Debra Prinzing

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Archive for the ‘floral design’ Category

Episode 476: Extending the Season with a From-the-Farm Product Line, with Natasha McCrary of 1818 Farms in Mooresville, Alabama

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020
Natasha McCrary of 1818 Farms (right), with Shea Cream from the farm’s product line

Today’s guest, Natasha McCrary, and I first met when we started following one another on social media. Naming her business 1818 Farms was a brilliant move, because it’s kind of unforgettable. And her IG feed is filled with lots of charming images of flora and fauna — by fauna, I am specifically talking about the Olde English Babydoll Southdown sheep who reside at 1818 Farms in Mooresville, Alabama.

These animals are so prominent at 1818 Farms, there’s an illustration of one on the farm’s branding and logo. Natasha will tell the story in much more detail, but here’s a bit:

Miniature Southdown sheep originated on the South Down hills of Sussex County, England in the 1700s. In 1986-91, after becoming almost extinct, 350 sheep with the original bloodlines were located and a registry was formed. The name Olde English Babydoll Southdown can only be used for sheep that have been accepted by the registry. Babydolls are outstanding pets that produce fleece that is in the class of cashmere, a hand spinner’s delight. They provide organic weeding and make excellent companion animals. Their gentle nature makes them a joy to own!

Some of the sheep at 1818 Farms — too cute for words!!!

Natasha writes more about the sheep at 1818 Farms on her website:

“The idea for this family project originated with my eight year old child, who fell in love with the Babydoll Southdown Sheep that he met at a petting farm we visited in October 2011. Owning a Babydoll was all he could talk about, so, thinking this would be fun and educational for our family to do together, I began researching where to buy a few lambs to raise as a family project on our land here in Mooresville. And then, as Gamble, my 8 year-old entrepreneur, began to plan what he was going to do with his sheep: sell the wool, sell the manure to garden shops, charge for photographs, and even stage a Nativity scene at the church if he could find a baby, I began to dream my own plans for a small profitable farm where we could teach our children to appreciate the land and animals and to be good conservationists. We also wanted to teach them the importance of being self-sustaining.”

The pavilion (left) and Natasha (right)

Located on three acres in the northwest corner of the historic village of Mooresville, AL (pop. 58), 1818 Farms is named for the year Mooresville was incorporated, one year before Alabama became a state. Events of all types have been hosted in the garden, under the pavilions and in the adjacent Garden House. Pre-COVID, the events included Bloom Strolls, supper and garden club gatherings, and “Farm to Table” dinners hosted by some of the area’s top chefs all take place on our farm.

The popular flower truck

The Garden House has been home to a series of classes including: raised bed gardening, food preservation, seed starting, raising backyard chickens, wreath making and flower preparation and arranging. Natasha moved some of that education to the new 1818 Farms’ You Tube channel during COVID and you’ll hear us discuss that in our conversation.

The flower fields at 1818 Farms

1818 Farms’ bath and beauty products have evolved as an important facet of the McCrary family’s farm-based business. that really work. The farm’s popular animals appear on the labels of products including Farrah Fawcett’s Bath Tea, Clover’s Lip Smack and Sweet Pea and her scented Shea Creme. In 2019, Natasha’s hard work was recognized with 1818 Farms winning Amazon’s United States Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year.

I know you’ll enjoy our conversation and be inspired by Natasha’s tips and suggestions, especially for adding a non-perishable product line to create a revenue stream year-round.

Natasha during flower harvest

Find and follow 1818 Farms at these social places:

1818 Farms on Facebook

1818 Farms on Instagram

1818 Farms on YouTube

Thanks so much for joining us today for another fun conversation. Hey, time is running out to participate in the 2021 Slow Flowers Member Survey.  For sharing your time complete the survey, we’d like to send you an etched Slow Flowers Society botanical bookmark – and enter your name into the drawing for one free registration to the 2021 Slow Flowers Summit, valued at $599! But you must give us your name and contact information to receive the bookmark and enter the drawing — if you choose to respond anonymously, we can’t bestow our gifts!


Registration is open for my first online course, Slow Flowers Creative Workshop: Floral Storytelling. The course begins November 1st so check out links and take advantage of the $200 introductory promo code, meaning you can enjoy this course for just $97. It includes three modules, 11 lessons, six worksheets and three writing templates. I’m excited to see you in the course! And a shout-out to our first two students who registered last weekend! I’m eager to have you join me to boost and refine your floral storytelling skills and enhance your own message with the power of words.


Fleurvana Holiday Summit: Registration Giveaway!


As I mentioned, the Fleurvana Virtual Summit for which I taught in late August, is returning with a “holiday edition.” It takes place from Sunday, October 26 to Wednesday, October 28 and my presentation is scheduled to air Monday, October 26th at 7 am Pacific/10 am Eastern.

I’ve developed an entirely new presentation called Taking Stock: Writing your 2020 Year in Review & 2021 Forecast with Creative Intention.

As with last time, you can register for a free pass to attend Fleurvana during October 26-28. But many people are purchasing a VIP Pass to access private speaker roundtables and watch the presentations at their own pace. Shawn and I will draw one free VIP Pass for one of you — just sign up to register at the link below. Everyone who registers through this link will be entered into a drawing for a VIP Pass. The deadline is Midnight Eastern Time on October 24th. We’ll draw the winner on October 25th and let you know ASAP so you can join all the private speaker roundtables (online, of course). And as I mentioned, everyone who registers will be able to watch the sessions in real time, starting next Sunday. I’ll see you there!


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.

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

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.

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Visit them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com.


The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 651,000 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; 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; Mountain Sun
Music by:
audionautix.com

Episode 475: How the COVID shutdown inspired Postal Petals, a conversation with founder and floral entrepreneur Talia Boone

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

I met today’s guest, Talia Boone, when two other Slow Flowers members reached out to tell me about her and her new floral venture. As soon as I learned about Talia and her Los Angeles-based company Postal Petals, I thought — “we need her to join Slow Flowers” because her mission is i100% alignment with ours. Thank you to Yoni Levenbach of Flowers Without Borders and Whit McClure of Whit Hazen, who separately connected me with Talia earlier this summer.

