Episode 407: Kicking off American Flowers Week with the Washington (State) Flowers Project
June 26th, 2019
If you’re a regular listener to this Podcast, you know that we’re gearing up for a very exciting series of activities this week and next, all centered around American Flowers Week, June 28-July 4.
All across the US, our members are planning floral education and promotion activities on their farms and communities, in local shops and studios, in grocery store floral departments and wholesale florist branches. Each event stimulates and nurtures the conversation about local, seasonal and domestic flowers, floral agriculture and sustainable design. If you have something planned, please post it on the Events Page at American Flowers Week web site. We all want to know what you’re planning!
In my own corner of the country, here in Seattle, the Slow Flowers Community threw a fun party and celebration a little early on Wednesday, June 26th, which is the peak market day of the week at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, the farmer-to-florist regional wholesale hub that has so greatly influenced me and my Slow Flowers mission.
We’re throwing a red-white-and-blue floral party to celebrate local flowers – complete with a large-scale floral installation, music, refreshments and a few surprises. A special thank you to the Washington State Farm Bureau for providing underwriting for the event.
The timing couldn’t be better to welcome today’s guest, Laura Ridenour of the Washington State Department of Agriculture. She works for the Small-Farm Direct Marketing and Farm-to-School Program as part of WSDA’s Regional Markets division. Laura and her colleagues, along with their collaborators at the Washington State Farm Bureau, are aligning with American Flowers Week to announce the brand new Washington Flowers Project.
This project aims to raise the profile and advance the marketing of Washington-grown cut flowers and is a collaborative effort of WSDA’s Regional Markets team and the Washington State Farm Bureau. The project is funded by a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant and runs 2017-through 2019. Slow Flowers has joined the project as a supporter and stakeholder.
There is a beautiful new logo that growers and retailers are invited to use on sleeves and other packaging — depicting Washington state’s outline with graphic flowers and lettering that reads Washington Flowers.
The campaign also has its own social media presence on Facebook and Instagram and there are a couple fun hashtags you’ll want to use or follow — #washingtonflowers, #WAflowers and #localflowersmakelifebetter.
There is a lot to learn from this state-specific project, which Laura and I will discuss today. She and I both strongly believe that the format and elements of the Washington Flowers Project can be adapted and replicated by any of you in any of your states — and we encourage you to download the resources I’ll share to set up a meeting with your own department of agriculture or farm bureau to explore and seek funding for a similar campaign.
One exciting component of the Washington Flowers Project is a Grocery Pilot program aiming to connect flower growers to new markets and sell more locally-grown cut flowers and foliage at Northwest Independent Grocers stores via Charlie’s Produce, a regional distributor of perishable food and flowers.
To launch the pilot, Washington Flowers hosted a live webinar. The positive outcome of this pilot is that approximately 60 NW Independent Grocers’ stores are participating; local flowers will appear in ads and point-of-purchase stories; from June through September, these grocery stores will stock approximately 300 cases per week of Washington-grown blooms and bouquets.
I couldn’t be happier to see this groundswell of interest in local flowers take place in my own state! And I so want to see something just like this campaign come to your state – so take inspiration! And huge congrats to WSDA and Washington Farm Bureau for creating so many useful and vital resources – now available for you to read and download.
More Resources discussed in today’s conversation:
Three resources all growers may wish to take a look into are matching grants, that are allocated via the Farm Bill:
- The EQUIP grant (Environmental Quality Incentives Program), from Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS):
- offers financial assistance in the form of a matching grant for high-tunnels (plastic greenhouses) for season extension.
- A High Tunnel System, commonly called a “hoop house,” is an increasingly popular conservation practice for farmers, and is available with financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
- Contact the local NRCS office for more information:
- USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant: The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).”
In Washington, you can search the WSDA website, agr.wa.gov.
- USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant program offers business delveopment support for grower groups interested in forming a marketing cooperative, as long as the coop is located in a rural area. https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-cooperative-development-grant-program
Laura Ridenour at firstname.lastname@example.org
Suzanne Carson at Washington.email@example.com.
Thank you to our Sponsors
Arctic Alaska Peonies. We’re so pleased that Arctic Alaska Peonies has returned for 2019 as a Slow Flowers Podcast sponsor and this is the week that their Coop’s member farms are harvesting and beginning to fulfill orders for bigger, better, beautiful peonies from Alaska to you. Chris Beks jumped on the line with me to share a preview of the start of Alaska Peony Season. You’ll hear our conversation at the top of this episode.
Based in Madras, Oregon, NW Green Panels designs and constructs a wide array of wood-framed greenhouses offering versatility, style and durability. Their greenhouses are 100% Oregon-made using twin-wall polycarbonate manufactured in Wisconsin, making NW Green Panel structures a great value for your backyard. The 8×8 foot Modern Slant greenhouse has become the essential hub of my cutting garden — nwgreenpanels.com to see more. This month, take advantage of NW Green Panels’ online special — save 10% off any model. That’s a great savings — and reach out if you have any questions about my experience with this cool greenhouse maker.
Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, their flower farmers and staff. What an incredible group of professionals who are 100% committed to changing the floral landscape in the Pacific Northwest – and beyond. I’m so grateful for their sponsorship of American Flowers Week, especially our fabulous celebration today, which required huge amounts of time and a generous donation of their space and floral product to make happen. This farmer-owned cooperative is committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. Its mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Visit them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com.
Florists’ Review magazine. 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 subscription offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community at debraprinzing.com
Our theme for 2019 – Fifty States of Slow Flowers – is taking a week off, sadly, because I wasn’t able to find a Mississippi voice to share with you. We’ll move on to Missouri next week and who knows? I might be able to circle back to Mississippi later this year.
Well, it’s been a busy week and I thank you for taking the time to pop in the ear buds and join the Slow Flowers Podcast. Thank you to 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 in the column to the right.
By the time you hear from me next week, we will have wrapped up the third annual SLOW FLOWERS SUMMIT.
It’s not too late to join ME and our vibrant and engaging lineup of presenters on July 1st and 2nd in St. Paul, Minnesota. Day-of tickets are still available, so check out slowflowerssummit.com to grab your space and join me!
And next week, I will announce the location and dates of the 2020 Slow Flowers Summit so you can immediately mark it on your calendar and save the date! So excited to reveal those details soon!
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 485,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.
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.
Color Country; Heartland Flyer; Betty Dear; Gaena; Perspiration
by Blue Dot Sessions
Lovely by Tryad http://tryad.bandcamp.com/album/instrumentals
In The Field
Music from: audionautix.com