Debra Prinzing

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Archive for the ‘Storytelling’ Category

Episode 335: On growing Farmgirl Flowers, with floral entrepreneur Christina Stembel

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Christina Stembel, founder and CEO of Farmgirl Flowers

I’ve known Christina Stembel since her early days of Farmgirl Flowers.

I used to say hers was the one business I regretted not being able to include in my 2012 book The 50 Mile Bouquet, because by the time we first met, virtually, through an email introduction, I had already finished writing and my publisher St. Lynn’s Press had already wrapped up the book’s production and sent it off to the printer.

When preparing this intro, I wanted to actually go back and figure out how Christina and I met, and as it turns out San Francisco-based food writer Sophia Markoulakis virtually introduced us by email on January 29, 2012 — about six weeks before the publication of The 50 Mile Bouquet. I knew that timing was close, but had completely forgotten about Sophia’s introduction. Sophia quoted both Christina and me in a  February 7, 2012 article for the San Francisco Chronicle, titled: “Locaflores? Eco-friendly florists think locally”. It’s just amazing to look back six years ago to the date of Sophia’s article, and consider all the strides we’ve taken to promote local, seasonal and sustainable flowers.

Christina appeared on this podcast as an early guest on Episode 108 in September 2013, and subsequently we recorded Episode 154 in July 2014 from Homer, Alaska, so longtime listeners of the Slow Flowers Podcast are familiar with her story.

As I wrote in the May 2017 profile about Farmgirl Flowers published in Florists’ Review:

Farmgirl Flowers’ founder Christina Stembel is not a typical Silicon Valley start-up darling. She isn’t backed by venture capital firms who have ponied up millions of dollars to fund her launch; she doesn’t have slick office space where the staff get to play ping-pong or video games after grazing on catered vegan lunches. She drives a hand me down car and lives in a rental house with her husband Neil Hiltz.
If all goes to plan, fortune may follow the fame she has received (as in great media attention and hundreds of thousands of loyal customers), but for now, there’s more grit than glamour in the life of this 39-year-old CEO.”

In the Q&A that followed, Christina spoke openly about the challenges of growth, including one of the most difficult ones that she faced a little more than a year ago — that of finding enough flowers to keep her customers happy.

Download a PDF of the entire “The Business of Flowers” article here: Farm Girl Flowers

FR: Earlier this year you announced to your customers and followers that you were going to begin sourcing flowers from outside the U.S. You posted a letter on your web site called “Our Heart” that explained your decision and what it meant to you and your team. You explained that you were faced with a challenge of sourcing enough flowers from domestic farms and that Farmgirl will now “source directly from farms abroad whose values align with our own.” And you said, We will continue to buy the majority of our flowers from US growers (at least 80% right now), and will be subsidizing with flowers we can’t get enough of here.” What has the response been to this announcement?

CS: I was really nervous. I knew I needed to write that letter to lay it all out there. I had to say, “This is the situation and this isn’t what I want to do. I’m sad about this but I’m just going to be honest and tell people why.” Then, we started getting emails and they were so positive. Everybody was so nice, so supportive, so thankful that I was honest with them. Customers who I had never met before wrote things like: “I’ve always bought from you because I love your aesthetic and I’m going to keep buying from you because I love your heart.”
We announced this on January 25th and we actually had a good transition. At Valentine’s Day, we only received between 20 and 25 percent of our confirmed domestic flowers, a lot due to the heavy winter rains in California. Had I not been able to use imported flowers, we would not have been able to fulfill our orders, which is what I feared and it proved (to me) that I made the correct decision.”

I asked Christina to join me again today to reflect on the past year of transition for her. One of the other reasons for this interview is to discuss the pain of growth and how all successful companies evolve due to unexpected market forces.

I was particularly moved to ask Christina to appear on the Podcast again after yet another round of comments that flooded Facebook groups, mostly populated by U.S. flower farmers, after a recent Forbes article about Farmgirl, which was published last December.

Here is a link to Christina’s “Our Heart” letter, which appears on the Farmgirl Flowers web site.

Farmgirl Flowers’ branding is some of the best in the industry.

I have to be honest — I was confounded by the number of assumptions and accusations being made about Christina in social media forums, and the conclusions to which people in the industry jumped, standing in judgment of a woman who has done incredibly amazing things to elevate the awareness of local flowers in our popular culture. At one point, Christina weighed in and offered to return to the podcast — and others on one of the threads were in support of it.

What you are about to hear is an honest conversation between two friends. I simply can’t be impartial and I make no apologies for it. It saddens me that people are critical of Christina’s choices. She speaks honestly about how tough those choices are and reveals, in fact, that she is still spending millions of dollars annually to buy American grown and local flowers for Farmgirl. I hope you listen closely with an open mind and heart. While you may not agree with Christina’s choices, I think you’ll definitely learn from her tenacity and big heart.

More from Farmgirl Flowers

Thanks for joining me today! I am grateful to Christina to opening herself to this kind of scrutiny and explanation. I respect her for even trying to set the record straight and sharing some insights into her decisions. Check out the beautiful USA-Grown Bouquet from Farmgirl Flowers, starting at $75 plus shipping.

If you have more to say, please say it to her directly rather than in a public forum like Facebook. She has offered up her email at farmgirl@farmgirlflowers.com and I know she will answer any respectfully posed questions with sincerity.

Despite my personal mission of changing the floral landscape through Slow Flowers’ outreach, promotion and content, I have also acknowledged that imports are here to stay. Yet, if we can even move the needle by a few percentage points away from the 80 percent import-20 percent domestic ratio, I will consider this movement a success.

I’m well aware of the compromises many feel they have to make sometimes to stay in business. The flower shops that have a secret stash of floral foam in the back room; the designers who don’t want to say “no” to a customer’s request for white hydrangeas from South America in January; the flower farmers who run a side gig with a farm in Baja. Don’t kid yourself. Not everyone is doing it but it happens. I was recently called out for leasing a Honda and slapping my “SlowFlo” license plate on it, or I’ve faced a crummy decision when the hard goods wholesaler where I shop runs out of USA-made glass vases and I’m forced to substitute with imported glass from China because I didn’t plan ahead. Degrees of sustainability face us all.

Let’s focus on what we’re doing that’s positive and continue to uphold, support and encourage one another to be transparent and honest in our actions. Cooperation over competition is the phrase I often hear. I’m hopeful you will receive this podcast today in that spirit.

If you’re able to attend the 2nd annual Slow Flowers Summit, coming up, June 29th in Washington, D.C., you’ll hear from Christina who will serve as our keynote speaker! Her presentation, “Scaling Your Floral Business to the Next Level,” will share great insights for floral professionals at any stage in their journey. Please visit the show notes for this podcast to find all the links and details to the Slow Flowers Summit. I’ll be featuring our speakers and more event details in the coming weeks.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 280,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing — it means so much.

As the Slow Flowers Movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button at debraprinzing.com in the right column.

