Debra Prinzing

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Archive for the ‘American Grown’ Category

Episode 455: A long-distance peony collaboration between grower Eugenia Harris of Nicewicz Peonies and florist Stacey Lee of Paeonia Designs

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020
Welcome to Nicewicz Peonies in Bolton, Massachusetts

What happens when a flower farm’s principal grower lives in Austin, Texas, far away from where her thousands of peony plants grow in Bolton, Massachusetts . . . and something like the COVID-19 pandemic prevents her from traveling back to her flowers for the annual peony harvest?

peonies and Eugenia Harris
Stacey’s photo of a single peony stem with multiple blooms (left); Eugenia Harris (c) Annette Harris Cox

You’re about to learn exactly what happened for Eugenia Harris of Nicewicz Peonies, who found herself quarantined right when she would otherwise be traveling to the Boston area to spend several weeks for her peony season.

Stacey’s “selfie” in the peony fields!

I love this story because Eugenia, like many small agricultural operations, had to get creative. She turned to our second guest, Stacey Lee of Framingham, Massachusetts-based Paeonia Designs. Both are Slow Flowers members and given the name of her wedding and event studio, Paeonia Designs, it’s no surprise to learn that Stacey is a customer of Nicewicz Peonies.

One of the peony fields at Nicewicz Peonies (c) Megan Murphy
Glorious, fresh and local to Boston! (c) Stacey Lee

Fellow peony lovers, the two are coming together this year in an ingenious way. Stacey’s 2020 wedding and event bookings are most, if not all, postponed for this season, so she’s in a rare situation with time on her hands just when Eugenia needs a surrogate peony expert.

Photo by Catherine Threlkeld Photography

Here’s more about Eugenia Harris and Nicewicz Peonies:
Eugenia Harris and David Nicewicz are the peony growers at Nicewicz Family Farm in Bolton, Massachusetts. Eugenia’s a software engineer turned flower farmer – who as I mentioned, now lives back in her home state, residing in Austin, Texas – and her co-farmer David’s, as Eugenia describes him, is a real farmer who doesn’t even have an email account.

Photos by Catherine Threlkeld Photography

They planted the first peonies at the farm in 2001 and have been expanding ever since. There are now more than 1,700 plants representing more than 100 different varieties. Their peonies usually bloom starting in late May or early June, and continue as late as the third week of June, for a total of about 3-4 weeks – especially in years when the weather is “just right” (not too hot, not too wet).

Dreamy fields of peonies in every hue (c) Eugenia Harris

Eugenia and David sell the peonies as specialty cut flowers in season, to florists and event planners, and typically via advance order from the website. The Nicewicz Family Farm has been in David’s family since 1929, when it was purchased by his father’s parents, shortly after they immigrated to the U.S. from Poland. David and his three brothers Tommy, Kenny and Alan run the farm now, with help from various family and friends, including sister Jo-Ann, resident artist Chath pierSath from Cambodia, and long-time family friend Dave Joki of Stow, Massachusetts.

The farm’s primary crops are fruit (apples, peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, blueberries, cherries), produce (corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, basil, onions, pumpkins, gourds, etc.), and flowers (peonies of course, and usually celosia, dahlias, strawflowers, sunflowers and zinnias) – all of which are sold locally at the farm and at a few Boston-area and Worcester farmers’ markets and at the farm’s self-service stand.

Eugenia Harris snapped this cute photo of Stacey’s son Jack on a farm visit

Here’s more about Stacey Lee of Paeonia Designs:
After working more than a few years as a civil engineer, a timely layoff provided the opportunity to take a lifelong hobby to the next level. Paeonia Designs was born with a friend’s wedding request and has blossomed into a full service event floral design studio.

Stacey works out of a studio at home overlooking her own flower gardens. There is a large floral cooler in her workshop that is run on the sun, thanks to solar panels on the roof! Between Stacey’s and her mother’s gardens, they grow several varieties of perennials such as tulips, peonies, hydrangea, sedum, and scabiosa as well as various annuals used in arrangements. Stacey says she is by no means a farmer florist but is hopefully headed there one day.

These photos of Stacey Lee are courtesy of Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore, taken during her 2019 Alaska Peony Retreat. Clearly, Stacey is in her element!

The organic garden at Paeonia Designs is primarily watered with rain barrels (when mother nature accommodates) and fertilized with homemade compost. Throughout the year, Stacey sources as many flowers locally as possible from several farms and greenhouses close to home. Late summer and fall arrangements contain sunflowers grown just a quarter mile down the road. And some of her mother’s pink peony plants still provide blooms. The plants are about 40 years old and were the inspiration for the Paeonia logo!

Stacey truly loves what she does. Flowers are more than her occupation; they’re both passion and craft. As she says: “I want to see each bride, groom, mama-to-be, celebrant, and guest of honor thrilled with their flowers, regardless of the size of the event. Each client deserves quality service and the most gorgeous, fresh and thoughtful flowers arranged with exceptional detail.”

Well, this is a unique story and collaboration based on friendship and mutual commitment from two women who are combining their talents to bring peonies to the Boston/New England area and beyond.

Find and follow Nicewicz Peonies and Paeonia Designs at these social places:

Nicewicz Family Farm on Facebook and Nicewicz Peonies on Instagram

Paeonia Designs on Facebook and Instagram

Thanks so much for joining today’s conversation. Since early April, I’ve been featuring Slow Flowers member voices in the ongoing “Stories of Resilience” series here on the podcast. I don’t know what I was thinking when I started, telling myself  “oh, we’ll do this for a few months until things get back to ‘normal,'” and then it will wrap up. Well . . . I clearly did not have the right crystal ball to gaze into the future, friends.

As far as I can tell, long into the foreseeable future, we are going to be talking about the inventive, creative and fierce ways that flower farmers and floral designers are sustaining their enterprises during the COVID era. As I’ve said before, I don’t really know how things will shake out, but I do take huge inspiration from the people I’ve hosted on this Podcast.

More for our Community

The Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Ups continue to provide value and support as a member benefit. Last week was our ninth consecutive meet-up and because it took place on the Friday leading into a three day holiday weekend, it was a lighthearted morning focused on community, encouragement and mutual support of one another! If you missed last week’s Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-up, you can click on the link to watch the replay video above.

Please join me at the next Slow Flowers Virtual Meet-Up, this Friday, May 29th —  9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. Can’t wait to see you there! Our special guest is Lisa Waud of Lisa Waud Botanical Artist, and a core member of the Slow Flowers team. Lisa is launching a new art installation series in her community called Big Flower Friend, a less competitive nod to that other floral phenomenon you might be watching on Netflix right now. Lisa will be joined by Amanda Maurmann of Gnome Grown Flower Farm and a board member of the Michigan Flower Growers Cooperative. They’ll be sharing about Lisa’s new project to bring botanical art to Detroit and support local flower growers in her state.

Follow this link to join us on Friday, May 29th.

Thank you to our Sponsors

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thank you to Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at slowflowersjournal.com.

More thanks to Rooted Farmers, which works exclusively with local growers to put the highest-quality specialty cut flowers in floral customers’ hands. When you partner with Rooted Farmers, you are investing in your community, and you can expect a commitment to excellence in return. Learn more at RootedFarmers.com

And to 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. Find the full catalog of flower seeds and bulbs at johnnysseeds.com.

And to 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.

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 608,000 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 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.

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

Episode 454: Meet the Flower Hunter, Yoni Levenbach of Flowers Without Borders, on his personal buying service connecting flower farms with florists

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020
Yoni Levenbach of Flowers Without Borders

As you have heard me discuss, since the last week of March, I’ve been hosting weekly Slow Flowers Member “Virtual” Meet-Ups as a way for our community to stay in touch using the technology of Zoom Meetings. It has been a wonderful new experience, allowing us to share more voices and more stories of resilience in an intimate setting. Typically, we have no more than 50 people participating on the call, and for those who can’t join us each Friday, we’re able to post the meeting video.

Today’s guest, Yoni Levenbach of Flowers Without Borders, is one of the most engaged attendees. As Lisa Waud, our membership manager pointed out, Yoni has almost perfect attendance, other than missing the Friday before Mother’s Day. Last week, I invited Yoni to share his story as a guest presenter, and it was a meaningful experience for our members to hear his rather unconventional wholesale model.

Swimming in hydrangeas – just one of the floral crops Yoni sources for his clients

You see, Yoni calls himself a Flower Hunter. He isn’t like most larger wholesalers with a physical operation, with a large buying and sales team. Those folks are definitely flower hunters, too, make no mistake. It’s just that Yoni has a customized approach, working almost as a personal shopper with a small cadre of wedding and event florists as he scours the country and continent for specific seasonal blooms.

After just hearing from Yoni for 15 minutes, I knew I wanted to learn more – and I wanted to share his voice with a larger audience of the Slow Flowers Podcast. We made a last-minute decision to record this conversation just a few days ago — and I thank Yoni for being spontaneous and such a great source of inspiration.

