Debra Prinzing

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Episode 460: Meet The Big Flower Fight’s head judge Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht, owner of Seattle-based design studio Wild Bloom

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020
Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht on the set of “The Big Flower Fight” (c) Netflix

I’m so thrilled to introduce you to floral celebrity Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht, the savvy and charismatic head judge on Netflix’s The Big Flower Fight and owner of Seattle-based design studio Wild Bloom.

After binging on all eight episodes of The Big Flower Fight when it debuted in late May, I have to say that Kristen is the heartbeat of this fun, new reality floral and garden design competition. He sets the tone for “friendly” competition by offering each design team his advice, guidance and sometimes painful but necessary reality-checks.

On location with Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht, floral influencer and head judge of “The Big Flower Fight”

I really enjoyed Kristen’s presence on The Big Flower Fight. He served as the resident floral design expert, as well as the show’s stylish personality whose commentary moved things along during each one-hour episode. When the show launched I didn’t know much about Kristen, although I had been following his Wild Blume Instagram account once I discovered him through other Seattle florists I followed.

Watch Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht on Mornings with Mayesh

Several weeks ago, Mayesh Wholesale’s Yvonne Ashton invited Kristen to be her guest on her Facebook show, Mornings with Mayesh. It was so great to virtually meet Kristen during that interview. You can watch the Facebook Live replay above.

Florist to the Stars, Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht (photo, courtesy of KGV)

I appreciated Kristen’s transparency and authenticity as a black floral professional, especially since that interview took place right after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. It was and is such an emotionally wrought time, and Kristen didn’t deflect any questions from Yvonne and those posed by the Mornings with Mayesh audience. He gained my immense regard and respect by speaking directly to these issues.

Later, I messaged Kristen and asked if he would be open to my interviewing him for a Florists’ Review article. Look for my profile and Q&A with Kristen, coming up in the August issue, which you can find online at floristsreview.com. Please enjoy our extended conversation, recorded via Zoom last month.

Episode Two of Netflix’s “The Big Flower Fight,” featured botanical fashion.

First, here’s a bit more about Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht of Wild Bloom:

Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht specializes in the creation of unique floral arrangements that celebrate enchanting flowers and natural beauty. He is the owner and creative director of Wild Bloom by Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht. His career began in New York City where he worked for some of the top designers in the industry. Since opening his own studio, Kristen’s flowers have been in major publications across the US, including Martha Stewart Weddings, Traditional Home Magazine, and The Knot, and seen on Good Morning America and E! Network. His flowers for actress Julianne Hough were featured on the front cover of People Magazine.

Kristen describes his design philosophy as a combination of editorial with a sensibility for distinctive and organic perspectives. He has an exquisite and rich design eye which has helped to transform the role that florals play in weddings and events. In addition to his extensive portfolio, his studio also provides private classes and workshops for emerging floral artists and enthusiasts.

Kristen views floristry as a gateway to a happier more sustainable life that focuses on bridging the gap between nature and modern living. He continues his work towards elevating the artistry of floral design as a fine art while expanding his design portfolio to include gardening, house plants and home decor. 

Wild Bloom design services are available worldwide for weddings, events, workshops, private classes, advertising campaigns, product shoots and fashion featured in print and digital publications.

Season One Trailer of “The Big Flower Fight”

Thanks so much for joining today’s conversation. You can follow Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht on Instagram.

If you’re as eager as I am to see The Big Flower Fight “season two,” be sure to post your favorite photos from the show and tag Netflix, Kristen, and use the hashtag #thebigflowerfight. Let’s do what we can to ensure that the mainstream media continues to provides programming for people like us: lovers of flowers and plants!

The sixth annual American Flowers Week is underway and we have lots of fun content to share with you, socially distanced, of course.

Kim’s peony gown for American Flowers Week 2020

Earlier this week, on Sunday, June 28th, I went LIVE on Facebook to visit Kim Herning of Northern Lights Peonies in Fairbanks, Alaska, as we toured her peony fields and learned more about Kim’s botanical couture peony gown, created for American Flowers Week.

