Debra Prinzing

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Episode 500: Celebrating Episode 500 and the publication of Where We Bloom, with BLOOM Imprint’s Robin Avni and designer Cynthia Zamaria of Toronto’s House & Flower

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021
Here’s the COVER with the book jacket flap fully opened to reveal Cynthia Zamaria’s charming floral studio. (c) Robin Stubbert

Welcome to a very special episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast — Episode 500 — in our weekly podcast series about Slow Flowers and the people who grow and design with them. Since we launched this special program in July 2013, I have regularly featured the voices of influencers, stylemakers, pioneers and heroes in the Slow Flowers Movement — and today we celebrate an impressive milestone with Episode 500!

Meet Cynthia Zamaria, looking so content in her creative space, featured in Where We Bloom (c) Robin Stubbert

It’s been a busy and exciting week here at the Slow Flowers Society! In January, I introduced you to creative director Robin Avni, my partner and co-founder of BLOOM Imprint, the book publishing branch of Slow Flowers Society. You can listen to our conversation from January’s Episode 490 here, in which we discuss the goal of telling stories by and about Slow Flowers members through the medium of books!

BLOOM Imprint’s first title is at the printer right now and we can’t wait to tell you all about it. Where We Bloom is an information and idea-packed volume filled with 37 intimate and inspiring floral studios, workshops, storefronts and growing spaces like greenhouses and barns — all home to creative floral enterprises of Slow Flowers members.

You may have seen the cover art because I’ve shared a few sneak peeks across social media and in Slow Flowers’ newsletter, but today I’m excited to introduce you to the woman responsible for the delightfully engaging space featured as our cover destination to illustrate the concept of Where We Bloom.

Please meet Cynthia Zamaria, Toronto-based designer, flower grower and stylist whose studio is called Cynthia Zamaria House & Flower. Cynthia will share a bit about her journey with flowers and the three of us will discuss the central themes of Where We Bloom, about which I write in the introduction:

  • The importance of devoting space to the pursuit of one’s art
  • The way environments can inspire individual expression and reflect one’s aesthetic style
  • The ways one’s studio or workshop can inspire the senses.

There is also the intangible feeling of security and comfort that creative individuals may feel when they can escape to a destination where their ideas flourish and, yes, blossom!

Debra Prinzing, where we bloom

Let me tell you a bit more about Robin and Cynthia:

Based in Gig Harbor, Washington, Robin Avni is a creative veteran in the media + high-tech industries. Her experience includes more than 15 years in the publishing industry and eight years at Microsoft in design and creative management. She has successfully managed innovative, award-winning design teams and high-profile projects as well as received numerous national design awards and photo editing honors for her own work. Robin has produced 10 books, including collaborating with Debra on the Slow Flowers Journal.  

Robin Avni, co-founder and creative director of BLOOM Imprint

In 2004, following Microsoft, she founded bricolage*, a consultancy specializing in creative strategy, content development, and trend analysis for home + garden. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies, national advertising agencies and award-winning media properties, applying timely actionable insights to their businesses. ​

Robin received a BA in journalism from Indiana University, Bloomington and a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan; she holds a Master of Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington. 

Find and follow Robin Avnia & BLOOM Imprint at these social places

Robin Avni on Instagram

BLOOM Imprint on Instagram


Cynthia Zamaria (c) Lisa MacIntosh

Based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Cynthia Zamaria is an interior and floral designer known for character-filled spaces and carefree flower displays. With an infectious creative spirit and a belief that we all need more beautiful in our lives, Cynthia shares inspiration as an interior and floral editorial stylist, content contributor, writer and workshop teacher. Her work is regularly featured in leading lifestyle media. ​

An advocate of the Slow Flower Movement, Cynthia sustainably grows small-batch speciality blooms and designs unfussy seasonal arrangements. This soulful aesthetic spills into Cynthia’s interiors which are true-to-the-space, trendless mash-ups of scale, texture and colour.​

Cynthia and her husband Graham Loughton share a passion for saving forgotten houses and have restored a range of period properties. A former public relations executive, Cynthia now devotes her time to family and creative projects from her home base in Toronto.

Find and follow Cynthia Zamaria at these social places:

Cynthia Zamaria on Facebook

Cynthia Zamaria on Instagram

Cynthia Zamaria on Pinterest


Sneak peek to more inside pages:

“Modern Homestead,” owned by Lori Poliski of Flori (c) Missy Palacol
“Backyard Room of her Own,” owned by Maura Whalen of Casablanca Floral
(c) Alessandra Brescia
“Arizona in Bloom,” owned by Aishah Lurry of Patagonia Flower Farm (c) Kayla Simpson Lewis
“Living Among the Lavender,” owned by Jennifer and Adam O’Neal of PepperHarrow
(c) PepperHarrow

Thanks so much for joining me today. You can pre-order a signed copy of Where We Bloom at BLOOMImprint.com and we are offering bulk discounts to retailers — so reach out if you’re interested in quantities. Don’t forget to join Robin and me, along with many of the talented Slow Flowers members featured in Where We Bloom at our Virtual Book Launch party on Tuesday, April 27th at 4 pm Pacific/7pm Eastern. We’ll be sharing some giveaways and introducing you to a few creatives featured in our pages. Join us via this link!

If you’re in the Seattle area, please come out and say hello, at two upcoming booksigning events — we’ll be wearing our masks and observing careful social-distancing practices! On May 1st, 2-4 p.m., Gillian Mathews and Ravenna Gardens, Seattle’s boutique home and garden emporium, will host a signing and we expect that some of the creatives featured in Where We Bloom will join us! On May 8th, 1-3 p.m., we’ll be at PaperDelights in Burien, just outside Seattle, where we are joining Teresa Rao of Belle Petale at her Mother’s Day floral popup. Teresa is featured in the pages of Where We Bloom so we’re thrilled to share this event with her!

To find out what’s next for BLOOM Imprint, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media – I’ll have the links for you in today’s show notes. Later this year, BLOOM Imprint will publish two exciting books by Slow Flowers members. First, we’ll release an essential guide to rose growing from Felicia Alvarez of Menagerie Farm + Floral; and then we’ll publish Holly Chapple’s long-awaited first book, A Life in Flowers. And we have four other titles in the catalog for 2022, including as you heard, Cynthia Zamaria’s book, House & Flower. What a dynamic lineup of creativity!


Above: Tobey Nelson (left) and Becky Feasby (right),
photographed at the 2019 Sustainable Flowers Workshop Photos by Ian Gregory: @ianmgregory

And save the date for this Friday’s April member meet-up for the Slow Flowers Community. That’s right, on Friday, April 9th, join our monthly meet-up via Zoom. The time is always 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. This month, we welcome two Slow Flowers leaders who will share their approach to Sustainable Floral Design and green practices. Learn more about the definition of “sustainability” in floral design and gain insights about how you can adapt your floral enterprise to be safe, healthy and beautiful!.
You’ll learn from Tobey Nelson of Tobey Nelson Events & Design and Sustainable Floral Design (Whidbey Island, Washington) and Becky Feasby of Prairie Girl Flowers and Sustainable Flowers Workshop (Calgary, Alberta, Canada). You can find the Zoom link to join us in today’s show notes and come prepared to ask your important questions about this important shift in floristry. We’ll have some fun giveaways, and you might win one of our drawings! See you there!

Thank you to our Sponsors

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, online directory to more than 850 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2021, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting more than 20 U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $9 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually, and providing competitive salaries and benefits to 240 team members based in Watsonville, California and Miami, Florida. Discover more at farmgirlflowers.com.

For each Podcast episode this year, we will also thank three of our Major Sponsors:
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.com.

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

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.


Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 711,000 times by listeners like you. We wrapped up the month of March with 13.5k downloads — wow — that’s the highest in the past year. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much. As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.

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

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow 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; Turning on the Lights; Color Country; Loopy; 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 499: Katherine Raz of The Fernseed, a modern plant shop and floral studio in Tacoma, Washington

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021
Floral and Plant retail entrepreneur Katherine Raz of The Fernseed (left) and a peek at the shop’s Stem Bar (c) Devon Michelle Photography (right)

I’m excited about today’s guest, not only because her enterprise is located right in my backyard, in Tacoma, Washington. Please meet Katherine Raz of The Fernseed. The Fernseed is a modern plant shop and floral studio with two storefront locations in Tacoma.

Grab N Go Stem Bar at The Fernseed (c) Devon Michelle Photography

This boutique is home to lush, verdant, uncommon plants for home interiors and floral bouquets and vase arrangements for the home and gift-giving. I love how clearly Katherine states The Fernseed’s services: Beautiful Houseplants, Handmade Pots, Local Flowers and Daily Delivery.

Katherine launched The Fernseed in 2018 as an online store that sold unique handmade designs for potting and displaying houseplants, and she opened the first brick-and-mortar location in April, 2019.

Inside The Fernseed (c) Devon Michelle Photography

She’ll share how The Fernseed was forced to close for nearly three months during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which Katherine and her team launched nationwide shipping, local delivery, and several new products offerings, including plant grams and plant-along-at-home kits.

The Fernseed’s floral designer Oriana Di Fede

In September, 2020, The Fernseed opened a second storefront location on Tacoma’s historic South Tacoma Way. The shop now offers a floral stem bar and floral arrangements for grab-and-go pickup, and local delivery, 60% of which are sourced from small flower farms in Washington, Idaho, California, Oregon, and British Columbia. Between them, Katherine and her all-female team own and care for more than 400 houseplants — in their personal collections!

Engaging customers with plants (c) Devon Michelle Photography
. . . . and with flowers! (c) Devon Michelle Photography

I’m so inspired and encouraged by the entrepreneurial story Katherine has shared about diversification, changing course and taking risks! I know you’ll love learning about Katherine’s journey as she has evolved and expanded organically, sustaining her business against the challenges of a global pandemic and emerging stronger.

Here’s how to find and follow The Fernseed:
Fernseed on Facebook
Fernseed on Instagram
Fernseed on Pinterest


Dating back to the launch of the Slow Flowers Podcast, in July 2013, we have recorded a rich history of conversations with amazing people in the world of plants, flowers and design. We feel so proud of each one of our guests, many of whom can say their very first podcast appearance happened here! And when other accolades come their way, we take pride in those achievements, too. So this week, I want to give a shout-out to two of our past Slow Flowers Podcast guests who are distinguished recipients of the 2021 Great American Gardeners Award from The American Horticultural Society, announced earlier this month.

Perla Sophia Curbelo, of Puerto Rico’s AgroChic

As a past Great American Gardener Award recipient, I know how special it is to receive this achievement and recognition! Huge congratulations to Perla Sofia Curbelo-Santiago of AgroChicGarden Podcaster and Radio Show Host, San Juan, P.R. for receiving the B.Y. MORRISON COMMUNICATION AWARD – which recognizes effective and inspirational communication—through print, radio, television, and/or online media—that advances public interest and participation in horticulture. Hear our August 2018 interview with Perla in episode 364.