Talia is a veteran marketing, communications and branding strategist whose background is in professional sports and entertainment. About three years ago, she formed INTER:SECT, a creative, tactical solutions agency that serves as a catalyst for pioneering ideas, collaboration and creative opportunities at the intersection of sports, business, technology, consciousness, culture and the arts, with the goal of promoting socially and culturally relevant conversations and collective action.

Up until now, Talia’s focus has been the intersection of sports, business, culture and social impact. And now, FLOWERS. Her new business, Postal Petals, has a social impact mission and I’m excited to share her story in our conversation today.  Talia is a self-described floral enthusiast and DIY floral arranger. Since she’s based in Los Angeles, she often shopped at the Los Angeles Flower Market during public hours, bringing home flowers to arrange and enjoy — as part of her personal creativity and mental health practice.

You’ll hear how COVID is to blame for Talia’s newest venture, provoked by the closure of the Los Angeles Flower Market and her search for farm-direct flowers to fill her flower fix.

Postal Petals’ origins began with that search. Launched online in September, here’s how Postal Petals is described: Think of us as a farm-to-table produce box, but for fresh flowers! Postal Petals connects flower lovers directly to farms to receive fresh flowers at a competitive price point when compared to the retail marketplace. Each stem is handpicked and cut just hours before they are carefully packaged and shipped to you for delivery within 36 hours of harvest, ensuring quality and freshness. Once you open your Petal Box, you can build those beautiful loose blooms into stunning arrangements with a quick video tutorial or virtual hands-on workshop with one of our professional florists. Each Petal Box includes vibrant flowers sourced domestically from eco-friendly farms. From calla lilies to cheery sunflowers to picturesque peonies, there’s a new floral adventure inside every Postal Petals box.

Follow #blackfloristfriday to meet designers who are part of Postal Petals’ Black Florist Directory

Follow Postal Petals at these social places:

Postal Petals on Facebook

Postal Petals on Instagram

Postal Petals’ #blackfloristfriday series on Instagram — it’s a wonderful addition to the floral community.

Talia Boone, Postal Petals’ founder and CEO

Thanks so much for joining us today. There is so much inspiration packed into a conversation with Talia Boone! I jotted down one of her references, and it’s worth restating here: If you want to go fast, to alone; if you want to go far, go together. That is the true message of Slow Flowers and for everyone who is part of our community!

As I mentioned, you can read more about Talia in today’s show notes. Today we also posted a feature story about Postal Petals in Slow Flowers Journal — that’s at slowflowersjournal.com. Earlier this week, we started a six-part editorial series called New Floral Marketing Models & Platforms, beginning with Amelia Ihlo of Rooted Farmers on Monday and Rachel Heath of Flora Fun Box yesterday. After today’s feature on Postal Petals, the series continues for three more days as we profile: American Grown at Home, a project of Kelly Shore and Petals by the Shore; Zap Bloom, Sally Vander Wyst’s new venture, and Tammy Meyers of LORABloom. I know this series will interest you because there’s inspiration for flower farmers, florists and designers to consider diversification in their own enterprises. And, I am pretty sure this series will prompt others to reach out and let me know who they are and tell me about their new models!

Okay, whew. Does October seem like the year’s busiest month so far? I feel it and you might, too. Flowers are still blooming in my garden – so far! Our expected first-frost date won’t come for another few weeks. One flower farmer recently told me that October 15th is his “frost date,” whether the thermometer is down to freezing or not. He’s ready for a break and I don’t blame him. The zeitgeist of anticipation in our lives is undeniable, and some (maybe most) of it comes with a side order of anxiety. How do we move forward with so much uncertainty? Taking positive action is sometimes the best antidote to that feeling.

The first Say Their Names Memorial in Portland, Oregon

To that end, I’m thrilled to share that next week on October 20th, our friend Karen Thornton of Avenue 22 Events is leading the installation of a new Say Their Names Memorial in Kirkland, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Karen is Slow Flowers’ operations and special events manager — many of you have met her during our regular Zoom Meet-Ups or in-person at the past two Slow Flowers Summits. Karen also recently took over Slow Flowers membership management from Lisa Waud, who has taken a step back for other important projects.

I want to let you know about the Say Their Names Memorial because it continues the good work of Portland-based wedding and event designer Joy Proctor, who began the memorial on Juneteenth when she and others mounted black-and-white portraits of more than 200 Black women and men whose lives were lost due to racial injustice. Flowers play a role in the powerful and sobering gallery of faces and names, as each portrait is commemorated with a small bouquet.

Slow Flowers and several of our member florists and farmers are supporting the October 20th installation. Here is Karen’s Go Fund Me link and I invite you to contribute, and provide support.

More announcements

Before we get started, I want to announce the winner of our 2020 Tilth Conference registration giveaway, announced last week. I asked you to post a comment in last week’s show notes to tell us the one thing you are doing in your floral enterprise to address climate change. Our winner, Aishah Lurry, past guest of this podcast, commented: Patagonia Flower Farm is located in the high desert of Arizona; when we first started thinking about flower farming, the most important thing to us was water conservation. We have found that using landscape fabric slows down evaporation and has allowed us to use a minimal amount of water. It does this by blocking the sunlight In turn keeping the soil moist for a much longer period of time. Thanks for the great comment — and congratulations, Aishah! You’ll be attending – virtually – the 2020 Tilth organic farming conference on November 9 & 10! I’ll send you all the details for your complimentary registration.

First, there’s still time to complete the 2021 Slow Flowers Member Survey!

To thank you for sharing your time to take the survey, we’d like to send you an etched Slow Flowers Society botanical bookmark – and enter your name into the drawing for one free registration to the 2021 Slow Flowers Summit, valued at $599! But you must give us your name and contact information to receive the bookmark and enter the drawing — if you choose to respond anonymously, we can’t bestow our gifts!

Tomorrow, October 15th, registration begins for my first online course, Slow Flowers Creative Workshop: Floral Storytelling. You can learn more details and watch a video message from me here. The course begins November 1st so check out link above and take advantage of the $200 off introductory promo code — SF97 –, meaning you can enjoy this course for just $97. It includes three modules, 11 lessons, six worksheets and three writing templates. I’m excited to see you in the course!