Before we jump into today’s conversation, here’s a bit more about Yoni Levenbach of Flowers Without Borders:

Yoni has shared several of his botanical images, which you can often see in his Instagram feed @flowerswithoutborders

As a young man, Yoni moved to Los Angeles from Cape Town, bringing with him a love of nature stemming from a childhood surrounded by the astounding biodiversity and beauty of daily life in South Africa.
He founded Orchids Without Borders in 2006 as a means to supply mainly locally-grown flowers to event companies, wholesalers and florists. The company was later rebranded as Flowers Without Borders. Yoni has worked in the wholesale flower business since 1989. Along the way, he also owned a high-end floral and landscape design business.

With nineteen years experience bringing the magic of international destination weddings to life, specializing in shipping flowers to Mexico and the Caribbean, here in North America, Flowers Without Borders provides personalized service to florists and event specialists, sourcing predominantly local and sustainably-grown flowers.

The business is a direct reflection Yoni’s personae. He’s interested in each client, their story, their lives — and he enjoys building relationships based on communication and a value of trust. As he writes on the Flowers Without Borders web site: “We believe in the farmers who grow our souls one stem at a time and we believe in the talented florists who create beauty with their flowers.”

Well, you’re in for a wonderful episode as we speak the language of flowers and color with a man who has centered his vocation on our floral community for thirty years.

Follow Flowers Without Borders on Instagram

Thanks so much for joining today’s conversation. As a bonus, follow the link above to see the replay video of the May 15th Slow Flowers Member ‘Virtual’ Meet-Up, when Yoni Levenbach of Flowers Without Borders was joined by Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co.

The Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Ups continue to provide value and support as a member benefit. Please join me at the next Slow Flowers Virtual Meet-Up, this Friday, May 22nd —  9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. Can’t wait to see you there!

Follow this link to join us on May 22nd.

Thank you to our Sponsors

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

Thank you to Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at slowflowersjournal.com.

FarmersWeb software makes it simple for flower farms to streamline working with their buyers. To help you better work with individual buyers, FarmersWeb has lowered its credit card processing fees to 2.9% and 30 cents per transaction. As always, by using FarmersWeb (unlike standard e-commerce sites) you get all the features designed with farms in mind for managing your orders, customers, sales, and record keeping. Learn more at  www.farmersweb.com.

Longfield Gardens, which 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. Check out the full catalog at Longfield Gardens 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 shop.syndicatesales.com.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 606,000 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 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.

I love how Amy Bennett captured my demonstration with local and domestic flowers. It was a joy to design with these botanicals in a cool vessel from Green Mountain Florist Supply.

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

Music Credits:
 
Turning On The Lights; Heartland Flyer; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions
 

Episode 453: Returning to St. Louis, Missouri, (Virtually) with Jessica Douglass of Flowers & Weeds

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020
Jessica at The Planting Bar at Flowers and Weeds (c) Jordan Bauer

If you’re listening on Wednesday, May 13th, the date this Episode 453 was released, picture me in St. Louis, where I was scheduled to be the luncheon speaker at the annual “Flower Power at Tower Grove Park” event. One of seven National Historic Landmark Parks, Tower Grove  is a 289-acre Victorian park that serves as the backyard of St. Louis’ most diverse and densely populated urban neighborhoods and draws 2.5 million annual visitors.

The annual luncheon is a rite of spring. I’m pretty impressed that Tower Grove asked me to share the Slow Flowers story with its patrons and members, considering that last year’s luncheon speakers were NYC’s Putnam & Putnam rock stars. I was especially excited about the organizers’ plan to invite four St. Louis area Slow Flowers members to provide the luncheon centerpieces, including Mimo Davis and Miranda Duschack of Urban Buds, Kate Estwing of City House Country Mouse, Rebecca Bodicky of Alice Blue Collective and today’s guest, Jessica Douglass of Flowers & Weeds.

The good news is that Tower Grove has rescheduled the Flower Power event for September 30th and I very much look forward to my future visit to St. Louis and this botanical celebration.

The vintage sign at Flowers & Weeds is mounted on the original pole that once stood in front the building when it was a St. Louis ice cream shop (c) Virginia Harold

In the meantime, I wanted to bring you this conversation with Jessica. I interviewed her in 2016 when I traveled to St. Louis for the first time to lecture at St. Louis Art Museum’s Art in Bloom – which was an unforgettable experience. You can listen to that interview, which I paired with a lovely conversation with Vicki Lander of Flower Hill Farm, a Slow Flowers member and talented cut flower grower in the area – one who supplied me with her flowers for that Art in Bloom demonstration and who continually supplies florists like Jessica.

Jessica Douglass (c) Virginia Harold
“Guess this is QUARANSPRING” — local photographer Nate Burrell documented Flowers and Weeds’ curbside plant pickup in his St. Louis COVID Days series

For now, I’ll jump right in and introduce Jessica Douglass. I’ve been reporting almost exclusively on “Stories of Resilience” as our floral community adapts and adjusts creatively to the COVID-19 pandemic. And you’ll hear that theme continue in my interview with Jessica.

The Garden Center at Flowers and Weeds (c) Virginia Harold
A screen shot of the online store at flowersandweeds.com

Find and follow Flowers and Weeds at these social places:

Flowers and Weeds on Facebook

Flowers and Weeds on Instagram

Flowers (left) and Plants (right) at Flowers and Weeds, the cool flower & plant shop in downtown St. Louis, founded by today’s guest Jessica Douglass

Thanks so much for listening in on my virtual visit to St. Louis and Flowers and Weeds. The local connections being made are so important and are deepening ties between where flowers are grown and the ways floral consumers can enjoy them while supporting floral agriculture.

These indeed are Stories of Resilience. I mentioned that there are three other florists or farmer-florists whose designs are part of the now-rescheduled Tower Grove “Flower Power” event. I’m hopeful that I can record an update with each of them in the coming months, as well.

Replay of our May 8th Meet-Up

Our Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Ups continue to provide value and support as a member benefit. Last Friday on May 8th, we welcomed Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony and the Certified American Grown Council as our Zoom “virtual”meet-up guest.

Please join me at the next Slow Flowers Virtual Meet-Up, this Friday, May 15th —  9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. Can’t wait to see you there!

Yoni Levenbach (left) and Bethany Little (right)

Our special guests include Yoni Levenbach of Flowers Without Borders, and Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co. They both work in the wholesale arena, although with very different models. I am excited for you to hear from Yoni about what he calls being a “Flower Hunter,” who works from his base in Los Angeles to custom source from farms across the U.S. for a diverse customer base. And I’m thrilled that Bethany will have news to share from Eugene Oregon, where she and her husband Charles Little are veteran cut flower farmers who have seen it all. Everything old might be new again for Bethany and Charles, but they are elevating and expanding their flower business in exciting new ways, which will inspire you.

Follow this link to join us on May 15th. We will also share the link on our Slow Flowers FB Page and in the Slow Flowers Community on FB.

Thank You to our Sponsors

Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at slowflowersjournal.com.

The Gardener’s Workshop, which offers a full curriculum of online education for flower farmers and farmer-florists. Online education is more important this year than ever, and you’ll want to check out the course offerings at thegardenersworkshop.com

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.

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.

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 604,000 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 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.

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

Music Credits:

Turning On The Lights; Heartland Flyer; Gaena; Glass Beads
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

Episode 452: Let’s Talk Mother’s Day Flowers with Lindsey McCullough of Red Twig Farms and Tara Folker of Splints & Daisies

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020
Josh and Lindsey McCullough, Red Twig Farms
Floral design by Tara Folker of Splints & Daisies (left); Tara (right)

Mother’s Day is the mother of all floral holidays. According to industry data, it’s larger even than Valentine’s Day. Well, this year, is unlike any floral holiday we’ve seen before. Valentine’s Day happened before the onslaught of Coronavirus in most places. Easter came early this year, so early that it was just the beginning of understanding how COVID-19 was going to impact the floral marketplace and many of us were immobilized, in shock or didn’t have much to harvest in early April.

Yet, we’ve been racing toward a specific date on the calendar — Sunday, May 10th. How are you preparing for Mother’s Day? There has been a lot of discussion about what I’m calling “safe, slow flowers,” and through conversations with our members, I’m learning how much creativity is behind our desire to fill our customers’ vases with local, seasonal, and sustainable Mother’s Day flowers.

Today, we have two guests who are sharing their Stories of Resilience for our ongoing series, designed to inspire and encourage you.

Now, more than ever, the message of sustainability and seasonal and locally-available flowers is top of mind — among consumers, flower farmers and florists.

I want the Slow Flowers Podcast to be a companion to those of you in isolation, away from your physical community of peers, neighbors, customers and friends. And I believe that sharing personal stories is one powerful way to sustain ourselves and our floral enterprises.

Red Twig Farms’ “Spread the Hope” campaign delivered more than 1,000 spring bouquets in the community

Our first guest is flower farmer Lindsey McCullough of Red Twig Farms in New Albany, Ohio, outside Columbus. She’ll be joined by Heather Kohler, Red Twig’s Farm Store Manager.