Lisa Waud (c) ee berger photograph

And Major Props to floral installation artist and creator of the famed Flower House Detroit, Lisa Waud, recipient of the FRANCES JONES POETKER AWARD – which recognizes significant contributions to floral design in publications, on the platform, and to the public.  Lisa is currently working with Slow Flowers on membership projects and she has appeared on the Slow Flowers Podcast on a number of occasions.
Episode 181 (February 2015)
Episode 334 (January 2018)
Episode 411 (July 2019)
You heard them here first and now they’re receiving accolades from the top horticultural association! Picture me here with a big smile on my face — so happy for you both, Perla and Lisa!


Thank you to our Sponsors!

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, online directory to more than 850 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2021, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting more than 20 U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $9 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually, and providing competitive salaries and benefits to 240 team members based in Watsonville, California and Miami, Florida. Discover more at farmgirlflowers.com.

For each Podcast episode this year, we will also thank three of our Major Sponsors. Our first thanks goes 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.

Our next sponsor thanks goes to 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.

Our next 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.


Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 709,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much. As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.

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

(c) Mary Grace Long Photograph

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow 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; Glass Beads; Gaenaby 
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 497: Meet Jill Brooke, floral journalist and creator of Flower Power Daily

Wednesday, March 17th, 2021

A quick note for you garden-lovers! We are giving away five virtual tickets to the Great Grow Along, a new, three-day, virtual gardening festival taking place this weekend, March 19-21  – online, of course. The Great Grow Along features more than 40 sessions across six topic tracks and YOU might win a free ticket to attend. The first five listeners who post a comment below will receive the complimentary registration, valued at $29.95. Be sure to tell us what’s growing in your garden in the comment section.  If you miss out on this giveaway, the folks at the Great Grow Along have also shared a $5 off promo code for all of our listeners to join in: that code is: SlowFlowersDiscount. Several past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast are in the lineup — and you’ll want to grab their presentations, including Lorene Edwards Forkner, Sue Goetz, Kelly Norris and Allison and Sean McManus. And our friend Teri Speight of Cottage in the Court, author of a forthcoming book for BLOOM Imprint, will also be presenting. Sounds like the perfect way to celebrate a new season!


Meet today’s guest: Jill Brooke

Jill Brooke of Flower Power Daily

I’m so happy to welcome Jill Brooke to the Slow Flowers Podcast today. She is the creator and editorial director of Flower Power Daily, an online news site for all things flowers. Jill and I were introduced to one another about a year ago through our mutual friends at Fleurs de Villes, the floral fashion exhibition that was staged at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival in 2020.

We’ve chatted by phone a few times and I appreciate it when Jill sends me newsy emails about how flowers are showing up in our world. Jill has a journalist’s uncanny ability to identify and unearth (pun intended) the floral angle to any news topic of the day. If it’s a trending hashtag, on any subject, Flower Power Daily will elevate the conversation through flowers. A few examples to illustrate my point: In the performing arts, she wrote about the Barcelona Opera Playing to Flowering Plants Instead of People; in fashion, Flower Power Daily recently covered the new Kenzo and Vans shoe collaboration featuring floral prints. In politics, sports, wellness and mental health, food and wine, and beyond– Flower Power Daily interprets every subject through a floral lens. It’s a way to view the world that I wholeheartedly endorse! We all want flowers to be universally important, and the stories covered by Flower Power Daily underscore this truth — that humans need flowers. 

Here’s a bit more about Jill Brooke: She has been a CNN correspondent, an Editor in chief at Travel Savvy, Avenue and Show Circuit, a columnist for the New York Post, Ad Week and Metropolitan Home, and her work has appeared in the New York Times, and many women’s magazines.

With all this professional experience, Jill says nothing has ever felt as right as Flower Power Daily, which she established in February 2019.

Jill  gathered seasoned professionals who share the same passion for flowers and respect nature’s gifts and insights to help curate the stories, videos and images you can find each day at Flower Power Daily. You can visit Flower Power Daily’s website, subscribe to its newsletter and follow more flower posts on Instagram — and I’ll share those links in today’s show notes.

As Jill says: If you look at life through the prism of flowers- you will be happier. She believes that flowers are here for a reason and teach great life lessons. Flowers comfort and congratulate; they express sentiments without many words. No matter what is going on in your life – flowers are here for you. 

Thanks so much for joining me today. Talking with Jill is entirely invigorating — her energy level is bound to boost anyone else’s metabolism, too. And it’s all because of flowers. Flower Power Daily recognized Slow Flowers last summer with a story titled ‘Five Americans Making History in the Flower World.”

Subscribe to Flower Power Daily’s weekly newsletter

Follow Flower Power Daily on Instagram


Click on the link below to read more about the just announced nominations for “Aspire Design and Home magazine’s ‘Best Dressed Rooms in TV and Film Awards.'” Jill is quoted in the press announcement, saying “Because we are spending so much time indoors, we’re all talking about what TV shows to watch and ways to redecorate. People are appreciating and focused on design more than ever, so it’s a perfect marriage and perfect timing” for an awards program honoring the fabulous interiors of TV shows and films. The awards will be announced on April 22nd.


Jennifer Jewell, creator and host of “Cultivating Place: Conversations on the Natural World and the Human Impulse to Garden”

This week, I want tell you about Jennifer Jewell, creator and host of “Cultivating Place,” a public radio program and podcast. Jennifer is a past guest of this prodcast and she will be speaking at the 2021 Slow Flowers Summit in June. Click here to subscribe to “Cultivating Place” Podcast.


Earlier this month, Slow Flowers and AIFD teamed up to record a webinar called “From Farm to Florist,” featuring Brad Siebe, general manager of Seattle Wholesale Growers Market; Cassie Plummer of Jig-Bee Flower Farm; Diane and Lillian Calhoun of Calhoun Flower Farms; Amelia Ihlo of Rooted Farmers; Gina Thresher, AIFD, EMC of From the Ground up Floral and Renee Tucci AIFD — all Slow Flowers Members, as well as Marisa Guerrera AIFD of Debbie’s Bloomers.

Together, we discussed the benefits and best practices to incorporate locally-grown flowers into everyday designs and event work. It was a fantastic session and I love the meeting of the minds between florists and flower farmers. Click above to watch the video!


Thank you to our Sponsors

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, online directory to more than 850 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2021, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting more than 20 U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $9 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually, and providing competitive salaries and benefits to 240 team members based in Watsonville, California and Miami, Florida. Discover more at farmgirlflowers.com.

For each Podcast episode this year, we will also thank three of our Major Sponsors. Our first thanks goes to Red Twig Farms. Based in Johnstown, Ohio, Red Twig Farms is a family-owned farm specializing in peonies, daffodils, tulips and branches, a popular peony-bouquet-by-mail program and their Spread the Hope Campaign where customers purchase 10 tulip stems for essential workers and others in their community. Learn more at redtwigfarms.com.

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

Our final 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.

Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 703,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much. As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.

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

(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 Slow 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:

Pat Dog; Thannoid; 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 496 Growing a Slow Flowers Farm-ily – a beautiful story from Perry-winkle Farm, where Mike Perry and Cathy Jones mentor and co-farm with Taij and Victoria Cotten

Wednesday, March 10th, 2021
Victoria and Taij Cotten at Perry-winkle Farm
Cathy Jones captured an iPhone photo of that “meeting” between Taij and Victoria Cotten and me at the ASCFG conference in September 2018 (I just found this photo on her IG feed!)

In 2018, at the most recent Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers’ national conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, I met a young couple named Taij and Victoria Cotten. It was serendipity that placed us together at the banquet table, the night of ASCFG’s 30th Birthday Celebration, in fact. I learned that Taij and Victoria were invited to the conference by their mentor, Cathy Jones, who joined them at that table. I learned a little bit about their unique co-farming experience, and that’s what you’ll hear more about in today’s conversation.

Cathy Jones and Mike Perry of Perry-winkle Farm

This is a story of two couples, one farm, and one special friendship between the generations. Cathy Jones and her husband Mike Perry founded Perry-winkle Farm thirty-plus years ago on land in Chatham County, outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Their farm products include vegetables, herbs, cut flowers, and fresh eggs from pastured hens, which they sell at three regional farmers’ markets: Fearrington Village (seasonally) and 2 Carrboro Farmers markets (Wednesday-seasonally and Saturday- year round).

More photos from Perry-winkle Farm: Cathy Jones with her flowers and Mike Perry with his world-famous chicken eggs

As first-generation farmers, they began the process of converting over-worked dairy crop land into a sustainable vegetable operation with little more than a few hand tools, a walk-behind tiller and subscriptions to Organic Gardening and New Farm magazines.  They sought advice from other local growers and started attending conferences and workshops to broaden their “education”.  A few years later, Perry-winkle Farm became one of the first farms in Chatham County to be “Certified Organic”.

One of the mobile Chicken Houses at Perry-winkle Farm

Over the years they have trained and benefited from the help of many employees.  Working with motivated “learners” remains one of the most positive aspects of the farm’s activities. And when it comes to selling their beautiful, field-grown cut flowers, Perry-winkle creates mixed bouquets for farmers’ market sales. What Cathy, Mike, Victoria and Taij they really love is using their design skills to fashion arrangements for weddings, parties, and other special events. They also offer “custom or farmer’s choice” buckets of their flowers.

Click here to read more about Perry-winkle Farm in an article from NC State Extension’s Debbie Roos

more scenes from Perry-winkle Farm
More scenes from Perry-winkle Farm: Mike and Cathy with Taij and Victoria (left); the Cotten kids, Carleigh and Titus (right)
More photos from Perry-winkle Farm
A gallery of the beautiful harvest from Perry-winkle Farm

Here’s more about Taij and Victoria Cotten:

After responding to a Craigslist ad for Valentine’s Day in 2017 at Preston Flower Shop, Taij and Victoria were hooked on flowers. They quit their jobs and traveled North Carolina’s Piedmont farming region, talking with any farmer that had time or space for them. They quickly realized they wanted to farm. 

Now farming alongside their mentors/farm-ily Michael Perry and Cathy Jones of Perry-winkle farm, the couple helps sustainably farm 4 acres in Northern Chatham County, specializing in seasonal vegetables, specialty cut flowers and pasture laying hens. Taij and Victoria reside in Chatham County, NC with their two adorable, flower-loving children: Carleigh (6) and Titus (1)

At the Farmers’ Market with Perry-winkle Farm

You may recall that Taij and Victoria were featured panelists on the flower farming panel as part of last December’s Young Farmers & Cooks Conference hosted by Stone Barns Center for Sustainable Agriculture, which I moderated — and later shared as a Slow Flowers Podcast episode 484 on December 16th. They shared part of their story then, but we were pressed for time to include all the panelists, so I promised to circle back and devote an entire episode to Perry-winkle Farm. 

