Debra Prinzing

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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.

READ MORE…

Episode 254: Today’s Modern Flower Farmers: Georgia’s Steve and Mandy O’Shea of 3 Porch Farm and Moonflower Design

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
Mandy and Steve O'Shea of 3 Porch Farm in Comer, Georgia

Today’s Podcast guests: Mandy and Steve O’Shea of 3 Porch Farm in Comer, Georgia (c) Rinne Allen

News and Updates:

FINAL_with_Bonny_Doon_00539_DP_CreativeWorkshop-01 (2) Last month I mentioned news about the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop, which I’m co-teaching with Teresa Sabankaya of the Bonny Doon Garden Co., in Santa Cruz, California.

We have a schedule update – the workshop dates have moved and will begin 24 hours later than originally planned. We’ll now begin on SUNDAY August 21st and continue to MONDAY, August 22nd in order to accommodate those of you who have Saturday wedding conflicts. Here are the details:

Teresa is founder and creative director of Bonny Doon Garden Co. and past guest of this Podcast. We’re teaming up to lead an intimate group of fellow professionals — floral designers and farmer-florists — for an inspiring, two-part workshop taking place over the course of 1-1/2 days.

Our focus will be floral storytelling and media messaging for your business. This valuable experience is designed to help you clarify, document and communicate your personal artistic message. Go deep into Slow Flowers “brand building” and find your own voice as a floral storyteller.

You’ll also explore and expand your approach to garden-inspired design. Working with Teresa, you’ll identify the artistic inspiration for your aesthetic. Her hands-on exercises will explore how floral elements and complementary elements support your design brand and focus on how mechanics that support your style.

This all takes place in the setting of a beautiful garden, where you’ll feel right at home with beautiful flowers, gardens, farm animals and new friends! Spaces are limited and you won’t want to miss out on the chance to hone your message through words, images and flowers.

Check out the amazing impact of #americanflowersweek!

Check out the amazing impact of #americanflowersweek!

American Flowers Week is all wrapped up for 2016, with a record-breaking 1.3 million potential impressions tracked on Instagram and Twitter alone for the hashtag #americanflowersweek, more than 3 times the engagement for the same period in 2015.

And here are some telling stats for #slowflowers -- Thank YOU to today's Podcast guests for making an impact on social media, week in and week out!

And here are some telling stats for #slowflowers — Thank YOU to today’s Podcast guests for making an impact on social media, week in and week out!

As I was analyzing the social media activity, I started digging deeper into the use of the Slow Flowers hashtag, as well. And it was mindblowing to see that our top posts and most influential users of #slowflowers are today’s guests, Mandy and Steve O’Shea of 3 Porch Farm in Comer, Georgia. In the past 30 day period 3 Porch Farm has used the hash-tag 29 times with potential exposure of more than 310,000 impressions.

Georgia flower farmers Mandy and Steve O'Shea (c) Brittany Towsell

Georgia flower farmers Mandy and Steve O’Shea (c) Brittany Towsell

Welcome to 3 Porch Farm

Welcome to 3 Porch Farm

A snapshot of the location of Athens, Comer and Atlanta, Georgia

This map shows how close Comer is to Athens and Atlanta, Georgia

READ MORE…

Episode 253 Two generations of creativity with Seattle designer Sara Jane Camacho and her Kentucky farmer-florist mom Sara Brown

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016
That’s a Wrap! Thank you to everyone who participated in American Flowers Week 2016! (c) Amanda Dumouchelle

That’s a Wrap! Thank you to everyone who participated in American Flowers Week 2016! (c) Amanda Dumouchelle

We’ve wrapped up American Flowers Week, which took place between June 28th and Independence Day on July 4th!

Year Two of the Slow Flowers’ campaign to promote and celebrate American grown flowers exceeded all expectations.

In 2015, this little social media effort got a last-minute start with just six weeks’ lead time — and it still yielded 400k impressions during the 30-day period leading up to and including American Flowers Week.

I was pretty jazzed that enough of you participated last year, which helped us catch the interest of sponsors for 2016. While not huge, our total sponsorship support reached $2,100 and those funds help to pay for our creative promotions like the fantastic red-white-and-blue flower ‘fro designed by Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events (seen at right), along with the cost of placing that image in online and print advertising, and designing and distributing resources. We freely shared those resources with everyone from flower farmers and wholesalers to florists, online sellers and grocery store flower departments. There simply was no barrier or financial requirement to anyone getting involved.