Splints & Daisies designed its Mother’s Day floral campaign to benefit a fellow small business

Our second guest is floral designer Tara Folker of Splints & Daisies outside Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

I wanted to chat with them all to learn how they’re supplying flowers in a new way, reinventing what may have worked well during past seasons, and forging ahead during less-than-ideal conditions. Their strategies are creative, community-minded, and designed to connect customers who care about and want seasonal blooms with their flowers.

The Farm Store at Red Twig Farms during a typical Peony Fest

Here’s a bit more about Red Twig Farms:

Owned and operated by Josh & Lindsey McCullough, Red Twig Farms is a small, family-owned and operated cut flower and branch farm located in Central Ohio. Their year usually begins with pussy willow branches in February/March, followed later in the spring, when you can find the couple and their crew harvesting Peony flowers morning to night. By fall they’re harvesting dogwood and willow branches in a variety of color and textures for holiday containers and decor.

Flowers and Farmers from Red Twig Farms fill the farm’s Instagram feed

Red Twig Farms was born in 2010, after the family bought 9 acres across the street from their existing nursery. The land hadn’t been farmed for two decades and Lindsey and Josh saw an opportunity to use their horticulture background in a new venture. Red Twig Farms took time to get up and running, in part because peonies take 3 to 5 years to mature before you can completely harvest them . . . the farm now produces multiple varieties of peonies, dogwood & willow branches. In 2019, they planted tulips — and you’ll hear more about how things are changing with a bumper crop coming on at about the same time Ohio asked its residents to stay at home and shelter in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. In response, Red Twig Farms launched its Spread the Hope bouquet program to support frontline healthcare workers and the Donate a Bouquet to a Stranger to share an encouragement through flowers in their community.

Tara designed a lovely floral “cape” with spring bulb flowers, created for the 2017 American Flowers Week botanical couture collection (c) With Love & Embers

Here’s a bit more about Splints & Daisies Floral Design:

Tara Folker has been a long time flower lover and plant geek. With the love of all things “green and growing” instilled in her as a young child, Tara has had her hands in the dirt and been playing with flowers her whole life. Inspired by her family’s art background, florals became Tara’s way to express herself artistically. 

Tara strives to use only local blooms. During the growing season, she uses flowers from local farms, foraged finds, and botanicals grown in her own cutting garden. Recently she embarked on the journey of growing heirloom mums, with plans to expanding each year. In her spare time, Tara enjoys nature even more by hiking and kayaking to her heart’s content. She and her husband Jason are chipping away at sections of the Appalachian Trail! They live in Lancaster County with a sweet kitty named Petunia, and a Doodly Lab named Hazel Juniper.

How great to learn two Mother’s Day floral strategies from Slow Flowers members in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The local connections being made are so important and are deepening ties between where flowers are grown and the ways floral consumers can enjoy them while supporting floral agriculture. These indeed are Stories of Resilience.

Follow Red Twig Farms and Splints & Daisies at these social places:

Red Twig Farms on Facebook | Red Twig Farms on Instagram

Splints & Daisies on Facebook | Splints & Daisies on Instagram

Click to watch last week’s (May 1st) Virtual Meet-Up

Our Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Ups continue to provide value and engagement as a member benefit. Last Friday on May 1st, we also discussed Mother’s Day strategies with three guests on our Zoom “virtual”meet-up.

Thank you to floral designer Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore and flower farmers Sarah Daken and Tom Precht of Grateful Gardeners. Both businesses are based in Maryland and these floral entrepreneurs joined the Meet-Up to share about new strategies to adapt and sustain their businesses. After we wrapped up last Friday’s virtual meet-up, I received a heartfelt note from a member who has regularly attended these sessions.

Here’s the note: Today’s meeting  was lovely as always. I almost had to miss the meet up because of business and in this climate, on my end, today was like a Mother’s Day. I noticed that I was bothered to be missing the meet up because it has become part of my Friday ritual and routine mainly because of how good I feel after each meeting. So thank you for what you continue to do for flower people.

This member tapped into the true “secret sauce” in the value of being a Slow Flowers member. Of course, if you can’t join us in real time, you can watch the replay video of our May 1st meet-up (see link above).

Please join me at the next Slow Flowers Virtual Meet-Up, this Friday, May 8th at our original time —  9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. Can’t wait to see you there! Our special guest will be Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peonies in Fritz Creek, Alaska, outside Homer. Alaska Perfect Peonies is a long-time Slow Flowers member. Rita Jo is also the chair of Certified American Grown council and she’s joining us to talk about some of the policymaking and regulatory issues facing domestic floral agriculture.

Follow this link to join us on May 8th.

Thank you to our Sponsors

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thank you to Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at slowflowersjournal.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.

Rooted Farmers. Rooted Farmers works exclusively with local growers to put the highest-quality specialty cut flowers in floral customers’ hands. When you partner with Rooted Farmers, you are investing in your community, and you can expect a commitment to excellence in return. Learn more at RootedFarmers.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. Find the full catalog of flower seeds and bulbs at johnnyseeds.com.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 602,000 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 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.

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

Music Credits:

Turning On The Lights; Heartland Flyer; Gaena; Glass Beads
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

Episode 451: From Grower to Designer to Consumer: How two floral models are changing and adapting, with Yvonne Ashton of Mayesh Wholesale Florist and Molly Culver of Molly Oliver Flowers

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020
Two inspiring voices in the floral marketplace: Yvonne Ashton (left), marketing director, Mayesh Wholesale Florist (c) Nicole Clarey; Molly Oliver Culver (right) of Molly Oliver Flowers

Today, we have two guests sharing their stories from different parts of the floral equation — and both hugely relevant to our Stories of Resilience series. I believe that now, more than ever, the message of sustainability and seasonal and locally-available flowers is top of mind — among consumers, flower farmers and florists.

I want the Slow Flowers Podcast to be a companion to those of you in isolation, away from your physical community of peers, neighbors, customers and friends. I don’t have many answers, but we can share stories with one another. And I believe this is a powerful way to sustain ourselves.

I’ve been eager to learn ways that wholesale florists are managing and I’ve also wanted to hear how wedding and event florists are reshaping their businesses. My recently recorded conversations with today’s guests will illuminate those questions for all of us.

First up, we’ll hear from Yvonne Ashton, director of marketing at Mayesh Wholesale Florist. And that will be followed by a conversation with Molly Culver, a Brooklyn-based wedding and event florist and owner of Molly Oliver Flowers.

Yvonne Ashton, photographed at a Mayesh floral design workshop (c) Nicole Clarey

Here’s a bit more about Yvonne Ashton: At 18 years old, Yvonne Ashton had no idea what she wanted to be when she grew up. However, she did know that she loved business and decided to go to school to get a degree in Operations Management & Business Statistics. She felt a bit like Goldilocks after graduating and tried several different careers but none of them felt “just right”.

Yvonne hosts “Mornings with Mayesh,” including the recent Live Chat with Alison Ellis

Over 11 years ago, Yvonne Ashton began her career in marketing with Mayesh Wholesale Florist, and boy did that seem to be the right fit. Integrating her nerdy degree, entrepreneurial experience, passion for flowers and design, and a need to continuously learn, she found her place in the world of marketing. Whether serving on the marketing committee for the Wholesale Florist & Florist Supplier Association (also known as WFFSA) or hosting her live show, Mornings with Mayesh, Yvonne is always eager to share her love for marketing and commitment to the floral industry.

Yvonne is the wife of Mayesh’s Miami branch manager, the mother to two amazing girls, owner of a Shar Pei, and a true soccer mom through and through. If she isn’t in her home office, then you will most likely find her on the soccer fields cheering and creating video content for her daughter’s Instagram.

Mayesh Wholesale Florist resources:

Mornings with Mayesh Live Videos

Mayesh Educational Downloads

Mayesh on Instagram

Mayesh resources for upcoming #GivingTuesdayNow (May 5th)

Molly Culver of Molly Oliver Flowers

And here’s a bit more about Molly Culver: Supporting local farmers, small farm economies, regional food and water sheds, and social justice initiatives have been Molly’s defining passions. She trained as an organic farmer in her early 20s and worked as a vegetable/flower farmer and educator for 10 years, both in NYC and in California.

Molly Culver (c) Victoria Morris (left); Floral design by Molly Oliver Flowers (c) Khaki Bedford Photography (right)

Floral design work is a natural extension of Molly’s urge to create, her reverence for the natural world, and love of hands-on team work that employs the whole body and all the senses. She launched Molly Oliver Flowers in 2012 to support regional flower growers, and to build a floral design business that approached events with a zero waste mindset.

Throughout Molly’s most beloved life experiences, the connective tissue has always been people, soil, and plants. At the core, she cares deeply about equity, inclusion, sustainability and loving kindness and she aims for these values to serve as a foundation for her business.

Local flowers for a Brooklyn wedding ceremony by Molly Oliver Flowers © Khaki Bedford Photography

When not designing flowers, you can find Molly teaching soil science at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, cooking with friends, doing something outside, or squeezing her two adorable cats.