On Friday, October 16th, the 2020 Flowerstock, Virtual Edition launches. A combination of live presentations and pre-recorded presentations from a wide range of florists, designers, and more, Flowerstock is the brainchild of our friend and Slow Flowers member Holly Chapple. I’ve developed new module for my session “A Bouquet of Words,” recorded specifically for Flowerstock attendees. Follow this link to see the full program and register for just $297.

From Sunday, October 25th to Wednesday, October 28th, I’ll return to Fleurvana, a virtual floral conference that first took place in late August. Fleurvana Holiday Summit follows much of the same format, but has all new presentations and a combination of new and returning speakers. I’ve developed an entirely new presentation called Taking Stock: Writing your 2020 Year in Review & 2021 Forecast with Creative Intention. As with last time, you can register for a free pass to attend Fleurvana during October 26-28. And you can purchase a VIP Pass to access private speaker roundtables and watch the presentations at your own pace.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 649,000 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.

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.

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. We have a new Slow Flowers article that dropped last week in Johnny’s Advantage, Johnny’s monthly newsletter. It’s all about Pricing and Profitability and features advice from five Slow Flowers growers. You’ll want to read it!

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.

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.

Music Credits:

Alustrat; Skyway; Turning on the Lights; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

Episode 473: Reinventing the Bucket Route with Jamie Rogers of Missoula-based Killing Frost Farm

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020
Jamie Rogers and Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm, with me (right)

The conversation I recorded recently with today’s featured guest began much earlier this year. I learned so much from flower farmer Jamie Rogers, one half of Killing Frost Farm, while pulling together a segment of a lecture about flower farm diversification. And much of what Jamie and I discussed when I called him back in February was in some ways prophetic. At the time, we could not have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and what it would mean to the floral marketplace.

Jamie and his partner Carly Jenkins founded Killing Frost Farm in Missoula, Montana, in 2012. Carly shared some of their story when I first interviewed her for the Slow Flowers Podcast, episode 296, aired in May 2017. I’ll be sure to share a link to that episode, and to a subsequent appearance when she and I discussed the woodland-inspired lichen and moss gown for American Flowers Week 2018, episode 355

Jamie Rogers and Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm

Here’s a bit of their background, which originally appeared on their website a few year’s back: In 2012, Carly and Jamie bought a house on a single city lot in Missoula’s Westside neighborhood. The soil was rocky, ant-infested and barren. They tilled, weeded, and with a truckload of compost, began growing tomatoes, herbs and flowers.

In 2014, the house next door went on the market, and after a bit of financial finagling, the couple made an offer. With more soil to work, their gardening ambitions grew, and before long, taking care of their plants was not only tough on schedules, but hard on the wallet. A financially savvy friend recommended Carly and Jamie find a way to form an LLC, sell some of what they grew and treat those mounting gardening expenses as a business expense. By the fall of that year, they grew their first batch of microgreens. A week after the ground was frozen, they delivered some to a neighborhood restaurant, and Killing Frost Farm was born.

When I first posted that introduction to Jamie and Carly, back in 2017, I concluded: A lot has happened since then, including forming established relationships with local chefs and growing other types of produce for them. Carly and Jamie also upped the number of flower beds and sold edible flowers . . .  before narrowing their focus to cut flowers for floral arrangements.

As they wrote on their web site: “It has been a frightening, stress-inducing, humbling ride so far, but it’s allowed us to quit our old jobs and spend our days working in dirt, together.”

Love this adorable illustration of Jamie and Carly, by Portland artist Ryan Bear (shared with his permission) @ryanbearart

Today’s episode will catch you up on what Jamie and Carly have been up to in the past few years. They moved to Potomoc, a town about a 30-minute drive east of Missoula, where Killing Frost now has 2-plus acres for its cut flower production.

Carly and Jamie of Killing Frost Farm.

As you’ll hear in this conversation, the couple now focuses almost entirely on selling flowers wholesale through their weekly Market in Missoula, where florists can shop off the floor and pick up pre-orders. To grow, they began in earnest delivering flowers to customers (studio and retail florists) in Butte, Bozeman, Helena and often to other markets when supply allowed.

They just wrapped up the 2020 season for running a Montana-grown delivery program, marketing Killing Frost’s fresh flowers as well as crops grown by a number of other farms. Spearheaded by Jamie, the program will not stop just because dahlia season is over. As he discusses in our interview, there are plans to add dried flowers and holiday greenery to the product availability list moving forward through the end of the year.

Jamie Rogers modeled Carly’s red-white-and-blue floral bikini during American Flowers Week 2016! What a guy!

I think you’ll pick up on the fact that Jamie is personable, committed to excellent customer service, and a whole lot of fun. As he shares, the Killing Frost model is based on one originated by Ralph Thurston and Jeriann Sabin, founders and former owners of Bindweed Flower Farm.

Our conversation is an honest one and I appreciate Jamie’s transparency about the challenges of building a bucket truck route in a marketplace where customers have not had access to locally-grown flowers for decades. As he told me earlier: “We need them more than they need us. If you get that notion, Jamie said, you’ll be rewarded, because remember: they have just been buying flowers from someone else for nine months of the year.

Find and follow Killing Frost Farm on Instagram

Thank you so much for joining me today! At the end of our interview, I had a big grin on my face — Jamie has a way of lifting my spirits. I hope you pick up on his enthusiasm and passion for getting more Montana-grown flowers in to the hands of the state’s florists on a regular basis. As he told me about his sales and customer service strategy: “We have to make it as convenient for them as possible. We are really lucky that they want to buy our flowers.”

Before I close, I want to highlight a couple of items and ask you to keep an eye out for our October happenings. Our October newsletter launches this week, as does our 2021 member survey. I hope you take a moment to click on the survey if it lands in your in-box — we are eager to glean insights and input from you to help shape the coming year’s themes and programs. To sweeten the deal and thank you for your investment of valuable time, we will send a special gift to everyone who completes the survey. And all respondents who complete the survey and share their contact information with us will be entered into a drawing for a full registration to the 2021 Slow Flowers Summit, valued at $599.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 645,000 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.

