Debra Prinzing

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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

Slow Flowers Creative Workshop with Russian River Flower School

October 27th, 2016

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Our wonderful group, from left: Dundee, Naomi, Julia, Susan, Kate, Debra & Emily, photogaphed in Dundee’s private garden in Healdsburg, CA

Dundee with her sweet Lab, "Joyce Muriel," who wasn't thrilled with her floral collar.

Dundee with her sweet Lab, “Joyce Muriel,” who wasn’t thrilled with her floral collar.

00539_DP_CreativeWorkshop-02 Earlier this month I had the distinct pleasure of teaching with Dundee Butcher of Russian River Flower School in Healdsburg, California.

This was a lovely chance to share the Floral Storytelling and Floral Memoir curriculum in one of the most inspiring places for followers of our Slow Flowers ethos.

I believe our inspiration comes from “place,” and there was no shortage of beautiful scenery, gorgeous botanicals and the most to-die-for studio space you’ve ever seen.

rrfsimg_2643 Dundee and her colleague Naomi Mcleod, along with their volunteer Vicki McFadden, hosted our workshop for two days in which we exercised our writing skills, stretched our perception of language, and stepped outside the comfort zones as florist-writers.

One of the participants said this about the value of the experience:

“The topic interested me since I have been on a mission to find where I am going with my business and how to incorporate our family farm and tell our story.

“I plan to use this as I update and rebrand my business and where I am going with it.”

 

Writing about flowers . . . it's kind of like meditation.

Writing about flowers . . . it’s kind of like meditation.

This is the third Creative Workshop and what I am finding most inspiring is how willing our participants suspend fear or apprehension and dive into unfamiliar exercises to express themselves through words. I salute everyone involved for the way they encouraged and supported one another — that makes a huge difference during any creative process, right?!

I love Kate's concentration as she writes about a dahlia!

I love Kate’s concentration as she writes about a dahlia!

What drew people to take this workshop and invest in themselves in a new way? Here’s a sampling of the reasons:

“I lost track of my connection to creativity. I could stand behind another designer and sell someone else’s work, but not my own. I want to use flowers to tell a story.”

“I became so separate from who I am, and I started thinking ‘what would I do if I could do anything I dreamed of?'”

Our writing exercises ranged from simple botanical descriptions (describe a rose without using the word rose, for example), to playing with new ways of naming color, to journaling about our earliest memory of nature, flowers or art. The ultimate goal? To identify our “why,” our “North Star,” our personal value system that underscores our brand.

READ MORE…

America’s Flower Farmers and Floral Designers Reveal “Slow Holiday Decor” Tips and Techniques Using Local and Seasonal Botanicals

October 26th, 2016

Use a grapevine wreath base to simplify DIY decor. Beth Syphers of Crowley House Flower Farm in Rickreall, OR, taught her student Kaylean Martin how to create a lush harvest wreath with foraged greens and more.

Use a grapevine wreath base to simplify DIY decor. Beth Syphers of Crowley House Flower Farm in Rickreall, OR, taught her student Kaylean Martin how to create a lush harvest wreath with foraged greens and more.

Rediscover dried flowers as they extend the harvest when winter arrives early, such as in Mt. Horeb, WI, where the Larsen family operates Sunborn Flower Farm and Florist.

Rediscover dried flowers as they extend the harvest when winter arrives early, such as in Mt. Horeb, WI, where the Larsen family operates Sunborn Flower Farm and Florist.

Put a twist on the ubiquitous carved pumpkin, cornucopia filled with gourds, or poinsettia plants wrapped in plastic and take inspiration from America’s flower farms, fields and meadows when you design for harvest, home and holiday, say members of Slowflowers.com.

 

NOTE: This is the first of six Editorial Packages that Slowflowers.com will produce in the 2016-2017 season.

Instead of predictable designs or palettes of the past, creative flower farmers and florists suggest fresh and unique seasonal options such as adding hot peppers or ornamental kale to autumn centerpieces or “planting” pumpkins with succulents for harvest tables.

Use everyday pumpkins as vases for seasonal flowers. Deb Bosworth of Dandelion House Flower Farm in Plymouth, MA.

Use everyday pumpkins as vases for seasonal flowers. Deb Bosworth of Dandelion House Flower Farm in Plymouth, MA.

