 It’s really impossible to capture the vast knowledge and expertise that makes All My Thyme’s roses so cherished here in the Seattle marketplace. Her roses are romantic, fragrant, healthy and super fresh. Grown with great care and attention to what her floral customers really want — artistic design elements for their brides and special event clients.

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sm_IMG_5474 I have known and loved Dawn’s flowers for a few years, but I only recently set aside time to visit her for a first-person tour of the roses! I turned on the recorder to capture our conversation, which took place while we walked through the farm.

Here is a list of the roses that Dawn and I discussed during our conversation:

A Shropshire Lad (David Austin)

Anna’s Promise (Weeks)

Charlotte (David Austin)

Clair Renaissance (Poulsen)

Crocus Rose (David Austin)

Crown Princess Margareta (David Austin)

Distant Drums (Weeks)

Eglantyne (David Austin)

Hot Cocoa (Weeks)

Ice Girl (Kordes)

James Galway (David Austin)

Jubilee Celebration (David Austin)

Jude the Obscure (David Austin)

Koko Loko (Weeks)

Lemon Pompon (Kordes)

Orange Pompon (Kordes)

Pink Pompon (Kordes)

Sombreuil (David Austin)

Spirit of Freedom (David Austin)

Susan Williams-Ellis (David Austin)

Tranquillity (David Austin)

Wollerton Old Hall (David Austin)

All My Thyme is a Salmon Safe certified flower farm, meaning that all of Dawn’s practices are safe for local waterways and salmon habitats, as evaluated by a third party agency.

The new high tunnel at All My Thyme

The new high tunnel at All My Thyme

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 109,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

sponsor bar Thank you to our 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.

And finally, 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.

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

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

PodcastLogo You hear me say this every Wednesday morning:

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

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

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

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

Slow Flowers Road Trip to Oregon

Friday, July 15th, 2016
(c) Heather Saunders

(c) Heather Saunders

You know you’ve got it bad when every vacation involves a visit to a flower farm, right?

My husband Bruce Brooks, a track fan in his happy place

That’s exactly how I rationalized our 4-day trip to travel from Seattle to Eugene, Oregon, in order to take in the U.S. Track & Field Olympic Trials at University of Oregon’s Hayward Field last weekend. I’m married to a track fanatic. The track fanatic is married to a flower fanatic. See how that works?

Luckily, my husband Bruce Brooks is super indulgent of my passions and I like to think I’m relatively indulgent of his. Sitting on a thin piece of foam on wood bleachers for three days is a small price to pay in order to experience the thrill of watching world-class athletes compete and break speed and distance/height records. It really was fun.

But so were the “side trips,” and that’s the purpose of today’s installation of “Slow Flowers Road Trip.”

Crowley House on Crowley Road...a late 19th century farmhouse where Beth and Jason are raising children and flowers.

Crowley House on Crowley Road…a late 19th century farmhouse where Beth and Jason are raising children and flowers.

Beth and Jason Syphers

Beth and Jason Syphers

Last Thursday, while Bruce worked in his company’s Portland office, I headed to Rickreall, Oregon, a hamlet west of Salem, the state capitol.

I’ve been wanting to see Crowley House Flower Farm & Studio where Beth and Jason Syphers are creating a very special family business.

The Syphers are active in the emerging PNW Cut Flower Growers group and I’m so happy they are part of Slowflowers.com.

I’m not going to share all their background, because I recorded a Slow Flowers Podcast interview with Beth (including a cameo appearance by Jason), which you’ll hear later this summer.

But I will explain that they live, farm and work at a magical place in the country, at the heart of which is a late 19th century farmhouse.

Enjoy a few fun photos here with more to come!

As it was Thursday, I followed Beth over to the McMinnville Farmers’ Market, about 10 miles away.

Crowley House Flowers at the downtown McMinnville Farmers Market

Crowley House Flowers at the downtown McMinnville Farmers Market

Beth and I inside her Market Stall.

Beth and I inside her Market Stall.

That’s where she sells flowers to the public each week. Beth doesn’t bring straight bunches to the Market; she’s known for her inventive and unique bouquets that range in price from $4 for a sweet pea posy to $15 for a larger bouquet. Great Prices! I hope those McMinnvillites realize how special these locally-grown flowers really are.

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