Her work as a farmer, farmer-florist, and Slow Flowers advocate has been featured in Bust Magazine, the New York Times, Well Wed, Modern Farmer Magazine, Brides Magazine, the Slow Flowers Podcast, Radio Cherry Bombe, Florists’ Review and more.

SEASONAL FLOWER PROJECT
a weekly flower delivery service on Fridays!

About the Seasonal Flower Project:
WHY MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTIONS?
No events in NYC means orders are well below the typical volume for farms. To make a 2-3 hour trip to NYC worth it, we need to invest as a collective. If we have 40+ households sign up, we will be hitting the minimum volume of sales needed to make this trip worth the investment in labor, gas money, lost sleep, and time away from the farm when labor has been slashed to meet social distancing guidelines.

“So, we are asking you to invest for a month, or two, or three. On our end, biting our fingernails off worrying if we will hit that 40-order minimum is a little too much stress during a stressful time! Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA) is a way to ensure support to the farmer; Molly Oliver Flowers is adopting the model also as a way to ensure this small business’s survival through this challenging time.”

Find and follow Molly Oliver Flowers:

Molly Oliver Flowers’ Online Education

Molly Oliver Flowers on Facebook

Molly Oliver Flowers on Instagram

April 24, 2020 Slow Flowers Members’ Virtual Meet-Up

Our Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Ups continue to have great attendance and participation and feel incredibly rewarding. Last Friday on April 24th, our topic turned to Wellness and Self-Care — and it was a beautiful hour together with our two guest speakers and dozens of members who joined the Zoom call. Thank you to life and career coach Julie Tobi and writer and artist Lorene Edwards Forkner for sharing and encouraging those of us who attended. If you couldn’t make it to the Meet-Up, you’ll want to watch the playback video, seen above.

Please join the next Slow Flowers Virtual Meet-Up on Friday, May 1st at 10 am Pacific/1 pm Eastern [Please note the new time this week]. Can’t wait to see you there! We have three special guests who will walk us through strategies and creative ideas for your Mother’s Day floral plans.

We’ll welcome Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore, a longtime Slow Flowers member and past Slow Flowers Summit speaker. Kelly is based in Bethesda, Maryland, where she has primarily focused her studio business on weddings and events, as well as education through The Floral Source, her retreat-style workshops. She will talk about rapidly transforming her business into a contact-free floral delivery service.

Tom Precht and Sarah Daken
Grateful Gardeners: Tom Precht and Sarah Daken, photographed on my October 13th visit to Boyds, Maryland

Kelly relies heavily on local Maryland-grown flowers, so we’ve asked two of her favorite farmers, Sarah Daken and Tom Precht of Grateful Gardeners, to also join the Meet-Up. They will share about collaborating with florists and developing their own farm-direct business model — which looks quite a bit different than they envisioned it would be in 2020.

Like Kelly, Sarah and Tom are past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast and active members of Slow Flowers. Please join us from this Zoom Link.

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thank you to Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at slowflowersjournal.com.

More thanks goes to: Longfield Gardens, which 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. Check out the full catalog at Longfield Gardens at longfield-gardens.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.

FarmersWeb. FarmersWeb software makes it simple for flower farms to streamline working with their buyers. By lessening the administrative load and increasing efficiency, FarmersWeb helps your farm save time, reduce errors, and work with more buyers overall. Learn more at  www.farmersweb.com.

This is the weekly podcast about American Flowers and the people who grow and design with them. It’s all about making a conscious choice and I invite you to join the conversation and the creative community as we discuss the vital topics of saving our domestic flower farms and supporting a floral industry that relies on a safe, seasonal and local supply of flowers and foliage.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 600,000 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 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.

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

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

Music Credits:

Heartland Flyer; Gaena; Glass Beads
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

Episode 450: Emily Watson of Milwaukee’s Wood Violet and our Stories of Resilience guest, Janis Harris of ASCFG and Harris Flower Farm

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020
Emily Watson of Wood Violet in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Our featured guest this week is florist-farmer Emily Watson, who first appeared on the Slow Flowers Podcast in 2015. I’m delighted that she has agreed to return and share an update on her business, Wood Violet, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You’ll want to go back and listen to that earlier episode — click here.

Wedding design by Wood Violet – personal flowers and ceremony flowers.
Emily Watson, Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based flower farmer, floral designer, entrepreneur — today’s podcast guest.

Five years ago when Emily joined me for an episode, the timing was auspicious. She was in the throes of pivoting from her small cut flower farm operation called Stems Cut Flowers to a wedding design studio named after Wisconsin’s state flower – the Wood Violet.

After five years focusing entirely on designing for couples and ceremonies, the land is calling Emily back. And she’s agreed to discuss her entrepreneurial thought process as her business is again responding to market opportunities.

Here’s a bit more about Emily, excerpted from her web site:

Emily is a farmer florist and small business owner who calls Milwaukee home. With an education in biological conservation and a background in both floral design and landscaping, she started Stems Cut Flowers in 2008.

With a little land borrowed from her grandparents’ farm in East Troy, Wisconsin, Emily envisioned that Stems Cut Flowers would sell to florists and at farmer’s markets, and maybe for an occasional wedding. Well the idea of occasional weddings turned into a nearly every weekend occurrence and it soon became evident that Emily was running two separate businesses. That’s when in 2015, she officially established two separate businesses and launched her floral design studio. Being that the wood violet is Wisconsin’s state flower it seemed an appropriate name for a business that is focused on using locally grown blooms. Stems Cut Flowers continued to grow and mostly supply flowers to the Wood Violet studio.

Beautiful floral design by Wood Violet, with Wisconsin-grown blooms

Find and follow Emily Watson at these social places:

Wood Violet on Facebook

Wood Violet on Instagram

Our bonus series here on the Slow Flowers Podcast continues with our next installment of Stories of Resilience. I believe that now, more than ever, the message of sustainability and seasonal and locally-available flowers is top of mind — among consumers, flower farmers and florists.

I want the Slow Flowers Podcast to be a companion to those of you in isolation, away from your physical community of peers, neighbors, customers and friends. I don’t have many answers, but I do want to keep the lines of communication open and accessible.

This week’s guest: Janis Harris of Harris Flower Farm in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada

Today’s Stories of Resilience guest is Janis Harris of Harris Flower Farm in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. She is also Canada’s regional director for the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers

I have been so intrigued by Janis’s posts on social media promoting local flowers to her community. For the past month, Harris Flower Farm has been marketing no-contact flowers thanks entirely to Janis’s creative efforts. It started on March 21st when she posted this message on Instagram: Fresh Locally Grown Spring Cheer-Up Bouquets; 3 Local Flower Farming Families are Coming Together to Bring You Some Cheer.

Janis, the “flower lady”

Janis directed buyers to visit the online shop on the Harris Flower Farm website to make their purchase of a $10 seasonal bouquet. Well, that project has blown up and taken over Janis’s life. More farms joined in so her marketing efforts are bringing additional revenue to fellow growers. Eager customers continue to order for the weekly bouquet deliveries, paying online and leaving a vase or bucket filled with water on their front porch.

Janis finds herself operating a floral business unlike anything she’s ever done before, delivering more than 100 bouquets in a single day and offering two days of delivery each week. Since the season is early and area farmers’ markets may or may not be able to open during Canada’s stay-at-home mandate, this project has clearly resonated with customers and flower lovers in her community.

A lovely wedding bouquet, grown and designed by Janis Harris

On March 24th, Janis posted this update on the Farm’s IG feed: This past week has been crazy humbling. But also figuring out our new norm of delivering flowers has been a learning curve. So I need to pause the deliveries for a bit so I can wrap my head around how we can proceed with delivering flowers. I also have to STILL BE A FLOWER FARMER. It is critical time for planting and seeding. We are sticking to our original seeding schedules. So there will be lots of flowers this summer. It’s still uncertain where and how we will sell them but I have to keep planting so there is a supply when we are on the other side of this.

To our 2020 couples: please keep us in the loop. We will work with whatever changes arise. Remember it’s your relationship that is important not the date, you still have each other.💕 I will continue to show you what is happening on the farm. Flower farming doesn’t stop. 🌻 stay healthy and positive.

Janis and Mark Harris and their family.

I’m so glad that Janis was able to share a moment of her time to record this Stories of Resilience segment for you. Best wishes to you, Janis and Mark! Listen to my 2017 Podcast interview with Janis and hear the full story of Harris Flower Farm.

Find and follow Harris Flower Farm at these social places:

Harris Flower Farm on Facebook

Harris Flower Farm on Instagram

Thanks so much for joining me today as we heard from both a flower farmer and a florist in our Slow Flowers community!

This past week, I was able to get out to my garden to start a bunch of flower seeds – some directly-sowed and some in flats in the greenhouse. Our nighttime temperatures here in Seattle are in the mid-40s right now, so I’m pretty confident that we’re past our last-frost date, but you never know! We have members who were hit with snow this past week, so nothing’s certain.