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.

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

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; 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; River Meditation
audionautix.com

Episode 472: Meet Virginia-based floral designer Hermon Black of HB Fiore

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020
Hermon Black of HB Fiore, a floral designer based in Arlington, Virginia

I’m so pleased today to welcome Hermon Black, a floral designer I first met when she attended the 2018 Slow Flowers Summit in Washington, D.C.

Flowers on her Head! Hermon Black, photographed at the 2018 Slow Flowers Summit by Mud Baron

Hermon is based in Arlington, Virginia, where she runs a design studio serving weddings and private clients. She tells a beautiful story of growing up in East Africa (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) where her mother allowed her to cut and arrange flowers from their garden, and encouraged young Hermon in her floral design interest.

Hermon, photographed at a Petals by the Shore design workshop at Wollam Gardens, in Jefferesonton, Virginia (c) Beth Caldwell Photography

I love how her journey has brought Hermon full circle back to her childhood love of flowers. It’s a story to which many of us can relate. Enjoy our conversation as we discuss how Hermon developed her design studio HB Fiori and how she has adapted her focus due to the challenges of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.

A beautiful, late-summer arrangement by Hermon Black

Follow HB Fiore on Instagram

Enjoy this gallery of Hermon’s seasonal arrangements. Her subscription floral program sources 100% locally-grown flowers from farms in Virginia and Maryland.

Thank you so much for joining me today! I’m so encouraged by the conversations I record to share with listeners of the Slow Flowers Podcast. We are in complicated times, friends. And there is so much stress and pressure, uncertainty and worry facing each of us. I hope you find comfort in being part of our larger community of people who care about the planet, about equity for all, and about the importance of nurturing our creativity.

NEW PODCAST

Deborah Voll, flower lover and host of the “Calm the Chaos” Podcast, recently turned the tables on me — and I was the one answering her questions.

It was a fun experience to join Deborah, a life coach who specializes in helping women find purpose and passion after 50 (um, yes, that would be me!).

Click on this link to hear our conversation — and subscribe to future episodes, as Deborah hosts so many interesting women guests who are pursuing fulfillment in their “chapter two” careers.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 643,000 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.

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, 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.

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.

(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:

Daymaze; 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

Episode 470: A conversation with Kim Gruetter and Tonneli Gruetter of Whidbey Island’s Salty Acres Farm

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020
Tonneli (left) and Kim (right) at Salty Acres Farm, Coupeville, Washingon

In early 2019, I reconnected with Kim Gruetter of Salty Acres Farm at a Washington Flowers Project florists’ gathering. She reminded me that we’d had a few email exchanges back when I first launched Slow Flowers in 2014, and introduced me to her daughter Tonneli Gruetter. Together, with their spouses, Kim and Tonneli own Salty Ares Farm in the town of Coupeville, Washington, on Whidbey Island.

Kim’s husband and Tonneli’s father Paul Gruetter and Tonneli’s husband John Loughman, are definitely part of the diverse family-owned farm and little guy Sauvie is the youngest human living on the family farm.

Tonneli (left) and Kim (right), photographed on our visit to their fields at Greenbank Farm

We had a great conversation about what they both were doing and I learned it was not just flowers! Kim told me about the “salt” of Salty Acres, which is one of their signature agricultural products along with edible flowers. 

Tonneli, who calls herself a millenial, fascinated me with her story of working in the sales, marketing and branding in the tech industry, a fabulous skill set that she brings to Salty Acres.

A few months later, Travis Rigby of Florists’ Review asked me if had any suggestions for a new digital marketing position he had created. Did I know anyone who might be a good fit for the job? For some amazing reason, Tonneli popped into my memory and I introduced the two of them. For the past year, Tonneli has collaborated with Florists’ Review on all sorts of projects, including the magazine’s social media, which you can’t miss if you follow them on Instagram. Tonneli’s enthusiasm has spilled over into the floral community and to many, she is the face of Florists’ Review on its IG stories, events and sponsorships.

Salty Acres Farm operates at two locations on Whidbey Island. Left: at Greenbank Farm, a community-owned agriculture and tourism destination; right, at a historic farmstead in Coupeville.

When I knew I was going to have a minication getaway on Whidbey Island in late August, I invited myself to Salty Acres Farm. The farm is located on historic Penn Cove, outside the historic Coupeville. Here’s a bit more of their story, from the “about” page on Salty Acres’ website:

Originally brought to the island by the Navy, Tonneli and John thought their farming roots were somewhere in the past when the opportunity of a lifetime appeared: a new start at a historic farm on Penn Cove.  It didn’t take long before the magic of the place got to them, and their thoughts of Whidbey as just another Navy posting faded.

The honor stand on Penn Cove Road, designed and fabricated from an old pony cart by Paul Gruetter

Around this same time Kim and Paul were facing another story all too common for farmers.  Rising property costs and rapid urbanization were forcing farmers (themselves included) away from Oregon’s Willamette Valley where they had farmed for generations. Seeing this shift Tonneli and John urged her parents to visit Whidbey Island.  “Imagine a place where you can farm and the community supports you,” Tonneli urged her parents. 

For Paul, who learned to farm from his father who had immigrated to Oregon’s Sauvie’s Island to work the land, moving roots wasn’t. Upon arriving on Penn Cove it only took a single sunrise over the water to convince them, this was home and a new agricultural collective calling for  the whole family.

“Salty,” the vintage Japanese fire truck that shows up at farmers’ markets and other pop-up events. Kim and Tonneli also offer Salty as a fully staffed mobile flower cart experience. Customers book the truck to wow their event guests with fresh bouquets, floral confetti, & individually sized sea salt party favors. Booking includes use of PA system, spot lights, and sirens. (c) Tonneli Gruetter photograph

Today, Salty Acres, specializes in locally-grown flowers, small batch sea salt, foraged ocean greens, & specialty produce. From June to October customers can shop at their permanent farm stand on Penn Cover Road, at pop-up sales around the Coupeville area, and at their community greenhouse on the historic Greenbank Farm campus. 