It is inspiring to learn how a new generation of flower farmers is being nurtured and supported! Thanks for sharing your story, Cathy, Mike, Taij and Victoria!

Thanks so much for joining me today. I am inspired by the story of Mike and Cathy, Taij and Victoria, and I can’t wait to see more from this amazing farm-ily, a potential model for other established farms in need of young talent and enthusiasm.

Find and Follow these flower farmers:
Perry-winkle Farm on Facebook
Perry-winkle Farm on Instagram
The Cottens on Instagram


This Friday, we are hosting the March Slow Flowers Member (virtual) Meet Up — and all Slow Flowers Society members are invited to log in via Zoom for a fantastic session! You’ll meet three Slow Flowers members who will share all about Dye Plants and Natural Pigments from Botanical Ingredients. Learn how you can grow dye plants for your own projects or to market to other artists.

Elaine Vandiver of Old Homestead Alpacas and Gholson Gardens
Lourdes Casanares-Still of Masagana Flower Farm and Tinta Studio
Julie Beeler of Bloom and Dye

Our special guests include Elaine Vandiver of Old Homestead Alpacas and Gholson Gardens (Walla Walla, Washington); Julie Beeler of Bloom and Dye (Trout Lake, Washington); and Lourdes Casañares-Still of Masagana Flower Farm and Tinta Studio (La Broquerie, Manitoba).

I want to emphasize that your Slow Flowers Membership Gives You an Important Narrative and Mission to Share with Your Community and Your Customers. And joining our monthly meet-up is one very popular benefit that has emerged in the past year . . . educating, connecting and inspiring hundreds of you. I can’t wait for this incredible lineup of savvy growers and artists to share their information with our community.


Thank you to our Sponsors!

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, online directory to more than 850 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2021, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting more than 20 U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $9 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually, and providing competitive salaries and benefits to 240 team members based in Watsonville, California and Miami, Florida. Discover more at farmgirlflowers.com.


For each Podcast episode this year, we also thank three of our Major Sponsors. Our first thanks goes to 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.

It’s fitting that our next sponsor thanks goes to Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, through which I met these lovely humans at Perry-winkle Farm. 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.

Our final sponsor thanks goes 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.


Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 700,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much. As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.


I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow 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.

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

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:

Alustrat; Turning On the Lights; Gaenaby 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 492: For Beginning Flower Gardeners, a conversation with authors and podcasters Allison and Sean McManus of Spoken Garden

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

GIVEAWAY Details Below — Share a Comment and Your Name Will Be Added to the Drawing for The First-Time Gardener: Growing Plants and Flowers 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got spring gardening on my mind! The hellebores are already blooming; the daffodil bulbs are pushing out of the soil an inch or so. I can even see the tiniest bump of my peonies’ deep maroon tips at the crown of each plant. So, sure we’re still 39 days until spring arrives, but who’s going to let the calendar hold us back, right?

A major spring ritual for me has always been participation in local and national garden and flower festivals. Sadly, this year, the closest thing to an indoor spring garden show is going to be over Zoom. Gain inspiration from the replay video of our February 5th Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-up, featuring two of our members who are major hellebore experts.

Thank you to Pam Youngsman of Poppy Starts Inc. and Riz Reyes of RHR Horticulture for a fantastic presentation. They share volumes about what to grow, how to grow, how and when to harvest and how to design with hellebores.

Sean McManus and Allison McManus of Spoken Garden

Another perennial ritual of spring is the arrival of a new crop of gardening books. Here at Slow Flowers Podcast, we know we have as many gardener-florists as farmer-florists who listen and learn. And today, I’m happy to welcome first-time authors, Sean and Allison McManus of Spoken Garden. This talented husband-wife duo are busy behind the microphone and camera, teaching ornamental gardening to beginning and curious home gardeners. They have spent the past year writing The First-Time Gardener: Growing Plants and Flowers 

The book will be released in March and one lucky listener will win a copy for their bookshelf! Listen to the end of the episode to hear how to add your name to our random drawing and giveaway.

Sean and Allison are the gardening pros behind the popular website, YouTube channel and podcast Spoken Garden. They offer clear, fact-based information, presented in a friendly and accessible way. With step-by-step instructions and full-color illustrations, new gardeners will learn how to select, plant and tend for outdoor plants, the best techniques, how to mulch correctly, pruning do’s and don’ts, tips for effective, eco-friendly gardening, and much more.

Peek inside the pages of their new book:

Here’s a little bit more about Sean and Allison:

Sean has a Master’s in Environmental Horticulture from Washington State University and possesses several other horticulture, landscaping, or gardening-related certificates. Sean has over 8 years of experience in Industrial Garden Maintenance and 12+ years operating a private landscape and consulting company. With over two decades in the field, he dreams to fulfill his lifelong passion for educating others about horticulture and gardening.

Allison has a Master’s in Teaching and is a National Board certified middle school science educator. Through trial and error over the past 10+ years, she has successfully maintained several vegetable gardens and beds full of flowers. She loves attracting all kinds of pollinators and is proud of the fact that their yard is a Certified Wildlife Habitat. She has a passion for photography, animals, writing, traveling, creating content, and lifelong learning.

You can learn more from this talented duo by subscribing to the Spoken Garden Podcast.

and watch their Daily Garden Content on Spoken Garden’s YouTube Channel.

Sign up for Sean and Allison’s 30-day Garden Bootcamp.

Find Spoken Garden on Facebook

Follow Spoken Garden on Instagram

I know you’ll enjoy their story and be inspired to add to your ornamental garden this spring. Thanks so much for joining me today as Sean and Allison McManus shared their encouragement for beginning gardeners, and actually anyone who wants to develop a more enriching and fulfilling ornamental garden! If you want to be added to the giveaway drawing for their new book, The First-Time Gardener: Growing Plants and Flowers , be sure to post a comment in the show notes below — please share what did you wish you knew when you were a beginning gardener?


Coming up on Thursday, February 18th at 2 pm Eastern, Slow Flowers is teaming up with Johnny’s Selected Seeds to produce a free webinar for flower farmers, farmer-florists and floral designers interested in knowing more about our Floral Insights and Industry Forecast for 2021.

I’ll be joining Johnny’s flower team, Hillary Alger and Joy Longfellow, as we dive into current and upcoming themes in the floral marketplace. We will review four of the top Insights from the Slow Flowers 2021 Forecast and hear more from Hillary, who will share findings from Johnny’s recent survey of flower seed customers — commercial cut flower farmers. We’ll share a nice back-and-forth discussion and as a bonus, Hillary plans to share an update about seed supply and new floral variety breeding programs. You may already have registered – and if so, I’ll see you there. As of today’s air date, the event may be full, but Johnny’s will have a complete recording available on Monday, February 22nd — and I’ll share it with you in a future episode.


And registration is open for the Fleurvana Virtual Summit (March 5th-7th), focusing on Sustainability and Regeneration, which also takes place online. Robin Avni, my partner in BLOOM Imprint, have developed a new course for aspiring floral book authors with a presentation called The Journey From Blog to Book. Our course is designed for every creative person we’ve met dreams of sharing their art, craftsmanship and aesthetic in a book.  Registration is free and there are also options to purchase larger packages.


Thank you to our Sponsors

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, online directory to more than 830 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2021, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting more than 20 U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $9 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually, and providing competitive salaries and benefits to 240 team members based in Watsonville, California and Miami, Florida. Discover more at farmgirlflowers.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.

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.


Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 688,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much. As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.

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

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow 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:

Horizon Liner; These Times; Turning On the Lights; Gaenaby 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 490: The launch of BLOOM Imprint, Slow Flowers’ new publishing venture, with co-founders Debra Prinzing and Robin Avni

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

It’s a very exciting day for Slow Flowers and this episode is devoted to some BIG NEWS. I’m thrilled to tell you all about it! I’ve invited Robin Avni, past guest of this podcast, to join me as together we tell you all about our new collaboration — the formation of a boutique book publishing project called BLOOM Imprint.

Debra Prinzing (left) and Robin Avni (right)

BLOOM Imprint emerges from our 15-year professional relationship and friendship. A decade ago, Robin and I collaborated with a talented group of women on a multi-year content and lifestyle consulting project, “Real Women, Real Life.” During that time, we also teamed up to give a presentation on The Female Gardener: Mommy to Maven for the Independent Garden Center Show and co-authored white papers and trend reports about female consumers. 

Fast-forward to 2019-2020, when Robin and I produced Slow Flowers Journal – Volume One, a compendium of the “best of” editorial stories and imagery featured in the “Slow Flowers Journal” section of Florists’ Review magazine. That’s where I previously served as contributing editor and Robin served as managing editor of books, producing 10 book titles related to the floral industry.

We’re announcing the launch of BLOOM Imprint today, with me serving as editorial director and Robin serving as creative director. This venture is committed to developing books that express visual and verbal storytelling in equal measures. By pairing my love of the written word and editorial narrative and Robin’s visually strong creative direction talent, we are pretty jazzed about what we have in store for sharing the people, places, flowers and art of our Slow Flowers Community through a new lineup of books.

Read our Press Announcement Here:


Where We Bloom: Our first title

We believe that “setting” is an important facet to making art — and nothing could be truer for floral designers and floral artists. This book profiles the people, art and creative work spaces of designers and makers.

The subtitle is: Thirty-Six Intimate, Inventive and Artistic Studio Spaces Where Floral Passions Find a Place to Blossom

Step inside the personal environments where flowers come to life. “Where We Bloom” showcases beautiful plant- and flower-filled settings of Slow Flowers designers, farmer-florists and growers. Each setting reflects the personality and aesthetic style of its owner, offering great ideas to inspire the design, decor, organization, and of course, functionality of your creative space.

Publication Date: April 2021
Pre-ordering information will be shared soon!


Between us, Robin and I have produced and published more than 20 lifestyle, design, architecture, floral and gardening titles. We formed BLOOM Imprint as a boutique publishing company with the mission of identifying creative entrepreneurial book ideas and growing them — from the seed of an initial concept to a finished product. As we publish new authors and consult with aspiring ones, we believe that producing a book is ultimately one of the most affordable marketing endeavors available to creatives.

From our “Who We Are” page on BLOOMImprint.com — learn about our backgrounds and experiences, and read what people say about working with us!

Let me tell you a little more about Robin Avni and then we’ll jump right in and get started:

A creative veteran in the media + high-tech industries, Robin’s experience includes 15+ years in the publishing industry and eight years at Microsoft in design and creative management. She has successfully managed innovative, award-winning design teams and high-profile projects as well as receiving numerous national design and photography editing awards for her own work. Robin has produced 10 books, including collaborating with Debra on the Slow Flowers Journal. 