Thank you to our sponsors who have supported Slow Flowers and all of our programs including this podcast, American Flowers Week, the Slowflowers.com online directory to American grown flowers, as well as our new channels, Slow Flowers Journal and the 2018 Slow Flowers Summit.

Florists’ Review magazine: I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for the new monthly Slow Flowers Journal section, which you can find in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market.

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.

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

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

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at longfield-gardens.com.

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.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

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

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at soundbodymovement.com.

Music Credits:

Fudge; That Old Harpoon
by Gillicuddy

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

The Jazz Piano

by Bensound
In The Field
by Jason Shaw:

audionautix.com

Episode 334: Retail Comeback, 2018 with Lisa Waud of Detroit’s pot + box and Melissa Brown of Washington’s Flying Bear Farm

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Lisa Waud of Detroit’s pot + box

Melissa Brown of Flying Bear Farm, based in Langley, Washington

Today’s I’m excited to visit with two Slow Flowers members who have just opened new floral retail businesses.

pot + box’s new storefront in Detroit’s Fisher Building

This pivot to retail floristry that I’ve been documenting over the past 12 months continues and I think you’ll find today’s conversations entirely fascinating and enlightening.

One year ago, when I released the 2017 Slow Flowers Floral Insights & Industry Forecast, I declared the retail embrace a phenomenon of studio florists moving toward brick and mortar channels.

For 2018, I’ve added flower farmers jumping into the retail arena.

As I reported last year, If you rely only on mainstream financial analysis or census data for your intel, then the landscape for brick-and-mortar flower shops has appeared unpromising.


According to the November 2016 Dunn & Bradstreet industry report, the U.S. has about 14,000 floral establishments (single-location companies and units of multi-location companies) with combined annual revenue of about $5.5 billion. Flower shops had declined by about 40% since 2000. Dunn and Bradstreet cited a Society of American Florists prediction that the number of retail florists in the US is expected to continue to drop, although the pace is slowing gradually.

Yet we’re tracking Slow Flowers members who are opening brick-and-mortar flowers shops across North America. Today’s guests will add their personal journeys to the compendium of stories about independent and progressive florists (and flower farmers) who are signing leases and opening retail spaces in the same markets that have witnessed mainstream mom-and-pop floral storefronts being shuttered.

A peek inside the plant- and flower-filled pot + box

A pot + box corner where merchandising matters — plants, products, flowers.

First, you’ll hear from Lisa Waud of pot + box who has just opened a new retail space in a historic building in downtown Detroit.  Then you’ll hear from Melissa Brown of Flying Bear Farm on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle, who just opened a retail shop in nearby Langley, Washington, with her partner and husband Benjamin Corteau.

Be ready to take notes and get inspired. Retail isn’t for everyone, of course. But if you’re looking for inspiration, insights and straight talk about making retail work for you and your business, I think you’ll find it here.

Lisa Waud, presenting at the 2017 Slow Flowers Summit in Seattle.

Here’s more about Lisa Waud:

pot & box founder Lisa Waud has been enthusiastically steering the company’s horticultural goings-on since its founding more than ten years ago. She’s been arranging flowers in the soil and in the vase for 21 years now—from the volcanic slopes of Hawaii, the clay garden beds of the Pacific Northwest and across the great [lakes] state of Michigan.

In Lisa’s words: “I love to work with flowers blooming now and nearby, celebrating the richest hues, most fragrant blooms, the abundance of seasonality. I thrive on the uncommon and unexpected, applauding a determined weed growing out of a brick wall, the unusual variegation pattern on a peony’s petal, a tattooed bride’s arms cradling a delicate bouquet. I excel when tasked with realizing the visions of my clients, arranging stems to suit the celebration, bringing event decor ideas to life,  striving for the breathtaking gasp of elation.”

Lisa lives in Detroit, and when she’s not playing with flowers, you can find her scheming up field trips with her dogs or planning explorations in other inspirational cities. As listeners may recall from past episodes of this podcast, Lisa is also the creator of Flower House, a floral art installation in 2015, and the producer of the 2016 Detroit Flower Week.

Find pot + box at these social places:

pot + box on Facebook

pot + box on Instagram

pot + box on Twitter

pot + box’s VLNTNSDYMRKT event on February 10th.

Michigan Flower Growers Cooperative

Listen to Lisa’s first interview on the Slow Flowers Podcast, February 2015

Listen to Lisa’s Flower House Detroit preview interview on the Slow Flowers Podcast, September 2015

A locally-grown and designed bouquet from Flying Bear Farm

Inside the new Flying Bear Farm retail store in Langley, Washington on Whidbey Island

A recent floral jewelry workshop at Flying Bear Farm with local florist Tobey Nelson.

Benjamin Courteau, field harvesting for Flying Bear Farm.

Melissa Brown, also a past guest of this podcast, and her husband Ben are farmer florists who often draw on the talents of Melissa’s parents Molly & David Brown.

After several very successful seasons growing flowers and designing for wedding clients, the time came this past fall to enter retail. Flower farmers listening will want to hear what led to this decision and how Melissa hopes to strike a good balance between growing, designing and selling Flying Bear Farm’s flowers.

Find Flying Bear Farm at these social places:

Flying Bear Farm on Facebook

Flying Bear Farm on Instagram

Flying Bear Farm on Pinterest

Flying Bear Farm on Twitter

Listen to Melissa’s first interview on the Slow Flowers Podcast, December 2015

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 277,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing — it means so much.

Slow Flowers Journal now appears inside the pages of Florists’ Review.

As the Slow Flowers Movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button at debraprinzing.com in the right column.

Thank you to our sponsors who have supported Slow Flowers and all of our programs including this podcast, American Flowers Week, the Slowflowers.com online directory to American grown flowers, as well as our new channels, Slow Flowers Journal and the 2018 Slow Flowers Summit.

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2018, Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for the new monthly Slow Flowers Journal section, which you can find in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market. Take advantage of the special subscription offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community.

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.

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

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

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at longfield-gardens.com.

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.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

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

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at soundbodymovement.com.

Music Credits:
Cymbal Patter; Sylvestor
by Blue Dot Sessions
Music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 332: Pantone’s Ultra Violet and Leatrice Eiseman, the woman behind the famous Color of the Year campaign

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Let’s dive into color — into Ultra Violet, to be specific.

When I type “Ultra Violet Pantone” in my Google Search, within seconds, no fewer than 3.2 million options pop up. There’s no denying that Pantone’s color-of-the-year campaign — one that began as a conversation about consumer sentiment at the turn of the new millennium — has become one of the most anticipated and influential announcements in the creative industries — from floral and fashion to manufacturing and media. And of course, floral design, flower farming, weddings and events.

Announced with much fanfare on December 7, 2017, here’s more about this alluring hue, according  press material:

A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE #18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.

Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.

Enigmatic purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance. Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality. Nuanced and full of emotion, the depth of PANTONE’s Ultra Violet symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world, and push boundaries through creative outlets.