With COVID this year, the women have had to adapt some of their offerings, especially on-farm events, workshops and their regular stall at the Coupeville Farmers’ Market. But the requests continue and they are currently reimagining what 2021 may look like. Keep an eye out for announcements by following Salty Acres on social media. 

Salty Acres Farm, tricked out for a private event. The farm’s agritourism offerings include salt making classes, flower farm tours, floral design workshop and cider making parties (pre-COVID, of course – and to be resumed as state guidelines allow) (c) Tonneli Gruetter photograph

Find and follow Salty Acres here:

Salty Acres on Facebook

Salty Acres on Instagram

Thanks so much for joining me today for my conversation with Kim and Tonneli. My head is spinning when I think about their energy and their passion – and how they seem to create entrepreneurial opportunities out of thin air.

I hope the time you spent with this episode is equally overflowing with new ideas. The thread of community is woven through all that this dynamic mom-and-daughter team are doing, along with Paul, who is equally involved in the operations of Salty Acres.

Check out some of Salty Acres’ collaborators and flower outlets, which we discussed in the episode:

3 Sisters Market
Captain Whidbey Inn
Go Marbley
Growing Veterans 
Their equation seems to begin with Flowers Plus [fill in the blank] Equals a Win-Win for everyone. It’s truly the Slow Flowers ethos.

Custom-silk bouquet ribbon – a collaboration between Salty Acres Farm and Go Marbley of Coupeville, Washington (with a bouquet from the Slow Flower Cutting Garden)

 

 

 

 

 

JOIN US AT THE SEPTEMBER SLOW FLOWERS MEMBER (VIRTUAL MEET-UP

TJ McGrath will be our guest presenter at the September 11 “Slow Flowers Member (Virtual) Meet-Up”

Now, More than Ever, Your Slow Flowers Membership Gives You an Important Story to Share with Your Community and Your Customers.  Our monthly Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up is coming right up this Friday, the 11th of September — on Zoom.

I’m excited that we’ll enjoy some seasonal design inspiration with special guest, TJ McGrath. TJ is the lead designer and content creator for the Blue Jasmine Floral studio, a Slow Flowers member studio led by Paulina Nieliwocki in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. All summer long, I’ve been enchanted by the floral designs that TJ posts on his personal IG feed @tjmcrathdesign. I asked him to demonstrate one of his signature foam-free arrangements and talk about his philosophy and style.

You’re invited to join us. Click here for details. Bring your insights and ideas to the community. I’ll share the link in today’s show notes — 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. And, like all of our member meet-ups, we’ll have some giveaways to sweeten the deal!

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

This show has been downloaded more than 639,000 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; Wingspan; 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

Episode 469: Blending an artistic practice and commercial floristry, with Kat Claar of From Blossoms

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020
Floral artist and designer Kat Claar (c) Tell the Bees Photography (left); a paper-and-floral-sculpture (right)

Several months ago, Kathleen “Kat” Claar of From Blossoms reached out to reconnect. We originally met in March 2019 at the Philadelphia Flower & Garden Show when I shared a meal with a few Slow Flowers members and other locally-focused flower farmers and designers.

Kat wanted to share how she was coping with Pennsylvania’s then stay-at-home order, which imposed constraints on her floral work. Instead of feeling limited, though, Kat began to film video tutorials which she says allowed her “to succinctly and effectively share her creative process.” Well, I watched those sweet videos and was hooked on Kat’s highly personal style combining floral design with custom-cut paper shapes that result in contemporary abstract works of art.

As she told me, “I would love for more people to consider and notice a daffodil in a new way through my work, but I also think it would be applicable as a project that people could do themselves with something as easily-accessible as a colored piece of paper and a couple stems of flowers from their yard.”

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CEc8gpxj4O_/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Kat says this recent video is her highest production with puppets, silk flowers and shapes

“My goal is to draw attention to seasonal flowers, ones that are available to anyone really, and to help people see those flowers in new ways by playing with our perception of them.”

In addition to her own studio art practice, Kat is a wedding and event designer for a Philadelphia-based shop called Vault and Vine. We discuss how she balances the two sides of her floral career and how the commercial design work blends with a fine art practice.

Kat’s gold-metal award for floral design entry “Seeing Flowers” at the 2019 Philadelphia Flower Show really wowed me (pictured below with images (c) Love Me Do Photography).

I spent several days at the show and every time I walked past her display I stopped in my tracks, got out my camera and photographed the piece. There are definitely elements – albeit more detailed – of her paper cutout technique. 

Above: Kat’s floral entry at the 2020 Philadelphia Flower & Garden Show, featuring plexiglass shapes by Roxana Azar (c) Tell the Bees Photography.

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CAxcyDegJ_2/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
A kids’ video with “Beedy” the puppet

Thanks so much for joining me today for my conversation with Kat Claar. I hope you take a moment to respond to those creative sparks or lightening bolts when they hit you!

Find and follow Kat at From Blossoms on Instagram

See the full video collection on Kat’s IGTV feed here.

September 2nd in my #slowflowerscuttinggarden

It’s the beginning of a new month and like me, you’re probably turning attention to September and beyond. The days here in Seattle are still quite warm, but I can feel the chill of autumn in the morning air and I have mixed feelings about it. I normally love autumn. With COVID limiting our indoor gatherings, we’ve been so reliant on time outdoors. What comes with the changing of the seasons? Some friends of mine just invested in an infrared heater for their deck, to extend their outdoor time as long as they can. I’m seriously ready to order head-to-toe rain gear from REI, to make sure I can be quasi-comfortable when I want to continue gardening during our typically wet season. We’re all adept by now at online everything, and my top wardrobe has expanded while I continue to basically wear the same black yoga pants that you’ll never see on a Zoom call. This is an endless season of change. I sincerely hope the Slow Flowers Podcast has been a source of companionship and encouragement to you — from a distance, as always. This show has been downloaded more than 637,000 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

(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:

Turning on the Lights; Children of Lemuel; 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

Episode 467: Local Flowers for California’s Wine Country, with Santa Rosa floral designer Olivia Rivas of Papillon

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020

Please help me welcome today’s guest, Olivia Rivas of Papillon. We first met when I was invited to spend a few days touring the Sonoma County local flower scene as a guest of North Bay Flower Collective in the spring of 2016.

