Debra Prinzing

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Episode 433: Our Year in Review – Slow Flowers’ 2019 Year in Review, Plus Our Wisconsin State Guest

December 26th, 2019

Let’s review 2 0 1 9 before we welcome the New Year!

Thank you for being part of the Slow Flowers Community and tuning into the Slow Flowers Podcast during 2019. I’m honored and humbled that you take time to join me each week — especially in the midst of an ever-more-crowded and cluttered environment for information.

Listenership of this program has grown more sizeable than ever. Last year at this time, I told you the Slow Flowers Podcast had been dowloaded more than 390,000 times since this show launched in July 2013. Fast-forward to today and that number has climbed to 560k. With an average monthly count of more than 14k episode-downloads, I’m incredibly encouraged that this Podcast remains relevant and essential, as we deliver the voices, stories and information you crave and enjoy.

Every single week this year; in fact, every single week for the past 334 weeks, it has been my privilege to feature heroes from the Slow Flowers community. Unlike any other internet radio show in existence, the Slow Flowers Podcast is tailored to you and your interests, making its “must-listen” programming a weekly habit among flower farmers and floral designers alike.

In producing and hosting the Slow Flowers Podcast, I seek out pioneers and personalities, style-makers and influencers — as well as unsung or little-known heroes — who together are changing the floral landscape, disrupting the status quo, and bringing flower sourcing and growing practices, not to mention eco-conscious design methods, to the center of the conversation.

A highlight of 2019 was our expansive and inclusive series: Fifty States of Slow Flowers! We’ve nearly made it through the entire alphabet — from Alabama’s Lisa Thorne of Thorne & Thistle to Wyoming’s Teresa Tibbets of Dandelion Floral — who you’ll hear next week on New Year’s Day.

This ambitious series doubled the number of Slow Flowers Podcast guests we brought to you in 2019. Thank you to each of our state guests for their willingness to share their personal floral narrative with listeners. Together their stories amplified the thriving message that our Slow Flowers Movement is taking place everywhere and anywhere that people, gardens, soil and sunshine exist.

Click here to find the full list of our Fifty States of Slow Flowers Guests

Click here to find our show archives dating back to the first episode, which aired on July 23, 2013.

Sally and Courtney, photographed just as they completed the upstairs kitchen at Flower House in 2015.

Today, we’ll start the show by introducing you to Wisconsin’s Sally Vander Wyst of The Milwaukee Flower Co.

Sally is a past guest of this podcast; you met her back in 2015 when I interviewed many of the floral artists who created botanical rooms for Flower House Detroit.

You can find that episode here, in which I spoke with several Flower House creators and teams.

Sally and her collaborator Courtney Stemberg discuss their design for the upstairs kitchen at Flower House, a beautiful botanical installation entitled: “Nature Takes Back.”

It’s so hard to believe here we are four years later — and Milwaukee Flower Co. has a lot of news to share!

Wisconsin’s Slow Flowers Community has always been a strong one and I’m grateful for  growers and designers who are committed to seasonal and local blooms in the upper midwest — including Sally Vander Wyst.

Sally Vander Wyst of Milwaukee Flower Co. — harvesting zinnias in her mini-farm/cutting garden

I’m so happy I could catch up with Sally – you’ll want to stay tuned for her return to this podcast when she has more to report on the upcoming “Floral Spectacle” — a collaboration with fellow Slow Flowers member Liz Egan of Floral Alchemy, also based in Milwaukee. The two are cooking up something big and flowery to occur during the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee next summer. I can’t wait to learn more.

Seasonal floral design by Milwaukee Flower Co.

Find and follow Milwaukee Flower Co.:
Milwaukee Flower Co. on Facebook
Milwaukee Flower Co. on Instagram

Find and follow Zap Bloom, Sally’s online “store” for budget-savvy event florals
Zap Bloom on Facebook
Zap Bloom on Instagram

Thank you for joining our Wisconsin conversation!

