June 1st, 2016
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Our March gathering of the North Bay Flower Collective & Slow Flowers, pictured inside the barn at Open Field Farm (c) Betany Coffland, Chloris Floral Design.
Zoe Hitchner of Front Porch Farm (left) and Jaclyn Nesbitt of Jaclyn K. Nesbitt Designs (right) are featured in “part one” of this episode
Sarah James, who owns Open Field Farm with her husband and partner Seth James, is featured in “part two” of this episode.
American Flowers Week is only one month away, scheduled for June 28th through July 4th.
Check out our dedicated web site here to read stories about members who are involved with this cool media and consumer awareness campaign. Find free downloads of graphics, a badge for your blogroll and images to use on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
And here is our brand new fun coloring map of the USA, which you can download and print here to share with customers. Get out your pens and pencils and color to your heart’s content. Then PLEASE post your creation and tag #americanflowersweek — we look forward to seeing your work. A grateful shout-out to Jenny Diaz, our designer, for hand-drawing and hand-lettering the adorable 50-state map.
You’re also invited to contribute a bouquet of your own by designing a red-white-and-blue arrangement with local flowers from your state — and be sure to post and send us a photo of the results. Sign up here.
We’ll add it to our “50 Weeks of American Grown Flowers” gallery that will live on americanflowersweek.com and at the Slow Flowers Community on Facebook. So far, we’ve had people from 11 states volunteer to contribute a photo of their patriotic bouquet –and we’d love to receive your imagery by mid-June. Please share the love and get involved!
And by the way — all submissions will be eligible for several prizes donated by our sponsors, including three $100 dollar shopping sprees from Syndicate Sales. We’ll have more swag to announce in the future.
This map of Sonoma County shows the geographical diversity of the region north of San Francisco Bay in California
I’m really excited to share today’s episode with you, recorded during my two-day March floral excursion hosted by the farmers, florists and growers of Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, also known as the North Bay Flower Collective.
If you’ve been listening to this series, I can only imagine you shared the same response as I’ve experienced — that of being awed and inspired by the basic human truth that we each need a tribe; we each can soar to achieve that which we imagine or dream, when we are not alone.
Together, this community of people who make their living on flower farms and in design studios tells an important narrative of collaboration over competition.
I recorded this segment in two parts at two Sonoma County farms, both of which provided me lodging and meals, not to mention friendship and breathtaking scenery.
Zoe, me, Mimi and Jaclyn at Front Porch Farm.
First, you will hear my conversation with Zoe Hitcher, the head flower farmer at Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg, California, and Jaclyn Nesbitt, owner of Jaclyn K. Nesbitt Floral Design based in Santa Rosa, California, two Slow Flowers members who are part of the North Bay Flower Collective. You’ll also hear a few comments from my ever-present escort Daniele Strawn of Chica Bloom Farm.
Just one of the many high tunnels at Front Porch Farm; this one was filled with spring ranunculus
Early Spring at Front Porch Farm.
Mimi Buckley’s signature wreaths
Here’s a bit of background about Front Porch Farm.
Mimi Buckley, my lovely and generous host for the first night of my farm stay.
After other successful careers, Peter and Mimi Buckley started a 110-acre organic farm outside Healdsburg six years ago. Front Porch Farm lies along a wild stretch of the Russian River, due east of Healdsburg, California.
The farm rests on a bench of rich alluvial soils, surrounded by low hills forming a lovely pocket valley. There, they tend a mosaic of fruit, nut, and olive orchards; fields of grains, alfalfa, and pasture grass; a wide variety of heritage vegetable crops; and wine grapes on the sunny hillsides.
Blackberry cultivars ripen along the fences and the Russian River flows nearby, alive with osprey, herons, deer, and the occasional mountain lion. Organic farming depends on biological diversity and flowers are an integral part of the farm’s ecosystem.
By attracting pollinators and beneficial insects, the flowers that Zoe grows keep fruit trees and berry bushes productive as well as row crops protected. They add beauty and bring joy to those who work with and receive them. Front Porch Farm’s flowers are sold at the farm, at local farmers’ markets, and in local floral shops around Healdsburg and Sonoma County. In addition, as flower manager, Zoe provides elegant and natural design work capturing the spirit of the farm customized to unique clients and events.
Zoe Hitchner, Front Porch Farms flower farmer.