That trip yielded a series of Slow Flowers Podcast episodes, but I wasn’t able to record an interview with Olivia. On the other hand, I do recall our memorable car ride and great conversation as she shuttled me from one venue to another on that visit. Later, when Olivia was in Seattle to attend a workshop with Ariella Chezar, we enjoyed another melding of the floral minds over a meal.

I am very much inspired by Olivia’s personal journey, recently featured in my Q&A with her that you can read in the August issue of Florists’ Review. You can read that story here:

Like many of us, pursuing a life of and vocation immersed in flowers became Olivia’s second career. I know you’ll find her story inspiring, as she was determined to educate herself as a designer and to find her own place in the profession.

We’ve been corresponding and chatting quite a bit recently, and I was also interested in Olivia’s decision-making process around running a business during the COVID-19 pandemic — so I’ve asked her to share about those choices. You’ll find lots to which you can relate, as these are topics we are all living out in real time.

Here’s how you can find and follow Olivia Rivas of Papillon:

Olivia Rivas on Facebook

Papillon on Instagram

Thanks so much for joining me today for my conversation with Olivia Rivas of Papillon. I want you to read a few comments she shared in our Florists’ Review article because they are so relatable and timely:

Q: How have you adapted to stay-in-place orders?
A: This has been the most insane, extreme and confounding year I’ve ever encountered – in life and in business. The quarantine and shelter-in-place orders have been important and necessary, but it’s also been heartbreaking. I’ve had to lay off all of my employees and we closed the store for half of March and all of April. We had a very strong Mother’s Day and now I’ve started to come back to life, although with only one employee – me. With the new challenges of social distancing, wearing masks and trying to maintain no contact, I decided to move everything online. The process of getting everything I sell — soap, jewelry, plants, vases, stationary, and now masks — loaded onto my website has been time consuming and tedious, but I truly believe that this is the world now. A florist can still be unique, based on what you offer and how you present it, and I decided that if I’m going to survive this, I have to have a specific curated shopping experience ready.

Q: Advice for others who want to adopt the Slow Flowers mission?
A: I can’t say enough about the importance of using local flowers in our shop. We live in a world where you can buy tulips anytime, but I believe using flowers out of season takes away that “specialness.” I also encourage people to use less harmful materials when conducting their flower business. It may take a little more time at first, but the results will make you personally healthier and help you do a small part for our future. I urge people to visit the @nofloralfoam page on Instagram for more information and for how-to instruction on no foam mechanics.

Coming up this weekend, beginning on Sunday, August 23 and continuing through Wednesday, August 26th, I’m participating as an instructor in an online conference called the Fleurvana Virtual Summit. Founded by Shawn Michael Foley and Gina Thresher, Fleurvana offers great content for anyone who wants to enhance their floral career!

Now through Saturday August 22nd, you can get a free ticket to attend the LIVE sessions.

You can watch 30 presentations tailored to you — Elevate your floral career and business! I’ll be presenting on “Creative Vocabulary to Enhance Your Brand,” and three other Slow Flowers Members are also presenting, including Gina Thresher of From the Ground Up Floral, Tonneli Gruetter of Salty Acres Farm and Jim Martin of Compost in My Tea.

If you miss out on grabbing a ticket to the LIVE sessions, you can register after the fact for an affordable VIP pass to watch the presentations at your own pace.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 634,000 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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

Heliotrope; 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

Episode 466: Black Sanctuary Gardens with Leslie Bennett of Oakland-based Pine House Edible Gardens

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020
Left: Leslie Bennett in her Pine House Edible Gardens-designed Oakland backyard
(c) Rachel Weill

Today’s special guest returns to the Slow Flowers Podcast after her 2017 appearance. Leslie Bennett is an award-winning garden creator whose Pine House Edible Gardens designs and installs beautiful, productive edible landscapes that provide bountiful harvests of organic fruits, vegetables, cutting flowers and herbs — and that create space for more beauty, peace and connection in clients’ lives. Pine House also maintain gardens, harvests and processes garden-grown food, and teaches clients the skills to do it themselves.

Edibles and cut flowers (citrus, blueberries, fig, protea, poppies) flourish in anAlameda front yard (c) Caitlin Atkinson

As a Black woman owned business and multi-racial, queer inclusive, majority female team, Pine House Edible Gardens stands for more than just healthy food and beautiful landscapes, and this is one reason I invited Leslie back to the show — to discuss her firm’s commitment to making gardens accessible to all through its equity pricing program and the Black Sanctuary Gardens project. As Leslie writes on the company’s web site: “We believe an edible garden can be a transformative space to grow and practice the better ways and world we want for ourselves and for our communities.”

The 2017 Slow Flowers Summit presentation features (from left): Chantal Aida Gordon, Leslie Bennett, Riz Reyes and Nicole Cordier
The speaker lineup at our first Slow Flowers Summit, including Leslie Bennett (far right)

In 2017, Leslie joined the first Slow Flowers Summit in Seattle as a speaker on the topic of inclusion and representation in floriculture and horticulture. She is definitely a mentor of mine as I strive to make the Slow Flowers community an inclusive, supportive and accessible place for Black flower farmers and Black floral professionals.

The first Black Sanctuary Garden project, created for a community leader in East Oakland
(c) Rachel Weill

Slow Flowers has had the privilege of sharing our resources to support anti-racist programs and to support new members through our Professional Development Fund for Black Farmers and Florists. One of the programs we were moved to support financially is the Black Sanctuary Gardens program that Leslie began a few years ago through Pine House Edible Gardens. I wanted you to learn more about this program because I believe it is a model that anyone who wants their creative enterprise to be guided by values- and mission-. As I watch how Leslie uses her talents and resources to support her beliefs, it inspires me to want to do the same with Slow Flowers.

A front garden landscaped with edible plants in Atherton, Calif. (c) David Fenton

Thanks so much for joining my conversations with Leslie — our most recent one and the replay of Episode 302.