2016_one-week_stats_throughJuly5

American Flowers Week generated more than 1 million potential impressions on Instagram and Twitter during a one-week celebration! Source: Keyhole.co

Pascale Plänk Steig created this signage for New Seasons Market in Portland, adapting our American Flowers Week ribbon artwork.

Pascale Plänk Steig created this signage for New Seasons Market in Portland, adapting our American Flowers Week ribbon artwork.

In the end, it paid off, with more than 250% increase in engagement in social and conventional media. Two city dailies wrote articles about American Flowers Week (The Oregonian and the Indianapolis Star), and hundreds of you posted to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

We had florists offering American Flowers Week design workshops, wholesalers and floral designers blogging about the farms they support, groceries staging chain-wide American Flowers Week sales promotions and more. It was all so exciting and inspirational!

Social media is not always easy to track, but according to Keyhole.co, which measures engagement for #americanflowersweek mentions on Instagram and Twitter, the TAG has generated more than 1.1 million impressions in the last 60 days — the bulk of that activity has occurred since last Tuesday when American Flowers Week kicked off on June 28th. [Editor’s update: As of July 6th, the 60-day impression total has climbed to 1.35 million!]

Monique Montri, our fabulous flower 'fro model, portrays the playful spirit of American Flowers Week (c) Amanda Dumouchelle

Monique Montri, our fabulous flower ‘fro model, portrays the playful spirit of American Flowers Week (c) Amanda Dumouchelle

I’ll have more to share in the coming weeks as we analyze and consider the benefits of this impactful campaign. For now, I just want to thank you for participating. Americanflowersweek is a community-driven campaign and I’m so grateful it’s also a powerful marketing tool for you and your distinct brand.

IMG_5690

Sara Jane Camaco (left) and Sara Brown (right), daughter-mother flower growers and designers

For today’s podcast episode, we’re talking to two generations of flower women. I’ve known daughter Sara Jane Camacho for a few years. We originally met when Sara Jane worked for my friend Melissa Feveyear, an early Slow Flowers adopter featured in The 50 Mile Bouquet, at her shop, Terra Bella Flowers in Seattle’s Phinney neighborhood. Melissa is a past guest of this podcast. Sara Jane worked with Melissa for a number of seasons while also developing her unique point of view by freelancing as a floral designer.

READ MORE…

Episode 251: Ariella Chezar’s The Flower Workshop Book and Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture’s PhD in – yes, Floriculture

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture (left) and Ariella Chezar (right)

Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture (left) (c) Amber Snow; and Ariella Chezar (right) (c) Corbin Gurkin

This week’s episode delivers double the inspiration as you will hear from two guests — one quite familiar to our Slow Flowers community, Ariella Chezar, and one who is an emerging leader in floral design education, Morgan Anderson.

Both interviews were recorded in May and I’m combining them here for an extended episode that will delight you as a creative person and evoke some new ways of thinking about your business model, be it flower farming, floral design or a combination of both.

MEET ARIELLA CHEZAR

The Flower Workshop Book I am so fortunate to have gotten to know Ariella Chezar over the years. We were first introduced virtually by Berkeley-based designer Max Gill, an incredibly talented floral artist who I profiled (along with the work of photographer David Perry) in The 50 Mile Bouquet.

When I interviewed Max, I asked him to connect me with someone who had influenced his work and he named Ariella. She and I corresponded by email and she contributed a lovely quote about Max’s work for me to use in the chapter about him (and PS, a podcast interview with Max is on my bucket list for the upcoming year).

I promptly ordered my own copy of Flowers for the Table, an evocative book that Ariella created for Chronicle Books in 2002, one that helped propel her into the world of editorial floral design.

Ariella Chezar was in Seattle to headline the spring bloom extravaganza at SWGMC

Ariella Chezar was in Seattle to headline the spring bloom extravaganza at SWGMC

Ariella and I finally met face-to-face in spring of 2013 at Chalk Hill Clematis in Healdsburgh, California. She was there at owner Kaye Heafey’s beautiful flower farm to lead a design workshop and as it turned out, I was there with Chicago-based photographer Bob Stefko to produce a clematis story for Country Gardens magazine. The following year, I interviewed Ariella for this podcast in her former Ariella Flowers retail studio in New York City (if you haven’t heard that episode, follow this link).

So fun to have Ariella in Seattle and to see her response to the beautiful and local flora!