Historically, there has been a mystical or spiritual quality attached to Ultra Violet. The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world.

Color maven Leatrice Eiseman

I’m incredibly excited to share my exclusive interview with Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute and the spokeswoman for the annual selection that for the third consecutive year has been revealed first in The New York Times.

I first met Leatrice, or Lee, as she is often called, when I attended a color trends presentation that she gave to interior and fashion professionals here in Seattle — probably in the late 1990s. Since then, I’ve interviewed her a few times, including for a story that ran in the Los Angeles Times Home section on Turquoise, the color pick for 2010.

From my January 16, 2010 Los Angeles Times’ HOME story about “TURQUOISE”

Love this color . . . and, has anyone noticed how similar my SLOW FLOWERS PODCAST Logo is to Ultra Violet?! Cool!

Last week, Lee and I met on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, and over dinner we discussed Ultra Violet — and some of the psychological and sociological reasoning behind this epic selection. You’ll want to listen closely for the way Lee describes Ultra Violet as a “now” color, especially the emotional power it imbues on our moods, settings, design palettes and more.

Lee’s newest book is The Complete Color Harmony / Pantone Edition, which we also discussed — it is a perfect handbook to inspire and inform designers and artists, with Pantone color palettes and harmonies that express a variety of moods, among them Nurturing, Transcendent, Provocative, and Delectable.

Lee will also discuss the exclusive workshops she leads at the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training, headquartered on Bainbridge Island outside Seattle — including the 4-Day Color Design Course, coming up April 26-29.

Here’s a bit more about Leatrice Eiseman:

She is a color specialist who has been called “the international color guru.” In fact, her color expertise is recognized worldwide, especially as a prime consultant to Pantone®. She has helped many companies, from small one person start-ups to large corporations, make the best and most educated choice of color for product development, logos and identification, brand imaging, web sites, packaging, point of purchase, interior/exterior design or any other application where color choice is critical to the success of the product or environment.

Lee is the author of countless books on color, among them:  Colors For Your Every Mood which was chosen as a Book of the Month Club selection and received an award from the Independent Publisher’s Association, the Pantone® Guide to Communicating With ColorColor Answer BookMore Alive With Color, and Color: Messages and Meanings a Pantone® Color Resource which won the Create Awards’ Best of Industry award. Her most recent book, Pantone® the 20th Century in Color, was co-authored with Keith Recker. She has also written chapters in one of web page flash guru Hillman Curtis’ works as well as in a book published in Japan titled the Power of Color, written by Kaori Mukawa.

Lee was included in the group of 50 top style makers for the fifth year in a row by Home Furnishings Now, the leading home furnishings trade publication. This year HFN divided the top 50 into four categories and Lee was 5th of 10 in the “Outside Influencers” category, ahead of both Steve Jobs and Rachel Ray.

In 2006 Fortune Magazine named Lee as one of the ten “Top Decision Makers” for her work in color and in 2009 Fortune again featured her in an article titled “The Color Committee Goes to Work” where it discussed her international leadership role in color forecasting.

She conducts many color seminars and is widely quoted in publications such as Elle Decor, Home Magazine, House and Garden, Home Accents Today, HFN, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, WWD, Glamour, Vogue, People Magazine, Self, Communication Arts, Graphic Design USA, Consumers Digest, US Magazine, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and Ad Age, as well as numerous other trade and consumer publications. Lee has made appearances on all major TV networks and cable channels in the U.S. as well as some abroad and has been interviewed by radio stations worldwide.

The Pantone Color Institute is a consulting service within Pantone that forecasts global color trends and advises companies on color in brand identity and product development, for the application and integration of color as a strategic asset. Recognized around the world as a leading source of color information through seasonal trend forecasts, custom color development, and palette recommendations for product and corporate identity, Pantone Color Institute partners with global brands to leverage the power, psychology and emotion of color in their design strategy.

Subscribe to Lee’s COLOR BLOG Here.

Find Lee Eiseman on Facebook

Follow Lee Eiseman on Instagram

Love how this anemone echoes some of UltraViolet’s intense depth and complexity.

Thanks for joining me today! I invite you to take the challenge that Lee and I discussed. In the coming few weeks, please send me images of your floral designs featuring Ultra Violet botanicals so I can share them with Lee Eiseman. She’s eager to include a few of your images on her social media channels – and of course you’ll be credited and tagged. You can send images to me at debra@slowflowers.com.

A bit of NEWS to Share: I want to let folks in the Seattle area know about an upcoming opportunity to meet and participate in a fun event I’m co-hosting as part of the We Fleurish Team, on Tuesday, January 30th in Bellevue.

It’s called Galentine’s Party and the focus is on you and your personal and business branding as a creative. You’ll experience an art-filled, nurturing and stimulating pre-Valentine’s Day party as We Fleurish handles all the details.

We’ll take away the stress of planning and provide you with all the ingredients for relevant, eye-catching, personalized content – images and words – that reflect your brand and connect with your audience in the lead up to Valentine’s Day. In addition to a delicious meal provided by our venue Fogo de Chao, we’ll make sure you have resources, materials, tools and other supplies to make a romantic floral arrangement, style a flat-lay vignette, photograph a number of visual stories and write the best captions to wow your followers. More than half the tickets have been sold, so if you want to get in on the fun, follow this link to the Galentine’s Party!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 271,000 by listeners like you. Thank you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing — it means so much.

As the Slow Flowers Movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button at debraprinzing.com in the right column.

Thank you to our sponsors who have supported Slow Flowers and all of our programs including this podcast, American Flowers Week, the Slowflowers.com online directory to American grown flowers, as well as our new channels, Slow Flowers Journal and the 2018 Slow Flowers Summit.

 

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2018, Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for the new monthly Slow Flowers Journal section, which you can find in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market. Take advantage of the special subscription offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community.

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.

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

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

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at longfield-gardens.com.

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.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

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

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at  kinetictreefitness.com.

Music Credits:
Turning On the Lights; Floor Shine; Lakal
by Blue Dot Sessions
OFTB
by Creative Common
Music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 329: A Year in Review – Slow Flowers’ Highlights for 2017

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

Welcome to the final Slow Flowers Podcast Episode of 2017.

The Slow Flowers Community and listenership of this program have grown to be larger than ever, with more than 265,000 total downloads since launching in July 2013. That’s amazing news and I’m thrilled to share it with you.

Every single week this year; in fact, every single week for the past 230 weeks, it has been my privilege to feature the voices of our Slow Flowers community with you. Unlike any other internet radio show in existence, the Slow Flowers Podcast is tailored to you and your interests, making its “must-listen” programming a habit among flower farmers and floral designers alike.

In producing and hosting the Slow Flowers Podcast, I seek out pioneers and personalities, style-makers and influencers — as well as unsung or little known heroes — who together are changing the floral landscape, disrupting the status quo, and bringing flower sourcing and growing practices, not to mention eco-conscious design methods, to the center of the conversation.