One thing Leslie said that struck me so powerfully and it needs to be restated: This is not charity. This is giving back what has been taken. Land, generational wealth, historic and systemic racism. Operating very humbly will take us forward.

The 2020 campaign page . . . with donations soon reaching the $30k goal!

The current Go Fund Me Campaign for Black Sanctuary Gardens is close to reaching its 2020 campaign goal of $30,000, but the fundraising continues because this will be an ongoing design/installation series. You can read more about Black Sanctuary Gardens at Pine House Edible Gardens’ web site, but I’d like to highlight a few details. Leslie writes:

“Inspired in part by Alice Walker’s naming of the garden as a site for black women’s spirituality, creativity and artistic work, landscape designer Leslie Bennett and her team work to design, install and care for a series of low to no-cost Black Sanctuary Gardens for Black women and Black communities. Visual curation and photographic documentation of the women and communities in their garden spaces is a secondary, integral part of the project as we create imagery that more accurately and inclusively reflects the relationship of Black women and communities with their gardens.

An entry garden in Los Altos, Calif., features low-water, edible and native California plantings (c) Caitlin Atkinson
Edible garden in Hillsborough, Calif. (c) David Fenton

The primary goal of Black Sanctuary Gardens is to create garden spaces for Black women to rest and be restored. This space is so needed, given the racism and sexism that Black women experience as part of daily American life. A further goal is to define, uphold and celebrate Black community spaces, amidst gentrification and displacement of historically Black communities in Oakland. 

Black Sanctuary Gardens is an exciting opportunity to develop gardens that are reflective of our brilliant Black community and supportive of our specific cultural experiences, while offering real sanctuary for Black people to commune, converse, collaborate, heal, rest, and be nourished.

Left: An enclosed kitchen garden with fruit trees and vegetable beds in Oakland Hills (c) Caitlin Atkinson; A bountiful planting from Pine House Edible Gardens

After we recorded today’s interview, Leslie and I continued to discuss the many important reasons for centering a business around Black wellness, creativity and community. It has inspired me to find words to state the importance of these values in the Slow Flowers movement. While I’m proud that our stated Manifesto values sustainability, local sourcing of flowers, and supporting family farms, I realize I want to more explicitly and actively support equity in our Black farming and floristry community. Look for an update to the Slow Flowers Manifesto in the coming days — as we put values and beliefs into words.  

Here’s how you can find and follow Leslie Bennett and Pine House Edible Gardens:

Pine House Edible Gardens on Facebook

Pine House Edible Gardens on Instagram

More about Black Sanctuary Gardens

Now, more than ever, your Slow Flowers Membership gives you an important story to share with your community and your customers.

Our monthly Slow Flowers Meet-Ups continue this Friday on August 14th (9 am PT/Noon ET) and you’re invited to join us – virtually – via Zoom.

If you missed last month’s Meet-Up, you can find  video from our July 10th Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up with featured guests wedding designer and stylist Joy Proctor, founder and creative director of Joy Proctor Design and Slow Flowers members and wedding and event designers Adam Rico and Alicia Rico of Dallas-based Bows and Arrows Flowers. Learn about the first @saytheirnamesmemorial in Portland, Oregon, installed on Juneteenth (June 19th) by Joy and a group of friends, artists, designers and craftspeople, and created in several other cities including Dallas and Atlanta by Bows and Arrows Flowers.

Gina Thresher (left) and Tonneli Gruetter (right)

This week’s guests include Gina Thresher of From the Ground Up Floral and Tonneli Gruetter of Salty Acres Farm — they’re among the instructors in a new virtual floral conference taking place in late August called Fleurvana Virtual Summit. You’ll hear more from Gina and Tonneli and learn how you can grab a free registration for the four-day conference August 23-26 — I’ll be speaking at Fleurvana, too. You’re invited to join us on Friday!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 632,000 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.

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.

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.

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.

(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:

Homegrown; Turning on the Lights; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

Episode 464: Petals & Politics — Natasha Harper-Madison’s story, from wedding and event designer to Austin City Council Member

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020
Natasha Harper-Madison, from floral entrepreneur to elected council member in Austin, Texas (all photos courtesy Natasha Harper-Madison)

Today’s guest is Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison, representing the city of Austin’s District 1. She may not seem like a typical Slow Flowers Podcast guest, but I know you’ll find our conversation inspiring, uplifting and a call to action. Natasha is a former floral entrepreneur and very early Slow Flowers member; I’ve been watching her path to public service on social media over the past few years and I just decided to reach out and ask her to share her amazing story.

Natasha now represents Austin’s District 1, the community where she grew up

As you will hear in the conversation that we recently recorded over Zoom, Natasha and I originally met when she joined Slow Flowers through her Austin-based wedding and event business Eco-Chic Flowers and Events, later rebranded as The Floral Engagement. Natasha was a sustainability pioneer and early adopter in the commitment to sourcing locally-grown flowers and to avoiding the use of any floral foam in her designs. You’ll hear us talk about her friendship with Mickey Blake, inventor of Floral Soil, a company here in Washington that had once developed a plant-based foam alternative to single-use plastic options on the marketplace. Mickey was a past guest of the Slow Flowers Podcast back in 2014, when we were huge supporters of her effort. Sadly that project is no longer operating, but I just wanted to mention it because it’s another thread that previously connected Natasha and me with a shared mission for sustainability.

The Harper-Madison family, including Natasha, her husband Tom Madison, and their “bigs” and “littles”

Inviting an elected official to be a guest on the Slow Flowers Podcast isn’t typical, but I am so grateful to learn from a “friend of Slow Flowers,” a former florist, who is now on the front lines of governing and addressing social and racial justice issues in a major U.S. city.

Here’s a bit more about Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison. She represents Austin’s District 1, the part of town where she was born and raised. Her upbringing endowed her with an intimate knowledge of her community’s strengths and its unique struggles. The lessons she learned as a successful small business owner on the Eastside led her down a path towards advocacy. She served as president of the East 12th Street Merchants Association and also founded East Austin Advocates, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting under-represented residents with the resources they need to succeed.

Her community-level activism sparked Council Member Harper-Madison’s interest in seeking public office, a goal she achieved with her first campaign for City Council in 2018.