So fun to have Ariella in Seattle and to see her response to the beautiful and local flora!

That was about the time that Ariella teamed up with her favorite editor, SF-based Leslie Jonath of Connected Dots Media (with whom she had created Flowers for the Table), to begin creating The Flower Workshop, the designer’s long-anticipated second book that Ten Speed Press released earlier this year.

A lovely inside page from "The Flower Workshop," by Ariella Chezar

A lovely inside page from “The Flower Workshop,” by Ariella Chezar: “How to make a tulip ‘float'” – Photography (c) Erin Kunkel

It took about 18 months to bring this lovely tome to life because Ariella and her creative team photographed flowers and her designs in season, on location in both the Bay Area, where Ariella worked in the early days of her career, and in her childhood home of The Berkshires, where she operates a studio and small flower farm in western Massachusetts.

The gorgeous new book expresses Ariella’s lush, whimsical garden style and her true passion for nature, both cultivated and wild.

Why is Ariella’s work so celebrated? In our 2014 podcast interview, Ariella identifies the place (California) and the moment in time (the late 1990s and early 2000s) when she developed, almost unconsciously, her carefree, uncomplicated design aesthetic. Mesmerized by the abundance of carefree, unconstrained vegetation around her, Ariella responded in kind with a loving respect for the elements. In response, her design style was and continues to be unique and iconic.

"Summer Fruits," Ariella's interpretation from the orchard.

“Summer Fruits,” Ariella’s interpretation from the orchard. Photography (c) Erin Kunkel

Please enjoy this short interview. It was recorded at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market on May 25th, after Ariella had spent two full days first touring the flower farms of some of the Market’s members, then teaching a master design intensive based on the content of The Flower Workshop.

READ MORE…

Day 5 of British Flowers Week 2016

Saturday, June 18th, 2016
British Flowers Week 2016

British Flowers Week 2016

Day Five of British Flowers Week 2016 (13-19 June) took place yesterday, concluding the fourth year of the industry-wide, nationwide campaign in support of British cut flowers, founded and organised by New Covent Garden Flower Market.

By yesterday, the hashtag #BritishFlowersWeek had reached a staggering 7.56 million people on Twitter and achieved a record Instagram reach of 2.72 million.

Rob Van Helden

Rob Van Helden

DAY FIVE: The British Flowers Week designs by Rob Van Helden

The British alstroemeria appears in three exquisite floral designs by Rob van Helden, event florist extraordinaire. Read more about the British alstroemeria and its use as a cut flower.

Singular Beauty

Singular Beauty

Singular Beauty: A lone stone vase of British-grown red and pink alstroemeria sits ready to adorn a smart entrance hall or elegant office foyer.

Steely Style

Steely Style

Steely Style: Alstroemeria gets a touch of urban glamour in this striking massed umbrella arrangement of elegant white alstroemeria in a magnificent silver urn.

The Alstroemeria Collection

The Alstroemeria Collection

The Alstroemeria collection: Grouped as a collection, bunches of alstroemeria assemble in pretty little ceramic vases to dress dinner party, given light from a candelabra.

LESSONS LEARNED

Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement and her #britishflowersweek collaborators at the RHS Harlow Carr Flower Show on June 12th

Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement (third from right) and her #britishflowersweek collaborators at the RHS Garden Harlow Carr Flower Show on June 12th

What inspires me most about British Flowers Week is the widespread participation by people at every level of the floral industry — from growers and wholesalers to florists and public gardens. The media and politicians are paying attention and celebrating domestic, British-grown flowers. Here is my favorite “tweet” from this past week, featuring my friend Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement, a past guest of the Slow Flowers Podcast. She and others in Yorkshire have been deeply involved in the first RHS Garden Harlow Carr flower show, raising awareness and engagement between consumers and the source of flowers in their lives!

AMERICAN FLOWERS WEEK

I’m so excited that American Flowers Week is just around the corner, set for June 28-July 4th! Follow along on Social Media by searching (and using!) #americanflowersweek #slowflowers and join the experience. We are changing the conversation and that’s incredibly exciting!

Celebrating British Flowers Week 2016

Thursday, June 16th, 2016
Layout 1

British Flowers Week is truly the inspiration for American Flowers Week, our Slowflowers.com campaign that launched in 2015.

New Covent Garden Flower Market in London, the team behind British Flowers Week, has set the bar very high, giving us something quite beautiful to which we aspire — and this week, the 4th Annual British Flowers Week, has delivered far beyond expectations!

