Debra Prinzing

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Episode 528: Meet farmer-florist Eileen Tongson of Orlando-based FarmGal Flowers and enjoy her harvest-cornucopia design demonstration

October 20th, 2021

Thank you so much for joining us today! October is our celebration of our Slow Flowers members and one of my goals this month is to showcase and thank as many of our Premium Level members as possible, our top supporters.

Today, we’re visiting Eileen Tongson of FarmGal Flowers, coming to us from Orlando, Florida.

As a farmer-florist, Eileen has experimented with a number of channels to market the flowers she grows, but she’s honed in on two key portions of her business: teaching workshops and designing for events.

Eileen Tongson
Eileen Tongson withone of her signature Florida-grown bouquets

When I asked her to join me during Membership Appreciation Month, Eileen suggested sharing a design demonstration during our interview. You’ll enjoy meeting Eileen and learning about her robust workshop schedule — offered all year long, season by season — to satisfy customers eager for ways to connect with locally-grown flowers and to learn more about gardening.

Eileen and I recorded this conversation and demo last week and I know hearing it and watching the video will get you thinking about harvest and holiday workshops that you can offer.

Eileen in her studio for Where We Bloom
Eileen in her home-based studio, featured in Where We Bloom

Here’s a bit more about Eileen before we get started, excerpted from her website:

For as long as she can remember, Eileen has truly loved gardening. Her parents were avid gardeners and the family spent countless hours outdoors cultivating vegetables, fruit, and of course flowers. They taught Eileen to appreciate nature and all that it provides, and she is so thankful to them for the early introduction to what has become a lifelong passion.

After all these years, she’s still just as inspired by the natural beauty and cultivation of flowers. Eileen considers herself a city dweller, turned home-grown FarmGal.

Life has taken her to the west coast and back, but her heart and my home have always been in the Sunshine State and the beautiful city of Orlando, Fl. It is where she has raised her family, and now with great enthusiasm that she gets to share her love for flower farming and floral design with her community.

Eileen has studied floral design at numerous locations including Floret Flower Farm, the City College of San Francisco, and Flower School New York. She also completed the University of Florida IFAS Master Gardener Program in 2009. I continue to expand and refine my skills regularly through floral design and flower farming workshops across the country and as a member of Slow Flowers Society and the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers.

Eileen’s flowers and gardening expertise have been featured in Florists Review, Edible Orlando, Houzz.com, TravelChannel.com, The Monarch Initiative, Ocala Magazine, Orange Appeal magazine, Team Flower, Glam.com and most recently, in my two books, Slow Flowers Journal – Volume One and Where We Bloom. She was also included in Floret Farm’s book, “Small Plot, Big Impact.”

Inside the studio
Inside Eileen’s efficient and compact studio, which opens onto her Orlando area garden

FarmGal Flowers was also named Best Florist in Best of Winter Park 2019. Clients have included The Ford Motor Company, Williams-Sonoma Winter Park, the Orlando Magic, the Orlando Museum of Art, The Grove Winter Park, and Salata Winter Park.

Eileen believes in locally and sustainably grown, seasonal flowers that support and beautify her community. And, if I am successful in creating a delightful bouquet or arrangement of freshly cut beauties for clients and local friends, then that makes me her HAPPY home-grown FarmGal!

Fern gown by Eileen Tongson
Slow Flowers Florida Botanical Couture Fashion Photo Shoot

Thanks so much for joining me today!

FarmGal Flowers, coming to us from Orlando, Florida.

As a farmer-florist, Eileen has experimented with a number of channels to market the flowers she grows, but she’s honed in on two key portions of her business: teaching workshops and designing for events.

When I asked her to join me during Membership Appreciation Month, Eileen suggested sharing a design demonstration during our interview. You’ll enjoy meeting Eileen and learning about her robust workshop schedule — offered all year long, season by season — to satisfy customers eager for ways to connect with locally-grown flowers and to learn more about gardening.

Eileen and I recorded this conversation and demo last week and I know hearing it and watching the video will get you thinking about harvest and holiday workshops that you can offer.

” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>Click here to order your copies of Slow Flowers Journal – Volume One (Featuring Eileen’s Grown-in-Florida Fern and Frond Gown) and Where We Bloom (Featuring Eileen’s home-based studio). Participating in our promotional and PR campaigns like American Flowers Week is one of many opportunities available to Slow Flowers Society members like Eileen.

Follow FarmGal Flowers on Social Media:
FarmGal Flowers on Facebook
FarmGal Flowers on Instagram


Slow Flowers Society Member Appreciation Month

As I reminded you last week, we are in the midst of October’s Member Appreciation Month and I’m so pleased at all the great content we’ve been able to share with our community of members. If you aren’t a member yet — and why haven’t you joined us? It’s the perfect time to step up and commit. This month, all new members will receive our special Member Benefits Booklet with coupons, discounts and other perks from eight of our partners and sponsors — the savings will more than cover your annual membership investment. All new members also receive our Slow Flowers Society collector’s pin, made in the USA, which features our teal and lime green logo. Plus, if you upgrade to or join at the Premium Level, you’ll also receive the video bundle of all our Slow Flowers Summit 2022 speaker presentations, valued at $129.

Please head to slowflowerssociety.com and hit the “Become a Member” Button.


Before we wrap up, I have a special treat to share — also timed to coincide with Member Appreciation Month!

Yesterday, we unveiled the NEW Slow Flowers Video. I’m so thrilled to share it with you — this Video was created over the past several months with our favorite video talent Alayna Erhart of Alayna Erhart Studio. In just a few minutes, you’ll meet me in the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden, catch a glimpse of the fabulous gathering of members at Filoli Historic House & Garden at the recent 2021 Slow Flowers Summit and join my visit to the UW Farm with member Riz Reyez of RHR Horticulture. Special thanks to the members who share their voices of endorsement and support, including Sarah Reyes of Wildflower & Fern, Tobey Nelson of Tobey Nelson Events and Design and Laura Gonzales of Swallows Secret Garden! Look closely – do you see yourself here in our community!? We’re ready to welcome you as a member!


Thank you to our sponsors!

This show is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, online directory to more than 880 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2021, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting more than 20 U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $9 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually. Discover more at farmgirlflowers.com.

2nd sponsor bar
sponsor logo bar

Thank you to the 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.

Thank you to Red Twig Farms. Based in Johnstown, Ohio, Red Twig Farms is a family-owned farm specializing in peonies, daffodils, tulips and branches, a popular peony-bouquet-by-mail program and their Spread the Hope Campaign where customers purchase 10 tulip stems for essential workers and others in their community. Learn more at redtwigfarms.com.

Thank you to 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. Visit them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com.


Slow Flowers Podcast Logo with flowers, recorder and mic

Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 776,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much. As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.

I value your support and invite you to show your thanks to support Slow Flowers’ ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right at debraprinzing.com


Debra in the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden
Thank you for listening! Sending love, from my cutting garden to you! (c) Missy Palacol Photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Show & Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow Flowers on the table, one stem, one vase at a time. 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. You can learn more about Andrew’s work at soundbodymovement.com

Music Credits:

Long Await; For We Shall Know Speed; Turning on the Lights; Gaena
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
audionautix.com

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