Embellish novelty pumpkins and ornamental gourds with succulents and seashells. Kathleen Barber of Erika's Fresh Flowers in Warrenton, OR, suggests beginning with an unusually colored or textured pumpkin.

Embellish novelty pumpkins and ornamental gourds with succulents and seashells. Kathleen Barber of Erika’s Fresh Flowers in Warrenton, OR, suggests beginning with an unusually colored or textured pumpkin.

Decorate edible pumpkins with dried flowers. Jane Henderson of Commonwealth Farms in Concord, N.C., decorates pumpkins with foraged and dried flowers, feathers, seed heads and pods, creating a long-lasting harvest arrangement that is far easier than carving.

Decorate edible pumpkins with dried flowers. Jane Henderson of Commonwealth Farms in Concord, N.C., decorates pumpkins with foraged and dried flowers, feathers, seed heads and pods, creating a long-lasting harvest arrangement that is far easier than carving.

Come December, Slowflowers.com designers say “Season’s Greetings” is best communicated with updated florals, including snowy white palettes or traditional red-and-green bouquets containing elegant lilies.

Create a snowy scene with whites and silvery hues. Betany Coffland of Chloris Floral in Sonoma County, California, designed a winter-themed arrangement using white and pink Queen Anne's lace, white statice and silver dollar eucalyptus foliage.

Create a snowy scene with whites and silvery hues. Betany Coffland of Chloris Floral in Sonoma County, California, designed a winter-themed arrangement using white and pink Queen Anne’s lace, white statice and silver dollar eucalyptus foliage.

Add scarlet leaves and ornamental grains to convey autumn's rich palette. Hannah Morgan of Fortunate Orchard in Seattle, WA, tucked vibrant foliage from local maple, oak and liquidambar trees into seasonal centerpieces.

Add scarlet leaves and ornamental grains to convey autumn’s rich palette. Hannah Morgan of Fortunate Orchard in Seattle, WA, tucked vibrant foliage from local maple, oak and liquidambar trees into seasonal centerpieces.

Transform the holiday table, front porch or fireplace mantel with local and seasonal flowers. Nothing is fresher or more long-lasting than just-picked botanicals.The best harvest, home and holiday florals begin with the source, says Debra Prinzing, founder and creative director of Slowflowers.com, which promotes American grown flowers.

READ MORE…

Episode 268: Where are they now? Updates Mary Kate Kinnane of Rhode Island’s The Local Bouquet and Heidi Joynt & Molly Kobelt of Chicago’s Field & Florist

October 26th, 2016

2up One of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced since launching the Slow Flowers Movement has been meeting emerging floral entrepreneurs and witnessing how their businesses flourish. Today, we’re returning to two floral enterprises featured on previous episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast to share updates with you.

First, you’ll hear from Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet in Little Compton, Rhode Island, and next you’ll hear a conversation with Molly Kobelt and Heidi Joynt of Field & Florist, which operates a Chicago design studio and a Three Oaks, Michigan-based flower farm.

Mary Kate Kinnane, The Local Bouquet, our return guest.

Mary Kate Kinnane, The Local Bouquet, our return guest.

Mary Kate and The Local Bouquet were originally featured in Episode 138, which aired April 2014.

You’ll hear our follow-up discussion about how the business changed from a partnership with Maureen Azize, Mary Kate’s sister-in-law, to a sole proprietorship.

Mary Kate and I will discuss the pain and pleasure of going solo — and what that has meant as she also juggles three small children and the demands of countless wedding clients.

Here’s more about The Local Bouquet, from the web site:

A MISSION TO SUPPORT THE AMERICAN FLOWER FARMER

At The Local Bouquet we have taken the two things we love; weddings and fresh, seasonal flowers and combined them to bring you the most beautiful designs for your special day. We are committed to creating gorgeous floral decor that compliments the chosen time of year of your wedding using 100% local and American-grown flowers only.

The Local Bouquet's American Grown Weddings -- love this slogan!

The Local Bouquet’s American Grown Weddings — love this slogan!

Design by The Local Bouquet ~ lovely!!

Design by The Local Bouquet ~ lovely!!

A beautiful bridal bouquet designed by The Local Bouquet's Mary Kate Kinnane.

A romantic bridal bouquet designed by The Local Bouquet’s Mary Kate Kinnane.

The Local Bouquet’s ingredients are gathered or foraged fresh from flower fields and sourced from local flower farmers.