In 2004, following Microsoft, she founded bricolage*, a consultancy specializing in creative strategy, content development, and arts advocacy. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies, national advertising agencies and award-winning media properties, applying timely actionable insights to their businesses.  ​Robin received a BA in journalism from Indiana University, Bloomington and a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan; she holds a Master of Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington. 

Listen to my December 2018 Slow Flowers Podcast Episode with Robin — a segment called “How creatives can be authentic in a digital age.”

Anticipation! Here are our first five books in the BLOOM Imprint catalog, with titles from Debra Prinzing, Felicia Alvarez, Holly Heider Chapple, Teresa J. Speight and Cynthia Zamaria!

Thanks so much for joining Robin Avni and me as we shared a conversation about BLOOM Imprint.

Follow BLOOM Imprint at these social places:

BLOOM Imprint on Instagram

BLOOM Imprint on Facebook

BLOOM Imprint on Pinterest

Listen to our fun Floral-Inspired Playlist, created to commemorate the launch of BLOOM Imprint.

And remember, you can join us at the Fleurvana Virtual Summit March 5-7, focusing on Sustainability and Regeneration, where Robin and I will present an original new course, From Blog to Book Proposal. The course is designed for every creative person we’ve met dreams of sharing their art, craftsmanship and aesthetic in a book. As a tangible “artifact,” there is amazing social validation that comes with having a book about your work. A book can narrate your story, teach your concepts and document your work. We believe successful books are driven by a Passion that answers the following: What are you compelled to share? What do you have to offer that will make the world a better place? What is your unique point of view?


Thank you to our Sponsors

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, online directory to more than 830 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2021, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting more than 20 U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $9 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually, and providing competitive salaries and benefits to 240 team members based in Watsonville, California and Miami, Florida. Discover more at farmgirlflowers.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.

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.


Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 683,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.

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

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow 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; Turning On the Lights; Gaenaby 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 487: Slow Flowers Floral Insights & Industry Forecast for 2021

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

The Pursuit of Nature

This Forecast began seven years ago in 2014 when I began documenting shifts and changes in the Slow Flowers Movement. I recently described the origins of this important exercise in my new online course, Taking Stock and Looking Ahead [P.S. follow this link to learn how you can take this free course as my gift to you.]

Here’s how I remember it:
In 2014, when I launched slowflowers.com as an online directory of American flowers and the growers and florists who supplied them, I worked with two talented public relations friends to get the word out to the media. While planning a visit to meet with lifestyle and garden magazine editors in New York, one of the PR experts urged me to create a Power Point slide deck that included an overview of floral trends I associated with the emerging Slow Flowers movement.

In creating that deck, which became my first forecast for 2015 (see above), I learned a few important lessons. I share this in the context of the social media term “impostor syndrome,” because it’s no surprise — we all feel that sometimes. When Lola and Marla encouraged me to write a trend forecast, at first I thought: Who am I to forecast trends? Isn’t that a role only for the experts?

Their response: You have a point of view and it’s based on hundreds of interviews that you conduct for articles and for your Podcast over the course of each year. See what bubbles up from those topics and themes that excites you about the year to come.

I realized that since I was the one who conducted those interviews and wrote those articles, I was viewing trends through my own lens and filter — the Slow Flowers perspective.

When I shared that Power Point deck with editors and had positive responses (as in, they took it seriously during our meetings), I later decided to post the 10 insights on my blog and record a Slow Flowers Podcast episode about it. You can go back and listen to episode 174 from December 31, 2014

The Power Point deck I shared with editors became a blog post and, as I mentioned, the Podcast show notes. Then I shared it with Slow Flowers members in my monthly newsletter. And then a few floral trade publications picked it up.

As a result, I became an “Accidental Forecaster”, and that has elevated Slow Flowers’ unique and relevant viewpoint in the floral marketplace. I’ve learned some valuable lessons. We’re no longer waiting for Martha Stewart or Oprah or Chip and Joanna to tell us what’s on trend. Each of us can speak with an authentic voice about our observations, key cultural shifts and new creative directions in the floral space. In the end, the forecast is a tool; a roadmap that helps me and others consider what is around the bend or across the horizon. It sparks conversation and sometimes, to be honest, it sparks controversy.

The Pursuit of Nature


So let’s get started! I have 10 insights to share with you for the year to come. I’m calling our 2021 Report: “In Pursuit of Nature,” and you can understand why, right?

As we enter 2021, at least in the short term, not much will feel different from the past nine months. And if there is anything we’ve learned since mid-March 2020, it’s the essential and irreplaceable role of flowers and plants for our survival. And that’s why my outlook is deeply connected to humankind’s pursuit of nature — and how floral entrepreneurs like you can and should tap into and enhance that pursuit through your efforts.

I learned about the term “Biophilia” in October 2019 when I interviewed Tom Precht and Sarah Daken of Grateful Gardeners. Tom is a big advocate of Biophilia and he opened my eyes to its relevance as we make personal and business decisions that impact our planet’s survival. He discussed the definition when I interviewed him, but here it is again, according to Merriam Webster:
Biophilia: “a hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature

All you have to do is read the headlines of 2020 to see a collective shift toward nature, plants, the environment – and yes, flowers.

A recent article in the Washington Post caught my attention. The headline reads: The isolation of the pandemic caused her to form a new and intense relationship to nature. She was hardly alone. The benefits of being outdoors for your physical and mental well-being are well documented, but in this coronavirus era, they may be immeasurable.”

A Forbes headline reads: “Nature Is Good For Your Mental Health, Sometimes”

The University of Washington shared this research: “Dose of nature at home could help mental health, well-being during COVID-19” The report stated:

“Studies have proven that even the smallest bit of nature — a single tree, a small patch of flowers, a house plant — can generate health benefits,” said Kathleen Wolf, a UW research social scientist in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. “Look closely in your neighborhood, and the bit of nature you may have taken for granted up until now may become the focus of your attention and help you feel better.”


What are we watching for in 2021? The Slow Flowers Community’s experiences of 2020 definitely inform what is top of mind for 2021. Over the past several years, as we’ve devoted considerable time and resources to educate consumers and professionals alike; and thankfully, we are coming off a year when the attention of many turned to the Slow Flowers Movement.

Locally-grown, seasonal and sustainable flowers answer questions about a safe and reliable supply of flowers. Awareness our Movement continues to increased as floral consumers and florists alike shifted their focus to what’s closer to home. Panic over the international floral supply chains has quickly turned to a subtle but significant and newfound understanding that if we don’t nurture and support our local flower supply, there may come a day when farmland has been converted to real estate developments; where commitment to a safer, more sustainable earth has been displaced by convenience.

The anecdotal feedback I’m hearing is heartening. I received an email recently from a leader in, shall I say, “mainstream” floristry, who wrote:

“After two decades of thinking traditional wholesaler connections were the only way to run a floral studio or shop, I’m slowly starting to learn about local flower-farmers and am constantly in awe of their entrepreneurial spirit, and can’t imagine how much hard work goes into what they do. For that, I want to give them as much business as I can! I know that you had a big hand in getting this trend in motion and I thank you for that!”

As we seek new and diverse voices in the Slow Flowers Movement, I believe we will continue to witness a positive shift to a more progressive, inclusive, conscious marketplace for the flowers you grow and design with. And we will continue to document the shift with stories, interviews and resources to encourage you.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to respond to our 2021 Slow Flowers Member Survey, more than 200 of you, who I mentioned during last week’s “Year in Review” report, is triple past year’s participation.

In addition to the Survey, which asked members to share about their floral businesses, including emerging themes and topics important to them, this Forecast is informed by my 2020 storytelling — first-person interviews for print and digital Slow Flowers Journal stories, interviews with more than one-hundred Slow Flowers Podcast guests, and conversations with thought-leaders in floral design, flower farming and related creative professions.

I hope you find these insights and the 2021 forecast valuable to you. You may hear some themes that resonate with you and I’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions about what you agree with and what topics you wish we included.

You can Download a PDF of the 2021 Forecast here:


#1 Floral Wellness

Molly Culver of Molly Oliver Flowers in Brooklyn created the “Seasonal Flower Project” in 2020 — a popular local-flower subscription program that supported her favorite farms and put those flowers in the hands of people eager to connect with nature. Listen to our interview with Molly in Episode 451

The yearning for a connection to nature is truly unprecedented in our society, something many of you witnessed first-hand when Mother’s Day 2020 shattered prior years’ records for floral sales. Demand added up to three words: People. Need. Flowers.

In past Forecasts, I’ve touched on similar themes, including the popularity of Aromatherapy Bars (2018) and the Year of the Houseplant (2019). Floral Wellness is more sweeping in its meaning. More than ever, consumers and their senses are drawn to your blooms. They are drawn for fragrance and scent, for medicinal qualities, for skin and body care benefits, for nutritional meals, palette-satisfying beverages, and for — above all — their mental health.

I define Floral Wellness as
An embrace of the therapeutic importance of flowers, both in our own environments and as a meaningful way to share with others. Floral Wellness nurtures a positive and habitual desire to have flowers in our lives and as an expression of our desire for others to also experience flowers’ emotional, physical, mental and psychic value.

This idea can be manifested in ways both simple and accessible to your clients, as well as more ambitious endeavors. From the rise of flower workshops (in person at a safe distance or in many virtual forms) to the explosion of CSA subscriptions as more consumers desired more flowers, Floral Wellness took root in 2020 and is yours to nurture and enhance with new offerings to your community in 2021.

A few comments bubbled up from our 2021 Member Survey that underscore this idea and I’ll share them here:

“People want more flowers!”
“More local and more of it!”
“I believe local will become more desired.”
“People want to bring more flowers into their homes and are getting into floral design as a hobby.”
“Flowers bring smiles and happiness in times when we need it most.”
“I think people will be more oriented towards decorating their living spaces. Also, gifting flowers to loved ones.”

“Customers may start treating themselves with fresh flowers.”
“As work-from-home becomes normalized, the interest in gardening/flowers/natural world grows.”
“I’m seeing a desire for more beauty and more positivity.”

This insight’s key takeaway for you: Use a megaphone to share your story, your flowers, and your belief that flowers are essential to our wellness and health.


#2 The Virtual Florist

All images from “Designer’s Choice,” a July 2020 Slow Flowers Journal Report in Florists’ Review — featuring (clockwise, from top left): greenSinner, Maple + Mum, Floral Alchemy, Sellwood Flower Co. and Studio Artiflora

What do I mean by the Virtual Florist? We’re living in a world of “virtual” everything, so the term is truly relevant and timely. In the Slow Flowers Community, we spent 2020 covering the ascent of virtual floristry, through our podcast interviews, in Slow Flowers Journal stories, and during our weekly and monthly Slow Flowers member virtual meet-ups. For the Virtual Florist, innovation and creativity meet a marketplaces of Covid-imposed limitations and constraints.