Watch Part One of our Live Interview Here

Watch Part Two of our Live Interview Here

On Monday, June 29th, our social media manager Niesha Blancas brought Filoli Historic Home & Garden to us LIVE via Instagram. That was just one of the stories and videos Niesha captured as our field correspondent. She was at Filoli to commemorate what was to be the 4th annual Slow Flowers Summit. With concerns over travel and large group gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we rescheduled the Slow Flowers Summit to June 28-30, 2021 — the exact same dates one year from now. But thanks to Niesha only living a few hours away from Filoli, she drove to this beautiful location just for us. . . and you can find links to her posts in today’s show notes.

On Tuesday, June 30th, I hosted a group conversation with Tammy Myers of LORA Bloom and her collective of Seattle area florists who collaborated on an American Flowers Week promotion. It was so fun to hear from several of LORA Bloom florists who, like Tammy, are Slow Flowers members. They created this promotion to help raise awareness about the importance of domestic flowers, and to raise funds for important charities — including the Seattle nonprofit Solid Ground.

Watch the LORA Bloom-Slow Flowers LIVE segment here

And more great things continue through July 4th.

You can find the full schedule of activities at americanflowersweek.com. Please join me in sharing your seasonal and local flowers to elevate awareness about domestic flowers. Get involved and support this initiative to promote and educate consumers about the source of their flowers. Download free American Flowers Week graphics, badges and other resources at americanflowersweek.com.

Thank you to our Sponsors

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

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

More thanks goes to 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.

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 620,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.

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

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

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

Music Credits:

Turning on the Lights; Pinky; 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 458: A Conversation with Val Schirmer of Three Toads Farm in Winchester, Kentucky – continuing our ASCFG Leadership Series

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020
Val Schirmer, Charlie Hendricks and Elizabeth Hendricks of Three Toads Farm (c) Melanie Mauer

The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers has supported Slow Flowers as a sponsor for the past three years, which I believe is a reflection of our mutual values and goals of expanding  domestic flower farming as a profession. Over the years, I’ve interviewed many ASCFG members who are also Slow Flowers Members, bringing their inspiring and informative stories to you.

For 2020, I have made it a goal to host ASCFG’s leadership on the Slow Flowers Podcast, highlighting the organization’s many regional directors across North America. In March, you heard from Erin McMullen, co-owner of Rain Drop Farm and ASCFG’s West & Northwest Regional Director. In April, Janis Harris of Harris Flower Farm, ASCFG’s Canadian Regional Director, joined us on the Podcast.

And this week, I’m happy to introduce you to Val Schirmer of Three Toads Farm, based in Winchester, Kentucky – she’s the Southeastern Regional Director for ASCFG, representing members in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Val Schirmer (c) Chris Benzakein (left); a premium amaryllis bulb (right)
Val is founder of Three Toads Farm and SE region director
of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers

Here’s a bit more about Three Toads Farm:
The three toads of this established specialty cut flower farm and fine floral design studio include longtime friends and business partners, Val Schirmer and Charlie Hendricks, and Elizabeth Hendricks, Charlie’s daughter. Three Toads Farm is most known for its year-round greenhouse production of show-stopping Oriental lilies.

The farm also produces huge pollen-less sunflowers, varieties of celosia, lisianthus, unique forced spring bulbs, Amaryllis, French tulips, Parrot tulips, ranunculus, English Sweet Peas, and a farmer’s market favorite, bouquets of colorful zinnias nestled in lemon basil.

Growing big gorgeous Oriental and hybrid lilies — using the largest bulbs commercially available — has been foundational to the small farm’s success and applies to
holiday and spring bulbs too. Val says not many growers will pay the cost or go to the trouble of sourcing these bulbs, but “the bigger the bulb, the bigger the show!” That’s how you get the largest, most spectacular flowers, strongest stems and greatest number of blooms.

Each spring and fall, Three Toads Farm hosts a lily bulb sale, encouraging customers in the community to grow their own lilies. You can find Three Toads Farm at the Saturday Farmers’ Market in Lexington and select days at the Market’s Tuesday and Thursday location.

Three Toads Farm offers seasonal bud vase deliveries to restaurants; local businesses and private customers can also subscribe to bi-weekly deliveries or shop at the greenhouse by appointment.

This is one of two sold-out Spring Bulb Garden workshops this past February at Three Toads Farm’s new workshop space. Val applies the same principles to forcing spring bulbs as she does for holiday Amaryllis and Paperwhites. Worship guests get “first dibs” from the 6,000 spring bulbs she forces in deep 6-packs specifically for creating tabletop bulb gardens to enjoy indoors, and then plant outside to rebloom for years to come.