Left: A bridal bouquet featuring flowers from Milwaukee Flower Co.’s garden, from other Wisconsin farms and roses sourced from California. all-American grown (c) GE Creative; right: Sally in her cutting garden (c) @autumnsilvaphotography

Next up: As I have done since the beginning of 2014, I would like to devote today to the Slow Flowers Highlights of this past year. Next week, on January 1st, I will present the annual Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights and Industry Forecast for 2020.

Last year at this time, we reflected on the highlights of 2018 with 10 Top Themes. The sentiments I shared with you then are no truer today. In fact, given the world in which we live, they are more meaningful to me than ever. One year ago, I said this:

More than ever, I realize that making authentic human connections with you is what really matters. Each experience is more meaningful because of the relationships we forge with one another.”

Please know how valuable that statement is — relationships are the connective tissue that ties us together — no matter where we live geographically and no matter which role we play in the floral marketplace.

What did we do in 2019? Each of our four content channels and our live programming have added up to an incredible year of engagement, interactivity, relationships and more. The year began with the unveiling of our new Slow Flowers Society branding and web site — a central hub for all of our Slow Flowers projects.

Why the Society? Our focus hasn’t changed.

In fact, our mission continues:

“To change the flower sourcing practices of consumers and professionals through outreach and education that highlights the benefits of local, seasonal and domestic floriculture — and to build a movement that promotes cultivation and sales of those flowers while nurturing authentic connections between consumers, farmers, and florists.”

This name change was long in coming. Yet it didn’t happen impetuously or overnight. Launched at the start of 2019 when we were already turning a calendar page and thinking about a clean re-boot, the new Slow Flowers Society branding brings clarity to the Slow Flowers platform.

Since I wrote the book Slow Flowers, a lot has happened with these two words: Slow. Flowers.

These two words now symbolize an entire movement. A movement that hundreds of thousands of florists, flower farmers, retailers and designers use as short-hand to reflect their belief in local, seasonal and sustainably-grown botanicals.

After the book’s publication, and as it became clear to me that there was an opportunity to position Slow Flowers as an industry standard, new ideas inspired me to bring the following channels and programs to life. With five channels and programs, each of which has its own exclusive web site things were getting a little unruly. And truth be told, those individual and focused web addresses still exist and they are continually updated with dedicated content. By building a “front door” — via slowflowerssociety.com — we helped connect the dots for all of our activities. I hope you find it helpful, too.

About Slowflowers.com. With the help of Lisa Waud of pot + box, a longtime member and all-around organizational genius, I tackled a major cleanup of the Slow Flowers membership database in 2019, which allowed me to pivot the focus and energies of Slowflowers.com to support and encourage those of you who have invested your time, creativity and financial resources as members. We wrapped up 2019 with nearly 650 active and engaged members representing flower farmers, farmer-florists, designers, wholesalers, collectives, and more.

We recently established Slow Flowers International, an International Affiliate program for like-minded organizations in other countries. And it is with great pleasure that in 2019, our friends at SLOWFLOWERS ITALY joined as our first International Affiliate!

Founded in 2017, SlowFlowers Italy members are part of a network of professionals, of people who carry the values of respect and attention to the environment, local territories, traditions and community development.  Welcome and Congratulations! We can’t wait to partner with you in raising awareness about seasonality, sustainability and the benefits of supporting local floral agriculture!

Member Benefits

Slow Flowers is both a community and a branding platform and clearly, one of the most visible tools available to our members is Slowflowers.com, the online member directory. But there are so many other members benefit from your Slow Flowers’ association. Sharing those resources with you will be the focus of 2020 as we will use the Slow Flowers Podcast and the Slow Flowers Journal online magazine to feature ways to leverage your membership, and communicate the Slow Flowers member Values and Benefits.

I’ve found that the number one goal of our members is to tell and share their story, and because I’m a storyteller, we have lots of opportunities to shine a light on our members. In a marketplace filled with conventional flowers, our members are able to differentiate themselves and their floral enterprises by associating with the passion and mission of keeping flowers local, seasonal and sustainable — and inspiring the imagination of flower lovers and floral consumers who learn more about that narrative.