Our Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Ups continue to have great attendance and participation and feel incredibly rewarding. After four consecutive weeks, I’m even feeling more confident about the Zoom technology. I owe a HUGE thanks to Karen Thornton of Avenue 22 Events, Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social Media and Lisa Waud of pot & box for their incredible talents to help make the Meet-Ups a smoothly run success. They’re part of the Slow Flowers Team that makes it all so joyful for me and keeps me sane.

Replay of April 17, 2020 — Slow Flowers Members’ Virtual Meet-Up

Last Friday on April 17th, Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Company joined us as a special guest – she shared about how she’s designing and selling flowers during the Coronavirus era. We also had a surprise special guest — you’ll have to watch the Zoom replay video of the Virtual Meeting to see who joined us. Click on the video link above to watch!

Please join the next Slow Flowers Virtual Meet-Up on Friday, April 24th at 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. Can’t wait to see you there! Our very special guest will be Julie Tobi, who is a life coach for creatives. I met Julie at Holly Chapple’s Flowerstock last fall and I was so impressed with how Julie views that elusive work-life balance and helps creative professionals lean into the fulfilling careers and lives they actually want to have.

Artist, writer and editor Lorene Edwards Forkner will also join us on April 24th — and she’ll share about her watercolor studies as a mindfulness practice. Follow this link to join the Zoom Meet-Up on Friday.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, plans for the fourth annual Slow Flowers Summit, scheduled for June 28-30 are still in place, but May 15th will be the date when we will make a definitive decision whether to move forward with the original conference dates or reschedule for later in the year. I want to make sure you have 45 days’ notice to adjust your plans if we have to postpone. And just in case, mark October 26-27 as the backup dates for gathering together at our beautiful venue, Filoli Historic House and Garden in Woodside, California. As I said last week: I’m as eager as you are to experience a fabulous conference that’s presented in a safe environment. I hope this plan assures you and assists you in managing your own schedule moving forward into 2020.

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

You can contact us anytime with questions and I’ve added links to my email and that of our event manager Karen Thornton in today’s show notes.  You can also follow the Filoli VISIT Page and Slow Flowers Summit Page for additional updates. One more thing — this past week’s Summit newsletter features wonderful updates from all of our speakers, who shared what they’re doing and how they’re managing the COVID-19 shut-down. I’d love for you to read it, too, and you can find the link here.

Thank you to our Sponsors

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thank you to Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at slowflowersjournal.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. Find the full catalog of flower seeds and bulbs at johnnysseeds.com.

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.

The Gardener’s Workshop, which offers a full curriculum of online education for flower farmers and farmer-florists. Online education is more important this year than ever, and you’ll want to check out the course offerings at thegardenersworkshop.com.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 599,000 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 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.

I am in love with my greenhouse, designed and built sustainably by Oregon-based NW Green Panels (c) Missy Palacol Photography

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

Music Credits:

LaBranche; Heartland Flyer; Gaena; Glass Beads
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

Episode 449: Walt Krukowski of Vermont’s Mountain Flower Farm and his Story of Resilience; plus Lisa Ziegler of The Gardener’s Workshop

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020
Hydrangea harvest with Walt Krukowski of Mountain Flower Farm (c) Taken by Sarah

This is the 350th episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  

In feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about how the coronavirus pandemic will alter our beloved floral marketplace, perhaps forever, it soon became clear to me that sharing individual stories from our members is one way I could help our community. I don’t have many answers and each voice you hear on the Slow Flowers Podcast may not either, but collectively, as we continue to speak honestly about our challenges and successes, we hope to encourage and support one another.

Walt Krukowski of Mountain Flower Farm, leading a tour of his growing fields in late September 2019 (c) Taken by Sarah

Our featured guest this week is flower farmer-entrepreneur Walt Krukowski of Mountain Flower Farm in Warren, Vermont. Walt joined me via Skype to talk about his amazing farm and I’m honored to add his voice to our Stories of Reslience series.

I met Walt last September when I joined a floral sourcing workshop hosted by Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore and Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet. A group of 10 of us gathered for two days of education, including a full day with Walt as he walked us through the beautiful rows of late-summer ornamental crops grown for flowers and foliages. Hydrangeas, viburnum and forsythia for miles, it seemed. A stunning setting and an organic farm where bespoke flowers are grown with care. Sarah Collier of Taken by Sarah photographed the workshop and design sessions and she’s shared some lovely photographs of Walt, his farm and his flowers.

A selection of hydrangeas grown by Walt Krukowski (c) Taken by Sarah

Here’s a bit more about Mountain Flower Farm:
Nestled in The Green Mountains of Vermont’s Mad River Valley, the family farm is focused on quality, sustainability, and community. For over 20 years Mountain Flower Farem have served discerning floral designers nationwide with grower direct overnight shipping. Our reputation has been founded on producing exceptional quality seasonal crops, like Peony, Lilac, Snowball Viburnum, and Hydrangea.

The farm adheres to sustainable agriculture techniques like cover cropping, companion planting, and nurturing beneficial insect habitat to provide the backbone of our #beyondorganic farming operations. Crops are grown in vibrant, healthy soil, with a balanced biological ecosystem, certain to contain abundant nutrients, minerals, and live soil microbes. Chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides are never used.  

Mountain Flower Farm is located in Vermont’s Mad River Valley (c) Taken by Sarah

Mountain Flower Farm’s bloom schedule is delayed by Vermont’s slow-to-come, cooler summers. When most sources for seasonal cuts have finished for the year, Walt and his crew are just getting started! Of particular note, the farm’s peony crop is harvested from mid June – mid July. 

COVID 19’s disruption in our world coincided at almost the same time Walt typically announces Mountain Flower Farm’s seasonal crop availability and opens up the pre-order system for peonies. His communication with his customers via email really struck me as extraordinary and I asked him to join me on the podcast to discuss Mountain Flower Farm’s present, past and future. I know you’ll find it encouraging.

One exquisite bloom (c) Taken by Sarah

Thank you so much for joining me for this special conversation! I believe that now, more than ever, the messages of sustainability and seasonal and locally-available flowers is top of mind — among consumers, flower farmers and florists. Walt wrote this in his first newsletter of the season, dated March 31st: ” . . . one thing for certain is that we will be here toiling away, with our hands in the dirt, flowering fiercely for the future. Mountain Flower Farm is already in action, and we will be here doing whatever it takes to safely put flowers in your hands. Our model of grower direct overnight shipping was made for these times! Social distancing. Door to Door Delivery. Top quality product. Consistency. Value. 

“These are not new themes for us . . . in fact, this is what we have trained for and what we have been streamlining and perfecting for over 20 years! We stand ready to help our customers succeed through challenging times.”

The tour continues with Walt at Mountain Flower Farm (c) Taken by Sarah

Just one week later, he continued the story, and this is what inspired me o invite Walt to share more with you today.

“A week ago, in the midst of great uncertainty, we stuck to our schedule and published this season’s cut flower availability. Sending that email was for me, a moment that I was dreading. Questions and doubts were bountiful. We all know by now, life has been turned upside down. The economy is reeling, and the floral industry is one of many hard hit segments. 

“It brings me incredible comfort and hope to be able to check in today and report that the response we’ve received has been nothing short of incredible. For that, I am absolutely thankful and humbled. Our community is strong. There is hope, not only for @mountainflowerfarm, but for all of us trying to make it through this time. Thank you all for your generous orders. For your faith in our farm, our team, and our collective future. 
One thing that really struck me, that I want to share, is the nature of the orders we received.”

He continued, “As many of you know, we preceded our cut flower inventory release with a sliding scale discount offer created to help floral designers persevere. Customers could choose which level of discount they needed. I was very happy to see people taking advantage of this offer. I was also surprised, when I started to receive orders with notes attached saying ‘Thank you so much for this offer. I don’t need any flowers for my shop, but I’m placing this order for peony roots for our home garden,’ or others saying ‘Thank you for thinking of us florists and trying to help . . . I’ve placed orders for the season, but chose to not use any of the discount offers.'”

Walt Krukowski, presenting at last September’s floral sourcing workshop (c) Taken by Sarah

In the 24 hours after releasing Mountain Flower Farm’s discount offer, Walt received literally hundreds of emails. All of them full of appreciation, hope, and positivity. He responded, writing, “For that, I want to stand on the tallest peak and shout “THANK YOU!!!” “THANK YOU!!!” “THANK YOU!!!”
We’ve come to a point where, it’s really not abount sales or money anymore. It’s about humanity. It’s about hope. It’s about resilience. Like everyone, I have legitimate fear and worry right now. The outpouring of support that has been received this past week has helped to calm my worries and point my focus towards the future. Our floral community is strong. We are all connected, and for that I am absolutely grateful.”

Find and follow Mountain Flower Farm here:

Mountain Flower Farm on Facebook

Mountain Flower Farm on Instagram

Field-grown Tulips
Tulips grown by Gonzalo Ojeda of Ojeda Farms, a farmer I know and trust.

As I said last week, I want the Slow Flowers Podcast to be a companion to those of you in isolation, away from your physical community of peers, neighbors, customers and friends. I hope today’s interview was as inspiring to you as I found it to be for me.