Mary Kate believes that origin matters and values providing unique, fresh, and stunning flowers that are eco-conscience and organic.

“We think flowers should come from local farms and free of chemicals,” she writes.

“That is why we are committed to the field to vase movement that is happening across the United States as we celebrate local flowers and American flower farmers!”

FLOWERS FROM THEIR FARM

The second part of today’s episode features Field & Florist’s Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt.

The women were my podcast guests for Episode 148 in July 2014.

I photographed this portrait of Heidi Joynt (left) and Molly Kobelt (right) behind the Jam Handy Building in Detroit. Isn't it cool that the signage "Miracles" frames this shot? I totally unexpected detail.

I photographed this portrait of Heidi Joynt (left) and Molly Kobelt (right) behind the Jam Handy Building in Detroit. Isn’t it cool that the signage “Miracles” frames this shot? I totally unexpected detail.

At the time, these entrepreneur farmer-florists were farming on their second piece of land, owned by a friend of a friend outside Chicago. Wow, a lot has changed in 2016, with Field & Florist’s move last fall to a larger parcel of land in Three Oaks, Michigan. In the works for a while, the shift to a more permanent place to farm flowers has allowed Field & Florist to significantly scale its growing operation.

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The new farmland offers so much potential for Field & Florist’s expansion! (c) Jaclyn Simpson Photography

With the opportunity to experiment with spring greenhouse production of ranunculus, Icelandic poppies and more, a large increase in acreage for field production (peonies, garden roses, and of course, more dahlias) and the chance to wild-forage, the duo has continued to serve Chicago’s floral marketplace in year one of their new chapter.

Molly and Heidi at their new farm site.

Molly and Heidi at their new farm site. (c) Jaclyn Simpson Photography

From April-October Heidi and Molly grow and harvest direct from their farm. In the winter months, they source flowers from certified sustainable sources within the United States.

In 2015 Apartment Therapy included Field & Florist in its “Top 10 Under 40: Design & Food” and Martha Stewart Weddings named Field & Florist on its list of 62 Top Floral Designers. To quote Molly and Heidi on their blog post about the inclusion, “whoa”!

A beautiful centerpiece by Field & Florist

A beautiful centerpiece by Field & Florist (c) Levi & Val Photography

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Exquisite details in two designs by Field & Florist’s Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt. Left image (c) Roots of Life Photography; Right image (c) Jaclyn Simpson Photography

 

Here’s how to find and follow today’s guests:

The Local Bouquet on Facebook

The Local Bouquet on Instagram

The Local Bouquet on Pinterest

Field & Florist on Facebook

Field & Florist on Instagram

Field & Florist on Pinterest

Thanks for joining today’s conversation! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 126,000 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.

Flowers from Sonoma County inspired designs at the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop in October.

Flowers from Sonoma County inspired designs at the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop in October.

Wow, what a fabulous season we’re having for local flowers! So much creativity and beauty has been going on as many of you are closing up the season for field-grown flowers. The frost has arrived for many flower farmers, but the planning for off-season activities continues. And I love how much inventiveness is out there, extending through winter as you generate income and sustain your business model. For designers, florists and their clients, thoughts of harvest, home and holiday are top of mind.

By the time you hear this, Slowflowers.com will have released its first Editorial Content package to the media and yes, our imagery and story tips focused around harvest, home and holiday.

Our next package, Slow Valentine’s Day, will be released on January 5th but we need your submissions by December 1st. This package will highlight  romantic American-grown/Canadian-grown floral designs with an emphasis on domestic roses (as an alternative to imported ones) OR new botanical options for V-day. Participation is open to all Premium members on Slowflowers.com or for a nominal fee to Standard members. Look for details in our next Slow Flowers newsletter, out November 1st. And by the way, you can subscribe to the newsletter here.

sponsor-bar_sept_2016 Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2016: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens… providing home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

A fond thank you Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

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

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

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

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

Episode 267: Marybeth Wehrung of Stars of the Meadow Flower Farm and Hudson Valley’s emerging community of flower farmers

October 19th, 2016

My Visit to Hudson Valley Flower Growers Network was a blast! Educational and Informative!

My Visit to Hudson Valley Flower Growers Network was a blast! Educational and Informative!

stars Last week you learned about my September visit to the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina area, where I spent three days visiting local flower farmers and florists, including teaching a Slow Flowers Creative Workshop.