To that end, in 2019, we produced two year-long projects. Those series allowed me to feature Slow Flowers members all across the U.S. and Canada with special themes.

Visually, we featured the flowers grown and designed by Slow Flowers members who contributed to our monthly Houzz.com series in 2019. We planned a full year of Slow Flowers Galleries, with each month’s floral theme published as a “Best of” collection of design inspiration based around specific seasonal blooms. Check out this link to the full 2019 gallery. In all, we shared more than 250 floral images with Houzz.com readers — publishing an ongoing, consistent message that local and seasonal botanicals are superior.

Our other series, Fifty States of Slow Flowers, succeeded beyond all of my hopes and dreams. We were able to visit members in nearly every state — I think we skipped just two — and perhaps 2020 will allow me to catch up with the states we missed. But think about it — the chance to hear from flower farmers, floral designers and farmer-florists across North America also reinforces the significance of Slow Flowers. Click here to find the full list of our state guests for you to find and listen again.

MEDIA & PRESS

The big media news for Slow Flowers in 2019 happened when Wikipedia added an entry about Slow Flowers and the Slow Flowers Movement. This achievement was a long time in coming and it’s wonderful to see become a reality. As a digital information source, Wikipedia is of growing importance, primarily because it is a free, universal resource, one of the first examples of a usable encyclopedia that is built collaboratively by the public.

Today, when someone types “slow flowers” into their search engine, two entries appear: One is the directory Slowflowers.com, but typically, the Wikipedia story about Slow Flowers pops up first. It’s not everything, but it’s a pretty cool something, because in today’s digital reality, showing up on Wikipedia is a great endorsement. And a special thank you to writer Myriah Towner for shepherding this project with her research, reporting talents and attention to detail.

In the News

More press exposure made this a fabulous year for Slow Flowers in the News — and I just want to take a moment to mention how many outlets expressed interest in our platform. This is by no means comprehensive, but I’ll mention some highlights here. Added up, it’s pretty impressive:

Architectural Digest

Seattle Magazine

Floribusiness’s “Hortipoint”

Vox

Bustle

Green Industry Leaders Network Podcast

Seattle Times

Sunset Magazine

Canadian Florist

Globe & Mail

Good Food Jobs

Oregon Live

Sacramento News Review

The Flower Podcast

Mornings with Mayesh

Green Dreamer Podcast

Vive La Flora Live Podcast

Refinery 29

Garden Center Magazine

WYSO (NPR) in Ohio

The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Bloomsday Review and Bloomsday Review here

. . . And of course, our ongoing editorial features about Slow Flowers members in each month’s Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Let’s pause and reflect on the Slow Flowers-Florists’ Review partnership – it is an incredible one that has been pivotal in moving the conversation about local, seasonal and sustainable flowers – and sustainable design practices – to the mainstream.

We have a seat at the table, and I am so grateful to publisher Travis Rigby and editor-in-chief David Coake for this ongoing opportunity. I am also part of the editorial teams for SuperFloral, a bimonthly magazine geared to mass market/supermarket floral retail; and Canadian Florist, a bimonthly magazine for professional florists in Canada. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to contribute original articles about Slow Flowers members and their creative business ventures to these titles during 2019.

All of this work as a professional communicator opened up another great opportunity for me and Slow Flowers in 2019. In September, I was inducted into the PFCI, Professional Floral Communicators International, a Society of American Florists’ organization. What an honor, that again, brings Slow Flowers into the mainstream as an authentic channel in the floral marketplace.

Producing the Third Annual SLOW FLOWERS SUMMIT occupied so much of our creative energy in 2019. As an event designed for you, our membership, it exceeded all expectations. For those of you who joined us this past year in St. Paul, Minnesota, aka the Twin Cities, I hope you agree. And I thank you for showing your support by attending, engaging, contributing to the conversation and cheering us on. It was a beautiful thing to experience.

As you know, the Summit is the LIVE event in the midst of American Flowers Week, created to serve the Slow Flowers community of progressive, sustainably-minded florists and designers and to engage attendees who want to network with one another.