For more than six years, flower lovers have enjoyed on-the-farm workshops  which invite them to tour Three Toad’s fields and greenhouses and make an arrangement with just-picked blooms. And, as you’ll hear us discuss, for the holidays Three Toads Farm grows potted Amaryllis from jumbo-sized bulbs, which are available by special order.

Elizabeth Hendricks (left) is the creative force behind every one of Three Toads
Farm’s weddings and events. Val Schirmer (right) often says Elizabeth’s a big reason that
Martha Stewart Weddings named them one of the country’s Top 10
Farmer-Florists (c) Melanie Mauer
Wedding flowers for a bride and groom who worked with Elizabeth more than a year in advance, so Three Toads Farm could grow dahlias, lilies and other florals just for them. (c) Melanie Mauer

In 2015, Three Toads Farm was named one of the top farmer-florist wedding designers in the U.S. by Martha Stewart Weddings.

Forcing huge bulbs is a trademark of Three Toads Farm’s holiday knockout bulb gardens. Val uses both Southern Hemisphere and Dutch bulbs, potting them up into tabletop bulb gardens. Here, her focus is not only on sourcing big bulbs, but also on ‘specialty’ varieties. Last year she says she doubled the number of bulbs she bought (and had more than a few sleepless nights as a result), but Val believes forcing holiday bulbs is a niche that’s ripe for
flower farmers to try, bringing in high-end sales beyond selling holiday wreaths.

Find and follow Val Schirmer and Three Toads Farms at these social places:

Three Toads Farm on Instagram

Three Toads Farm on Facebook

Thanks so much for joining today’s conversation. Last week, I announced the establishment of a Professional Development Fund to grow our membership of Black flower farmers and florists. This is an intentional step to ensure that Slow Flowers is more representational and inclusive. I want to think our first two contributors, Lisa Waud of Lisa Waud Botanical Artist and author Jennifer Jewell, host of the popular public radio program Cultivating Place.

I also want to thank those of you who have nominated black candidates who we can invite to join Slow Flowers. This is exciting and I know it will inspire others to take action to change the floral profession we love so much.

Small and large efforts are tangible and offer more than lip service to the injustices we’ve witnessed for too long, injustices that have taken place for generations.

I’m so encouraged by you and your efforts. SO many Slow Flowers members have announced donations and campaigns of their own to bring change to their communities — and I’m proud to see how you are speaking out and taking steps alongside my own. Let’s keep it rolling forward!

Playback Video from our June 12th Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up for JUNE

We just held our June Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up on June 12th. It was a fabulous session devoted to American Flowers Week. Attendees met ALISON HIGGINS of Grace Flowers Hawaii and MONÍCA PUGH of Floras and Bouquets, two of the designers who created Botanical Couture garments for the American Flowers Week 2020 Collection! We learned about their inspiration, the mechanics and techniques they employed and how the experience has been a positive one in their communities and for their brands.

Save the Date for Friday, July 10th (9 a.m. Pacific/Noon Eastern) to join our JULY Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up! You can find the link to join in the linktr.ee menu that appears in our Instagram profile @myslowflowers.

As I mentioned last week, mark June 24th on your calendar to join me for a Virtual Book Launch party to celebrate the publication of our new book, Slow Flowers Journal – Volume One! Eighty Slow Flowers members are featured in its pages and we will share a big reveal of this beautiful, 128-page book, published by our partners at Wildflower Media/Florists’ Review. The all-virtual Launch Party and Happy Hour will take place at 4 pm Pacific/7 pm on June 24th and we will welcome many special guests who appear in the pages of Slow Flowers Journal.

Click here to RSVP and Join the Party.
Order your copy of Slow Flowers Journal – Volume One (and see a preview of the inside pages)

Please plan on participating in the sixth annual American Flowers Week, June 28th-July 4th. Use your flowers to communicate a message of beauty, sustainability, wellness and inclusion – and help us promote domestic floral agriculture across the U.S. You can find all sorts of free resources at Americanflowersweek.com.

(c) Grace Hensley

For members only, you can order our red-white-and-blue bouquet labels to use during the weeks leading up to American Flowers Week. Order your labels here.