The Gardener’s Workshop Cut Flower Farm: Lisa Ziegler and her family and crew.

Before we wrap today, I want to share a bonus interview with Lisa Ziegler of The Gardener’s Workshop, our newest Slow Flowers Podcast sponsor, announced last week. Lisa is a fellow garden writer, author of Cool Flowers, published by St. Lynn’s Press, the same publisher behind my books, Slow Flowers and The 50 Mile Bouquet. Lisa is a flower farmer, based in Newport News, Virginia, where The Gardener’s Workshop is also home to an online shop offering seeds and supplies for home gardeners and a growing curriculum of online courses for flower farmers and farmer-florists. I invited Lisa to give us an overview and update on The Gardener’s Workshop.

Sign up to be notified about future course releases here

Follow The Gardener’s Workshop on Facebook

The Gardener’s Workshop on Instagram

Thanks so much for joining me today as we heard from two flower farmers who have developed their businesses to reflect their passions and fit their lifestyles. And truly, that is what I wish for each of you and your floral enterprise.

Last week we held our third Virtual Member Meet-Up on April 10th. We had a great group in attendance and I thank you for joining us; A special thank you to Holly Chapple of Chapel Designers, Holly Chapple Flowers and Hope Farm, for her guest appearance to talk about how she is adapting during the Coronavirus. You can find the link to the Zoom replay video here. Thank you to each of you who attended!

Join us! Here is the Zoom Replay Video from April 10th

Please join this week’s Slow Flowers Virtual Meet-Up on Friday, April 17th at 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. Please join here. We’ll also share the Zoom Meeting Link in our Instagram Profile and on Facebook (Slow Flowers FB Page and Slow Flowers Community Group).

Thank you to our Sponsors

Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at slowflowersjournal.com.

Longfield Gardens, which 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. Check out the full catalog at Longfield Gardens 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  https://shop.syndicatesales.com/.

Rooted Farmers. Rooted Farmers works exclusively with local growers to put the highest-quality specialty cut flowers in floral customers’ hands. When you partner with Rooted Farmers, you are investing in your community, and you can expect a commitment to excellence in return. Learn more at RootedFarmers.com.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 596,000 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 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.

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

Music Credits:

Falaal; Heartland Flyer; Gaena; Glass Beads
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

Episode 448: Florist Katie McClain of Tucson’s Posh Petals; plus, our Stories of Resilience guest Mandy O’Shea of 3 Porch Farm

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020
Katie McClain, Posh Petals, Arizona-inspired

Our featured guest this week is Katie McClain of Posh Petals, based in Oro Valley, outside Tucson, Arizona. Just like last week’s guest, April Vomfell of Flathead Farmworks, Katie and I recorded this interview in person on March 14th at Hitomi Gilliam’s Trend Summit in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Little did we know that business as usual and all our plans for the 2020 growing and floral design season would be radically changed soon after Katie and I traveled home the following day. I’m delighted to share our conversation with you today.

But first, our bonus series here on the Slow Flowers Podcast continues with our next installment of Stories of Resilience. I believe that now, more than ever, the message of sustainability and seasonal and locally-available flowers is top of mind — among consumers, flower farmers and florists.

I want the Slow Flowers Podcast to be a companion to those of you in isolation, away from your physical community of peers, neighbors, customers and friends. I don’t have many answers, but I do want to keep the lines of communication open and accessible.

Today’s Stories of Resilience guest wrote one of the very first posts that signaled to me that our TIMES ARE CHANGING when on March 14th I noticed 3 Porch Farm’s instagram post offering free shipping of their flowers. They wrote:

In light of the current situation, we are shipping a box of mixed blooms to your door !! This is the first time we have offered this option and we are excited to be able to bring y’all a little bit of bright sparkle during this time of potential stress. Each box will contain a mix of 35 stems of our blooming beauties for the price of $65. You can expect approximately 7-8 Tulips, 20-22 Poppies (even a few of the big Italian varieties), and 7-8 Daffodils…maybe even a few Ranunculus and Anemones thrown in there too. (Our first succession of Ranunculus is on the way out while our next batch isn’t quite ready yet). But what I can promise is that they will all brighten your day !! .
We will begin shipping this Monday with first come, first serve. We hope to ship throughout the week assuming shipping continues. . . . we can never thank y’all enough for all the love and support you constantly extend our way !! Really and truly, this farm only works bc of your kindness and belief in what we are doing over here !! Sending y’all so much love, happiness, and excellent health
.”

I reached out to 3 Porch to learn more and ever since, Mandy and I have been juggling our schedules in order to record this conversation. Based in Comer, Georgia, Mandy and Steve O’Shea are past guests of this podcast in 2016, which you can listen to at this link.

Mandy O’Shea of 3 Porch Farm

Here’s a bit more about Mandy O’Shea. She graduated from UGA with a degree in Horticulture. During that time, she began working with a local sustainable farmer and selling their goods at the Big City Bread farmers market and other local venues. She has been hooked ever since. Her love for the farm life took her to California via the WWOOF’s program where she learned to combine her love for horses and farming. While in Ca., she also worked at the prestigious organic olive oil company McEvoy Ranch for multiple years helping to manage their 7 acre vegetable and cut flower gardens as well as doing daily flower arrangements to beautify the ranch, the S.F. Ferry building store and for frequent events. After missing her home state for too long, she and Steve packed up their dogs…and bee hives… and headed east bound and down to begin their new farming endeavor. They are passionate about bringing beauty, blooms, and good food to the local folks.

A bumper crop of ranunculus from 3 Porch Farm

3 Porch Farm is a “Certified Naturally Grown” (which adheres to the same standards as USDA Organic), yet Steve and Mandy’s commitment to sustainable farming goes far beyond that. All 5 of the farm’s vehicles run on waste vegetable oil recycled from restaurants in Athens. Since 2012, 3  Porch Farm is entirely solar powered!! The program is ever-evolving, with over 36 KW of solar panels that provides enough electricity to supply the needs of the entire farm plus the O’Shea house, and still quite a bit extra to feed back into the grid.

Spring’s tulips — ready for shipping in this Coronavirus era

With Planet before profit as their operating principal, Mandy and Steve’s goal is to be carbon neutral and to use the farm as an opportunity to put best ethics into practice. The farm is lush with strawberries and blueberries supplying customers at the Athens Farmers Market and Freedom Farmers Market (in Atlanta) on Saturdays. Each year’s love for growing and designing with flowers expands. 3 Porch Farm has hundreds of rose bushes and peonies, thousands of dahlias and ranunculus, and a myriad of other varieties for every season. As they explain on 3 Porch Farm’s web site: “We have the good fortune of living on an amazing farm with a little under 9 acres of gorgeous landscaping, constantly in bloom, and filled with wildlife. It is our great pleasure to spend our years working together to bring something positive to an already wonderful community.”

3 Porch Farm’s seasonal blooms (left); Boxes ready to ship flowers (right)

Despite all that is on her plate, I’m so glad that Mandy devoted a bit of time to record this Stories of Resilience segment to share today. Mandy discussed that 3 Porch Farm has joined CalFlowers (the California Association of Flower Growers & Shippers), which is the trade association offering its members access to discounted fed-ex shipping rates. I hope you can take one tip or strategy from our conversation as you adapt and pivot your own floral enterprise. Best wishes to you both, Steve and Mandy!

Mandy and Steve O’Shea of 3 Porch Farm in Comer, Georgia

Find and follow 3 Porch Farm:

3 Porch Farm on Facebook

3 Porch Farm on Instagram

Floral designs by Posh Petals: Everyday arrangement (left); bridal bouquet (right)

Okay, let’s jump right into my conversation with Katie McClain of Posh Petals!

Posh Petals is a flower studio located in sunny Oro Valley, Arizona!  Katie has been designing gorgeous floral art for weddings and special events for over 13 years. She is a Certified Arizona Master Florist and extremely knowledgeable when it comes to everything floral. Posh Petals is not your typical 9-5 flower shop.  Everything Posh Petals designs is custom inspired by personal conversations with customers. The studio asks questions about the recipient, his or her color preferences, home interior style, aesthetic vibe and more. Typically, Posh Petals is available for daily deliveries, special orders, events, and its specialty: weddings of all kinds.

The natural Arizona landscape and its flora are a theme in Posh Petals’ designs

In the current Coronavirus climate, Katie has added an update on Posh Petals website: “From the Studio to the Porch: We are available for no contact daily delivery orders from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.”

Find and follow Posh Petals at these social places:

Posh Petals on Facebook

Posh Petals on Instgram

This is the arrangement designed by Katie McClain at the 2018 Team Flower Conference. It certainly caught my eye! Note the inclusion of cactus – a signature Posh Petals design element
This is the text that Katie wrote to accompany the above arrangement

Thanks so much for joining me today as we heard from both a flower farmer and a florist in our Slow Flowers community! I don’t know about you, but things are sinking in this week that we are not in a temporary situation, but a long-term one with no end on the horizon. Some days are better than others.