British Flowers Week’s promotional model involves a diverse lineup of events. Growers and florists nationwide are staging flower farm open days, British flower workshops, demonstrations and displays or staging pop-up stalls in town centres across the UK.

The Dorchester hotel, Petersham Nurseries, River Cottage Canteen, NT Knightshayes, RHS Harlow Carr, Habitat on King’s Road and BBC Gardener’s World Live are among the venues hosting British Flowers Week events.

The campaign is centered around Five Days, Five Classic British-Grown Flowers, and Five Renown British Florists, showcased June 13-19th.

British flowers at Number 10 Downing Street

British flowers at Number 10 Downing Street

British flowers adorn Number 10 Downing Street! 

This stunning urn arrangement of beautiful British delphiniums, oriental lilies, alstroemeria, astrantia, garden roses, stocks and British foliage was created by floristry students at Capel Manor College, and generously donated by New Covent Garden Flower Market wholesalers Zest Flowers, Pratley, GB Foliage and C Best. The Chairman of the British Florist Association, Brian Wills-Pope MBE was instrumental in making this possible.

By the way . . . *Are you thinking what I’m thinking*? If Number 10 Downing Street, the resident of the British Prime Minister, can have British-grown flowers, why can’t the White House have American-grown flowers? 

Today, I want to share the flowers and florists behind Days One, Two, Three & Four of British Flowers Week.

Kudos to my friends at New Covent Garden Flower Market — Helen Evans, director of business development and support, and publicist Liz Anderson — and all of the British flower farmers and designers who created these iconic examples of fresh, local, seasonal blooms (and foliage) and inventive, inspired floral design. You can learn more about this campaign by listening to my Podcast interview with Helen, aired last spring.

READ MORE…

Episode 249: Slow and Sustainable with Solabee Flowers & Botanicals

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
Sarah Helmstetter and Alea Joy of Solabee Flowers and Botanicals, in their new Portland space

Sarah Helmstetter and Alea Joy of Solabee Flowers and Botanicals, in their new Portland space

Welcome to Solabee!

Welcome to Solabee!

The roots of this week’s episode began in December 2010 when I met Sarah Helmstetter and Alea Joy of Solabee Flowers & Botanicals, a Portland-based design team.

I was visiting Portland’s Flower Market, in the area where Oregon-grown product is marketed, working with photographer David Perry on The 50 Mile Bouquet. At the time, we weren’t sure of the book’s title, nor did we have a publisher, but we were forging ahead to capture stories of interesting people and their commitment to American grown, local, seasonal and sustainable flowers. Somehow we snagged an introduction and invitation to Solabee.

The co-creatives in their original retail space (2010)

The co-creatives in their original and tiny retail space (2010)

It was a dreary winter day; the time of year when true “local” floral product is at a minimum, but we found bounty and beauty inside the small storefront about the size of a building foyer in Portland’s historic Kenton neighborhood.

Sarah and Alea told us how the business was founded and their story became a section in The 50 Mile Bouquet in a chapter called “Botanical Wonderland,” that documented the Portland design scene’s embrace of a new floral ethos. Click on the image below to read the story about Solabee.

chapter

The new Solabee store is gorgeous and inviting.

The new Solabee store is gorgeous and inviting.

Sarah and Alea teamed up after both women had managed other flower shops in Portland. As creative partners, they specialize in sustainable design for weddings and events. They source from local farmers, grow their own flowers and harvest ingredients from house plants, such as begonias, tillandisas, orchids and ferns.

Plants occupy every nook and cranny in the new store, including in the upstairs mezzanine.

Plants occupy every nook and cranny in the new store, including in the upstairs mezzanine.

Young and self-financed, Solabee’s owners are resourceful, hard-working and creative. In the book, Sarah discussed gleaning foliage, branches and seed pods from her parents acreage and Alea described their “wild-crafting” exploits that included picking up nature’s debris from the urban terrain.

As you will hear in today’s conversation, a lot has transpired in the past six years including the recent discovering of the most perfect corner retail space in the Humboldt neighborhood in North Portland.

More interior shots of Solabee's new North Portland retail studio.

More interior shots of Solabee’s new North Portland retail studio.

I visited Sarah and Alea at the new Solabee retail shop in April. It occupies a vintage Portland storefront with double-high ceilings that accommodate a mezzanine above. Light pours through the windows of the southeast-facing shop, dancing across the vintage mosaic tile floor.