Hope to see you online with photos and videos and in live displays of your American flowers. Please use the hash-tag: #americanflowersweek to help us find and highlight your talents!

Thank you to our Sponsors

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

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

More thanks goes to 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 Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 614,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.

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

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

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

Music Credits:

Heartland Flyer; 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 457: American Flowers Week, Botanical Couture and Dahlia Dresses with Sarah Pabody of Triple Wren Farms

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020
An apricot-hued dahlia frock designed by Sarah Pabody of Triple Wren Farms (c) Katherine Buttrey

A Message from Debra Prinzing:

Thanks so much for joining today’s conversation. Like me, I know you’ve experienced the healing role that flowers can play in our lives. And if you come from a position of white privilege, like me, I hope you’ve been watching, listening and educating yourselves over the past two weeks as we take stock of the reality that we’ve ignored systemic racism for too long and we must speak out against injustice. I also believe as a white woman, I need to step back and let others speak to power. I have been so moved by the voices and actions of our black Slow Flowers members and by those aren’t black but who are, like me, personally influenced because they have partners and children who are black. It’s raw and on the surface, and certainly centuries of racism will not be reversed over night.

But I encourage you to join me in this self-education and openness to hear. Last week and in the coming weeks, we are featuring our black Slow Flowers members on the Slow Flowers’ IG and FB feeds. Several are past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast, past speakers at Slow Flowers Summit conferences and flower people who I’ve featured in articles for Slow Flowers Journal and other outlets.

We want to grow our black membership beyond its disproportionately small percentage. Please help me with suggestions of flower farmers, floral designers and farmer-florists who we need to include in this community. We have established a Professional Development Fund to underwrite their membership costs. If you’d like to contribute financially to that fund to sponsor a new member and expand our inclusion and representation — please reach out, too! You can contact me at debra@slowflowers.com. I’d love your suggestions and support.

The opening pages of Slow Flowers Journal coverage of American Flowers Week botanical couture features one of Sarah Pabody’s dahlia dresses, photographed in the fields at Triple Wren Farms (c) Katherine Buttrey

We all love dahlias, but have you ever thought about wearing a dress adorned with them? Today’s guest, Sarah Pabody of Triple Wren Farms, lives and breathes dahlias at the farm she operates with her husband Steve Pabody in the Northwest corner of Washington State. I asked Sarah to join me on the Podcast today as part of our leadup to American Flowers Week, which takes place June 28th – July 4th for the sixth consecutive year.

At its heart, American Flowers Week focuses on the origin of each beautiful stem, where it comes from and who is the grower behind that bloom. The campaign also shines a light on floral design, promoting domestic flowers and foliage, inspiring professionals and consumers alike with a new aesthetic connected to locality, seasonality and sustainability.

Created by members of the Slow Flowers Society, the 2020 botanical couture collection for American Flowers Week presents cut flowers re-imagined as a wearable art. These designs combine fantasy with reality, imagination with technique, inventiveness with grit. Flowers are fleeting, yet sensory and evocative, inviting us to view the natural world as a true art form. American Flowers Week captures imaginations and sparks curiosity. It is a true celebration of the artists who grow flowers and the artists who design with them.

Sarah Pabody (second from left) with three models wearing dahlia gowns made from her fields. (c) Ashley Hayes and Sarah Joy Fields

In addition to farming and growing flowers, Sarah also runs Triple Wren Weddings, a wedding and event design studio. After seeing how popular the farm’s dahlia fields were with local photographers and their portrait clients, Sarah fantasized about what it would look like if the people having their photos taken wore dahlias rather than only standing among the flowers. Her idea took hold and now Sarah teaches Dahlia Dress Masterclasses for designers and floral enthusiasts who want to create, wear and be photographed in dahlia couture. Beyond fantasy, the garments are thoroughly alluring, but also accessible, prompting others to imagine themselves wearing a dahlia dress of her own.

Click here to read the full story from the June issue of Florists’ Review:

Sarah and Steve Pabody of Triple Wren Farms, captured with their children among the dahlia fields.

Here’s a bit more about Triple Wren Farms: Founded in 2012, Triple Wren is a 22-acre farm in Ferndale, Washington. It is the second growing site for the Pabodys, who in 2016 acquired a distressed berry farm with great soil and water rights after previously leasing land elsewhere. Triple Wren Farms currently grows on about nine acres.