The Virtual Florist
is adaptable, flexible and inventive in finding ways to successfully deliver flowers to his or her community.
The Virtual Florist utilizes technology and serves customers’ needs where they are. The Virtual Florist disrupts “definitions” of what type of florist you may have been in the past.

This means you might own a retail flower store, but you’ve added an online shop; or, you’re studio-based, but you now offer everyday flowers through contact-free curbside delivery; or, you’ve never grown flowers before, but this year you’ve planted thousands of tulip bulbs to sell from your front porch using only your neighborhood’s Facebook page to get out the word (that’s a real story about one of our members!)

The Virtual Florist consults, teaches and inspires in new ways, too. Virtual floristry is more egalitarian and transparent. Anyone can turn on a camera and film a demonstration or tutorial for IGTV, Facebook Live, YouTube and on other platforms — the field is more level than before. It’s not just the “big names” who are attracting audiences, especially because the return to expensive, in-person workshops will be slow and gradual.

This insight’s key takeaway for you: Dial up your imagination. What may have began as a coping mechanism to stay busy or stimulate creativity is now a new business opportunity. Develop and invest time and resources into at least one virtual component of your floral enterprise. Be ready to connect with your community whose shopping habits have dramatically changed, perhaps forever.


#3 Flowers in a Box

Mail-order Floral Offerings from Slow Flowers members, clockwise from top left: Petals by the Shore, Postal Petals, Harmony Harvest Farm and Flora Fun Box

Shipping flowers is nothing new, but until this moment, only a few successful companies were getting it right.

In our 2018 forecast, I identified the early adopters behind this shift with the insight “Flower Farmers Launch Direct-Ship Wholesale Programs,” so what’s new about “Flowers in a Box?”

Now, based on necessity, we are witnessing more models, most consumer-direct, designed to move local and seasonal flowers from point A to point B, with more Slow Flowers members experimenting in the world of boxed and shipped blooms.

Slow Flowers members who had never before shipped flowers began to do so in 2020. The first report we shared about this shift can be heard in early April when I interviewed Mandy O’Shea of 3 Porch Farm about the decision to ship early spring flowers when local farmers’ markets and on-farm sales were impossible. It was a survival strategy that foreshadowed a strategic business shift. You can find a link to that conversation in Episode 448.

Flowers in a Box covers a diversity of methods and formats, from overnight shipping of bulk flowers, arrangements, floral packages for weddings and more.

Members are also experimenting with the shipping of dried flowers and live plants. And others are mixing design tutorials into the mix (a nod to Insight #2 and The Virtual Florist).

This past fall, we published a six-part Slow Flowers Journal series, called New Floral Marketing Models and Platforms. I’ll share the link for you to go back and read the series in case you missed it. One of the series’ most interesting themes – to me – explores how designers and flower farmers are partnering to create boxed floral collections for home-based floral enthusiasts. Check out my stories about Petals by the Shore, Postal Petals and Flora Fun Box as examples.

We will be tracking more of this “Flowers in a Box” phenomenon moving into 2021, relying on our membership in CalFlowers, the only national trade group that offers flower farmers and floral designers access to deep discounts on overnight shipping rates. CalFlowers has joined the upcoming Slow Flowers Summit 2021 as a Supporting Sponsor, and we will be sharing more about this organization in future programs.

This insight’s key takeaway for you: Ask yourself: What can you put in a box — perishable or non-perishable — and offer to customers who are not in your physical market, but who want to share and experience your brand?


#4 Botanical Activism

Scenes from Slow Flowers initiatives around the U.S., clockwise from top left: Portland, Maine, installation; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, installation; Slow Flowers’ social media badge; Detroit, Michigan, installation; and Say Their Names Memorial in Kirkland, Washington

2020 was a year in which I stepped back to evaluate whether my beliefs and values were in alignment with our brand. And I know this was the case for many of you, as well.

We highlighted “Cause-Related Flowers” in our 2018 Forecast, citing the news that more flower farmers and florists were investing their talents to help nonprofits and others in their communities through floral philanthropy efforts.

The contributions of so many of our members – growers and designers alike – continue to impact our communities. It began with the simple question: Did you donate your flowers to any causes or charities this past year? So many of you can answer in the affirmative.

But something is different now. We’ve all been touched by the awareness that the social and environmental landscape is dramatically changing. And if we do not step up to walk the talk in our own floral enterprises, I believe we are only deceiving ourselves.

I define Botanical Activism as one expression of social enterprise.
For Slow Flowers members, this takes shape in many ways:

Writing a statement of purpose for
your brand
Committing resources to racial equity, inclusion and representation in your business practice

Using your flowers to speak volumes about the issues you care about, from climate change to human rights.

And yes, you may occasionally feel the sting of criticism. I’ve seen it in social media posts, along the lines of this comment: “I just want to see beautiful flowers and I come here for a respite away from the conflict and disagreements I watch or hear on the news. Why do you have to be so political here on a floral feed?”

I believe we can no longer stay comfortable in our safe flower worlds when others are suffering discrimination or injustice. I’m not saying we need to become full-time activists. We have businesses to run, bills to pay, households to support, of course. But even in small and subtle ways, we can be Botanical Activists to signal our values and beliefs.

Your answers in the 2021 Slow Flowers Member Survey revealed your beliefs and passion for causes important to your brands:

  • 61% of our Members say they are taking steps to create Inclusion, Representation and Equity policies for their businesses
  • 53% of our Members are aligning their brands with human rights and social justice messaging/activities
  • 46% of our Members’ businesses have participated in cause-related activities to support Black Lives Matter and antiracism campaigns

In 2020, I witnessed the manifestation of these values across the Slow Flowers membership, inspired by so many of you, your efforts to take a stand for social justice, and to show positive support through your flowers.

Moving forward, this isn’t optional. It’s essential. For Slow Flowers, we are adding a sixth statement to the Slow Flowers Manifesto, originally written in 2017 and published on Slow Flowers Journal. Every one of the five original statements in our Manifesto could be considered by some to be radical and norm-busting in the conventional sense. They include:

Slow Flowers commits to the following practices:

  • To recognize and respect the seasons by celebrating and designing with flowers when they naturally bloom
  • To reduce the transportation footprint of the flowers and foliage consumed in the marketplace by sourcing as locally as possible
  • To support flower farmers small and large by crediting them when possible through proper labeling at the wholesale and consumer level
  • To encourage sustainable and organic farming practices that respect people and the environment
  • To eliminate waste and the use of chemical products in the floral industry

Today I am adding a sixth statement, long in coming and inspired by the actions of many of our members and colleagues in the green profession:

To proactively pursue equity, inclusion and representation in the floral marketplace, intentionally valuing
Black floral professionals
(farmers, floral designers and vendors) in our business practice with as much support as we give to environmental sustainability.

I recently came across a wonderful affirmation from SF-based diversity and inclusion expert Arthur Chan of Arthur Chan Consulting and it resonates with this new addition to our Manifesto.

This insight’s key takeaway for you: Belonging implies community and my pledge to each of you is to model this value in all of Slow Flowers’ actions, programs, content and investments, not just for 2021 but beyond. As I said last week in our year-in-review, until the Slow Flowers Society looks more like the communities we live and work in, more needs to be done. So, in the coming year, we will be highlighting your Botanical Activism — what causes are your flowers supporting? How are you enhancing your community and sharing your values? Please keep me posted as I seek stories of equity and inclusion, and continue the conversation.


# 5 Theatre of the Tabletop

Designs from left: Tobey Nelson, Tobey Nelson Weddings & Events; Susan Chambers, BloominCouture; Dawn Clark and Mary Coombs, A Garden Party LLC; Beth Syphers, Crowley House Flower Farm; and Kelli Galloway, Hops Petunia Floral

The inspiration for this insight arrived in my in-box in October, when a college friend of mine sent a link from The Guardian, a UK daily newspaper. The headline read: “‘Napkins are the new fashion’: the improbable rise of tablescaping”

Written by lifestyle reporter Hannah Marriott, the article captured my imagination, as she likens tabletops to our own personal stage for artistic expression.

She wrote: ” . . . it was in lockdown, perhaps inevitably, that tablescaping became a phenomenon. With so many of us working from home, our social lives disappearing and desperate for some comfort, our focus on our homes was never sharper.

The article continues: “Tablescaping, a small joy that can take a few minutes or a few hours, and makes dinnertime instantly prettier, is part of this national self soothing.”

Gate Cottage Garden botanical tabletop collection @scottwittmanartsculpture

The person who shared this article with me, my friend Scott Wittman, is a creative director who has spent his own COVID year exiled in the Kent countryside away from his London office. He has invested all of his free time photographing the blooms in his garden to document the passing of time, season by season. It helps that his pre-Georgian cottage is surrounded by an acre of a traditional English garden planted about 40 years ago — that’s priceless inspiration!

Scott’s garden and his photography project led him to produce an entire product line for the table, including dishes and linen tablecloths and napkins adorned with his graphic and polychromatic botanical photography. He plans on debuting the “Gate Cottage Garden” collection at the 2021 Chelsea Flower Show and I’ve been urging Scott to figure out distribution in the U.S. For now, check out images of his garden-inspired table accessories in our show notes and follow him on IG at @scottwittmanartsculpture

As I pulled together insights for 2021, I couldn’t forget this old-new idea of tablescaping and it came up again in several conversations, including, most recently with Susan Chambers, Slow Flowers florist based in San Francisco. She described to me how her business BloominCouture has changed in 2020, with more residential floristry accounts than ever.

“It goes beyond flowers,,” Susan says. “So much of what I’m hearing my clients say (is) that they want to understand, not just the floristry, but creating that moment at the table. They want me to create the vision, the pomegranates down the table, the privet berries dripping out of the arrangement. They’re wanting that me to come in and create that moment for them before the dinner party.”

Tablescaping can be the ultimate Slow Flowers expression, as your florals enhance human interactions, mark occasions both special and ordinary, and celebrate the art of dining. Many of you design tablescapes for styled shoots — some of the most adventurous and theatrical meals imaginable. Let’s celebrate the objects we cherish, and create palettes that honor both how food is grown and the origin of the floral decor. I view the theatre of the tabletop as a way to honor the gift of time.

Tablescape designed by Rayne Grace Hoke of Flora’s Muse and Laura W. Tibbitts of Midcoast Blooms

This insight’s key takeaway for you: How can you combine your flowers and floral designs into a full package? Hannah Marriott’s article in The Guardian triggers so many ideas that you’ll want to explore in 2021. She writes: “Thanks to social distancing and unbridled screen time, the ‘tablescapes’ hashtag now has 455,000 Instagram posts and counting, and it is lifting sales during the crisis. In lockdown, with the hospitality industry on pause, tablescaping took a different direction. For one thing, it provided an income stream – or at least a trickle – to companies whose businesses might have capsized in the crisis.”