And thanks for joining in. Whether you’ve just discovered this podcast or are a longtime fan, I encourage you to take advantage of the immense body of knowledge that can be found in the archives here. We’ve updated the “play” and “download” buttons at the show notes that accompany each episode, making it simpler than ever to listen.

Today we have a year-end listener giveaway, so listen to the end of this episode for details! We have two copies of floral activist and artist Mud Baron’s 2018 “Flowers on Your Head” calendar that he produced as a fundraiser for LA-based nonprofit 4 Women Ovary Where.

As I have done since the beginning of 2014, I would like to devote today to the Slow Flowers Highlights of this past year. Next week, on January 3th, I will present the much anticipated 2018 Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights and Industry Forecast with you.

Covering the Slow Flowers Community has put me in a lot of airplane seats this year. I’ve been able to meet with, interview and gather together with florists and flower farmers in thirteen states and one Canadian Province. That’s amazing and I thank friends and colleagues who hosted Slow Flowers workshops, potluck dinners, cocktail parties, events and meet-ups Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Florida, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Ontario, Canada, for amazing and inspiring experiences. And so far, 2018 promises to bring me more travel as I’ve already confirmed Slow Flowers appearances in Texas, Washington, D.C., Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa, Illinois, and of course, the Pacific Northwest, so get in touch if you’re interested in booking something in your community.

According to our social media tracking tools, in the past 365 days, the hashtag #slowflowers has hit 46.5 million impressions on Instagram and Twitter alone.

This #slowflowers hashtag is the floral industry’s most widely used brand intended to convey seasonal, local and sustainable floriculture — and I am humbled by the impact and reach of a term that originated with a tiny, 144-page book measuring 7-1/2 inches square — as it has exploded far beyond my imagination in the five years since.

Thank you for being a part of this movement and If you haven’t, I hope you’ll make the next step by investing in the continued relevance and success of this brand and join Slow Flowers as a member.  Follow this link to learn more about the benefits and values of joining the Slow Flowers Movement.

So, let’s get started with my month-by-month recap of 2017!

JANUARY: FROM FLORIDA TO ALASKA!

January brought Slow Flowers to Tampa, Florida, and the Gulf Coast, including a lecture for the garden club of Boca Grande, one of the most beautiful beach spots on the planet. I loved connecting with Slow Flowers members while in the state and took great pleasure in touring a few botanical gardens to admire the diversity of the region’s flora. Later in the month, travel brought me to the other corner of the U.S. — to Fairbanks, Alaska, where I spent a few days attending and speaking at the Alaska Peony Growers Association winter conference. Two geographic and climactic extremes and two equally vital regions for local flowers and passionate growers.

Florists’ Review: Four Seasons of Local Flowers

Something else took place in January, an event that foreshadowed a major new collaboration for me — Florists’ Review published my article about a year-long creative project by Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore. Called “Four Seasons of Floral Design,” the 11-page spread documented Kelly’s creative partnership with Maryland flower farmers Leon and Carol Carrier of PlantMasters. It was exciting to write the piece for a major floral industry trade magazine — one read regularly by mainstream and conventional audiences. For Kelly and her collaborators, as well as for the Slow Flowers community, the story illuminated often unheard voices of domestic agriculture and sustainable design in floristry. You can read more about that story here.

I found it pretty remarkable to see seasonal and local flowers designed so artistically, portrayed against the backdrop of a flower farm. I want to acknowledge and thank Travis Rigby, Florists’ Review‘s owner and publisher, for adding my storyteller’s voice and point of view to the magazine’s pages.

Here’s a sneak peek of our opening pages of the Slow Flowers Journal — launching inside the August issue of Florists’ Review.

That first article led to my stories appearing in subsequent months’ issues, each of which continued the Slow Flowers narrative. And then . . . Travis invited me to join Florists’ Review on a permanent basis as a contributing editor. After much dialogue and consideration, the new collaboration launched in August with a dedicated editorial section called the “Slow Flowers Journal.”

Since the first issue, I’m delighted to say that we’ve featured dozens of floral designers, farmer-florists, retail flower shops, makers and artists inside the magazine, under the Slow Flowers Journal banner, and with the mission and message presented as inspiring small business success stories.

A footnote: I argued passionately to continue the Slow Flowers Journal name for this section. That’s because in January 2017, slowflowersjournal.com launched as an online magazine, designed to highlight and share this community’s members and their stories. Expanding to print has taken Slow Flowers Journal from a few thousand online readers to tens of thousands of print readers each month. That’s a big achievement for our brand!

Moving into 2018, these stories will continue — I’d love your input and ideas, so be sure to follow links at the show notes for more ways to engage and become involved. If you haven’t started reading the Slow Flowers Journal, I encourage you to contact Florists’ Review for a free sample copy or take advantage of the generous discounted subscription rate offered to my listeners. You can subscribe to Florists’ Review and read our bonus Slow Flowers Journal content at the special rate of $21 for 12 issues — 62 percent off the cover price! Click here or call 1-800-367-4708.

Slowly, but surely, the new SLOW FLOWERS CUTTING GARDEN is taking shape! Amazing how sunflowers and dahlias can enliving a few raised beds and make everything look abundant.

February was a busy month, personally, as my family and I finally ended our 18-month urban condo experiment and moved into a new home with a completely blank backyard – home to the new Slow Flowers Cutting Garden.

Over the remainder of 2017, I began building the cutting garden as a place to trial cut flowers and other botanicals, stage and produce DIY photo shoots, and create stories for gardening audiences and more. The support of sponsors who have shared everything from seeds (thanks Johnny’s Seeds) to bulbs (thanks Longfield Gardens) to my greater Garden Writers community, which supplied perennial and woody plants to trial, has been awesome. I promise that the garden’s evolution in the coming year will supply you with even more inspiration.

Wild-textured roses by Erin Shackelford, Camas Designs. A definite nod to the wildness of nature, from the heart. © Robert Shackelford Photography

Also in February, we produced the Valentine’s Day LOOK BOOK, sharing it across PR Web, a news distribution service. The gallery of sustainable floral design ideas from Slow Flowers member farms and florists was picked up by online news sites, and posted to the web, at slowflowersjournal.com and in a public Flickr gallery. Stories like these help to put you in the news and if you’re a Slow Flowers member, you’ve received (and I hope read and taken advantage of) ongoing “calls” for submissions that allow you to participate in similar opportunities to be published. Currently, for example, we’re collecting your submissions for an upcoming American-grown wedding floral story ~ so if you’re not a part of these opportunities and you’d like to be ~ get in touch!

And I can’t end my February highlights without mentioning how gratifying it was to be an invited speaker at the third annual Pacific Northwest Cut Flower Growers meetup that month, held in Corvallis, Oregon. I shared the 2017 Floral Insights & Industry Forecast as part of my SLOW FLOWERS, AMERICAN STYLE presentation. I was thrilled to discuss what’s happening at all levels of the American-grown floral pipeline — from field to checkout counter, and to give the gathering of growers and farmer-florists insights into the opportunities they could can leverage for their businesses.

