Episode 326: Solstice Garden Gatherings and the Farm to Flower Shop trend with Barbara Rietscha of Boston’s Field & Vase
December 6th, 2017
Today, you will hear from two guests: Sue Nevler, an incredibly active gardening friend from the Pacific Northwest and national public horticulture scene who will share about the Solstice Garden Gatherings on December 21st, and Stow, Massachusetts-based Barbara Rietscha of Stow Greenhouses, which has rebranded as Field & Vase in Boston — yet another flower farm branching into retail floristry. I’m so excited to share these interviews with you!
We’re getting close to the end of 2017 and for many of you, that means reflecting on the meaning of one’s work, on the relevance and purpose that we seek to have, and on the relationships that define us.
This all came together for me Sunday evening at the latest Slow Flowers Meet-Up. Over the course of 2017, I’ve gathered with our Slow Flowers Community in towns and cities across North America, listening, learning, sharing, connecting in places as diverse and wonderful as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Toronto, Ontario; Missoula, Montana; Guilford, Connecticut; Providence, Rhode Island, and yes, Seattle.
It was such a joy to have a hometown (for me) Meet-Up and I am so happy that 14 folks in Seattle’s Slow Flowers community joined the festivities — flower farmers whose blooms thrive in tiny urban lots or expansive rural acreage, food farmers who are diversifying in to cut flowers, floral designers who specialize in weddings, everyday deliveries or workshops, landscape designers exploring the floral industry and also wholesalers who represent the farmers and sell their bountiful harvest to local florists.
It was wonderful to watch the new relationships and connections take place over delicious food, clicking of glass, and laughter throughout. There was one moment when it all went into slow-motion, freeze-frame for me. I stood there in my kitchen and marveled at the goodwill being shared among new and old friends, people who have supported the Slow Flowers movement in their own work, aligning their brands with ours. It was special and truly overwhelming to see where this singular Slow Flowers idea has taken all of us.
Last week I recorded a short interview that I want to start today’s episode. It will, I hope, inspire you to take a step or make a gesture in your own community as we approach the Winter Solstice, the holiday season and the New Year around the corner.
Sue Nevler (seen above), calls herself a gardening advocate. In 2016, Sue created an event called Solstice Garden Gatherings — and I shared the idea on an episode of this podcast last December. Solstice Garden Gatherings has gained momentum and support across the world, and I’m so glad to see the idea of people who assemble with others in public and private gardens, or in a flower field, or on a farm. The objective is simple, but powerful. A gathering in support of peace, acceptance, understanding, and hope.
Beginning December 10th, this Sunday, there are several taking place in the Seattle area, including these:
Bellevue Botanical Garden (Garden D’Lights)
University of Washington Botanic Gardens ( CUH)
Days, dates, times and formats vary at all these, so check individual garden website’s for more details.
Please use the hash-tag #solsticegardengatherings if you attend or create a similar event in your community. She is eager to see this idea spread and will be encouraged by your posts.
Our main guest today is Barbara Rietscha of Field & Vase, a new venture of Stow Greenhouses, based in Stow, Massachusetts, in the Boston area.
Stow Greenhouses is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Dave Buchholz and Barbara Rietscha. In addition to growing and arranging flowers, they are raising three sons.
Barbara runs the day-to-day operations of the business and oversees everything from first seeding to final arrangement. Born in PA, Barbara had a circuitous route to flower farming. After graduating from college with a chemistry degree, she moved to Central Africa to teach farmers how to raise fish. When she returned home, Barb learned how to program computers and then moved to the business side of things and got her M.B.A. After the birth of her 2nd son, she took some time off to raise 3 sons until she and Dave bought the farm in 2010.
Barbara uses flowers and herbs grown on her farm as well as things foraged from the property. Her style is organic and natural and she likes to bring the garden to the vase whether it is for a bride, home or office. Barbara is motivated to educate her customers about the local flower movement as well as support local farms and businesses. She enjoys being outdoors and skiing and her retirement plan is traveling across the country in an Air Stream.
By day Dave is an IT professional at a large bank but by night, he is a plumber, electrician, carpenter – a whatever-it-takes to keep the farm running. He is also the patient voice of reason to Barb’s unbridled enthusiasm. Dave was born with skis on his feet, enjoys all forms of cycling and coaches the high school ultimate frisbee team.
This interview took place in early November because I was in the Boston-Providence area for about 48 hours to attend and speak at the New England Farmer-Florist Connection, a virtual FB group begun by Slow Flowers member Debbie Bosworth of Dandelion House Flower Farm. You can read more about our gathering at Flowers by Semia’s lovely Providence, RI studio in a column that Deb recently wrote for her blog for Mary Jane’s Farm.
I met up with Barbara at The Shops at Prudential Center, a major downtown retail hub, where I toured the two new Field and Vase retail spaces — a full-service shop and design studio on the lower level and a freestanding kiosk on the main level, in the heart of the retail hustle and bustle.
Barbara and Dave incubated their first retail venture two years ago at Boston Public Market, a year-round, indoor farmers’ market with 40 vendors and a New England-grown mandate. Success in that venue attracted the attention of developers at the tony Prudential Tower, and this past September, Field & Vase opened two locations there — a permanent kiosk in the heart of the mall’s central court and a full-service shop-studio that is large enough to accommodate custom design work, event production, client consultations and ongoing workshops.
I believe what Field & Vase is doing is closely aligned with what we’ve been recently documenting on this podcast, with farm-to-retail examples like Field and Florist in Chicago and Floriography in Albuquerque, NM. I know there are others, and hope to continue to capture your stories — get in touch and let me know what you’ve been doing!
Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 260,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.
I have an update on a technical glitch that some of you reported — involving the difficulty downloading past episodes from our show notes at Debraprinzing.com. We’ve done some troubleshooting, well, not me, but Bob Meador of Metric Media, who’s our webmaster, and the problem is fixed.
ITunes only posts the most recent 10 episodes of The Slow Flowers Podcast. If you’ve listened to those and are hungry for more, you can find the full archive at Debraprinzing.com. And now, there are new “play” or “download” buttons at the top of each episode. I hope this added convenience makes it easier for you to listen, be inspired, and share our content.
If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.
Thank you to family of sponsors
Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com
Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com
Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at longfield-gardens.com.
Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.
Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.
I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.
The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.