#6 Reversing Climate Change

Slow Flowers’ member farms, from left Seattle Wholesale Growers Market dahlia farm shown against the September 2020 wildfire smoke; Stacey Denton of Flora Farm in Ashland, Oregon, using high tunnels to grow sweet peas; at Red Twig Farms in Johnstown, Ohio, low-tunnels for crop protection

Last year, in the 2020 Floral Insights & Industry Forecast, I featured Climate Change for the first time with an insight titled “Responding to Climate Change.” The urgency felt by the Slow Flowers Community is heightened as we move into 2021. Your responses to Climate Change questions in the Slow Flowers Survey reveal that urgency. It can seem overwhelming, but our individual actions and the policies we collectively support are powerful tools to employ as a community.

Last year, Forty-four percent of our survey respondents said they were adjusting growing practices to adapt to climate change. In this year’s Survey, 54% of Members say they are aligning their brands with climate change messaging/activities.

We also asked you to share about How Has Climate Change Affected You and Your Business? Here is a recap:

  • Nearly 60% of you cite weather irregularities (too much or too little rain)
  • 30% say abnormally warm OR abnormally cold spring seasons
  • 25% cite early frost arrival
  • Nearly 20% blame disaster-related damage (wildfire, flooding, hurricane, hailstorms, tornados and other weather tragedies)
  • Another reason cited includes extended hot periods with no precipitation. 

One respondent put it this way: “Weather seems more extreme and unpredictable.”

Another wrote: “It’s not at disaster level yet, but the damaging winds and rains devastated my cosmos and the smoke from the fires sullied my white roses and strawflowers.”

What can we do? What active steps are you taking to address Climate Change in your farm, shop or studio? We know about and have covered the importance of No-Till Farming Methods, Cover Crops, Crop Rotation, Raised Beds, Water efficient irrigation. We know florists are more actively than ever rejecting single-use plastics and other chemical-based products in their designs.

What else? In the coming year, Slow Flowers commits to more reporting on your efforts to reverse climate change, efforts that will inspire others and will empower our members to take positive action in small and large ways.

For now, this insight’s Key takeaway for you: Educate yourself. Join me in seeking meaningful change as we strive to protect our climate, environment, communities and planet.


#7 Beyond the Hobbyist

Deeper Learning, clockwise from top left: Farmer-Florist workshop taught by Niki Irving of Flourish Flower Farm; a similar workshop taught by Liz Kreig of Maple Flower Farm; Cutting Garden Design with Longfield Gardens & Slow Flowers; wreath design workshops taught by Sarah Nixon of My Luscious Backyard; and Debra Prinzing floral design to fellow Garden Writers

The DIY trend has been with us for a decade, and according to my friend and publishing partner Robin Avni, after that length of time a trend that was once new, such as do-it-yourself, folds into the broader culture and becomes mainstream. Originally, I wanted to call this insight “Beyond DIY: Figure it Out” and I turned to Robin to help me flesh it out. My idea was that since more consumers than ever are seeking new knowledge, floral enterprises need to be attuned to this reality in order to offer them what they’re seeking.

But a conversation with Robin gave me a new term: Beyond the Hobbyist. Robin is my go-to expert when I want to understand what’s happening in the consumer marketplace; she spent many years working in consumer research managing a portfolio of Fortune 500 clients as a Senior Director and Lead Consumer Strategist at Iconoculture, and as a Senior Ethnographer at The Hartman Group, where she engaged in primary consumer qualitative research. And those of you who have a copy of my new book Slow Flowers Journal-volume one will know of Robin’s influence as a visual designer — she is the creative director for that publication and my partner in the BLOOM Imprint, the new book-publishing arm of Slow Flowers.

According to Robin, DIY is everywhere, and thus, no longer new. “People feel they can access information on YouTube and figure things out themselves, from painting their walls to building a deck to designing an outdoor space,” she explains.

As an insight, though, Beyond the Hobbyist embodies so much more than DIY, more than saving money or exploring a hobby, Robin explains. “It’s about embracing a skill that gives you a sense of pride and feeds your soul. It’s about having a deeper, long-lasting connection to a skill, such as flower gardening and floral design.”

She continues: “People want to learn new skills, but then, they want to fold it into their lifestyle. They want to go beyond something superficial. They want to know that when they gather flowers from the farm-stand they can replicate at home what they learned in your design class; thanks to your class, they understand why it’s important to support the stems and change the water regularly.”

Easy, mechanics from the professional to Beyond the Hobbyist

I suspect this sentiment is a driving force behind the popularity of product lines like Holly x Syndicate’s egg and pillow mechanics, available not just to the trade, but to the enlightened floral enthusiast who wants to use the same tools and supplies that the pros use. Similarly, having the ability to order single units of the Floral Genius pin-frogs means these professional tools are getting into the hands of anyone who wants to elevate their floral design practice.

Beyond the Hobbyist is all about intentionality rather than a random DIY experience.

We will continue to witness this urge to both know a skill AND understand the why and how behind it, Robin explains. “For example, once a customer experiences a flower farm, they want more. They don’t necessarily want to be a flower farmer, but they want to understand how to grow their own cut flowers, and nurture that practice through the seasons for their own enjoyment and to share with friends and family.”

A polychromatic series: Seeing Color in the Garden @gardenercook

We talked about this further and what came to mind is the desire among many consumers to have a “Daily Practice.” And that led to my friend Lorene Edwards Forkner, Seattle Times gardening columnist, author and artist. Lorene’s Instagram feed @gardenercook features her daily practice called #seeingcolorinthegarden. Lorene is a past guest of this podcast and she will share her story and talents at the 2021 Slow Flowers Summit, leading participants in her mindful practice of painting small watercolor studies of plants and other items she collects from nature. You can see more in our Slow Flowers Mercantile, where we have a digital download gallery of Lorene’s work.

While learning a new skill and adopting a practice is useful for all floral professionals, the key takeaway from this insight is actually a challenge question to you: How do you help your customers and clients embrace a more meaningful connection to flowers? How can you create and nurture opportunities that go beyond DIY hobbies and convert your customers into floral practitioners?

When you draw back the curtain and share insider knowledge that your clients and customers can incorporate into their lifestyles, you build deeper engagements. People want to know the professional skills of growing and design; they don’t necessarily want to adopt a new profession, but you can interpret and empower them with skills, knowledge and confidence.

Learning and gathering knowledge is more important than ever. What services, products and experiences can you offer to your marketplace in 2021? What are you teaching and sharing? A final thought, one that I learned while developing online courses for the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop. Teach what you know. Nothing is more authentic.


#8 Marketplace Inclusion & Farmland Equity

Top Row: Slow Flowers Members who recently presented at the Young Farmers & Cooks Conference: Julius Tillery, Black Cotton U.S.; Taij & VC Cotten, Perry-winkle Farm; Aishah Lurry, Patagonia Flower Farm; and Julio Freitas, The Flower Hat
Bottom Row: #BlackFloristFriday social media campaign, created by Talia Boone of Postal Petals and Quote from Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm

This insight is closely connected to Insight #4 – Botanical Activism, while also addressing two themes essential to the future survival of the floral economy.

The first topic – Marketplace Inclusion — speaks to the importance of proactively changing our business practices to support floral enterprises owned by the BIPOC community, (that’s Black, indigenous and people of color). For so long, I focused my energies on the belief that our floral profession would survive if only consumers learned to ask “where were these flowers grown” and “what growing practices were used to grow them?”

If there is one important lesson from the racial awareness and awakening of 2020, it’s that my values demand that I ask a different set of questions, such as: “how can I support and shine a light on florists, flower farmers, vendors and customers who look different than me, a middle-aged white woman?” “How can I invest in the success of underrepresented and overlooked talent, and in doing so, ensure their success and my success are equally valued?”

At Slow Flowers, we enter 2021 with an embrace of inclusivity, representation and equity in our profession. As I discussed last week, our Professional Development Fund devotes resources to invite Black farmers and florists to join the Slow Flowers Society. YOU are encouraged to participate in this endeavor by nominating Black farmers and florists in your community to be part of our efforts — please reach out with your suggestions!

Until the Slow Flowers Society looks more like the communities we live and work in, we will not be sustainable.

I have learned much from garden designer and Slow Flowers advocate Leslie Bennett, who earlier this year joined me as a return podcast guest. Leslie owns Pine House Edible Gardens, an Oakland-based design-build landscaping studio. She is the creator of Black Sanctuary Gardens, which believes that gardens are places that provide respite and restoration; healing and inspiration. The Black Sanctuary Gardens project creates and documents garden sites where Black women’s creativity, spirituality, and human experience can be cultivated and nurtured. 

Slow Flowers donated to the Black Sanctuary Gardens project in 2020 and we feel grateful to learn from the example Leslie is modeling — using her talents and resources to design and build gardens where transformative change can take place, and where we can work to grow the world we want for ourselves and for our communities. 

Leslie and the team behind the Black Sanctuary Gardens project are curating their time and talent to create safe and beautiful garden spaces that celebrate Black women’s humanity and the communities they hold dear within the Oakland, California area. Financial contributions allow them to provide their gifts at low to no-cost to these valued community members. This is a model I’d love to see replicated across the community in other regions.

Soul Fire Farm – a life-giving hub for education, advocacy and activism

The second theme included in Insight # 7 is Land Equity. Joining progressive voices in domestic agriculture to advocate for land equity is a cause I believe will benefit the Slow Flowers community as we see much-needed diversity and representation in flower farming.

In 2020, we financially supported Soul Fire Farm. Based in Grafton, New York, Soul Fire Farm was co-founded by past Podcast guest Leah Penniman, author of Farming While Black. She is a Black Kreyol educator, farmer, author, and food justice activist whose mission is to end racism in the food system and reclaim an ancestral connection to land. As co-Executive Director of Soul Fire Farm, Leah is part of a team that facilitates food sovereignty programs – including farmer trainings for Black and Brown people, a subsidized farm food distribution program for people living under food apartheid, and domestic and international organizing toward equity in the food system.

Soul Fire Farm recently provided us with a list of well-established Black-led farming organizations and I’ll share it in today’s show notes for you to check out. Please consider following and supporting the farming organizations in your community as we move into 2021, while seeking a more diverse Slow Flowers community that benefits all.


#9 Opposite Palettes

Contrasting and Complementary Palettes from the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden

Last year, 24% of our Slow Flowers Survey respondents cited YELLOW as their top color prediction for 2020. Yellow edged out all other colors by single-digit percentages, but there was still no clear standout, leading me to predict a Polychromatic Palette for 2020.

Here we are in January 2021, and Pantone already has declared “Illuminating,” a glowing shade of yellow, as one of two colors for 2021.

For the 2021 survey, both Yellow and Orange topped your list. Specific percentages break out as follows:

Shades of Yellow (23%) “Yellow for optimism.” Mustards and mauves.” “From rich masala yellow in curries to lavish buttercream yellow on cupcakes, the comfort of food will translate to floral expressions.”