SLOW FLOWERS IN ARIZONA (left) and SLOW FLOWERS CREATIVE WORKSHOP (right)

READ MORE…

Episode 328: Slow Flowers’ Holiday Music Special with Scott and Kristen Prinzing of EarthShine

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Today’s special guests: Kris and Scott Prinzing of EarthShine. This photo is from a recent “Father Christmas” event in Billings, Montana

For the past two years, I’ve shared special Holiday Music episodes, which seems festive and fitting for this season when we all need a break from work and responsibilities.

In 2015, musician-songwriter-flower farmer Dennis Westphall of Jello Mold Farm in Mt. Vernon, Washington, was my guest for Episode 225.

And in 2016, Ellen Zachos, vocalist, author, former Broadway singer-dancer, and foraged cocktails expert, sang botanical broadway show tunes for us on Episode 276.

Today, I’m delighted to present the third annual Slow Flowers’ Holiday Music Special, with EarthShine, the duo featuring Scott Prinzing and Kristen Rickels Prinzing, my brother and sister-in-law, who are based in Billings, Montana.

Scott and Kris and I met up this past September at the Rocky Mountain Gardening Live Conference, produced by Dan and Andra Spurr at Chico Hot Springs in Pray, Montana. It was so much fun for me to spend an extended bit of time with Scott and Kris, and I planned ahead and asked them to record this podcast in anticipation of our holiday special.

Here’s a little more about this dynamic couple:

Kris is a songwriter and player of acoustic guitar and flute! She grew up spending every summer in the Beartooth Mountains of south central Montana and spent school years in Minnesota. She has roots connecting her to Montana that date back to her great uncle Kent Moats’ 1913 homestead. In the early 50’s, her then very young father purchased property in the mountains of southeastern Montana, and as a result Kris has spent every summer of her life at this special place. In 1990 she and Scott were married there, and a few years later they relocated to Montana permanently, joining Kris’s parents and other family. Montana’s wild and beautiful landscape is responsible for her intense passion for the environment, which has led her to professional, academic and volunteer work in conservation.
Kris has also nurtured a lifelong interest in music and the arts. During college, after several years of flute, voice, classical dance and some piano, Kris made an effort to pursue singing as a career. She recorded a demo tape and sang lead on some sessions for a local jazz producer. In 1990 Kris married Scott Prinzing, who is also a musician, though it was not until 1997 that they began to collaborate and pursue music together. In 1999 Kris began playing the guitar seriously, and soon after began to write songs.

Scott Prinzing sings and plays bass, mandolin and more. He was born in Connecticut, moving a number of times during his childhood, ending up in Portland, Oregon at age 11. Scott took up the acoustic guitar in 5th grade and then the bass guitar in 7th grade. He formed his first band in the 8th grade. At church, in school singing groups and in the bands he sang and played in, Scott developed a strong baritone voice. In 1982 and 1988 he played and sang on studio recordings with his band Glacier. Throughout high school and college, Scott played in a total of six different bands (some concurrently.) Over the years Scott has learned to play several other instruments competently but continues to concentrate on the bass guitar. During college Scott became involved peace and justice issues, multicultural student activities and political campaigns. Scott majored in Sociology/Cross-cultural Studies in the small private college where he began his education and had the opportunity to travel and study in Israel, the Philippines, Rome, Mexico and elsewhere. His interest in politics and social justice also gave new depth to his life-long interest in the environment.

After marrying Kris Rickels in 1990, Scott transferred to the University of Minnesota to complete his college education and there chose to major in American Indian Studies – another life-long interest. In 1997, Scott and Kris finally began to work on music together, culminating in the collaborative efforts that have created the music they now perform together.

In 2003, Scott and Kris formed the MusEco Media and Education Project, an educational non-profit. They perform all around Billings and elsewhere in Montana with their duo, EarthShine, and they have produced three CDs featuring some of the music you’ll hear today.

I wish you a wonderful holiday, happy Solstice, Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings — please enjoy my musical gift to you! Here are more ways you can listen and follow Scott and Kris:

See more GREEN MAN and MuseEco Videos here.

MusEco Media and Education Project:  www.MusEco.org

Earthshine   www.EarthshineMontana.com

Green Man’s site  www.GreenManTV.org

Listen & Buy more of EarthShine’s Music:

SoundCloud 

CD Baby

Follow Earthshine on Facebook

Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 264,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Next week, during the final episode of 2017, I will share our Year in Review. The Slow Flowers Movement and you, the community, have achieved and accomplished so much goodness this year and it’s time to celebrate our successes. Please Join me on Wednesday, December 27th for this special tribute to 2017.

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

Thank you to family of sponsors:

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

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.

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

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at longfield-gardens.com.

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.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

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

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.
The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music Credits:

EarthShine:
(c) Season’s Greetings 2000

(c) Kubota Garden 2002

(c) Blooms of Clover 2007

(c) Whirling Earth 2014

(c) Jack in the Green 2015

Lovely, by Tryad

http://tryad.bandcamp.com/album/instrumentals

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

In The Field

Music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 327: Food Justice and Brian Sellers Peterson, author of Harvesting Abundance

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

As more people ask “where is my food grown” and increasingly “where are my flowers grown?” issues of access to available land where food and flowers can be produced are increasingly important — especially in urban areas.

My guest today, Brian Sellers-Petersen, is working at the heart of food justice and turning underused land into productive, inclusive mini-farms.

An avid gardener, beekeeper and chicken rancher, Brian is author of a new book, Harvesting Abundance: Local Initiatives of Food and Faith, which tells the stories of mostly Episcopal congregations around the country that are stewarding their land in new ways, sharing produce that’s grown on parcels once carpeted by green lawns.

He has recently started consulting after 16 years with Episcopal Relief & Development and he holds the unique title of Cathedral Apiarist or beekeeper at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle.

Against the urban backdrop of downtown Seattle, Brian Sellers-Petersen tends to rooftop hives at St. Mark’s Cathedral

He writes:

“One reason to have a garden on the church’s front lawn or most visible site is that it will receive lots of foot traffic. You might not initially get many fans from those who are used to lovely ornamental landscaping, but with some care and thought, you can win them over with a carefully designed array of purple basil, rainbow chard, intercropped flowers, fruit, trees and fill in the blank. . . . It’s going to communicate to members, neighbors, and visitors your values and how people of faith are committed to gathering together around a table to eat.”

Brian maintains that everything you really need to know about the Creator you can learn in a garden.” I love that sentiment and the meaning behind it.

We go back two decades to when we worked together at a large Christian NGO, and I’ve always found myself encouraged by Brian’s progressive ideas and by the way he walks the talk in his own life.

A gathering of participants in Seattle’s Food & Faith Network, photographed at Redmond-based Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) / Masjid al-Rahmah

He’s been involved in Seattle’s Food & Faith Network, bringing together congregations of many faiths to learn how to start community and teaching gardens and other agricultural projects to grow healthy local food and flowers, build community, care for the earth and bring justice to neighbors and people they serve.