She is the chair of the Health and Human Services Committee and sits on the Housing and Planning Committee, Judicial Committee, and Regional Affordability Committee.

As Natasha explains, the decision to run for public office was a family decision

In between championing the interests of her constituents, Council Member Harper-Madison is the proud wife of an Austin firefighter, the mother of four children, and a thriving breast cancer survivor.

Thanks so much for joining my conversation with Natasha Harper-Madison of Austin’s District 1. I was very struck by a few of her statements: “This gig is not for folks who need instant gratification.” and “Sacrifice is not synonymous  with suffering.”

I so admire Natasha for her willingness to, as she says: “sow the seeds of heirloom plants today — plants she may never personally see come to fruit or bloom.” I feel so moved to have had this conversation with a former colleague who’s taken a path of great personal sacrifice to address the inequities in her community — and I believe there is a ripple effect of Natasha’s actions and leadership, not to mention her ambitious vision to improve her community’s lives. That ripple effect may inspire you to take action about something you believe is hurting your community.

This conversation reminds me that we all can do better. Thank you, again, Natasha!

Follow the Council Member on Facebook

Follow the Council Member on Twitter

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. Learn more at shop.syndicatesales.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.

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 627,000 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:

Welcome Home Sonny; 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; Acoustic Shuffle
Music from:
audionautix.com

Episode 462: Blueberries to Eat and Arrange. How HB Farm’s Heather Schuh transitioned to cut flowers when the blueberry market collapsed

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

I’m so happy to share my conversation with Heather Schuh of HB Farm with you today. We recorded it last Saturday after the July “Best of” Workshop that Slow Flowers produced for the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market where HB Farm is a member-grower.

It was serendipitous that we would be in the same place on the same day — Heather presented about blueberry, blackberry and raspberry cuts for foliage, along with Kristy Hilliker of B&B Family Farm who gave a fabulous lavender talk. Following their educational presentations, Melissa Feveyear of Terra Bella Flowers designed a lush and abundant summer arrangement using the berry foliage and lavender, along with companion stems. The presentations can be found on the Growers Market’s IGTV feed:

Part One: Lavender with B&B Family Farm and Berry Foliages with HB Farm

View this post on Instagram

Hear from B&B Family Lavender Farm and HB Farms

A post shared by SEA Wholesale Growers Market (@seattlewholesalegrowersmarket) on

Part Two: Floral design demonstration with Melissa Feveyear of Terra Bella Flowers

I say it was serendipity that brought Heather and me together to record — socially-distanced on opposite sides of the room — because this is an interview that took one year to accomplish! I had reached out to Heather to set up an interview last summer, only to discover that the date I wanted to visit HB Farm was also the date that Heather was hosting her son’s wedding at her farm (oh, and designing the flowers, too).

I’m so glad we make it work this past week and I learned a lot about this serial entrepreneur who has a background in timber, home construction and interior design. For Heather, it started with blueberries and she has come full circle to return to blueberries, but in a modern, design-forward way.

Heather loves growing a wide range of crops – in addition to blueberries. Here she is with an armload of scented geranium foliage

Here’s a bit more about Heather Schuh and HB Farm:

Her family has been farming the land that is currently HB Farm since the 1940’s.  During that time the ground has seen several crop successions. Heather remembers helping plant raspberries there in 1975 and when the raspberry market changed in the early 80’s all of the farmland was converted to Blueberries.  

She says this: The biggest lessons I have learned from farming is that it isn’t easy, and to be ready to innovate and make changes due to market demands and conditions.  

In 2015 the market for Blueberries was inundated with overproduction.  Farms that were planted throughout northern Washington State and even to the South started to produce everything they had planted approximately 5 years earlier. Suddenly, the need for small producers to sell their products to larger wholesaler simply dried up, leaving family farms like HB Farm stuck with Blueberries that no one wanted.  

After much discussion and the desire to continue to farm, Heather and her husband Brandon decided to dig up and sell as many of their blueberry plants as they could, after which they began converting their fields to flowers.

That next chapter continues today. Heather calls farming a “lifestyle” summed up by rising early to harvest and do all of the watering and chores associated with farming and going to bed late when your body is aching from all of the hours of hard work.  

She believes this work ethic was passed down by her parents and grandparents, adding “Family Farms are a beautiful part of this nation’s history and I am so happy that we are able to continue our families legacy…with Flowers!”

Annabelle hydrangeas are another top crop from HB Farm

Here’s how to find and follow Heather Schuh and HB Farm:

HB Farm on Facebook

HB Farm on Instagram

In the coming weeks, as Heather mentioned, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market will roll out a new and improved website. I’ll make sure to share a link when that goes Live, so you can see all of the botanicals, flowers, and foliage, from HB Farm and the other amazing farmers who are part of the cooperative.

Last Friday July 10th we held the monthly Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up, our second monthly gathering via Zoom, which follows the eight consecutive weekly Meet-Ups that began in late March with the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Pandemic continues to be top-of-mind for us all, and connecting virtually is one way to check in and listen, learn, encourage and grow with the Slow Flowers community.

Click above to watch the replay video from last week’s meet-up. It was profoundly inspiring.

Our attendees learned about the first @saytheirnamesmemorial in Portland, Oregon, created two weeks ago by top wedding designer Joy Proctor and a group of friends, artists, designers and craftspeople. Their goal was to use art to honor hundreds of Black men and women whose lives were taken unjustly. Since then, the memorial has been recreated in several more cities, including Dallas, Seattle, Lexington and Austin, with up to 10 more planned throughout the country. 

Dallas creatives Alicia and Adam Rico, Slow Flowers members and owners of Bows and Arrows Flowers, were part of the team of that installed #saytheirnamesmemorial tributes in Dallas. They have since brought the installation to Atlanta and Naples, Florida. These passionate and gifted wedding professionals discussed the idea of #floralactivism and how they are using beauty and art to raise awareness, change attitudes and protest injustice in their communities and beyond. 

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.

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. Its 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 624,000 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:

Turning on the Lights; Dance of Felt; 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; Acoustic Shuffle
audionautix.com