The Pabody family during a past August sunflower harvest.

The farm supplies cut flowers to wholesale customers and has developed an agritourism focus that includes you-pick blueberry fields, a fall pumpkin patch, flower workshops and open farm events, including a Dahlia Festival and a Blueberry Party. The farm also sells dahlia tubers, growing close to 200 varieties selected for superior cut flower performance. Triple Wren Farms’ tuber store has the tagline: ‘Dahlias for cuts in a modern palette.’

You can listen to Steve and Sarah Pabody’s story when they were guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast back in 2014.

Upcoming Classes, Workshops & Events at Triple Wren Farms:

Dahlia Camp (September 10-12, 2020)

Flower Therapy Workshops and Sunset Yoga (ongoing)

Dahlia Dress Masterclass

Triple Wren Farm & Weddings on Social Media

Triple Wren Farms on Facebook

Triple Wren Farms on Instagram

Triple Wren Weddings

Triple Wren Weddings on Instagram

Sarah and her daughter Chloe Wren, who is wearing one of her mother’s dahlia dresses at Triple Wren Farms (c) Abigail Larsen

I know you’ll enjoy learning from Sarah as we discuss her farm, her flowers, and her floral art.

A lot of happenings are coming up in the month of June and I’m so excited to include any listeners in these opportunities!

On June 12th, we will hold our monthly Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up — an online gathering of florists, growers, farmer-florists and supporters, launched in late March. The Virtual Meet-Ups have moved from weekly to monthly and will now continue as a regular event on the 2nd Friday of each month.

Join me and the Slow Flowers Community at our next gathering on Friday, June 12th, same time as before – 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. Follow this link to join us. Click here to watch the replay of our May 29th Meet-Up and read more about our June Meet-Up guests.

On June 24th, please join me for a Virtual Book Launch party to celebrate the publication of our new book, Slow Flowers Journal – Volume One!

Eighty Slow Flowers members are featured in its pages and we will share a big reveal of this beautiful, 128-page book, published by our partners at Wildflower Media/Florists’ Review.

The all-virtual Launch Party and Happy Hour will take place at 4 pm Pacific/7 pm on June 24th and we will welcome many special guests who appear in the pages of Slow Flowers Journal. And if you want to grab your own copy, our bookstore is open for orders, so you can find that link in today’s show notes, as well.

Please plan on participating in the sixth annual American Flowers Week, June 28th-July 4th. I hope Sarah Pabody’s dahlia dress project inspires you to create beauty with your flowers and your creative community. Use your flowers to communicate a message of beauty, sustainability, wellness and inclusion – and help us promote domestic floral agriculture across the U.S. You can find all sorts of free resources at Americanflowersweek.com. For members only, you can order our red-white-and-blue bouquet labels to use during the weeks leading up to American Flowers Week. I’ll share that link in today’s show notes. Hope to see you online with photos and videos and in live displays of your American flowers. Please use the hash-tag: #americanflowersweek to help us find and highlight your talents!

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.

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

Longfield Gardens, which provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Check out the full catalog at Longfield Gardens at longfield-gardens.com.

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

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Find the full catalog of flower seeds and bulbs at johnnysseeds.com.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 612,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.

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

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

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

Music Credits:

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

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

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

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

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

Stacey’s “selfie” in the peony fields!

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

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

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

Photo by Catherine Threlkeld Photography

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

Photos by Catherine Threlkeld Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicewicz Family Farm on Facebook and Nicewicz Peonies on Instagram

Paeonia Designs on Facebook and Instagram

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

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

More for our Community

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

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

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

Thank you to our Sponsors

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

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

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

And to Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Find the full catalog of flower seeds and bulbs at johnnysseeds.com.

And to Mayesh Wholesale Florist. Family-owned since 1978, Mayesh is the premier wedding and event supplier in the U.S. and we’re thrilled to partner with Mayesh to promote local and domestic flowers, which they source from farms large and small around the U.S. Learn more at mayesh.com.

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 608,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find and follow Flowers and Weeds at these social places:

Flowers and Weeds on Facebook

Flowers and Weeds on Instagram

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

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

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

Replay of our May 8th Meet-Up

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

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

Yoni Levenbach (left) and Bethany Little (right)

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

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

Thank You to our Sponsors

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

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

Mayesh Wholesale Florist. Family-owned since 1978, Mayesh is the premier wedding and event supplier in the U.S. and we’re thrilled to partner with Mayesh to promote local and domestic flowers, which they source from farms large and small around the U.S. Learn more at mayesh.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 604,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.