Just prior to that visit, I had a swift side trip, Saturday, September 17th, a drive from Philadelphia to Hudson Valley at the invitation of Marybeth Wehrung, of Stars of the Meadow. There is a lot happening in New York’s Hudson Valley farming scene and I’ve been eager to learn more!

I previously featured some of the voices of this region, which you may recall from Episode 189 when I interviewed Jenn Elliott and Luke Franco of Tiny Hearts Flower Farm in Copake, New York, and from Episode 233 when Gloria Collins of GBC Style and I discussed the transportation challenges between designers like her and flower farms in the Hudson Valley.

The land where Marybeth raises her beautiful cut flowers is owned by Back to Basics Farm in Accord, New York.

The land where Marybeth raises her beautiful cut flowers is owned by Back to Basics Farm in Accord, New York.

Marybeth Wehrung, Stars of the Meadow Farm.

Marybeth Wehrung, Stars of the Meadow Farm.

During the past two years the local flower farming landscape has greatly expanded, gathering up people like Marybeth and several others who now participate in the Hudson Valley Flower Growers Network. I joined up with some of the members last month in the town of Hudson, where we had a Slow Flowers “Meet-Up” and a great conversation about the state of their region, which I recorded to share with Slow Flowers Podcast listeners.

First you will hear a thirty-minute conversation I recorded at Back to Basics Farm in Accord, New York where Marybeth’s business, Stars of the Meadow, is based — she describes it as a “one-woman-powered-acre.” Stars of the Meadow offers locally and sustainably grown specialty cut flowers and foliage. Inspired by permaculture, biodynamics, and regenerative agriculture, Marybeth grows more than 100 seasonal varieties of lush, vibrant blooms, foliage, and herbs.

After we toured Marybeth’s microfarm, we drove about 30 minutes north to Hudson where we met others in the Hudson Valley Flower Growers Network.

Tending to dahlias with mesh bags -- a laborious process to keep these luxury blooms blemish-free for discerning clients.

Marybeth tends to dahlias with mesh bags — a laborious process to keep these luxury blooms blemish-free for discerning clients.

Before you have a listen, let me introduce those in addition to Marybeth who participated in the roundtable discussion:

First, you’ll meet Angela DeFelice of Rock Steady Farm & Flowers in Millerton, New York.

Angela grew up outside of Rochester, NY, in a small town surrounded by fields of corn, soybeans and cows. After studying ecological horticulture at the University of California Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems she worked two years at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project where she managed the low income CSA program. She went on to co-manage Huguenot Street Farm, a 12 acre Vegetable CSA farm in New Paltz, NY.

Angela was first introduced to flower growing while farming in California, and over time fell in love with the challenge and beauty of growing flowers — which brought her to Sol Flower Farm, where she built the cut flower enterprise from the ground up. Off the farm, Angela has a serious passion for dancing and wading ankle deep in creeks, catching salamanders.

Next, please meet April Kinser of April Flowers in Kingston, New York.

April and partner Brittinee Sideri began working together in 2013, combining a love of flowers with their backgrounds of working with flowers and the landscape, as well as years of event planning and management.

Trained as a visual artist, April designed the Celebrity Path at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and created several site-specific environmental  artworks in New York City and the Catskills. She is a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Architecture for her environmental installations. She has designed wedding flowers since 2006.

April grew up in Portland, Oregon, the City of Roses, and then moved to New York City to study art. She lived there for over 25 years before moving to the Hudson Valley in 2003.

And finally, you’ll hear from Jenny Elliott of Tiny Hearts Farm in Copake, NY. As you learned in our prior interview, Jenny farms with her husband Luke; she brought Emily, one of the farm’s designers, who you’ll also hear in this conversation.

By the time we finish up, this episode goes over 1 hour, so set aside plenty of time to listen. The Hudson Valley Flower Growers Network is part of an emerging phenomenon in our Slow Flowers community, as we’re witnessing regional floral hubs that make economic and geographic sense for those who yearn to share resources, contacts, knowledge and energy. I’m excited to bring these conversations to you today and I hope the voices you hear inspire you and, perhaps, prompt you to form a similar network in your area. There are many of you who have already done so — and I’d love to hear from you for a future episode of this Podcast.

