Debra Prinzing

Debra Prinzing is a Seattle-based writer, speaker and leading advocate for American grown flowers. Through her many Slow Flowers-branded projects, she has convened a national conversation that stimulates consumers and professionals alike to make conscious choices about their floral purchases.
Debra is the producer of slowflowers.com, the online directory to American flower farms, and florists, shops and studios who source domestic and local flowers. She is the author of 10 books, including Slow Flowers and The 50 Mile Bouquet.
Each Wednesday, you can listen to Debra's "Slow Flowers Podcast," available for free downloads at her web site debraprinzing.com or on ITunes and other podcast services. Here's what others say about her:

“The local flower movement's champion . . ."

--Ken Druse, REAL DIRT Podcast

“. . . an impassioned advocate for a more sustainable flower industry."

--Bellamy Pailthorp, KPLU-FM (NPR affiliate)

“The mother of the ‘Slow Flower’ movement, Prinzing is making a personal crusade to encourage people to think about floral purchases the same way they may approach what they eat: Buy locally grown flowers or grow them yourself.”

--Debbie Arrington, The Sacramento Bee

“Debra Prinzing . . . has done more to celebrate and explain ethical + eco-friendly flowers than I could ever hope to.”

--Grace Bonney, founder of Design*Sponge

Episode 240: Williams Wildflowers – Growing and Designing with Native and Wild Plants in New York and Florida

April 6th, 2016

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

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

I first met Annie Schiller of William’s Wildflowers when she introduced herself via email in 2013. The subject line: Slow Flowers in South Florida.

The note continued:

I’m reaching out to you to say hello and to say thanks for your work. Our award-winning native plant nursery in south Florida, Florida Native Plants has just expanded to offer wildflower bouquets featuring Florida native and Florida-friendly wildflowers that we grow ourselves. We are growing them sustainably, without irrigation, pesticides or chemical fertilizers. We want to provide the bouquets already arranged for clients. I’m just writing to see if you can list us on your upcoming search website for locating locally-sourced flowers or anywhere else you might have a list of resources?

This is our website: www.williamswildflowers.com.

We are really excited about this new venture, and could use any advise you might have for start-up slow flower businesses.

A lovely Williams Wildflowers infographic used to educate customers and wedding clients.

A lovely Williams Wildflowers infographic used to educate customers and wedding clients.

Our conversation continued and Annie connected me with an extension agent for the Sarasota, Florida, area who was working on a Florida Small Farms Conference. He planned to feature Slow Flowers at the conference and noted that “we love the concept of Slow Flowers as it’s the perfect complement to our conference’s emphasis on local foods, producers, advocates and systems.”

A flower girl's floral crown in New York

A flower girl’s floral crown in New York

Annie and her sister Rachel Andre were early supporters of the Slow Flowers Indiegogo campaign, which ultimately meant their Williams Wildflowers design studios appeared on Slowflowers.com when it launched in 2014.

I’ve been wanting to feature Rachel and Annie on a podcast and we finally found time to schedule an interview when they were together rather than thousands of miles apart. We recorded this episode when I was in St. Louis a few weeks ago and Rachel had traveled to Sarasota, from upstate New York to help Annie with a wedding. We had some audio difficulties due to  recording over Skype, but hopefully you’ll forget about them as you’re drawn into the conversation, the laughter and the  fabulous story these two young designers will share.

A Williams Wildflowers (Florida) wedding bouquet (c) Brenna Foster

A Williams Wildflowers (Florida) wedding bouquet (c) Brenna Foster

As a design studio, Williams Wildflowers specializes in sustainably and locally-grown, eco-friendly floral arrangements featuring native plants and wildflowers for weddings and special events of all types and sizes. Williams Wildflowers grows, forages and sources local material to create custom and artistically designed floral arrangements directly inspired by the seasons and the local environment. Annie and Rachel’s designs are truly farm to table, with a fresh, one-of-a-kind floral palette.

A centerpiece created by Rachel for Williams Wildflowers New York.

A centerpiece created by Rachel for Williams Wildflowers New York.