Shades of Orange (19.5%) “I think we are seeing hints of orange, and yellow with pinks and blush.” “Everything across the range of citrus tones to fruity apricot.”

Shades of Green (14%) “The clean feeling of green, with foliage in an array of green tones and various shapes.”

Shades of Purple & Violet (13%) “I think we will see a trend towards subdued jewel tones that play off of each other.” “I find the possibilities with purple are both complimentary and contrasting and love finding those matches. People also seem to really gravitate to the purple tones, or at least, that’s what I think, maybe because I like purple flowers so much!”

Shades of Red (4.5%) “Reds, burgundy, pinks monochromatic.”

Shades of Blue (3%) “Mellow, soft blues — the world needs calming tones in these crazy times.”

So what notable color palette do we predict will influence flower farming and floral design in the coming year?

I flipped to the color section of my book Slow Flowers to see what I wrote back in 2013. I quoted Harold Piercy, former principal of the Constance Spry Flower School in England, who wrote this in 1983: ” . . . in flower arranging, I have always found it advisable to discard any prconceptions about colours.” He went on to write: “Keep an open mind and do not be ruled by the colour wheel. You may hit upon unexpected satisfactory results during your experiments.”

Yellow Roses from the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden

I dove deep into the comments that you shared in response to the survey’s Question#23 — Describe in more Detail Your Floral Palette Prediction.

I have to give a huge congratulations to the many Slow Flowers Survey responses that were spot on about YELLOW. In 2017, Slow Flowers’ Floral Forecast predicted soft yellows in an insight titled: “Beyond Blush.” It has taken four years since then for Pantone to agree! Let me include a few of your comments here so you can congratulate yourself on nailing Pantone’s color declaration for 2021 — an important emerging floral palette we forecasted here years ago!

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

“I’m only wishing. I have lemon chiffon peonies that I would love to see a bump in desire for.”
“Into yellow lately.”
“Cream-mustard; pale yellow. Happy shades.”
“More sunny, happy color.”
“Bright, positive, with an endless summer-like feeling.”
“Pale yellows to golden tones.”
“Yellow is inherently cheery and I think people will want more good cheer. Also, floral designers have been trying to sell clients on yellow and mustard forever — maybe this is our year that clients will finally go for it!”
“Orange or yellow. We need some brightness in 2021!”
“Soft, buttery yellows.”
“Yellow is building momentum! And there are so many shades that blend well with the popular muddy/neutral palettes.”
“Soft, light, buttery yellow.”
“Seeing more demand for yellow flowers.”
“2020 has been a dark year and I think we could all use a little sunshine in our future.”
“Warm yellows — amber, mustard, butter – seen alone or with accents in deeper shades.”
“After the Pandemic, we want LIFE! We will want color and variety. Yellow was a very big color in fashion just before the Pandemic and I think it will be picked up again after.”
“I think the soft yellows and warm golden colors are what we need for 2021! We need a soft glowing hug after 2020!”

Orange & Blue(ish) dial up the palette contrast! (c) Debra Prinzing design and photograph

Clearly, we all love yellow. But of course, we do not want to follow Pantone. Let’s move beyond a single hue and explore what’s coming next:

I predict the most exciting floral palettes will feature Complementary or Contrasting Colors. With color pairs that reside opposite each other on the color wheel — combinations and variations of of course Yellow + Purple, but also interpretations of Red + Green; Orange + Blue.

What do you think of “Opposite Palettes”? A few survey comments jumped out to me in agreement:

“Oranges reaching out in different directions — yellow, reds, or complementary purple.”
“Purples combined with pale yellows, oranges and whites.”
“I find the possibilities with purple are both complimentary and contrasting and love finding those matches.”
“Pink, peach, coral, orange, yellow and then contrasting with blue.”

Red & Green Complements (c) Debra Prinzing design and photograph

What is the key insight here?
Simply, that we live in a colorful floral world and we need to experiment more! And find ways to excite customers and clients with new, shall we say, contrasts and complements, on the horizon!

At the core of it, this insight reinforces the importance of selling color as a much-desired product. Remember, you and your flowers are ready to meet consumers’ hunger for more color in their lives.


#10 Star Quality

From Left: Fleurs de Villes designs by Tobey Nelson and Thomasi Boselawa; Kristen Griffith VanderYacht of Big Flower Fight; Ace Berry, AIFD, PFCI – a finalist on Full Bloom; the Full Bloom judging panel

All of a sudden, miraculously in 2020, celebrity florists are taking center stage alongside chefs and fashion designers!

Whatever you think about floral competition television, seeing flowers and plants in the hands of professional designers on programs like Netflix’s “Big Flower Fight” and HBO’s “Full Bloom” definitely felt validating. We are witnessing flowers – elevated — in mainstream TV programming! That’s news worth celebrating!

I lived vicariously through both programs and was honored to host Big Flower Fight’s head judge Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht as a guest on the Slow Flowers Podcast and profile him for a Florists’ Review cover story earlier this year.

I also enthusiatically rooted for Ace Berry, AIFD, PFCI, another past guest of this podcast, who competed in HBO’s “Full Bloom.” I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t watched to the finale, but you can learn much more about Ace in Episode 421, originally aired in October 2019.

Nine Slow Flowers members designed floral fashions for the 2020 Fleurs de Villes Exhibit at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival
DESIGN CREDITS (c) samanthasmith.photo for Fleurs de Villes
Top row, from left: Casablanca Floral, Flirty Fleurs and Garden Party Design
Center row, from left: Hazel Landscapes & Design, LORA Bloom, Smashing Petals
Bottom row, from left: Terra Bella Flowers & Mercantile, Tiare Floral Design, Tobey Nelson Weddings & Events

I felt quite the same sense of pride earlier this year when the popular Fleurs de Villes exhibition came to Seattle’s Northwest Flower & Garden Festival. With flowers transformed into wearable fashions displayed on a parade of mannequins — it clearly was the most popular feature of the flower and garden festival. The success of Fleurs de Villes is similar to the buzz created by the two floral competition shows I just mentioned.

I was delighted to interview Karen Marshall and Tina Barkley, the creatives behind Fleurs de Villes – which I called a Bespoke Floral Phenomenon, on the Slow Flowers Podcast this past February.  Much like the response people have when they see the photo shoots of real models wearing botanical couture for our American Flowers Week campaigns that Slow Flowers began commissioning in 2016, the botanical couture on Fleurs de Villes’ three-dimensional mannequins takes floral fashion to a new level. 

What is the magic? I believe that seeing flowers used as an artistic expression ignites the imagination of those who view them. Beyond the sheer scale and beauty of floral installations, massive topiary and botanically-dressed mannequins, flowers are the starting point that connect many consumers with the natural world. And who can argue with that?

For Fleurs de Villes, show-goers were invited to vote for their favorite design. For Big Flower Fight and Full Bloom, viewers rooted for their favorite contestants. There’s buy-in when the audience has a stake in the outcome, and ultimately, more people know more about flowers, which takes us full circle to our Insight #1 — Floral Wellness.

I hope to see all of these floral celebrity projects return to our lives in 2021, but I will offer a vocal plea for one change: Please, No FLORAL FOAM. As we’ve urged the mainstream floral profession for years: please wean yourself from a dependence on foam. Be truly creative and find alternative mechanics to express your art!

It can be done; believe me, we’ve consistently documented no-foam mechanic strategies on this podcast and in our other Slow Flowers channels. For goodness sake’s, even the famed Chelsea Flower Show has declared future exhibitions to be foam-free.


If you’re interested in showing off your own Star Quality, I invite you to join the 2021 American Flowers Week botanical couture creative team. Our creators are Slow Flowers member florists and flower farmers who and produce wearable botanical couture photographed on live models for publication.

On Friday, January 15th, you’re invited to join me for a free webinar and Learn how YOU can participate in American Flowers Week 2021

Hear advice and tips from Slow Flowers member designers and growers! We will discuss how each created an iconic botanical couture look for American Flowers Week, including flower sourcing, model selection and photography. You can join the Webinar to learn whether this opportunity is right for you! The Webinar takes place 9am Pacific/Noon Eastern on Friday, January 15, 2021.


Okay, what an inspiring list of 10 insights! Thank you for reviewing this list with me today. I  want to pause here to marvel at what has happened since I began writing down what I viewed on the horizon for the Slow Flowers movement and its followers and members.

The simple act of speaking, writing and sharing one’s perspective is a personal superpower, one you can also claim, because each of us has an utterly unique world view. While it seems trite to seek out COVID’s “silver linings,” you may find meaningful truths to interpret from the past year’s chaos. Use them as a foundation for your 2021 planning. Yes, you want to make resolutions and set goals. You can also set your Intention. And intention can be our rudder to guide us through choppy waters and uncertain times. That’s clearly what we need in this moment.


Thank you to our Sponsors

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, online directory to more than 800 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2021, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting more than 20 U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $9 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually, and providing competitive salaries and benefits to 240 team members based in Watsonville, California and Miami, Florida. Discover more at farmgirlflowers.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 675,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.

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

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; Vittoro; Open Flames; Shift of Currents; Surly Bonds; Gaenaby 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 482: All about the 2020 Young Farmers & Cooks Conference and Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020
Jessica Galen (left) and Shannon Algiere (right) – two of the leaders at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

I’m really excited for this week’s episode – and happy to introduce you to my two guests, Shannon Algiere co-founder of the farm at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture and currently the Farm Liaison manager, and Jessica Galen, Stone Barn’s Communications Manager.

I’ve invited them to give us a snapshot of the history and work of Stone Barns Center and then we’ll preview the upcoming Young Farmers & Cooks Conference, a three-day, all-virtual event produced and hosted by Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture and Blue Hill at Stone Barns Restaurant on December 8-10. That’s coming right up next week and you’ll want to take advantage of the extremely affordable pricing to register. 

This is an important conference about sustainable farming and food systems, and yes, the subject of Floral and Fiber Agriculture has a role.

Our fabulous Slow Flowers panel, clockwise from top left: Julius Tillery, Taij & VC Cotten, Julio Frietas and Aishah Lurry

On Wednesday, December 9th (8:30 am Pacific/11:30 am Eastern), I’ll be moderating a panel called  The Regional Flower Economy: Flower Farming as a Viable and Profitable Facet of Agriculture, featuring a fantastic lineup of Slow Flowers members. They include Aishah Lurry, Patagonia Flower Farm, Julio Freitas, The Flower Hat, Taij Cotton and VC (Victoria) Edwards-Cotten, Perry-winkle Farm, and Julius Tillery, Black Cotton U.S.

Whether you’re a farmer, cook, butcher, miller, preservationist, processor, or anyone else in the food (and floral) chain, this conference is for you. 

Here’s a bit more about Jessica and Shannon ~

Jessica Galen is the communications director at Stone Barns Center. In this role she manages relationships with the media and partner organizations, and provides editorial support for programming for young farmers and other key audiences.