Planning and producing the 3rd annual Summit was made possible by the contributions of so many people. We must thank our host, Christine Hoffman of Twin Cities Flower Exchange, along with all the flower farmers who sell through that regional floral market, for welcoming us so warmly. More than 135 of us, to be precise. The pre-Summit farm tours of Blue Sky Flower Farm and Green Earth Growers gave everyone a first-hand experience of two incredibly beautiful and prolific Midwest flower farms. Thank you so much to Jon and Rachael Ackerman of Blue Sky Flower Farm (above) and thank you to Jolea Gress and Jenny Hotz of Green Earth Growers for the tour of your fields and greenhouses — and for hosting the first-ever Slow Flowers Dinner on the Farm – a delicious experience to say the least.

We enjoyed 10 fabulous speakers, experts in their fields and experts as teachers and communicators. Due to the intimate size of the Summit attendance, everyone has a chance to meet our speakers personally. That’s one of the key benefits of being part of our Slow Flowers Community. Making in-real-time connections is a top-cited benefit, according to past Summit attendees. 

Presentations and demonstrations from Tobey NelsonCarly Jenkins and Whit McClure ensured that floral design was at the heart of the Slow Flowers Summit. Our attendees and speakers also collaborated on a large-scale, foam-free floral sculpture using seasonal, domestic and foraged botanicals. It was a highlight!

We enjoyed a business-focused keynote from Terri McEnaney, CEO of Bailey Nurseries, and a social media panel with our own social media manager Niesha Blancas, our Summit photographer Missy Palacol, and Missy’s frequent collaborator Kalisa Jenne-Fraser.

And we learned volumes from three innovators involved in the emerging category of locally-focused wholesale floral hubs across the U.S., including Christine Hoffman of Twin Cities Flower Exchange, Amanda Maurman of Michigan Flower Growers Cooperative and Kelly Morrison of Piedmont Wholesale Flowers.

On Day Two of the Summit, attendees were invited to tour the Twin Cities Flower Exchange  where florist and event designers and floral designer Ashley Fox shared her personal approach to shopping The Exchange for a floral demonstration using all-local blooms! We also visited the last rose-grower in the Midwest with an afternoon at Len Busch Roses steeped in more Midwest-grown flowers.

If you missed joining us, I have a treat for you. You can watch the free videos of all of the 2019 Slow Flowers Summit presentations — follow this link for the full lineup.

I can’t wrap up mention of the Slow Flowers Summit, without reminding you to register for the Fourth Annual SLOW FLOWERS SUMMIT, taking place June 28-30, 2020 at Filoli  Historic House and Garden in Woodside, Calif., outside San Francisco.

Clockwise from top, left: Susan Mcleary, Kellee Matsushita-Tseng, Molly Culver, Lorene Edwards Forkner, Debra Prinzing, Jennifer Jewell, Pilar Zuniga and Emily Saeger

It is going to be an incredibly creative experience, and we’re offering you more value and benefits than ever before. The Early-Bird pricing continues through Dec. 31st so there’s not much time left to save $100 and grab a spot to join me and some wonderful speakers in the Bay Area! Follow this link to reserve your seat and join us!

We celebrated the fifth annual AMERICAN FLOWERS WEEK during June 28-July 4, 2019 — and you and your flowers were at the heart of this fabulous and important campaign.

Slow Flowers created this original U.S. flower promotion holiday, launched in 2015. Our grassroots, all-inclusive campaign provides editorial, branding and marketing resources to flower farmers, florists, designers, retailers and wholesalers who wish to promote American grown Flowers.

Highlights of 2019 include our fourth year to commission botanical couture fashions, with nine creative looks featured in the June 2019 issue of Florists’ Review as “Red, White & Bloom.”

Thank you to the floral designers and flower farmers who collaborated on this project of flowering our nation during  American Flowers Week. The inventiveness expressed by the Slow Flowers community — flower farmers and floral designers alike — elevates American-grown botanicals to new levels.