The types of cultivated wildflowers and native plants that Rachel and Annie use in their designs are unique to their regions, but there is some overlap, which really surprised me. As they point out, many varieties are native to the eastern part of North America, covering a huge geographic range. Think of black-eyed Susans, white mountain aster, goldenrod, coneflower, bergamot, Queen Anne’s lace, phlox, wild marjoram, yarrow, joe pye weed, sunflowers, bee balm, fleabane, and so many more. See this lovely gallery of flowers from the Williams Wildflowers website:

New York Wildflowers

Florida Wildflowers

Rachel Andre in New York

Rachel Andre in New York

One half of Williams Wildflowers is operated by Rachel Andre, who is based in the Rensselaerville, NY. Her upstate New York studio is located about 150 miles from NYC. She is a graduate of Hunter College in New York City with a background in art history and sculptural design. Rachel has worked as a horticultural intern at Florida Native Plants Nursery and was a volunteer for SF’s Golden Gate Park Botanical Garden. She has a passion for all wildlife with a particular interest in floral design, edible gardening and promoting native flora for sustainable environments. Rachel is currently designing for, managing and establishing the upstate NY location for William’s Wildflowers.

Annie at Williams Wildflowers Florida

Annie at Williams Wildflowers Florida

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

Their Mom Laurel Schiller is a wildlife biologist with an extensive background in higher education and in the Native Plant world. She runs Florida Native Wildlife Nursery.

Grandpa Bill, inspiration for Williams Wildflowers, his grand-daughters' floral ventures.

Grandpa Bill, inspiration for Williams Wildflowers, his grand-daughters’ floral ventures.

The William of Williams Wildflowers was Dr. William E. Keller, Annie and Rachel’s grandfather. Thirty years ago he turned the pasture next to their upstate NY home into a wildflower meadow.

All who walked by stopped to admire it. Grandchildren chased each other down the paths. Weddings took place there. The meadow of wildflowers remains a living legacy to “Grandpa Bill,” a passionate gardener.

I know you’ll be inspired to incorporate regional wildflowers and native plants from your state into your design language.

Follow Williams Wildflowers Florida on Facebook

Follow Williams Wildflowers New York on Facebook

Find Williams Wildflowers on Pinterest

Follow Williams Wildflowers New York on Instagram

Follow Williams Wildflowers Florida on Instagram

Williams Wildflowers New York (left) and Williams Wildflowers Florida (right)

Williams Wildflowers New York (left) and Williams Wildflowers Florida (right)

Thanks for joining today’s podcast.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 90,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until 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.

 

Episode 239: Flora Organica Designs and Faye Krause at the Arcata, CA Field to Vase Dinner

March 30th, 2016

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On March 12th the first of several Field to Vase Dinners for 2016 took place inside a state-of-the-art greenhouse in Arcata, California –  Humboldt County, located way, way up north in the Redwoods.

What a stunning installation, transforming a working greenhouse into a glorious dinner party setting at Sun Valley Flower Farm (c) Amy Kumler

What a stunning installation, transforming a working greenhouse into a glorious dinner party setting at Sun Valley Flower Farm (c) Amy Kumler

Faye's concept for the installation was Tulips + Bulbs overhead as the chandelier and color blocked tulips in vases down the center of the table (c) by Amy Kumler

Faye’s concept for the installation was Tulips + Bulbs overhead as the chandelier and color blocked tulips in vases down the center of the table (c) by Amy Kumler

The venue: Sun Valley Flower Farm, a leading grower of cut bulb and field flowers in the United States. According to its web site, Sun Valley chose this area as an ideal environment for growing bulb flowers, due to its mild winters, cool summers, generous humidity and coastally moderated sunlight. The fields surrounding the greenhouses also provide excellent growing conditions for spring, summer and fall iris, and summer flowers including crocosmia, hypericum, and monkshood.

Endless tulips!! (c) by Amy Kumler

Endless tulips!! (c) by Amy Kumler

On March 12th, the celebration was all about American-grown tulips and other-spring flowering bulbs — hundreds of thousands of them in all their colorful glory.

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Episode 238: St. Louis’s Urban Buds: City Grown Flowers

March 23rd, 2016

A sublime Urban Buds ranunculus, photographed inside the vintage glass greenhouse on March 10th.

A sublime Urban Buds ranunculus, photographed inside the vintage glass greenhouse on March 10th.

 

Mimo Davis and Miranda Duschack of Urban Buds.

Mimo Davis and Miranda Duschack of Urban Buds.

943881_555233521292989_4077588127578733507_n Today’s podcast conversation took its time arriving here. I believe I first met Missouri flower farmer Mimo Davis of Urban Buds in 2012 at the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers annual meeting in Tacoma, where I was a speaker.

We have corresponded over the years and followed what each other was doing. Mimo even once asked me when I might come to St. Louis to speak and visit.

Well, earlier this month, finally, that happened, thanks to the good people at the St. Louis Art Museum who invited me to be a featured speaker for their annual spring extravaganza called Bouquets to Art.