She launched her career in branding and communications at a nonprofit consulting firm and an education reform organization. While in graduate school at NYU for a M.A. in Food Studies she worked in the cheese caves at Murray’s Cheese as well as for an organic produce farm and a raw farmstead cheesemaker. She served as the general manager at Lucy’s Whey, then the Upper East Side’s largest artisanal cheese shop, and as wholesale director at New York Shuk, a small-batch producer of Israeli and North African pantry items.

Jessica published an article in the Graduate Journal of Food Studies based on her Master’s thesis entitled “Cheesemongers Over Fearmongers: Toward Data-Driven Cheese Recommendations for Pregnant Women” and was a contributor to the James Beard Award-winning “Oxford Companion to Cheese.” She is on the Advisory Board of Equity Advocates, which provides policy education, advocacy training, and coalition building services to improve healthy food access in urban communities. In addition to her Master’s degree, she has a B.A. From Harvard University in Yiddish and Latin American Studies.

Shannon Algiere, a co-founder of the farm at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture brings over 20 years of experience in holistic farm design, crops production, garden and greenhouse management and farm-based education. Alongside her husband Jack Algiere, Shannon has served many roles at Stone Barns Center in its development.

Most recently as Farm Liaison Manager, Shannon partnered with the center’s farm and programs staff to oversee farmer training, internships and volunteer programming.

She attended University of Rhode Island, was an outdoor educator at the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, Greenhouse Manager at Meadowbrook Biodynamic Herb Farm and White Gate Farm, and a volunteer for the Costa Rican National Park Service.

In 2017 Shannon started a floral design and horticultural services business, Potter & Prune, promoting sustainable models in the floral design industry by celebrating the elegance and ecology of connecting regional grower economies with event design. She has taught workshops on growing and marketing cut flowers at NOFA, SBC’s Young Farmer’s Conference, and Oregon State University Small Farms conference. She has also written articles and been interviewed for her work at the intersection of farming and health and wellness. Along with her husband Jack, Shannon is raising two boys and serves on the board of Hearthfire and  Ayer’s Foundation.

Find and follow Shannon on Instagram here

Find and follow Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture on Instagram here

I hope you’re inspired to register and join the Young Farmers and Cooks Conference, taking place next week, December 8-10th. You can attend the conference for just $25 and you’ll be wowed by the program offerings and speakers.

UPDATE: We’ve just received a $10 off coupon code from Young Farmers and Cooks Conference! When you register, use: YFCCPROMO

You may have heard Jessica mention that the conference is being built around an anti-racist frame, and we fully support these values. When Shannon and her colleagues first approached me to curate a Slow Flowers panel, they explained that sessions are designed in a way that will honor the contributions of Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color throughout history who have shaped the agricultural and culinary topic the program addresses. Programs within the Young Farmers and Cooks Conference are designed to acknowledge the historical and cultural significance of topics; acknowledge and serve the diverse, international audience that will participate; and give space for voices and perspectives that have often been overlooked or underrepresented, especially in the realm of sustainable agriculture. Additionally, no panel will feature only white or male presenters.

And speaking of panels, in addition to our panel on the Regional Flower Economy, here are some of the other presentations I’m excited about:
Beauty in Food: Incorporating Edible Flowers in the Kitchen
Over time, the farm at Stone Barns Center has developed a robust flow of floral materials from greenhouse, fields, pastures and gardens into the creative hands of artisan chefs at the on-site Blue Hill Restaurant. This panel features demonstrations and encouragement on incorporating the beauty of flowers into dishes, beverages and cakes, presented by growers and artisan makers as they share tips, variety suggestions and artistic technique.
Bones, Pigments, Paper and Process
This panel introduces three artists applying ecological consciousness to their work and craft. They will take us through their process of land acknowledgement and working with land based materials as well as the steps that transform those materials into cultural objects. 
Natural Dyes for Farmers and Cooks
How can natural dyes both connect us to our complicated histories and serve as a teaching tool? From the blemish of African enslavement to grow both cotton and indigo in the United States to modern textile practices that demand speed and slave wages, we have never gotten textiles right for people and planet. So what are we going to do about it and what are the most logical, equitable and environmental next steps? Join us for a discussion with four leading voices in the natural dye world.
Seed Companies, COVID-19, and Our Fragile Foodshed   
Seeds are a critical first node in every food supply chain, so the people who run seed companies have a unique vantage point when major disruptions occur. The COVID-19 shutdowns led to the same sort of panic buying of seeds as happened in supermarkets with food. This huge increase in demand forced some seed companies to temporarily shut down or curtail operations as seed stocks diminished and experienced workers became harder to muster (with fears of the virus keeping many workers home). Now seed inventories are depleted, demand is higher than ever, and companies are struggling to maintain the diversity and quality of seed their customers expect. At the same time, most companies sold much more seed in 2020 than anticipated, leading to unexpected financial windfalls that allow for expansion, growth, and special projects. This panel features seed luminaries from a range of different companies, each offering their particular perspective and plans for moving forward into an uncertain future.  

I hope you’re as inspired as I am. What a great opportunity to expand our understanding  of sustainable agriculture at the intersection of art and design! Let’s all strive to be Food AND Flower System Changemakers!

Thank you to our sponsors

As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the Slow Flowers Movement, 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.

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

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.

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 664,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto iTunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at soundbodymovement.com

Music Credits:

Glass Beads; 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 471: Lisa Fiore of Landscape Hub on the digital plant-selling platform that opens new sales channels for Slow Flowers growers

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

As many of you know, I was very active in horticulture circles as a home, garden and landscaping writer for nearly 20 years, long before I became obsessed with flower farming and floral design. Over the past decade, I have been completely immersed in founding, developing and nurturing the Slow Flowers Movement, which has been the most professionally rewarding experience of my life. And yet, I continue to take side trips back into horticulture. I met today’s guest, Lisa Fiore, CEO of Landscape Hub, on one of those excursions.

We were introduced by a mutual friend, Clint Albin, a nursery industry marketing strategist, who, like me, has an extensive personal network of business contacts who become friends.

Clint attended the 2018 Slow Flowers Summit in Washington, D.C., where he lives, and since then, he has been determined to find a way for us to collaborate as we once did when I was so deeply involved in the horticulture world.

Landscape Hub is proving to be that reason for us to collaborate. Clint introduced me to Lisa Fiore and as I learned what she created with Landscape Hub, I started to understand that there is potential for Slow Flowers members, especially farms and growers, to take advantage of this plant-selling platform.

Here’s the deal: If you are already growing plants for the floral trade, you can potentially use your expertise to also grow plants for the nursery and landscape industry.

We announced a pilot program between Slow Flowers and Landscape Hub and promoted it in our August Slow Flowers newsletter. I’m not sure how many people have even checked out the opportunity that I outlined — to become a grower & wholesale supplier of potted plants through Landscape Hub.

When you listen to my conversation with Lisa, I think it will begin to make sense. Hearing from the person who created a new selling platform for live plants (versus plants cut for the floral trade) may open up your own imagination to a new business channel.

Before we jump into the conversation, here’s a bit more about Lisa Fiore:

Lisa Fiore is Founder & CEO of LandscapeHub, a B2B online marketplace she created and launched in July 2017. A fourth-generation nursery professional, Ms. Fiore realized there was an opportunity to digitize the entire procurement process for the green industry.

Lisa was previously President of Fiore Landscape and Nursery Supply (FLNS), a century-old nursery company. During her sixteen-year tenure, she was responsible for identifying new business opportunities and in leading the company forward during the recession. FNLS significantly grew in revenue and expanded to multiple locations under her leadership.

Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from University of Montana and a Master of Business Administration from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. She currently serves on the board of directors for the National Association of Landscape Professionals, (NALP); is an advisor to the Women in Landscape Network, (WILN); a member of the Economic Club of Chicago; and a former board director for the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association, (ILCA).

Thanks so much for joining me today for my conversation with Lisa. We know that now, more than ever, our members are seeking new customer channels during the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe that one of those perhaps overlooked or ignored opportunities is to use your farming skills to sell plants (including potted and bare root) into the nursery marketplace, to both trade and retail buyers.

You know how to grow plants – there is no doubt! But have you explored selling plants? I know that some of our members are growing and marketing cutting garden annuals and perennials, vegetable starts, bulb packs and other horticultural products to their customers. Those customers may find you through a grocery store program, farmers’ market, on-farm or pop-up plant sales or through your own retail channel.

As Lisa and I discussed LandscapeHub offers you a potential new channel to sell on this nationwide platform which supplies commercial nurseries and landscapers. LandscapeHub is expanding its online marketplace for the nursery and green industry growers — and you’re invited to participate.

Stay tuned for an upcoming session when I will host Landscape Hub’s team to discuss and demonstrate the platform. I’ll announce a date next week.

Before we wrap up, I want to invite you to join the Fire Relief for Flower Farms effort. During the past 10 days, I’m sure you’ve watched the horrifying images and read devastating reports about wildfires threatening farmland  across the West. This is not the first climate crisis to affect the Slow Flowers community in the past few years — season by season, it seems as if every farm is faced with one of them: floods, hailstorms, tornados, hurricanes and wild fires are on the rise seemingly everywhere.

But I can’t help but focus right now on what’s happening in the west — from provinces like British Columbia and Alberta in Canada to states including Washington, Oregon and California in the U.S. It’s so frightening on top of everything else 2020 has thrown our way. Seeing individual Slow Flowers members’ social media posts also makes it highly personal. While it may be weeks or months before the destruction, damage or loss has been calculated, many of you want to help NOW.

Like me, you may be asking: “What Can I Do?”
We are an action-oriented community, right?! Farmers and florists are generous people who readily share their knowledge and resources. So here’s one thing you can do in response to news about the recent wildfire threat to farms in the west. Join Slow Flowers as we support the Fire Relief for Flower Farms effort. This is a farmer-to-farmer show of support created by last week’s podcast guest Tonneli Grutter of Salty Acres Farm.

Now might be the time to assess what you have to share with another farm. Seeds can be collected, tubers, rhizomes and bulbs can be dug and divided, cuttings can be taken. Or, maybe you have an excess inventory of drip irrigation or useful supplies you know another farm might be able to use.

Tonneli has volunteered to collect input from those who wish to receive help, register to donate and show support in other ways. With her big heart, tech talents and savvy marketing skills, Tonneli has created a database for collecting information from those of us who want to share support on an in-kind basis. Just days ago, she texted me with an idea: “is there a way we could make a registry or exchange to donate tubers, bulbs, seeds, etc., in response to farms who may have lost it all?” Tonneli continued: “Flower farmers have already had the toughest year (with) no money left to give, but maybe we can help others rebuild in other ways.”

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.

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.

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.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 642,000 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) Heather Saunders 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:

Brass Buttons; Fervent; 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