Days when I can do a little gardening, like planting sweet pea seedlings gifted to me by Lorene Edwards Forkner, one of our Slow Flowers Summit 2020 speakers. And days when I can arrange for a contact-free, socially-distanced flower pickup from a nearby farm — thanks Laughing Goat Farm in Enumclaw — and then have late afternoon mental health breaks to play with those local stems.

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and I know I have felt that way for a few weeks, wondering how Slow Flowers can support our community.

Last week we held our second Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up on April 3rd. We had a great group in attendance and I thank you for joining us; A special thank you to Missy Palacol of Missy Palacol Photography and the Kalyx Group for sharing her 30 Day Social Media planning tool (You can find that link in today’s show notes), and Amelia Ihlo of Rooted Farmers for walking us through the new marketplace for flower farms and florists.

Click above to watch the Zoom replay video of the April 3rd Virtual Meet-Up.

Please join this week’s Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up on Friday, April 10th at 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. Click here to join. All you need is a device with a Camera (Laptop, Smartphone, PC, Tablet). A Mic/Headset are nice, but not a necessity.

Holly Chapple, our special guest on April 10th Slow Flowers Member Vitual Meet-Up

Can’t wait to see you there! Our very special guest is Holly Chapple of Hope Farm, Chapel Designers and Holly Heider Chapple Flowers. She will join us to talk about weddings, bookings, managing rescheduling and pivoting to a new reality. Please join us!

Last week I announced updated plans for the fourth annual Slow Flowers Summit, scheduled for June 28-30. In case you missed it, I announced that May 15th is the date when we will announce a definitive decision whether to move forward with the original conference dates or reschedule them. We want to make sure you have 45 days’ notice to adjust your plans if we have to postpone. And just in case, mark October 26-27 as the backup dates for gathering together at our beautiful venue, Filoli Historic Home and Garden in Woodside, California. As I said last week: I’m as eager as you are to experience a fabulous conference that’s presented in a safe environment. I hope this plan assures you and assists you in managing your own schedule moving forward into 2020.

You can contact us anytime with questions and I’ve added links to my email and that of our event manager Karen Thornton in today’s show notes.  You can also follow the Filoli VISIT Page and Slow Flowers Summit Page for additional updates.

Thank you to our Sponsors

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thank you to Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at slowflowersjournal.com.

Welcome to our new sponsor The Gardener’s Workshop, which offers a full curriculum of online education for flower farmers and farmer-florists. We’ll share more in the future weeks, but we want to give a shout-out and thanks this week to Lisa Ziegler of The Gardener’s Workshop. Online education is more important this year than ever, and you’ll want to check out the course offerings at thegardenersworkshop.com

Our next sponsor thank you goes to FarmersWeb. FarmersWeb software makes it simple for flower farms to streamline working with their buyers. By lessening the administrative load and increasing efficiency, FarmersWeb helps your farm save time, reduce errors, and work with more buyers overall. Learn more at www.farmersweb.com.

Our final sponsor thanks goes to 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.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 594,000 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 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.

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

Music Credits:

Dirtbike Lovers; Heartland Flyer; Gaena; Glass Beads
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

Episode 447: Farmer-florist April Vomfell of Flathead Farmworks in Kalispell, Montana; plus, Stories of Resilience guest Tammy Myers of LORA Bloom

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020
April Vomfell of Flathead Farmworks in Kalispell, Montanta (c) Amy Messenger
April Vomfell of Flathead Farmworks in Kalispell, Montanta (c) Amy Messenger

I’m so excited this week to introduce you to April Vomfell of Flathead Farmworks in Kalispell, Montana. We recorded this interview in person on March 14th at Hitomi Gilliam’s Trend Summit in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. At the time, I don’t think April or I really understood that life as we knew it would come crashing to a halt when we both traveled home the following day. So it makes our interview all the more special. I’m glad you’ll hear it and I hope you’ll find our optimism contagious in these uncertain times.


But first, our bonus series here on the Slow Flowers Podcast continues with our next installment of Stories of Resilience. I believe that now, more than ever, the message of sustainability and seasonal and locally-available flowers is top of mind — among consumers, flower farmers and florists.

I want the Slow Flowers Podcast to be a companion to those of you in isolation, away from your physical community of peers, neighbors, customers and friends. I don’t have many answers, but I do want to keep the lines of communication open and accessible through this platform.

Tammy Myers of LORA Bloom (c) Missy Palacol Photography
Tammy Myers of LORA Bloom (c) Missy Palacol Photography

About that Resilience. I invited Tammy Myers of LORA Bloom to share what she’s experiencing as a floral entrepreneur. Based in Fall City, Washington, east of Seattle, Tammy is a past guest of this podcast. She first appeared in 2015 when I featured her studio First & Bloom and its All-American-grown branding. Later, in 2017, I spoke with Tammy and fellow designer Maura Whalen of Casablanca Floral as they discussed “Flower Power,” a collective of local Seattle area florists and farmer-florists.

In the “About” page on her new LORA Bloom web site, Tammy says she will never forget the first time she discovered the difference between locally-sourced flowers and the alternative — imported ones. 

“Very early in my first business, First & Bloom, I explored wholesale options in Seattle.  I walked into the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  I found buckets and buckets of freshly cut blooms in every color and shape. Blooms that were grown by flower farmers and cut from the fields just hours before.  All the textures, the rich colors and hues, the sweet fragrant smell of flowers, and the hardworking faces of the farmers themselves captured my heart. I do believe it was then in that moment, when I fell in love with the floral industry. It was there I found my people.  My tribe. It was incredible.”

She soon learned the reason this uncommon wholesaler existed as a fresh alternative in the floral industry – thanks to its steady supply of local and seasonal flowers. A great deal has happened since that day six years ago. After years as a florist and a small business owner Tammy wanted to find a new way to connect with customers and increase her online presence.  Hearing the same frustrations from friends in the floral business, she set out to change how consumers purchase flowers online. With LORA Bloom, Tammy hopes to change the flower shopping experience to give consumers a way to experience local and sustainable choices. LORA Bloom is committed to sourcing primarily American grown florals and absolutely never uses floral foams in designs.   

Find and follow LORA Bloom at these social places:

LORA Bloom on Facebook

LORA Bloom on Instagram

30 Day Social Media Action Plan from Kalyx Group

Tammy discussed using a 14-day social media planning tool created by Missy Palacol and Kalisa Jenne-Fraser of Kalyx Group. You may remember their names as speakers at the 2019 Slow Flowers Summit in St. Paul. I’m so happy that Missy and Kalisa have updated their action plan for the entire month of April — and they have permitted me to share this resource with listeners of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

This is free to you! Please follow this link to downloaded Kalyx Group’s 30-day action plan. I’ll see you online — can’t wait to watch how you use their resources for your platform!

April Vomfell of Flathead Farmworks (c) Amy Messenger
April Vomfell of Flathead Farmworks (c) Amy Messenger

Okay, let’s jump right into my conversation with April Vomfell of Flathead Farmworks.

April is a fourth generation cool-climate gardener. She got her start at a young age, weeding the carrot bed and emptying the compost bucket. Since buying her first camera at age 9, she has been taking pictures of flowers and watching things grow.

Before college, April’s first full-time job was in a flower shop, helping customers and learning about flower care and handling. After receiving a bachelor’s in English, April worked as a copy editor and website editor for several years in Washington, New Mexico and Wyoming. She completed a master’s in library science and then worked in public libraries in Wyoming and Montana for several years before transitioning to jobs in marketing.

The greenhouse filled with April's ranunculus crop
The greenhouse filled with April’s ranunculus crop

Now as a flower farmer, floral designer and entrepreneur, April combines all of her skills in marketing, organization, writing and planning with her passion for growing beautiful flowers.

April and her husband, Kurt, met in 2013 and discovered their mutual love of wilderness, Montana, good food and gardening.

Summertime at Flathead Farmworks – a beautiful and productive urban flower farm

In 2015 they founded Flathead Farmworks to provide fresh vegetables and herbs to local restaurants. As a landscape architect, Kurt is instrumental in the design and functionality of the Flathead Farmworks’ growing spaces. Located in downtown Kalispell, the couple’s half-acre urban farm contains their home, annual and perennial gardens, shade trees and fruit trees, chicken yards and a greenhouse.

Snapdragon harvest in April, with April Vomfell

It is a work in progress, with added improvements and new experiments every season. And ask you will hear, flowers have gradually become the main focus of their business. I’m so pleased you can join this conversation and hear more about it from April. Find and follow Flathead Farmworks at these social places:

Flathead Farmworks on Facebook

Flathead Farmworks on Instagram

A bridal bouquet, grown and designed by April Vomfell of Flathead Farmworks (c) Carrie Ann Photography
Garden shed at Flathead Farmworks

Thanks so much for joining me today as we shared two important conversations with you. Connections and community are more important than ever before – and what we value as truly important and essential has radically changed in the course of just a few weeks.