My all-Missouri-grown arrangement on display at Bouquets to Art, where I lectured and demonstrated the Slow Flowers story

My all-Missouri-grown arrangement on display at Bouquets to Art, where I lectured and demonstrated the Slow Flowers story

Bouquets to Art is a celebration of springtime, art and floral design, a tradition found in a number of top art museums across the country.

I was excited to attend and speak during the weekend of activities beginning with a gala opening dinner on March 11th, and followed by lectures, demonstrations and exhibitions from March 12th to 14th, with ticketed events seating audience members in a luxurious theatre with plush chairs and a huge stage and screen.

It was an event complete with a celebrity speaker – this year it was Carolyne Roehme, a native Missouri daughter, fashion industry icon and author of numerous lifestyle books.

I followed Ms. Roehme and presented on the same stage, with  150-or-so floral enthusiasts learning about the Slow Flowers Movement as I created several arrangements.

I was definitely concerned about sourcing local flowers for my floral demonstration because of the time of year.

And fortunately, I had two Missouri sources from which to shop: Urban Buds, owned by Mimo Davis and Miranda Duschack – today’s guests; and Vicki Lander and Jack Oglander of Flower Hill Farm in Beaufort, Missouri.

Tiffany caught this image of me as I sampled (sniffed) the first crop of beautiful stock at Urban Buds

Tiffany caught this image of me as I sampled (sniffed) the first crop of beautiful stock at Urban Buds (c) Tiffany Buckley

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Episode 237: Deadhead ~ The Bindweed Way with Idaho’s Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston

March 16th, 2016

Bindweed Farm in Blackfoot, Idaho ~ God's Country

Bindweed Farm in Blackfoot, Idaho ~ God’s Country

The endless scene of field flowers at Bindweed Farm.

The endless scene of field flowers at Bindweed Farm.

Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm

Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm

Where do remote resort communities like Sun Valley, Idaho, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, get their flowers?

These high-desert mountain areas aren’t exactly huge agricultural regions, but today’s guests have built their successful flower farming business on serving these two luxury markets.

Please meet flower farmers Ralph Thurston and Jeriann Sabin. The talented wife-husband duo are the owners of Bindweed Farm in the southeast corner of Idaho.

I invite you to celebrate the recent publication of Deadhead~ the Bindweed Way to Grow Flowers, a new book about the joys and challenges of growing cut flowers for commercial sales.

Located about two hours from both of these upscale destination resort markets, Ralph and Jeriann have created a beautiful lifestyle that is supported by flowers.

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Ralph is known as “il maestro”, the brain and the brawn who plans every detail, ordering all plant material, orchestrating the farm’s intricate planting schedule and irrigation scheme.

He is a genius, a green thumb wizard.  And not only that, he cuts nearly every stem, that’s thousands and thousands each season.

Jeriann is the beauty–as in aesthetics.  As an artist, color and texture are her DNA. Ralph may be responsible for the diverse varieties but Jeriann selects the colors.

Never without her trusty smart phone/camera, she photographs every flower on the farm and loves keeping the Bindweed blog.

She processes every stem–conditioning and packaging each bunch of flowers as they come in from the field.  In charge of sales and delivery, she enjoys meeting and consulting with designers each week.

Passionate about small farms and farmers, Bindweed has been a member of ASCFG, the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers for over fifteen years.  Each of them have served on the board of directors and have contributed articles for the Cut Flower Quarterly.

Snapdragons at Bindweed Farm.

Snapdragons at Bindweed Farm.

A Bindweed Farm arrangement.

A Bindweed Farm arrangement.

One morning's harvest.

One morning’s vibrant harvest.

Bindweed occupies five acres in the heart of potato country, the eastern edge of Idaho’s high desert plain.  Surrounded by several mountain ranges and cinder cones—extinct volcanoes—the farm enjoys spectacular 360-degree views, rich soil and a short growing season.

The view from Jeriann and Ralph's office. Wow!

The view from Jeriann and Ralph’s office. Wow!

On clear days the tip of the Grand Teton sits up like a shark’s tooth behind the foothills in the east and the resort, Jackson, Wyoming ,is only two hours away. Equidistance to the west lays Sun Valley.  Famed for skiing and hiking, both resorts are outdoor playgrounds for many of the rich and famous. Extremely popular for conferences, think tanks and destination events, they are the perfect market for our flowers.

Sunflowers - a Bindweed bestselling crop

Sunflowers – a Bindweed bestselling crop

Zinnias and Marigolds at Bindweed.

Zinnias and Marigolds at Bindweed.

"The Rear View" - the van is loaded and ready for delivery!