Follow this link to see the entire 2019 American Flowers Week collection of botanical fashions, including the stories of each look.

And now’s the time to mark American Flowers Week 2020 on your calendar — June 28 through July 4 — because it will be our sixth annual campaign and celebration! I’ll have more to share in the coming months. For now, check out the 2020 botanical art branding we commissioned from Tamara Hough of Morning Glory Flowers — featured in last week’s Slow Flowers Podcast — and why not download the graphics to share on your web site and via social media? Help me to start building interest and excitement for the 2020 American Flowers Week campaign. And be sure to use the #americanflowersweek hashtag so we can see your posts!

Team Slow Flowers, from left: Jenny Diaz, Andrew Brenlan, Niesha Blancas, Karen Thornton and Lisa Waud

THE PEOPLE of SLOW FLOWERS

Truly, people make the Slow Flowers Movement so successful — you and your tribe coming together with other similar tribes in regions and communities all around, both here in North America – and beyond. We share information, ideas, encouragement, key resources, tips, answers, experiences and more.

We are united in a common belief that local and seasonal flowers, grown sustainably and with minimal harm to the planet, is a practice worthy of our energies.

In 2019, my personal universe was filled with a few key people whose presence and expertise helped me further shape Slow Flowers from what was originally just a concept, a title of a book, into a multimedia, multifaceted content organization and brand platform for others’ use.

I shared a bit of this on this Podcast’s sixth anniversary episode, on July 24th when Lisa Waud joined me to talk about our collaboration to shore up Slow Flowers as a membership organization.

In late March, Lisa and I participated in a spontaneous mind-meld with two other flower friends. Part getaway; part workation, the gathering of four women creatives in small and large ventures, from different generations and walks of life, was an electrifying experience to say the least. What emerged from our time together was a new collaboration for Slow Flowers, with Lisa joining me to manage a project I simply did not have time or bandwidth to tackle. I had been yearning for someone who could help me untangle the crazy knot of our Slow Flowers Member Database. For many, this would be a mind-numbingly boring, clerical, rather than creative task. Yet for Lisa, this was a challenge that called her in — and rise to the occasion, she has.

Other key Who’s include the Slow Flowers Creative Team with whom I work all year long:

Thank you to Jenny Diaz, our uber-talented graphic designer, whose artistry helps us communicate and represent the ideas and ideals of Slow Flowers. She has consistently supported my projects since I asked her to create our Membership and Sponsor Collateral in 2015, followed quickly by the iconic American Flowers Week branding in 2016 (our campaign’s second year). Our collaboration has expanded to include all of Slow Flowers and American Flowers week branding, advertising, collateral material and now — I’m so excited to be working with Jenny as the designer of the Slow Flowers Journal – Volume One book, out in 2020! More on that later in this episode.

Thank you to Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social Media, our social media maven, who I’ve also known and worked with since 2015. Niesha took over our IG and FB social media strategy two years ago and I couldn’t be more pleased. Under her leadership, talent and attention to detail, Niesha has nurtured the @myslowflowers channel on IG and Facebook’s Slow Flowers page, exponentially increasing our engagement with you, our community. Niesha has been with the Slow Flowers Summit team from the very first conference in Seattle in 2017 and she was also a presenter this past year in St. Paul, Minnesota, at our third annual Slow Flowers Summit. I am so grateful for her creativity and positive influence as we take this Slow Flowers journey together.

Thank you to Karen Thornton of Avenue 22 Events, the steady hand on the tiller of the Slow Flowers Summit since 2018, our second conference. Karen is the secret sauce to my being able to realize a vision for a “multifaceted, interactive and live, in-person experience” that takes place during the heart of American Flowers Week. She is one of my fiercest defenders and the brand advocate I’ve needed to round out the Slow Flowers Team. For 2020, Karen is coming onboard to manage the entire Slow Flowers administrative suite of projects, making sure we stay on time, on budget, on point and more. I couldn’t be happier with the contributions of the four women I just thanked.

And yet, there is one other key person I need to thank!