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and I know I have felt that way for a few weeks, wondering how Slow Flowers can support our community. To that end, we launched our first Virtual Member Meet-Up on March 27th. Fifty of you, from more than 20 states, joined in on a Zoom platform where we could see each other on the screen of our desktop or mobile devices, and hear from one another. It was really powerful to see your faces and hear your voices. What a beautiful experience. As one flower farmer told me afterwards: “It actually does help to not feel so alone during this crisis.”

If you’re interested in joining the next Slow Flowers Virtual Meet-Up, follow this link and mark Fridays at 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern for our weekly gathering. The next meeting is April 3rd – I hope to see you there. We will have a few special guests and we also have some fun giveaways you might win.

Another important topic to share with you are updated plans for the fourth annual Slow Flowers Summit, scheduled for June 28-30. I want to announce that May 15th is the date when we will make a definitive decision whether to move forward with the original conference dates or reschedule them.

We want to make sure you have 45 days’ notice to adjust your plans if we have to postpone. And just in case, mark October 26-27 as the backup dates for gathering together at our beautiful venue, Filoli Historic House and Garden in Woodside, California. As I said last week: I’m as eager as you are to experience a fabulous conference that’s presented in a safe environment. I hope this plan assures you and assists you in managing your own schedule moving forward into 2020.

You can contact us anytime with questions and I’ve added links to my email and that of our event manager Karen Thornton in today’s show notes.  You can also follow the Filoli VISIT Page and Slow Flowers Summit Page for additional updates.

Thank you to our sponsors

Thank you to Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at slowflowersjournal.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. Find the full catalog of flower seeds and bulbs at johnnysseeds.com.

Rooted Farmers. Our friends at Rooted Farmers work exclusively with local growers to put the highest-quality specialty cut flowers in floral customers’ hands. When you partner with Rooted Farmers, you are investing in your community, and you can expect a commitment to excellence in return. Learn more at RootedFarmers.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.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 592,000 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 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.

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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

Music Credits:

Tiny Putty; Heartland Flyer; Gaena; Glass Beads
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

Episode 446: Checking in with Melissa Feveyear of Terra Bella Flowers; plus, kicking off our Stories of Resilience series with Celeste Monke of Free Range Flowers

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
Melissa Feveyear of Seattle’s Terra Bella Flowers (left) with her “Persephone” creation for Fleurs de Villes at the NW Flower & Garden Festival

This week, we’re welcoming back Melissa Feveyear, founder and creative director of Seattle-based Terra Bella Flowers, a past guest of the Slow Flowers Podcast. You first heard from Melissa when she appeared as our guest in 2015 — it’s been nearly five years since she and I recorded that episode. Some of you may know Melissa from the pages of The 50 Mile Bouquet as a pioneering leader in sustainable floral design. Recently, Melissa expanded her retail shop in Seattle’s Greenwood/Phinney Ridge neighborhood and I visited her there to record today’s episode.

Celeste Monke of Free Range Flowers (c) Caylie Mash Photography

But first, this week marks the launch of a new bonus series on the Podcast called Stories of Resilience.  Now, more than ever, the message of sustainability and seasonal and locally-available flowers is top of mind — among consumers, flower farmers and florists.

Yet, due to the unprecedented pandemic and health crisis, many of us are hunkered down at home. Our business plans are in limbo and we’re all trying to get a grasp on what the future — short and long-term — looks like. My heart breaks for us all and so I hope that the Slow Flowers Podcast can continue to be a companion to those of you in isolation, away from your physical community of peers, neighbors, customers and friends. I don’t have many answers, but I do want to keep the lines of communication open and accessible.

Celeste Monke of Free Range Flowers is our first Stories of Resilience guest. I’m so pleased that she joined me for a recorded conversation last week. I had spent much of the prior ten days envisioning ways to help our community through various channels in the Slow Flowers platform. Bringing you the Stories of Resilience series is one low-tech way to support you as we begin adjusting to the new normal — we have always used the Slow Flowers Podcast as a forum for conversation and now, this Podcast will bring you voices of flower farmers and floral designers as we discuss ideas, strategies and resources to help you stay grounded in your purpose and calling through your own floral enterprise. Sustaining your floral enterprise is as important as your sustainable practices.

Harvesting field crops at Free Range Flowers

Here’s a bit more about Free Range Flowers and its farmers. Free Range Flowers is an eight-acre flower farm in Whatcom Country, located just ten miles from downtown Bellingham, Washington, at a ranch founded by Jay Roelof. Jay is described as a dreamer at heart. His long-term vision pulls everything on the farm into order. He is the farm’s anchor. He is also a true grower. Having studied horticulture at Montana State and managed field operations for a large native plant nursery, he has an intuitive sense for what plants need and an agile understanding of mechanics and farm systems.

Celeste and Jay, Free Range Flowers (c) Caylie Mash hotography

Jay’s partner, Celeste Monke is the farm’s full-time farmer and florist. Besides being a grower, she’s a dreamer, a lover, a feeler, an optimist and a bit of a rebel.  Celeste made her roundabout way from Arizona to Bellingham, in trying to find a way to live a life of positive production. In spending time as a seed collector and propagator, she found a partner, Jay, with whom she started a cut flower farm. She and Jay operate Free Range Flowers with an emphasis on sustainable practices, wildflowers and native plants. When not outdoors working, she tries to find time to be outdoors playing, talking philosophy, writing poetry and trying to make this world more just.

Free Range Flowers (c) Caylie Mash Photography

Celeste is an at-large board member of WA Young Farmers Coalition, which supports Washington’s young and beginning farmers and farmworkers in their pursuit of agrarian revival by offering unique social and educational events, enabling access to critical resources, and fostering a strong community of allies.

WA Young Farmers Coalition: COVID-19 Resources for Farmers

Free Range Flowers on Facebook

Free Range Flowers on Instagram

Free Range Love (Weddings)

Melissa Feveyear of Terra Bella Flowers — photographed in the doorway of her shop on Seattle’s Phinney Ridge

Next up, my visit to Terra Bella Flowers and a sit-down with Melissa Feveyear. The occasion for our conversation was to discuss the beautiful floral couture dress Melissa designed for the Fleurs de Villes display, held in Seattle February 26-March 1 at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival and at Seattle’s Pacific Place.

Persephone, Melissa’s all-domestic-adorned creation for Fleurs de Villes at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival

More than a dozen Slow Flowers designers and teams participated as Fleurs de Villes artists to create floral couture that adorned lifesize mannequins. Melissa designed a mythical garment for our Slow Flowers-sponsored mannequin featuring all local and domestic botanicals and I want to share more about that project, as well as hear Melissa’s update on her retail floral business.

Here’s Melissa’s artist statement about her Fleurs de Villes design:

Persephone, Goddess of Spring, emerges from the underworld and with each step, garden roses, blooming branches and spring blooms awaken and burst into a vibrant display of color. Inspired by Art Nouveau painter Alphonese Mucha, our Persephone is adorned exclusively with American-grown blooms and botanicals.

Terra Bella founder and creative director Melissa Feveyear is a founding member of the Slow Flowers Movement, a campaign designed to inspire the floral industry and its consumers to embrace local, seasonal and sustainable flowers.

Read more about Terra Bella and Melissa’s story here

Terra Bella Flowers

We sat together in two velvet-upholstered vintage chairs and recorded this interview on March 11th. My, so much has happened in the two weeks since. I hope you find the same inspiration as I have from this intrepid and intentional artist.

I know you’ll be inspired by this beautiful, light-filled shop where plants flourish in a conservatory-like atmosphere and the fragrance of flowers greets those who enter

I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that the silver lining of the enforced quarrantine in world at least has led to walks on the beach at Saltwater State Park and my finally finishing my rose pruning and fertilizing project. Or plants, seeds and bulbs are oblivious to the madness and for that I take comfort. I send blessings and a wish that you can be grounded in this time.

Thank You to Our Sponsors:

First, this podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

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.

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.

Longfield Gardens, which 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. Check out the full catalog at Longfield Gardens at longfield-gardens.com.

FarmersWeb software makes it simple for flower farms to streamline working with their buyers. By lessening the administrative load and increasing efficiency, FarmersWeb helps your farm save time, reduce errors, and work with more buyers overall. Learn more at  farmersweb.com.

Minnesota-grown roses from Len Busch Roses — featured at the Slow Flowers Summit 2019

The fourth annual Slow Flowers Summit takes place in late June, but I want to make a few comments for those of you who’ve registered or who are planning on doing so. I want to address concerns regarding COVID-19 and coronavirus, concerns that are affecting all of us in our daily lives.

Rest assured we are working in partnership with the Summit venue, Filoli, to monitor the options available to reschedule the Summit. We’ll have an announcement on those plans soon, and I’m as eager as you are to experience a fabulous conference that’s presented in a safe environment.

You can contact us anytime with questions:

Debra Prinzing

Karen Thornton

You can also follow the Filoli VISIT Page and Slow Flowers Summit Page for additional updates.

Join me! Slow Flowers Podcast (c) Missy Palacol Photography

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 590,000 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 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.

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

Music Credits:

One Little Triumph; Heartland Flyer; 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