Zoe’s bio originally appeared in the Field to Vase “grower’s spotlight” blog, written by our second guest, Jaclyn Nesbitt and used with permission:
Zoe has a rich background in flowers and gardening. She has worked at a flower shop, urban community gardens, and a school garden. She participated in the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at UC Santa Cruz and finally, before joining Front Porch Farm, she and two colleagues ran a thriving farm in Santa Cruz.
The farm’s owners, Mimi and Peter, are two vibrant, beautiful souls who are dedicated to biodiversity and sustainable agriculture in a region solely focused on wine.
Zoe with one of her designs.
In Zoe’s words: “Our vision at Front Porch Farm is to create a diverse farm in the midst of wine-country monoculture. We see ourselves as stewards of the land which means it’s our job to look after the health of the soil and the Russian River that runs through our valley. We want to create habitat for the honey bees and the migratory birds. We also want to create the highest quality produce, most cared-for meat (look into our heritage pig operation!) and, my charge, the most beautiful flowers! Thanks to my partner Mimi Buckley and her vision, we are in the process of turning two acres of our farm into a vibrant flower garden, including over sixty varieties of annual flowers and many perennials and bulbs as well. Ultimately we aim to be a training ground for new farmers and a resource for our local community.”
Jaclyn Nesbitt, floral designer and fine artist (c) Megan Clouse
A beautiful bridal bouquet designed by Jaclyn Nesbitt (c) Clane Gessel
More seasonal floral artistry from Jaclyn Nesbitt; Left photo (c) Jaclyn Nesbitt; Right photo (c) Megan Clouse
Here’s an introduction to Jaclyn Nesbitt:
Jaclyn K. Nesbitt Designs specializes in flowers and botanicals for special events and styled shoots. She takes pride in sourcing local and seasonal materials for her unique, organic, and artful designs. She wholeheartedly believes in supporting the incredible flower farmers she has made personal relationships with in the Greater Bay Area. Rooted in her strong values, Jaclyn is able to honor the earth, the local economy, and the region’s rich agricultural heritage. Formally trained in painting, photography, printmaking and textile design, Jaclyn is a true artist that can put her creative sensibilities to work through any medium.
A tabletop design from Jaclyn (c) Clane Gessel
She writes this manifesto on her web site: Our work thrives where art + nature collide. Our passion for design, fine art, and fashion is balanced by a lifelong love relationship with the wild, mysterious natural world. Articulating this fine balance is what motivates our work.
We love and respect our local flower farmers. Through our commitment to using seasonal and locally sourced materials, we strive to honor the earth, our local economy, and our region’s rich agricultural heritage. Celebrating the diversity of people and their extraordinary stories is what makes our work meaningful.
May 25th, 2016
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When I was a teenager, I dreamed of someday owning a fabric shop. For many of you, I’m guessing that dream was to own a flower shop. How many of you ad a similar dream and realized it? Being able to work around flowers — whether you grow them, design with them, or do both, and ultimately selling them to satisfied customers — is clearly one reason you’re in this business, right?
Love this jumbo red-white-and-blue array, and if you look closely, LauraLee is peering out from behind it!
Today’s guest is definitely one of those flower fanatics whose also dreamt of opening a flower shop You’ll enjoy the story and perhaps it will inspire you! Please meet LauraLee Symes, owner of the Sellwood Flower Company in Portland, Oregon, a Slowflowers.com member.
Specializing in flowers, gifts and plants, Sellwood Flower Co. is an inviting place, located in a century-old Victorian house on Antiques Row, in the Southeast Portland neighborhood also called Sellwood.
Love the black-and-white awning stripes, which are part of Sellwood Flower Co.’s visual brand evoking a Parisian flower shop.
There, you’ll find LauraLee and her team tending their blooms in the garden just outdoors from their neighborhood shop filled for fresh, local flowers and plants, European and garden style floral design, and unique gifts from around the world.
LauraLee says she has been messing around with flowers since she was a little girl growing up on the family farm in Scholls, Oregon. Her other passion, happiness – or, more specifically, the study of what makes people happy – led her to pursue a bachelors degree in psychology, a masters in organizational development, and a career as a counselor and consultant to both individuals and business organizations.
Flower lover, LauraLee Symes of the Sellwood Flower Co.