A Solabee installation featuring tillandsias-as-mandala

A Solabee installation featuring tillandsias-as-mandala

Plants appear here in equal measure to flowers, which is a signature Solabee element. The women are known for showcasing living plants as a sustainable floral option and now, with the large display area, their shelves, walls and ceilings are lush and verdant. Plants add character and serve as the perfect complement to the wild and imaginative floral arrangements created here.

Design for the day when I visited in April 2016.

Design for the day when I visited in April 2016.

I joined Alea and Sarah in their mezzanine office where we could easily overlook and hear all the activity of their employees and customers downstairs. You’ll hear a little of that ambient sound in the background during our recorded episode.

A seasonal, summer bouquet from Solabee.

A seasonal bouquet from Solabee.

Please enjoy this conversation about floral design, floral retail, sourcing techniques, creating company values and sustaining a small business. I loved reconnecting with Alea and Sarah and Solabee, and I know you’ll love meeting them here.

Poppies, a la Solabee

Poppies, a la Solabee

A lovely bridal bouquet

A lovely bridal bouquet

Find Solabee on Facebook

Follow Solabee on Instagram

See Solabee on Pinterest

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 100,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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.

ABOUT OUR SPONSORS

sponsor bar I want to acknowledge and thank 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

Thanks 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.

Music notes:
“Whistle While You Pod”
album: Creative Commons
by: Christopher Postill, Sounds Like an Earful
https://soundslikeanearful.bandcamp.com/album/creative-commons
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 248: Cooperation over Competition, Part Four of the North Bay Flower Collective series

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016
Our March gathering of the North Bay Flower Collective & Slow Flowers, pictured inside the barn at Open Field Farm (c) Betany Coffland, Chloris Floral Design.

Our March gathering of the North Bay Flower Collective & Slow Flowers, pictured inside the barn at Open Field Farm (c) Betany Coffland, Chloris Floral Design.

Zoe Hitchner of Front Porch Farm (left) and Jaclyn Nesbitt of Jaclyn K. Nesbitt Designs (right) are featured in "part one" of this episode

Zoe Hitchner of Front Porch Farm (left) and Jaclyn Nesbitt of Jaclyn K. Nesbitt Designs (right) are featured in “part one” of this episode

Sarah James, who owns Open Field Farm with her husband and partner Seth James, is featured in part two of this episode.

Sarah James, who owns Open Field Farm with her husband and partner Seth James, is featured in “part two” of this episode.

2016Badge with no background American Flowers Week is only one month away, scheduled for June 28th through July 4th.

Check out our dedicated web site here to read stories about members who are involved with this cool media and consumer awareness campaign. Find free downloads of graphics, a badge for your blogroll and images to use on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

And here is our brand new fun coloring map of the USA, which you can download and print here to share with customers. Get out your pens and pencils and color to your heart’s content. Then PLEASE post your creation and tag #americanflowersweek — we look forward to seeing your work. A grateful shout-out to Jenny Diaz, our designer, for hand-drawing and hand-lettering the adorable 50-state map.

FINAL COLORING MAP-page-001

You’re also invited to contribute a bouquet of your own by designing a red-white-and-blue arrangement with local flowers from your state — and be sure to post and send us a photo of the results. Sign up here.

We’ll add it to our “50 Weeks of American Grown Flowers” gallery that will live on americanflowersweek.com and at the Slow Flowers Community on Facebook. So far, we’ve had people from 11 states volunteer to contribute a photo of their patriotic bouquet –and we’d love to receive your imagery by mid-June. Please share the love and get involved!

And by the way — all submissions will be eligible for several prizes donated by our sponsors, including three $100 dollar shopping sprees from Syndicate Sales. We’ll have more swag to announce in the future.

This map of Sonoma County shows the geographical diversity of the region north of San Francisco Bay in California

This map of Sonoma County shows the geographical diversity of the region north of San Francisco Bay in California

I’m really excited to share today’s episode with you, recorded during my two-day March floral excursion hosted by the farmers, florists and growers of Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, also known as the North Bay Flower Collective.

If you’ve been listening to this series, I can only imagine you shared the same response as I’ve experienced — that of being awed and inspired by the basic human truth that we each need a tribe; we each can soar to achieve that which we imagine or dream, when we are not alone.

Together, this community of people who make their living on flower farms and in design studios tells an important narrative of collaboration over competition.