Find Brian at his blog, “Faithful Tilth”

Follow Brian on Facebook

Thanks so much for joining us today!  The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 262,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

I have a special treat in store for you next week, with our third annual Slow Flowers Holiday Music Special.

You’ll meet my guests, Scott & Kris Prinzing, yes, my brother and sister-in-law, musicians, educators, environmental activists and an uber creative duo behind EarthShine.

You’ll hear their story as passionate creatives and they will share five original songs that relate to gardens, seasons and the environment. It gave me great pleasure to invite them to appear on the Slow Flowers Podcast and I’m eager to share their story and songs with you.

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

Thank you to family of sponsors:

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

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

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

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at longfield-gardens.com.

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.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

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

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music Credits:
Lesser Gods of Metal
by Blue Dot Sessions
Music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 321: My lovely conversation with Robbie Honey + Holly Chapple’s Flowerstock recap and Syndicate Sales’ product launch

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Robbie Honey at Flowerstock (c) Sarah Collier, Taken by Sarah

We all have our flower crushes and those we admire from afar, never expecting to actually meet. So the chance to not only meet and spend time with Robbie Honey, world floral traveler, proud son of Zimbabwe, curious accidental botanist and amazing designer . . . well, it was a certainly a highlight of 2017!

The artist at work ~

Robbie and I met at Holly Chapple’s Flowerstock, the two-day design and creativity fest held for the second year at Hope Flower Farm, the historic compound she owns with husband Evan Chapple – in Waterford, Virginia, not to far from the nation’s capitol.

Holly and Robbie have collaborated on many occasions as instructors, but this was my first experience seeing Robbie up close and personal. Prior to this, my knowledge of him has been mostly by watching his Instagram feed.

Robbie is the creative director at the design company bearing his name Robbie Honey, based in London.

Now and Then, Robbie Honey today and as a young boy in the flower fields of Zimbabwe

Robbie Honey has been immersed in botanical pursuits since he was a young boy roaming the wild grasslands of Zimbabwe. These adventures developed his already keen visual and olfactory senses and instilled in him a lifelong fascination with flowers and their scents.

By the age of seventeen, he was studying horticulture and went on to work in the floriculture trade in Holland and Kenya. Honing his creative sensibilities further, he studied interior design and photography at art school in Cape Town. Moving to London he trained with floral designer Ming Veevers Carter and gained a thorough grounding in event floristry. Incidentally, we posted a story about Ming’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s Gold Medal design for New Covent Garden Flower Market earlier this year. Check it out here.

Robbie’s floral installation for Christian Dior Parfum, London

One of Robbie’s installtions for Hermes, London

17,000 Carnations in an ombre pattern for Mary Katrantzou’s London Fashion Week runway show, designed by Robbie Honey

Setting out on his own at twenty-five, Hermès was his first fashion client, followed by Dior and Armani, establishing Robbie Honey as an in-demand florist within the fashion industry.

With this rare combination of expertise: in botany, floristry and the visual arts, he started lecturing around the world on floristry and writing for the Wall Street Journal.

I love this tablescape with all four of the Robbie Honey candles and the fragrant white flowers that evoke their scents.

Candle fragrances in the Robbie Honey candle collection — lily of the valley, Casablanca lily, jasmine and tuberose.

Robbie Honey’s first range of scented candles is inspired by individual white flowers, the scents of which have long beguiled him.

Robbie at Flowerstock (c) Sarah Collier, Taken by Sarah

It was a delight to not only learn more about what inspires and motivates this talented human as an artist, but a joy to watch him design with American-grown flowers, including many grown at Hope Farm and donated by others, including Harmony Harvest Farm, both Slowflowers.com members — as well as to play with branches and blooms that Robbie foraged with fellow instructors Ariella Chezar and Holly herself.

READ MORE…

Episode 315: Flower Farmer Nellie Gardner’s New Chapter in Historic Garden and Landscape Preservation

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Nellie Gardener, cut flower farmer, horticulturist and historic landscape preservation consultant.

SLOW FLOWERS IN THE NEWS

Nellie Gardner at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Darwin Martin House in Buffalo, where she led tours recently for attendees of the Garden Writers Association annual symposium.

Nellie, pictured on the grounds of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Darwin Martin House in Buffalo, NY, where she is in charge of landscape restoration.

Today’s guest is a woman who I met “virtually” nearly six years ago, but we only recently connected face-to-face. Her name is Nellie Gardner. When the two of us corresponded in late 2011, Nell was the proprietor of Flower Fields, based outside Rochester, New York.

At the time, I was wrapping up the final manuscript for The 50 Mile Bouquet, and one of the last chapters I wrote was about the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, called “From Their Fields to Your Vase.” I was a member of ASCFG, and a frequent reader of the members’ bulletin board where flower farmers posed questions and engaged in discussion on all sorts of topics.

One question caught my eye — from Emily Watson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Stems Cut Flowers. As it turns out, Emily is a past guest of this podcast; we featured her in Episode 185 a few years ago when we discussed her decision to add a new floral studio called Wood Violet to her business model.

Emily’s question about the viability and sustainability of working 80 hour weeks as a flower farmer and wanting to know that it was worth it prompted heartfelt reactions from fellow ASCFG member-growers around the country. One message came from Nellie Gardener, who wrote this:

“I have been able to make a frugal living by growing cut flowers for 20 years, with no outside income or partner with an income. I can only do it by working like a madwoman most of the year, doing weddings, developing many outlets, and extending my Zone 5 season by making Christmas wreaths (and) offering workshops and classes. To make a living with cut flowers, you not only have to grow efficiently, have quality (product), sell to florists, wedding and special event designers, and sell in both retail and wholesale channels, you also have to reinvent yourself to sell all your skills to the public who is hungry for anything real. The competition is cheap labor in South America and the use of flowers as loss leaders in stores like Sam’s Club and BJ’s. Only some consumers will buy on conscience, not price.”

Flower Field Farm in Spencerport, NY, where Nellie’s cut flower farm is located.

After reading her comments online, I contacted Nellie to ask for her permission to include them in The 50 Mile Bouquet and I promised to send her a copy of the book as my thanks. She agreed, and I believe the honest and sincere answers she wrote in reaction to Emily’s initial question gave readers an unusual peek into the life of a small-scale specialty cut flower grower.

Another view of Flower Fields Farm.

Over the years I would catch glimpses of Nellie and her flowers, including a beautiful spread in Country Gardens magazine, for which I’m a contributing editor. It was one of those lavish, romantic flower farming stories that prompted me to say, “oh, I wish I had been able to write that!”

Flower Field Farms’ array of fresh, field-grown blooms.

