Episode 267: Marybeth Wehrung of Stars of the Meadow Flower Farm and Hudson Valley’s emerging community of flower farmers
October 19th, 2016
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.
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.
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.
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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.