Her most recent venture, the Sellwood Flower Co., is a marriage of her two passions, a Parisian-styled flower shop specializing in creative arrangements of fresh, local blooms and whimsical gifts curated to inspire joy and delight in her customers.
“I spend a whole lot of time thinking about, looking at, and dreaming of more creative ways to use the crazy abundance of plant life that surrounds us here in the Northwest. I look at a handful of flowers and I see a handful of happiness!”
In addition to being a busy entrepreneur and business owner, LauraLee hosts frequent floral design workshops and writes a blog on ideas and trends in the flower industry. She and her husband Bill live and work in the historic Sellwood neighborhood in southeast Portland, Oregon.
What a wonderful evening — meeting and sharing our mutual passion at the Slow Flowers Meetup @Sellwood Flower Co.
I was in Portland last month for a series of events, including a Slowflowers.com meetup at Sellwood Flower Co., which I co-hosted with LauraLee.
We enjoyed meeting and reuniting with such a great group of flower friends — flower farmers, studio florists, retail shop owners — all who care about sourcing local and domestic botanicals for their businesses. I was so encouraged by the turnout and I especially thank LauraLee for sharing her beautiful store and nursery grounds for our gathering.
We shared Slow Flowers books & resources with our community
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 98,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.
Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.
The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.
May 24th, 2016
New Covent Garden Flower Market wins RHS Chelsea Gold medal and New Design Award with ‘Behind Every Great Florist’, the show-stopping debut design by Veevers Carter
Chelsea pensioner Dewi Treharne poses with a floral tribute to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth for her 90th birthday desinged by florist Veevers Carter on the New Covent Garden Flower Market stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 in London, UK Monday May 23, 2016. RHS / Luke MacGregor
· The Flower Market travels a mile up stream to the RHS Chelsea Flower show to win Chelsea Gold & New Design Award with design by Veevers Carter, one of London’s most innovative floral design and event styling companies
· Flower Market’s floral tribute to HM the Queen is the most published image of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show
· 360˚ floral installation illustrates the bond between London’s Flower Market and its customers
In its first ever Chelsea appearance as an exhibitor, New Covent Garden Flower Market has scooped an RHS Chelsea Gold medal and the New Design Award for the dramatic floral installation – ‘Behind Every Great Florist’ – that is taking the RHS Chelsea Flower Show by storm, and making the news pages worldwide. Designed and created by Veevers Carter, one of London’s leading florists, event companies and a devoted customer of the Flower Market, the exhibit illustrates the close ties that bind Flower Market traders and their customers in flowering London and is a spectacular tribute to HM the Queen.
Why is this so cool?
Well, the Flower Market’s expert wholesalers have been quietly supplying the cut flowers, foliage, plants and floral sundries for award-winning Chelsea show gardens and exhibits for decades, but had never exhibited before this year. Every single stem on the ‘Behind Every Great Florist’ installation has come from the flower and foliage wholesalers at New Covent Garden Flower Market, including beautiful British-grown flowers.
“We are absolutely thrilled and proud to have won a coveted Chelsea Gold medal and the RHS Chelsea New Design Award on our first ever exhibit at the show,” said Helen Evans, Director of Communications at Covent Garden Market Authority (and past guest of the Slow Flowers Podcast–listen to our interview here).
“We wanted our exhibit to highlight the vital relationship between London’s iconic wholesale Flower Market and the talented independent florists who flower London. As a devoted customer of the Flower Market for over three decades, Veevers Carter instantly understood the concept and their design for ’Behind Every Great Florist’ encapsulates this in a spectacularly creative way.”
“We are absolutely overwhelmed that our installation for the Flower Market has been awarded not only an RHS Chelsea Gold medal but also the New Design Award,” said Ming Veevers-Carter, Creative Director of Veevers Carter. “’Behind Every Great Florist’ has been such an exciting and inspirational project, and our combined creative team of florists, designers and production staff have worked incredibly hard over the past six months to make it a reality. The response to our Chelsea debut has been just staggering, and I am so proud of what we’ve achieved.”
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth views a floral tribute to her for her 90th anniversary, desinged by florist Veevers Carter, on the New Covent Garden Flower Market stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 in London, UK Monday May 23, 2016. RHS / Luke MacGregor
On the Royal tour of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, New Covent Garden Flower Market was honoured by a visit by HM the Queen, who was photographed in front of her three-metre-high floral portrait, containing 10,000 cut flowers and and foliages.
