Episode 354: Flower Farming as a Major Career Change with Laughing Goat Farm’s Amy Brown
June 20th, 2018
So often I record my episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast over the phone or a Skype connection.
My guests voices are real and engaging, but we aren’t even able to see each other, let along the flowers and farms we’re discussing.
So you can imagine how fun it is to record in real time seated across the table or in a comfy corner in adjacent chairs.
Over Memorial Day weekend, I actually carved out a day for an on-location episode, with my visit to Laughing Goat Farm in Enumclaw, Washington.
The farm is owned by Amy and Steve Brown and they are passionate caretakers of a 10-acre former dairy farm in the shadow of Mount Rainier, southeast of Seattle.
While we live 30 minutes from one another, it took traveling to Fairbanks, Alaska in the dead of winter for the three of us to meet.
It was January 2017 and the Alaska Peony Growers Association invited me to speak at the winter conference. I met Amy and Steve and knew their farm’s name because they had just joined Slow Flowers. Their curiosity about peony farming drew them to the conference.
Since then, the couple has planted hundreds of beautiful peonies, as well as ornamental woody shrubs, perennials, annuals and edibles at Laughing Goat Farm. It is an emerging farm with big ambitions and the talents of two people who have realized business success in other fields – Steve in Real Estate and Amy in the fascinating world of ballroom dancing. So this new chapter is one they cherish because they can do it together.
As Amy writes on Laughing Goat Farm’s FB page, “we grow organic seeds for flowers, as well as food, and are members of Slow Flowers. Our sustainable farm is geared towards organic and permaculture practices.”
You’ll find their story so fascinating — farming drew both Amy and Steve to this place where flowers grow in orderly beds and tunnels and they cherish the sustainable, delicious and fragrant life they are building together.
I’m so happy to share this conversation with you. Enjoy photos of the farm, the goats, the flowers and the fields at Laughing Goat Farm.
I’m predicting big things for this young farm. Selfishly, I’m so happy it’s close to me. Laughing Goat Farm is selling some of its harvest through the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market and direct to florists closer to the farm.
Thank you so much for joining me today. After I spent the day with Steve and Amy, including joining them for an incredibly delicious and satisfying lunch together at one of their veggie clients’ restaurants, I came home with a bucket of red charm peonies, white orlaya and blue bachelors’ buttons. What do you think I intended to do with those stems? Yes, I spent a pleasant afternoon creating red-white-and-blue floral arrangements in anticipation of American Flowers Week.
Join me in creating a R-W-B bouquet of your own! There are many ways you can participate in American Flowers Week, coming up June 28-through-July 4th. I can’t wait to see what you plan and product — and I’ll be searching for your stories and posts with the hashtag #americanflowersweek.
As you’ve heard me discuss for months, the Slow Flowers Summit is our LIVE celebration of American Flowers Week, scheduled for Friday, June 29th in Washington, D.C.
Only a few seats are left and I’d love your presence at the Summit, as we seek to bring together a diversity of voices, practices and personal stories that together make the Slow Flowers Community so vibrant.
Take advantage of last-minute ticket promotions, including our plus-one discounted ticket — buy yours and bring a friend along at a special rate — share the day with a colleague and your ideas will multiply! I promise you an inspiring lineup of speakers, gorgeous flowers, fun and interactive design activities and of course, a chance to stretch your imagination in a thought-provoking and stimulating environment.
I am grateful to all our entire community of flower farmers and floral designers who together define the Slow Flowers Movement. As our cause gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button at debraprinzing.com in the right column.
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 328,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening, commenting, liking and sharing! It means so much.
Thank you to our sponsors who have supported Slow Flowers and all of our programs.
Florists’ Review. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market. Take advantage of the special offer for a free trial issue.
Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of passionate family farms in the heart of Alaska providing bigger, better 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.
Mayesh Wholesale Florist. Family-owned since 1978, Mayesh is the premier wedding and event supplier in the U.S. and we’re thrilled to partner with Mayesh to promote local and domestic flowers, which they source from farms large and small around the U.S. Learn more at mayesh.com.
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.
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 soundbodymovement.com. Special thanks to Stephen Yaussi for taking over editing duties for the coming weeks while Andrew is abroad.