“The Rear View” – the van is loaded and ready for delivery!

Here’s how to find Jeriann and Ralph on social media:

Bindweed Farm on Facebook

Bindweed Farm on Instagram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 87,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Until 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 Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.

Episode 236: Anne Bradfield of Seattle’s Floressence Studio

March 9th, 2016

Anne Bradfield, owner of Seattle-based Floressence -- captured on the hunt for beautiful and locally-grown Northwest flowers!

Anne Bradfield, owner of Seattle-based Floressence — captured while she was on the hunt for beautiful and locally-grown Northwest flowers!

Love this elevated arrangement!

Love this elevated arrangement!

This week’s conversation is one I’ve wanted to record for a while. You know when you run into someone you really like — and who you want to get to know better, perhaps at the grocery store, or (for me) at the flower market — and you greet one another warmly and say “we should get together for coffee?”

Well that was the case with my friend Anne Bradfield. Owner of a design studio called Floressence, Anne was one of the very first floral designers I found myself chatting with back in 2011 when the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market launched.

A gorgeous Floressence-designed wedding

A gorgeous Floressence-designed wedding

A Floressence Bride

A Floressence Bride

logo1 At the time, I was there frequently, both because I was working on my two books, The 50 Mile Bouquet – which featured the stories of many of the flower farmers and floral designers involved with the market, and Slow Flowers, a project that relied on a steady supply of local blooms for my weekly design projects. And I often ran into Anne, who was there shopping for her major wedding and corporate event clients.

Love the inspiration that Anne shares in today's podcast. (c) Laurel McConnell

Love Anne’s inspiration shared in today’s podcast.

Anne soon invited me to speak at a meeting of the Greater Seattle Floral Association, where I met many of our region’s top wedding, event and retail florists. And we kept bumping into one another. . . both always in a rush, and always promising to get together.

You may recognize Anne’s voice because I recorded it for this podcast a few months ago when I interviewed several designers who participated in Lisa Waud’s hands-on large-scale floral art workshop at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. And that encounter was the impetus for today’s conversation.

Anne studied interdisciplinary visual art at the University of Washington and she will share how her journey led her through a few career stops before she purchased Floressence thirteen years ago, when she was in her late twenties.

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Episode 235: Our (Slow Flowers) Man in Washington with Bill Frymoyer

March 2nd, 2016

Strength in numbers! Meet flower farmers who represented YOU and the American-grown floral industry in Washington, D.C. last week -- they're from Washington state, Oregon, California, Alaska, Virginia, Maryland & Pennsylvania!!!

Strength in numbers! Meet flower farmers who represented YOU and the American-grown floral industry in Washington, D.C. last week — they’re from Washington state, Oregon, California, Alaska, Virginia, Texas, Maryland & Pennsylvania!!!

Today's guest, Bill Frymoyer, chief advocate for American-grown flowers in Washington, D.C.

Today’s guest, Bill Frymoyer, chief advocate for American-grown flowers in Washington, D.C.

My birthday falls during the last week of February and as has been the case since 2014, it’s also coincided with the annual “fly in” for America’s flower farmers to land in Washington, D.C.

You’ve heard me talk about this experience before and today is no exception. The Fly In began as an initiative of the California Cut Flower Commission seven years ago, led by CEO Kasey Cronquist.

In 2013, CCFC invited flower farmers from other states to join the effort.

I applaud that spirit of inclusion, one that significantly boosted the impact and presence of America’s flower farms beyond the California delegation.

Today, the Fly-in is still led by CCFC, but its scope is now much broader. Certified American Grown Flowers is now the “cause” with an inclusive, national message about flower farming and other key issues important to everyone in the Slow Flowers community.

On February 28th (ahem, my birthday!) we launched The Slow Flowers Community on Facebook. Please join!

On February 28th (ahem, my birthday!) we launched The Slow Flowers Community on Facebook. Please join!

Before we get started, I want to announce the launch of The Slow Flowers Community on Facebook. I was inspired to establish a virtual place where members of Slowflowers.com and those who have yet to join the Slowflowers.com directory can meet each other. You’ll be introduced to kindred spirits; you’ll talk “shop,” encourage others and receive encouragement yourself. Our focus will be creating brand awareness for your own Slow Flowers endeavors – from the field to the studio and beyond. This is a closed community, so just follow this link to request to join.

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

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

Floral detail. Andrea combine her own *early* Virginia cut flowers with stems from California farms represented in DC last week.

Floral detail. Andrea combine her own *early* Virginia cut flowers with stems from California farms represented in DC last week.

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