The opposite side of the New Covent Garden display is covered top-to-bottom with buckets of flowers and foliage, as you would find on the floor of the wholesale flower market.
‘Behind Every Great Florist’ is the story of two sides intrinsically bound together in flowering London: London’s famous wholesale Flower Market on one side and its customers, independent florists, on the other. On the Market side, the Flower Market is represented in a vast wall of 112 market buckets, iconic symbols of the Flower Market, each densely packed with fragrant green and white flowers and foliage echoing the massed displays at New Covent Garden Market. The uniformity of the rows breaks down towards the middle, as the buckets and flowers are pulled into a central core. Emerging on the opposite side, the Florist side, the flowers erupt in a breathtaking riot of colour; tiers of fragrant floral tapestry forming the iconic portrait of HM the Queen, representing the exquisite craft and creativity of London’s great florists.
Among the varieties of flowers and foliages on the Market side: philadelphus, freesias, arums, hydrangeas, lilies, guelder rose, lilac, freesias, tulips, phlox, lisianthus, phalaenopsis, hyacinths, carnations, roses, spray roses, gerbera, alstroemeria, euonymus, chrysanthemums, chincherinchee, skimmea, camellia, senecio.
On the Florist side, the massed tapestry of flowers includes hydrangea, delphinium, gladioli, clematis, sweet peas, anemones, lilac, carnations, lisianthus, gentians, phlox, cymbidium, gerberas, sweet williams, bouvardia, roses, arum lilies, chrysanthemums, snapdragons, ranunculus, alstroemeria, hyacinths, freesias, mokara and flag iris.
About New Covent Garden Flower Market www.newcoventgardenmarket.com
New Covent Garden Flower Market is the UK’s largest Flower Market and supplies 75% of London’s florists. The Market flowers London and its customers range from small high-street shops, florist studios and flower stalls to high-end corporate, hotel and event florists.
New Covent Garden Market is currently going through an exciting redevelopment project. It will see the Flower Market relocate a few hundred metres down Nine Elms Lane where work has already started to build a new, better home for flowers. The new Flower Market will open in January 2017 and will ensure the wholesalers continue to flower London, and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, for many years to come.
About Veevers Carter www.veeverscarter.com
Veevers Carter is one of London’s largest and most prestigious floral design and events companies. Established in 1984 by Ming Veevers Carter, the company has a fully-fledged team of florists, designers and operational staff that, alongside their sister company Event Concept, can realise an event of any size to an exceptional standard.
Veevers Carter works with some of London’s most sought-after venues and have built an enviable client list of corporate organisations, event organisers and private individuals both in the UK and internationally. This is among one of the most exciting projects the two companies have ever worked on.
May 18th, 2016
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Kit Wertz (left) and Casey Schwartz (right), sisters and design partners in Flower Duet, photographed at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA, April 2016.
A few weeks ago you heard my conversation with Mike A. Mellano of Mellano & Co., a third generation flower farm in based in San Luis Rey, California. If you missed that episode, check it out here.
Mike was our farmer-host of the 2nd Field to Vase Dinner held at the famed Flower Fields in Carlsbad, north of San Diego, on April 13th. We discussed his Italian heritage that brought grandfather Giovanni Mellano to the U.S., as well as the founding of Mellano & Co. in 1928. We also talked about the current landscape for American grown flowers and attempted to forecast the future of our domestic flower-farming renaissance.
The Flower Duet design team on camera at The Flower Fields.
Today’s guests were also intimately involved in that dinner and they are part of the reason why Mike and I feel so optimistic about the future.
It is designers like Casey Coleman Schwartz and Kit Wertz, partners in Flower Duet, who are making a conscious effort to source their flowers and foliage from local farms in Southern California.
The beautiful Field to VaseDinner table amid a sea of ranunculus, designed by Flower Duet.
Sisters, Casey and Kit were the featured floral designers who created a lush, textural tablescape, wowing 150 guests seated at a farm table stretching between rows of a rainbow of Mellano-grown ranunculus. So the following morning we sat down to record this conversation.
My 2013 visit to Flower Duet led to a blossoming new friendship with Casey (left) and Kit (right).
I’ve known Kit and Casey for three years, ever since they reviewed Slow Flowers for their Flower Duet monthly newsletter.