I recorded this segment in two parts at two Sonoma County farms, both of which provided me lodging and meals, not to mention friendship and breathtaking scenery.

Zoe, me, Mimi and Jaclyn at Front Porch Farm.

Zoe, me, Mimi and Jaclyn at Front Porch Farm.

First, you will hear my conversation with Zoe Hitcher, the head flower farmer at Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg, California, and Jaclyn Nesbitt, owner of Jaclyn K. Nesbitt Floral Design based in Santa Rosa, California, two Slow Flowers members who are part of the North Bay Flower Collective. You’ll also hear a few comments from my ever-present escort Daniele Strawn of Chica Bloom Farm.

Just one of the many high tunnels at Front Porch Farm; this one was filled with spring ranunculus

Just one of the many high tunnels at Front Porch Farm; this one was filled with spring ranunculus

Early Spring at Front Porch Farm.

Early Spring at Front Porch Farm.

Mimi Buckleys signature wreaths

Mimi Buckley’s signature wreaths

Here’s a bit of background about Front Porch Farm.

Mimi Buckley, my lovely and generous host for the first night of my farm stay.

Mimi Buckley, my lovely and generous host for the first night of my farm stay.

After other successful careers, Peter and Mimi Buckley started a 110-acre organic farm outside Healdsburg six years ago. Front Porch Farm lies along a wild stretch of the Russian River, due east of Healdsburg, California.

The farm rests on a bench of rich alluvial soils, surrounded by low hills forming a lovely pocket valley. There, they tend a mosaic of fruit, nut, and olive orchards; fields of grains, alfalfa, and pasture grass; a wide variety of heritage vegetable crops; and wine grapes on the sunny hillsides.

Blackberry cultivars ripen along the fences and the Russian River flows nearby, alive with osprey, herons, deer, and the occasional mountain lion. Organic farming depends on biological diversity and flowers are an integral part of the farm’s ecosystem.

By attracting pollinators and beneficial insects, the flowers that Zoe grows keep fruit trees and berry bushes productive as well as row crops protected. They add beauty and bring joy to those who work with and receive them. Front Porch Farm’s flowers are sold at the farm, at local farmers’ markets, and in local floral shops around Healdsburg and Sonoma County. In addition, as flower manager, Zoe provides elegant and natural design work capturing the spirit of the farm customized to unique clients and events.

Zoe Hitchner, Front Porch Farms flower farmer.

Zoe Hitchner, Front Porch Farms flower farmer.

Zoe’s bio originally appeared in the Field to Vase “grower’s spotlight” blog, written by our second guest, Jaclyn Nesbitt and used with permission:

Zoe has a rich background in flowers and gardening. She has worked at a flower shop, urban community gardens, and a school garden. She participated in the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at UC Santa Cruz and finally, before joining Front Porch Farm, she and two colleagues ran a thriving farm in Santa Cruz.

The farm’s owners, Mimi and Peter, are two vibrant, beautiful souls who are dedicated to biodiversity and sustainable agriculture in a region solely focused on wine.

Zoe with one of her designs.

Zoe with one of her designs.

In Zoe’s words: “Our vision at Front Porch Farm is to create a diverse farm in the midst of wine-country monoculture. We see ourselves as stewards of the land which means it’s our job to look after the health of the soil and the Russian River that runs through our valley. We want to create habitat for the honey bees and the migratory birds. We also want to create the highest quality produce, most cared-for meat (look into our heritage pig operation!) and, my charge, the most beautiful flowers! Thanks to my partner Mimi Buckley and her vision, we are in the process of turning two acres of our farm into a vibrant flower garden, including over sixty varieties of annual flowers and many perennials and bulbs as well. Ultimately we aim to be a training ground for new farmers and a resource for our local community.”

Jaclyn Nesbitt, floral designer and fine artist

Jaclyn Nesbitt, floral designer and fine artist (c) Megan Clouse

A beautiful bridal bouquet designed by Jaclyn Nesbitt

A beautiful bridal bouquet designed by Jaclyn Nesbitt (c) Clane Gessel

More seasonal floral artistry from Jaclyn Nesbitt

More seasonal floral artistry from Jaclyn Nesbitt; Left photo (c) Jaclyn Nesbitt; Right photo (c) Megan Clouse

Here’s an introduction to Jaclyn Nesbitt:

Jaclyn K. Nesbitt Designs specializes in flowers and botanicals for special events and styled shoots. She takes pride in sourcing local and seasonal materials for her unique, organic, and artful designs. She wholeheartedly believes in supporting the incredible flower farmers she has made personal relationships with in the Greater Bay Area. Rooted in her strong values, Jaclyn is able to honor the earth, the local economy, and the region’s rich agricultural heritage. Formally trained in painting, photography, printmaking and textile design, Jaclyn is a true artist that can put her creative sensibilities to work through any medium.