He’s our dedicated, talented and supportive Podcast Engineer, Andrew Brenlan. Thank you Andrew! Hannah Brenlan was my original producer and after about one year, she handed the weekly production over to her husband Andrew Brenlan. As I said last year: Andrew has taken our audio to new levels, with beautiful musical transitions and his patient and loyal efforts to improve my limited technical skills! Let’s face it: I know how to find great guests and I know how to interview them. But beyond that, this podcast would not exist without Andrew! He’s a new father, too — as Hannah and Andrew welcomed baby Francis to their family. Congratulations, Andrew and thank you so much for making our Podcast so successful in 2019!

As we come to a close, I want to thank our 2019 Sponsors

Slow Flowers sponsors support our work to connect consumers with florists, shops, studios, and farmers who supply and source domestic and American-grown flowers, Made-in-USA floral hardgoods and accessories and related businesses.

I just want to take a minute to thank them for their financial support in 2019 and to tell you a little bit about how each partnership is uniquely tailored to meet mutual goals of promoting American flowers:

You’ve already heard about our partnership with lead sponsor Florists’ Review — but I’ll thank Travis Rigby, editorial director David Coake and art director Kathleen Dillinger here. They and the rest of the Florists’ Review team are a joy to work with and I respect and value our relationship!

Coming up in early 2020 is our first book collab with Florists’ Review: Slow Flowers Journal – Volume One, created with the amazing talented support of Robin Avni as editor and our own Jenny Diaz as designer. I can’t wait to share more but here is a sneak peek of the book cover art (featuring Missy Palacol’s photography) in today’s show notes!

Thank you to these amazing sponsors:

The peony farmers of Arctic Alaska Peonies, who supported this Podcast and Slow Flowers Journal in 2019.

The Seattle Wholesale Growers Market and its amazing group of Northwest flower farmers and market staff.

Longfield Gardens for connecting florists to gardening and connecting gardeners to floral design.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds for producing high quality flower foliage and herb seeds for cutting gardens and flower farms of all sizes.

Syndicate Sales for supporting florists with an incredibly diverse selection of USA-made vases, design mechanics and accessories.

The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers for its support and leadership in growing flower farming as an important profession.

Mayesh Wholesale  Florist has again supported the Podcast and American Flowers Week and we’re so grateful for their industry support.

Northwest Green Panels, the Oregon-based greenhouse builder which is responsible for my charming 8×8 modern slant greenhouse.

And Farmers’ Web, the software company that came onboard mid-year as a Podcast and Newsletter sponsor. 

Slow Flowers is the term most widely used in the floral marketplace to communicate and convey seasonal, local and sustainable floriculture.

It has been another record-setting year in so many ways. According to keyhole.com, our tracking service, Slow Flowers’ metrics are higher than ever. Our social media maven, Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social Media, has worked tirelessly to represent Slow Flowers and its members through the medium — with great results!

In the past 365 days, on instagram and twitter combined,

Slow Flowers has appeared in more than 75k posts, up from 47k in 2018.

and has stimulated social media engagement of 2.3 million, up from engagement of 1.4 million in 2018.

Field-grown Tulips
Tulips grown by an American farmer I know and trust.

To that I say, What are YOU Waiting For? We’d love you to join Slow Flowers and put your resources, creativity, personal engagement and passion to work for a Movement that gives back to you in volumes. You can start the new year with a commitment to supporting Slow Flowers and you can join us for as little as $50 a year to enjoy the many programs and benefits for members. Follow this link to join us!

Thank you for being a part of this movement and I hope you’ll make the next step by investing in the continued relevance and success of this brand

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

Well that’s it, folks. As our year comes to a close, I wish you a warm and restorative holiday season and share my hope for a peaceful and productive 2020.

Music Credits:

Basketliner; Betty DearDelamine; Gaena; Glass Beads; Highride; Perspiration
by Blue Dot Sessions http://www.sessions.blue

Lovely 
by Tryad http://tryad.bandcamp.com/album/instrumentals
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

In The Field; Redwood Trail
Music from audionautix.com

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