PodcastLogo The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 123,000 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. We hope to produce transcripts of each episode, although it costs $50-$75 per episode to transcribe, edit and prepare for download. Your contributions will help make this possible and eventually, we’ll go back and transcribe the archives if we’re able to raise enough funds!

sponsor-bar_sept_2016 Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2016: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens… providing home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

A fond thank you Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

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

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

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

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

Episode 266: North Carolina’s Spring Forth Farm with Megan and Jonathan Leiss, Homesteaders and Flower Farmers

October 12th, 2016

Jonathan and Megan of Spring Forth Farm, a North Carolina homestead and sustainable flower farm. Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography

Jonathan and Megan of Spring Forth Farm, a North Carolina homestead and sustainable flower farm. Photo by Bethany Cubino, Chasing Skies Photography

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Earlier this year, in January, I received an email from Jonathan Leiss of Spring Forth Farm in Hurdle Mills, North Carolina. His message was ultimately responsible for today’s episode. After introducing himself, Jonathan wrote: “My favorite episodes are your interviews with farmers . . . I know you aren’t in the Southeast often, but if you are, I want to recommend the Durham-Chapel Hill area as a great place to visit to see the resurgence of local flowers on the small farm and the creative ways farmers and designers are building relationships with customers.”

I snapped these cute portraits of Jonathan and Megan at the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop in Durham last month (held at Pine State Flowers)

I snapped these cute portraits of Jonathan and Megan at the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop in Durham last month (held at Pine State Flowers)

The email continued as Jonathan listed many of the folks in the NC “Triangle” (which also includes Raleigh) who comprise the progressive flower farming and floral design community there.  I loved the inclusive point of Jonathan’s story — he told me about Spring Forth Farm and what he and his wife Megan are doing — and he listed florists and fellow farmers whose work is notable and worthy of my attention. “This is a very dynamic area for farming in general and right now that energy is reflected in the burst of local flowers on the market. If you are ever this way, please consider visiting . . . to see the energy of the American-Grown flower industry.”

Love the openness of this farm, with the blue of the sky and the blue farmhouse providing a consistent palette.

Love the openness of this farm, with the blue of the sky and the blue farmhouse providing a consistent palette.

It took some creativity with the scheduling and dozens of emails and a few phone calls, but that initial email from Jonathan sparked my interest in visiting an area of the country that I knew would teach me more about the Slow Flowers Movement. We have 23 Slow Flowers members in North Carolina and another five members in SC, so I felt the pull to connect on a more personal level.

Here's a quick group photo that we grabbed at the Slow Flowers Meet-Up before dusk.

Here’s a quick group photo that we grabbed at the Slow Flowers Meet-Up before dusk. We lost a few folks who were touring the flower field, but this is a representation of the amazing talent and passion of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area.

Last month, I flew to Raleigh after several other travel stops, including attending the Field to Vase Dinner at Thistle Dew Farm in Quakertown, Pennsylvania and spending the previous day in NY’s Hudson Valley with emerging flower farmers and florists in that region.

READ MORE…

Episode 265: Flowers in the Heartland with Adam and Jenn O’Neal of PepperHarrow Farm in Winterset, Iowa

October 5th, 2016

Jennifer and Adam O'Neal of PepperHarrow Farm, photographed during my September 2016 visit.

Jennifer and Adam O’Neal of PepperHarrow Farm, photographed during my September 2016 visit.

Early morning at PepperHarrow, as the sunrise glows behind the barn-studio.

Early morning at PepperHarrow, as the sunrise glows behind the barn-studio.

10846393_742697935817032_6622126312058960580_n I recently spent two days with farmer-florists Adam and Jennifer O’Neal at PepperHarrow Farm in Winterset, Iowa, where I combined a photo shoot for an upcoming issue of Country Gardens magazine with the chance to interview them for this podcast — how lucky for me, right?!

If you have any curiosity about where PepperHarrow Farm is located, think about that romantic novel and the 1995 movie, “The Bridges of Madison County,” starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. Maybe I’m dating myself, but it was a classic. The story and film are set in Winterset, Iowa.

It is a beautiful place to live and farm . . . and PepperHarrow Farm is everything you’d want in a homestead, with a charming farmhouse, a working farm with several useful outbuildings, access to “town” and the greater Des Moines urban core, which means it’s easy for PepperHarrow to supply a critical mass of flower customers within a 50 mile radius and to hold wedding consultations and teach workshops at their bucolic destination.