After all these years, Nellie and I finally met in person this past August, when she presented a roundtable topic at the Garden Writers Association annual symposium in Buffalo. I was ecstatic when I saw her name on the program. And the topic was a departure for Nellie — I thought. Rather than discussing cut flower farming, Nellie was there to share the story of gardening at the historic Graycliff Estate, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home on Lake Erie, built in 1926 for the Darwin Martin family. The grounds at Graycliff were originally designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman, a well-known landscape architect and contemporary of Wright’s. Once grand, like the estate, the gardens declined with age — and Nellie has assumed the role of horticulturist who is restoring the flower borders, harvest gardens and outdoor living spaces.

Well now, this was a new role for Nellie and it all makes sense now that I see this title on her web site for Flower Fields: “Cut flower grower, horticulture and gardening consultation.”

I reintroduced myself to Nellie and asked if she would join the podcast to share her story. What you’ll hear today is our rather spontaneous interview, recorded in the lobby of the Buffalo Marriott Hotel.

Dahlias on display!

Here’s a short intro from Nellie’s “about” section of the Flower Fields web site:

Nellie grows cut flower on her Historic Spencerport Farm, and is also the Horticulturist at the Frank Lloyd Wright Darwin Martin House in Buffalo. Her experience growing up on a hardscrabble farm on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia gave her motivation to put herself through College to learn the science of soils and plants.

With no formal high school education and no money she earned a degree in Agriculture from Nova Scotia Agricultural College and Cornell University. Working for The Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and her own private consulting business, has given her a wide range of experience she applies to her approach to horticulture.

Seeing opportunity and making use of everything she finds grew out of necessity and reuse and repurposing are instinctive. She has grown cut flowers for over 20 years and consults in horticultural problem solving and cut flower growing.

Wow — at a time when so many are seeking ways to diversify their brand and business, I love seeing how one flower farmer’s  path is taking her in a direction that is creatively challenging, professionally rewarding and thoroughly relevant to growing cut flowers.

Nellie worked hard to diversify her business model at Flower Fields Farm, including wreath-making in the fall and winter months.

Find and Follow Nellie Gardner at these social places:

Flower Fields Farm

Nellie Gardner on Facebook

Nellie Gardner on Instagram

Thanks again for joining me today. The Slow Flowers Community continues to grow, with close to 1,500 members having joined our Facebook group and increased engagement on a daily basis over our other social platforms, including Instagram. We are gaining momentum and your participation is key. The media continues to pay attention and Slow Flowers has received some great press lately, both in the trade media thanks to our new partnership with Florists’ Review, as well as in print and online places.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 235,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

Thank you to family of sponsors

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.

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

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

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

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.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

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

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
Chords For David
by Pitx
Creative Commons Attribution (3.0)
Acoustic 1
by Dave Depper
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

 

 

Slow Flowers, Montana Style

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Our lovely gathering of Slow Flowers aficionados, pictured at Hart’s Garden & Nursery in Missoula.

Earlier this month, I flew to Missoula, a Western Montana, college town where there is quite a bit happening on the local flower farming scene. t was on my way to speak at the Rocky Mountain Gardening Live conference held on September 11-12 at Chico Hot Springs in Pray, Montana, just 30 minutes outside the eastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Kathy Sherba, Carly Jenkins and Kristen Tack — all cohorts in Missoula’s Westside Flower Market

Jamie Rogers and Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm, with me (right)

A giant sunflower puts a smile on my face, snapped during my tour of Mighty Fine Farm.

The reason for this Seattle-to-Missoula leg of my trip was to meet up with Carly Jenkins and Jamie Rogers of Killing Frost Farm, Kathy and Adam Sherba of Mighty Fine Farm and George and Marcia Hart of Hart’s Garden & Nursery — all in the Missoula flower farming and Slow Flowers community.

Carly and I met in person earlier this year when she attended Tobey Nelson’s Whidbey Island Flower Workshop, which featured Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events and Kaleb Willis of Kaleb Norman James Design. Carly, or CJ, as she’s often called, gave me the big news about the second-season launch of Westside Flower Market, a wholesale farmer-to-florist venture that she and Kathy incubated beginning last summer in Missoula garage owned by Carly and Jamie. You can hear our Slow Flowers Podcast interview from that visit here.

Great recent coverage on local & slow flowers in The Missoula Independent.

This year, six additional flower farmers have joined the momentum and they are doing some really awesome things. Read more about the Slow Flowers Missoula story in this excellent piece that just ran in The Missoula Independent.

George and Marcia graciously hosted a barbecue, farm tour and meet-up at their property.

And while I didn’t count totals, I bet we had about 30 folks in attendance,  including some who drove up to 4 hours from places like Kalispell to join us!

From left: Special guest Rep. Willis Curdy, George Hart & Marcia Hart, flower farmers and hosts.

I was delighted to introduce the Slow Flowers Movement to all those who attended, including Montana Rep. Willis Curdy, member of the agriculture committee for the state legislature, who just wanted to learn more about flower farming in his district — very cool!

A quartet of fabulous flower farmers: Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm, Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm and Kathy Sherba of Mighty Fine Farm. Photographed at Mighty Fine Farm in Missoula.

We also had some very special guests in attendance — Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm in Blackfoot, Idaho! Jeriann and Ralph are past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast, which we recorded last year upon the publication of their fabulous book, Deadhead: The Bindweed Way to Grow Flowers.

A last-minute flower farmers’ vaycay (thanks to an invitation from Carly), their 350-mile road trip . . .  and we were blessed with Jeriann and Ralph’s generous souls, playful personalities and amazing wisdom. People soaked up every word they had to say. Southeastern Idaho’s growing conditions are similar enough to those of Western Montana’s that our crowed wanted to hear every word — and wanted to buy signed copies of Deadhead!

Ralph and Jeriann shared their story and their flower farming wisdom at our Meet Up. Photographed at the beautiful grounds of Hart’s Garden & Nursery, Missoula

High tunnels filled with late summer dahlias at Hart’s Garden & Nursery.

An unnamed dahlia at Hart’s Garden & Nursery. The brilliance offset the smoky skies caused by Western Montana’s forest fires.

That night, Carly, Kathy, Ralph, Jeriann  and I stayed up late, talking and visiting under the Montana moon. It has been a rough few months there, with the rampant wildfires, so we all were delighted that the breezes cleared the skies for one beautiful evening. A very special thank you to Adam Sherba’s parents for lending us use of their fabulous Missoula home. Jeriann, Ralph and I stayed there in great Montana luxury. In the morning, I watched deer and wild turkeys roaming through the hillside below the home.

Chico Hot Springs, a favorite of everyone in Montana.

I drove from Missoula to Pray (about 250 miles east) on Sunday, September 10th, arriving before dinnertime to check into Chico Hot Springs. CHS is a very special place — historic for its dude ranch vibe, its restorative 104-degree soaking pools fed by the springs and its adjacency to Yellowstone. The original lodge, where I stayed, dates to 1900, but the first recorded reference to the Hot Springs goes back to 1865. This is a place for kicking back and relaxing, which I did lots of. But now that there is a Conference Center to host corporate events, people come for multiple reasons.

All local flowers from Bozeman floral designer Remy Greco-Brault, owner of Labellum. Remy taught a pin-on floral workshop after my lecture.