A tabletop design from Jaclyn

A tabletop design from Jaclyn (c) Clane Gessel

She writes this manifesto on her web site: Our work thrives where art + nature collide. Our passion for design, fine art, and fashion is balanced by a lifelong love relationship with the wild, mysterious natural world. Articulating this fine balance is what motivates our work.

We love and respect our local flower farmers. Through our commitment to using seasonal and locally sourced materials, we strive to honor the earth, our local economy, and our region’s rich agricultural heritage. Celebrating the diversity of people and their extraordinary stories is what makes our work meaningful.

READ MORE…

Episode 247: Flowers and Happiness with LauraLee Symes of Portland’s Sellwood Flower Co.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

12931012_881008078682740_4476982057037024788_n When I was a teenager, I dreamed of someday owning a fabric shop. For many of you, I’m guessing that dream was to own a flower shop. How many of you ad a similar dream and realized it? Being able to work around flowers — whether you grow them, design with them, or do both, and ultimately selling them to satisfied customers — is clearly one reason you’re in this business, right?

Love this jumbo red-white-and-blue array, and if you look closely, LauraLee is peering out from behind it!

Love this jumbo red-white-and-blue array, and if you look closely, LauraLee is peering out from behind it!

Today’s guest is definitely one of those flower fanatics whose also dreamt of opening a flower shop You’ll enjoy the story and perhaps it will inspire you! Please meet LauraLee Symes, owner of the Sellwood Flower Company in Portland, Oregon, a Slowflowers.com member.

Specializing in flowers, gifts and plants, Sellwood Flower Co. is an inviting place, located in a century-old Victorian house on Antiques Row, in the Southeast Portland neighborhood also called Sellwood.

Love the black-and-white awning stripes, which are part of Sellwood Flower Co.'s visual brand evoking a Parisian flower shop.

Love the black-and-white awning stripes, which are part of Sellwood Flower Co.’s visual brand evoking a Parisian flower shop.

There, you’ll find LauraLee and her team tending their blooms in the garden just outdoors from their neighborhood shop filled for fresh, local flowers and plants, European and garden style floral design, and unique gifts from around the world.

LauraLee says she has been messing around with flowers since she was a little girl growing up on the family farm in Scholls, Oregon. Her other passion, happiness – or, more specifically, the study of what makes people happy – led her to pursue a bachelors degree in psychology, a masters in organizational development, and a career as a counselor and consultant to both individuals and business organizations.

Flower lover, LauraLee Symes of the Sellwood Flower Co.

Flower lover, LauraLee Symes of the Sellwood Flower Co.

Her most recent venture, the Sellwood Flower Co., is a marriage of her two passions, a Parisian-styled flower shop specializing in creative arrangements of fresh, local blooms and whimsical gifts curated to inspire joy and delight in her customers.

“I spend a whole lot of time thinking about, looking at, and dreaming of more creative ways to use the crazy abundance of plant life that surrounds us here in the Northwest. I look at a handful of flowers and I see a handful of happiness!”

In addition to being a busy entrepreneur and business owner, LauraLee hosts frequent floral design workshops and writes a blog on ideas and trends in the flower industry. She and her husband Bill live and work in the historic Sellwood neighborhood in southeast Portland, Oregon.

What a wonderful evening -- meeting and sharing our mutual passion at the Slow Flowers Meetup @Sellwood Flower Co.

What a wonderful evening — meeting and sharing our mutual passion at the Slow Flowers Meetup @Sellwood Flower Co.

I was in Portland last month for a series of events, including a Slowflowers.com meetup at Sellwood Flower Co., which I co-hosted with LauraLee.

sm_group_IMG_5026 We enjoyed meeting and reuniting with such a great group of flower friends — flower farmers, studio florists, retail shop owners — all who care about sourcing local and domestic botanicals for their businesses. I was so encouraged by the turnout and I especially thank LauraLee for sharing her beautiful store and nursery grounds for our gathering.

We shared Slow Flowers books & resources with our community

We shared Slow Flowers books & resources with our community

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 98,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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.