That prompted me to ask the sisters if I could schedule a book-release event at their studio as part of my Southern California tour in spring 2013. They generously agreed and we had a wonderful evening demonstration, reception and book signing for clients, students and friends.
Rich floral hues and a gold vessel, by Flower Duet.
It has been a load of fun to watch these two floral entrepreneurs take on a wide array of creative projects, including teaching at some of Southern California’s top cultural institutions, designing weddings from San Diego to Santa Barbara and everywhere between, and sharing their expertise and passion with others.
May 13th, 2016
Certified American Grown Proudly Sponsors First Lady’s Luncheon
First Lady Michelle Obama makes remarks to an enthusiastic crowd at the Washington DC Hilton, as she is surrounded by American grown flowers.
The Certified American Grown program was a proud sponsor of the 2016 First Lady’s Luncheon held May 12 in Washington, D.C.
An annual tradition hosted by the Congressional Club since 1912 to honor the first lady of the United States, the luncheon is attended by over 1,500 people, including Congressional spouses, associates of members of Congress and Cabinet members.
The Certified American Grown program worked with the Congressional Club’s First Lady’s Luncheon Committee to help ensure that 100 percent of the flowers and foliage used during this year’s event were American Grown. With beautiful stems of flowers and greens from California, Oregon, Washington, Florida and Virginia, over 200 centerpieces and arrangements filled the Washington Hilton Ballroom in a theme of “Posh, Peach, Southern Hospitality.”
“This was a tremendous honor and opportunity for America’s flower farmers,” said Kasey Cronquist, administrator of the Certified American Grown program.
“We commend the Congressional Club’s decision to seek and source blooms grown here in the United States for such a wonderful tradition of honoring our first lady.”
The bouquets featured beautiful American Grown roses, peonies, stock, tulips, lilies, protea, Bells of Ireland, alstromeria, bupleurum, dianthus, freesia, lisianthus, ranunculus, viburnum, waxflower, ferns, leatherleaf and curly willow.
Representing American Grown from left to right are Daevid Reed, Tim Dewey,
Bill Frymoyer, Diana Roy, David Register, Lane DeVries, Kasey Cronquist, David Beahm and seated are Andrea Gagnon, Debra Prinzing and Rita Jo Shoultz
The centerpieces were designed by Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Studios, a Certified American Grown farmer, floral designer and American Grown Council member. David Beahm Experiences of New York carried out Gagnon’s vision and provided logistical support for this large and prestigious floral installation.
Each year, the luncheon supports a nonprofit of the first lady’s choice. Funds raised from this year’s event will go to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, an advocacy, research, education and service unit that provides support for both professional and family caregivers. Centerpieces were purchased by attendees to help raise those funds.
May 10th, 2016
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Jordan Uth of Heidrun Meadery, Horticulturist & Flower Farmer, shows off the fresh spring bouquet made in collaboration with Heather Frye of Venn Floral.
I’m really excited to share today’s episode with you, recorded during my two-day trip in March into a special kind of floral wonderland to meet the farmers, florists and growers of Sonoma County, north of San Francisco.
It’s our third episode featuring members of the North Bay Flower Collective who invited me to spend time touring flower farms, visiting design studios and learning more about the stories of their community.
Community is the operative word here, because there is such an intense, intentional and caring sense of purpose that the Collective embodies.
The idyllic landscape beyond Heidrun Meadery in Pt. Reyes Station, California.
We recorded this segment at quite an amazing place in Pt. Reyes Station, California, where Daniele Strawn (my escort for the visit – and you’ll hear her voice occasionally), and I arrived on the morning of March 15th.
The place is called Heidrun Meadery, a beautiful destination that produces an old-world Champagne-style honey wine. There is a tasting bar, a garden patio, a greenhouse, bee garden and honey, as well as the magnificent fermented honey wine.
Heather Frye (left) of Venn Floral and Jordan Uth (right) of Heidrun Meadery, two members of the North Bay Flower Collective’s core group.
Welcoming us were today’s two guests, Jordan Uth, Heidrun’s flower farmer and floral designer, and Heather Frye, co-owner of Venn Floral, an event floral and styling service based in Sebastapol.
Do the math!!! Plant and grow flowers!!
The surprising array of Mead featuring nectar varietals grown or tended to by Jordan Uth.
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