Rocky Mountain Gardening LIVE, with dahlias grown by #kangaroohousegardens in Hamilton, Montana

I was there as guest of Dan and Andra Spurr, editor and publisher of Rocky Mountain Gardening magazine.

This wonderful quarterly magazine is for gardeners throughout the Rocky Mountains, encompassing stories and subscribers from the Canadian-US border down to Colorado and includes Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah.

I was delighted to speak about Slow Flowers and share the story of what’s happening in Montana and beyond to an audience of more than 80 attendees.

Several flower farmers and florists were there, which made me feel welcome and allowed me to brag about their achievements — including Cindy Hanson of The Herb And Garden in Helena, a Slow Flowers member who I recently featured in Florists’ Review/Slow Flowers Journal.

After my time at Chico Hot Springs, I left knowing that even more folks are supportive of our movement, our cause, and our purpose. I met florists who promised to join and list their businesses on Slowflowers.com and I made lifelong friends with Dan and Andra, who couldn’t have been more generous in their hospitality.

A final bonus — spending two days with my siblings, Scott Prinzing and his wife Kristen Rickels Prinzing. They live in Billings and have both contributed to Rocky Mountain Gardening in the past, with articles (Kris) and photography (Scott). As a very special treat, they agreed to record the upcoming holiday special music episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast — listen for that Episode 328 on December 20th. I have no musical talent, but it’s nice to have siblings who do!

Episode 312: Growing a Start-Up Floral Business with Melanie Harrington of Ontario’s Dahlia May Flower Farm

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Today’s guest: Melanie Harrington of Dahlia May Flower Farm, based in Trenton, Ontario, Canada. This portrait of Melanie and all photography featured (c) Ashley Slessor Photography

At the very beginning of this month, after spending several days in Buffalo at the Garden Writers Association annual symposium, I picked up a rental car and drove to Ontario, crossing the vast Niagara River on the beautiful Peace Bridge.

My destination was the Niagara region where the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers’ regional meeting was taking place on a number of flower farms in the area.

It was well worth the extra travel and time, because the wonderful community of flower farmers and farmer-florists there put together a fantastic series of farm tours, presentations and floral demos, giving us an in-depth understanding of the vibrant local floral scene there.

Of course, I had my digital recorder along with me on the trip. A few weeks ago, you heard my bonus interview with Gillian Hodgson of Flowers from the Farm, our UK kindred spirit, who shared her update on the British Grown flowers scene.

There were others to interview, including today’s fabulous guest. I briefly met Melanie Harrington of Dahlia May Flower Farm in person last November at the ASCFG annual meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but had never really spent the time with her that I wanted. She agreed to break away from the schedule so we could sit down in a field, under a tree, in order to share her story.

Here’s a little more about Melanie and her farm. Founded in 2014, Dahlia May Flower Farm is a small family operation specializing in growing romantic and fragrant, often heirloom, varieties of flowers. Nestled in the beautiful rolling Murray Hills of southeastern Ontario, Dahlia May supplies fresh seasonal cut flowers and distinctive bouquets to farmers’ markets in the greater Quinte area, and also offers both rustic and elegant floral design services, inspired by nature and changing with the seasons.

A native of the Quinte area and a lover of nature, Melanie brings to her work a background in art and horticulture as well as a passion for growing beautiful flowers. Melanie completed studies in horticulture and floral design at Loyalist College, and has taken a course in flower farming and design with Erin Benzakein of Floret.

Melanie wrote a personal essay on her web site, as well. You’ll want to read the entire piece here. But to give you a small glimpse of this amazing young woman, I’ll share this small excerpt, in her words:

Years ago my parents farmed the very land I now cultivate. Their first wish was to grow their own food; before long they were supplying our local farmers’ market with fresh produce. Between rows of tomatoes and beans were the inevitable patches of cut flowers, my fathers favourites and my personal joy. Already as a young child, I helped my father plant the seeds. There were bold sunflowers which would tower over me. Vibrant zinnias to surround me with colour. Cheerful asters…. Together we nurtured them and watched them grow. Later we worked side by side to pick them. I remember standing on a milk crate arranging this colourful harvest in tins cans lined up on the tailgate of our truck. I was hooked. . . 

When my father passed away in 2012, my husband and I returned to the family farm. With my perennial awareness of how short life can be, I left my job as a floral designer to rediscover what flowers truly meant to me. I didn’t know where this path would lead me; I was, however, certain that the best way to honour my father’s memory was to find my true passion and live it.

 This journey, full of bumps and hurdles and unexpected turns, culminated in the founding of Dahlia May Flower Farm. I am back where it all began, farming lush and romantic cut flowers on our beautiful homestead, working out of our 1885 farmhouse. Many of these blooms are sold at the same Quinte West farmers’ market where my parents sold their garden bounty all those years ago. Others may be found at farm markets and speciality stores throughout the area. 

We strive to grow high quality, long-lasting, and distinctive blooms. Our flowers connect people, create memories, and bring joy. As one of my customers shared with me: “Flowers make my heart happy, it’s as simple as that.” At Dahlia May Flower Farm we are committed to cultivating happy hearts, and making the world more beautiful.

Melanie and her new Farm Stand where customers can shop for locally grown flowers several days each week during the high season

Please enjoy this highly personal conversation with Melanie and be sure to check out the photos she’s shared – of her flowers and farm and her charming farm stand. And, if you haven’t yet discovered Dahlia May Flower Farm on social media, here’s how to follow along:

Dahlia May Flower Farm on Instagram

Dahlia May Flower Farm on Facebook

Dahlia May Flower Farm on Pinterest

Thanks again for joining me today. My take-way from this conversation with Melanie is to have a clear vision of what you do best, while also being open and experimental when new doors open. Hard work and long hours are a given, yet Melanie still takes time to revel in the awe-inspiring presence of nature that surrounds her natural world day in and day out. And she is willing to be vulnerable as a way to keep it all real and honest, despite the allure of social media and its promise of fame and fortune for those who chase those things.

I learned volumes from Melanie during her presentation at the ASCFG meeting earlier this month. In her presentation: “Make Your Social Media Accounts Bloom!” she offered a simple tip about the “grid” of the 9 most recent images that appear in your feed. ALWAYS post a self-portrait or an image of you on your farm, or in your studio, or engaging with flowers in that 9-square-grid. It’s a reminder to followers that there is a human flower lover behind the stats and metrics. Love this tip!

On her instagram bio for Dahlia May Flower Farm, she includes this: Flower farmer. Florist. Forager. Lover of dirty hands. Finder of magic in nature. Practicing graditude.

Those are terms that many of us embrace. So I know you share my appreciation for Melanie’s story. Thanks for listening.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 227,500 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

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

Thank you to family of sponsors:

Our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

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

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

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.
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.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.
Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.

And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music Credits:

Simple Melody; Turning on the Lights
by Blue Dot Sessions
Additional music from:

audionautix.com