What a lovely experience I had getting to know these two farmer-florists (Nick Crow photogaph)

What a lovely experience I had getting to know these two farmer-florists (Nick Crow photogaph)

Jennifer and Adam O’Neal are local, hard-working green thumbs who cultivate fresh flowers and veggies on their 20-acre farm nestled among those covered bridges of Iowa’s Madison County.

A happy designer, holding an lush, abundant arrangement that he created for an upcoming issue of Country Gardens magazine

A happy designer, holding an lush, abundant arrangement that he created for an upcoming issue of Country Gardens magazine

Adam is originally from south Louisiana and spent his childhood days playing in his backyard, the swamps of a nature reserve. That early exposure to the outdoors grew into a love for being outside. One day he read an article about permaculture and the rest is history.

Jennifer O'Neal, a true flower gal! (Karla Conrad photograph)

Jennifer O’Neal, a true flower gal! (Karla Conrad photograph)

Iowa native Jennifer is a long time gardener who also inherited her Grandmother’s love of flowers. She grew up spending long summer days on her grandparent’s farm and in their garden. Her grandmother also spent every summer instilling floral design in Jennifer, doing flower arrangements with her for the local county fair. Jennifer now gets to bring her grandma to her farm to see the flower legacy continue and often delivers floral arrangements for her grandma to enjoy.

Flowers for the Market

Flowers for the Market

A PepperHarrow Farm design.

A PepperHarrow Farm design.

PepperHarrow's signature style -- lots of variety, beauty, and botanicals!

PepperHarrow’s signature style — lots of variety, beauty, and botanicals!

Sun-kissed sunflowers outside the barn-studio.

Sun-kissed sunflowers outside the barn-studio.

Quinlan O'Neal, whose "welcome" you hear on today's podcast episode; a grocery bouquet spotted in Des Moines.

Quinlan O’Neal, whose “welcome” you hear on today’s podcast episode; a grocery bouquet spotted in Des Moines.

The O’Neals are committed to sustainable farming practices that preserve and enhance the land. Their efforts to minimize the environmental impact and plan for self-sufficiency make their small farm a diverse and educational experience.

Jennifer and Adam

Jennifer and Adam

Follow these links to find Jennifer and Adam at these social places:

PepperHarrow Farm on Facebook

Jennifer on Instagram

Adam on Instagram

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There’s a lot to flower your soul and spirit, not to mention your creativity, in several forthcoming design opportunities, so perhaps I’ll see you at one of these events!!

Detroit Flower Week, October 11-15: Along with numerous members of the Slow Flowers Community, I’ll be joining Lisa Waud of The Flower House and pot & box at the inspiring floral convergence of design, art, farming and storytelling. Read more about Detroit Flower Week here.
Follow this link to grab your tickets!

The Slow Flowers Creative Workshop, October 17-18 at Russian River Flower School in Sonoma County California. Spaces are still available for this excellent program. Debra Prinzing will teach “floral storytelling” and partner with Dundee Butcher to use local flowers in our expanded design process that includes each student creating a video short for her or his own use. Details and registration link here. Click here to listen to a Q&A with Debra and Dundee as they discuss the workshop.

Flowerstock, hosted by Holly Chapple, a Slow Flowers member based in Virginia. She’s a designer, educator, founder of Chapel Designers, past guest of this podcast and also a flower farmer with her husband Evan on a new project called Hope Flower Farm.

Flowerstock includes two days of demonstrations and talks by renowned floral designers, a marketplace of vendors, flower playtime, live music, food trucks, barn dancing, campfires and glamping! Slow Flowers is pleased to sponsor this special gathering of our flower friends. We’re also thrilled that Holly and participants of Flower Stock will design and produce one of our Floral Style Fashion images for American Flowers Week 2017!  Find Flowerstock Details and registration link here.

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On October 16th, Slowflowers.com will sponsor and co-host the amazing Field to Vase Dinner coming up at Sunset Magazine’s beautiful new trial and demonstration gardens in wine country. I hope to see you there! The event florals will be designed by Slow Flowers member Alethea Harampolis of Studio Choo and Homestead Design Collective. Reserve your dinner ticket here!

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The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 121,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2016: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers. To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens… providing home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

A fond thank you Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com.

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

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

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