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

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

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

Music Credits:

Turning On The Lights; Heartland Flyer; Gaena; Glass Beads
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a bit more about Red Twig Farms:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Red Twig Farms on Facebook | Red Twig Farms on Instagram

Splints & Daisies on Facebook | Splints & Daisies on Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow this link to join us on May 8th.

Thank you to our Sponsors

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

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

Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

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

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Find the full catalog of flower seeds and bulbs at johnnyseeds.com.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 602,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.

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

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

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

Music Credits:

Turning On The Lights; Heartland Flyer; Gaena; Glass Beads
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One exquisite bloom (c) Taken by Sarah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find and follow Mountain Flower Farm here:

Mountain Flower Farm on Facebook

Mountain Flower Farm on Instagram

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

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

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

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

Sign up to be notified about future course releases here

Follow The Gardener’s Workshop on Facebook

The Gardener’s Workshop on Instagram

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

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

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

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

Thank you to our Sponsors

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

Longfield Gardens, which provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Check out the full catalog at Longfield Gardens at longfield-gardens.com.

Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at  https://shop.syndicatesales.com/.

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 596,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.

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

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

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

Music Credits:

Falaal; Heartland Flyer; Gaena; Glass Beads
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harvesting field crops at Free Range Flowers

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

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

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

Free Range Flowers (c) Caylie Mash Photography

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

WA Young Farmers Coalition: COVID-19 Resources for Farmers

Free Range Flowers on Facebook

Free Range Flowers on Instagram

Free Range Love (Weddings)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more about Terra Bella and Melissa’s story here

Terra Bella Flowers

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

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

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

Thank You to Our Sponsors:

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

Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market. Take advantage of the special subscription offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

Longfield Gardens, which provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Check out the full catalog at Longfield Gardens at longfield-gardens.com.

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

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

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

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

You can contact us anytime with questions:

Debra Prinzing

Karen Thornton

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 590,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.

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

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

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

Music Credits:

One Little Triumph; Heartland Flyer; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

Episode 445: Mara Tyler of Pennsylvania’s The Farm at Oxford, a boutique cut flower farm and botanical shop

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020
Mara Tyler, farmer-florist, The Farm at Oxford

I’m so pleased today to introduce you to Mara Tyler of The Farm at Oxford in Lincoln University, Pennsylvania. I think we first met in 2014 at an ASCFG annual conference when it was held in Wilmington, Delaware, and it has been inspiring to witness how Mara has grown her floral enterprise to encompass growing flowers, designing flowers, teaching about flowers and connecting with flower lovers in person and through social media.

I’ve been so curious about the retail side of Mara’s business and I asked her to join me for today’s episode.

In the dahlia fields at The Farm at Oxford (c) Mariya Steckler Photography

Here’s more about Mara Tyler and her flowers:

California native turned Pennsylvania flower farmer, Mara Tyler grew flowers in small spaces for 20 years in her home state.  When she and her young family decided to move their roots to Pennsylvania, they discovered the desire for more space and land to put down roots.

Life on The Farm at Oxford

Sixty property visits and 1.5 years later, they found a beautiful 1838 farmhouse in Southern Chester County, on a 12-acre farmette that was historically used for dairy and sheep farming. Fenced pastures with meadowed flatlands seemed perfect for brightly colored flowers, and the idea of The Farm at Oxford was born. 

Beautiful mixed peony bouquets

The farm’s cut flower business specializes in locally grown peonies, dahlias, roses, spring bulbs and companion perennials. Mara is inspired by the unique and the challenging, and as long as the ground is not frozen, you can typically find her outside digging in the dirt or in the workshop playing with flowers. 

A peek inside Mara’s plant-filled shop at WorKS Artisan Collective

New in 2018, The Farm at Oxford launched a YEAR-ROUND mini-plant and flower shop inside of the WorKS artisan collective in Kennett Square, near famed Longwood Gardens outside Philadelphia. WorKS Botanical & Flower Shop is open Friday through Sunday, 11-5 and there you can find unusual pots, plants, fresh flowers; as well as lots of garden related home decor items such as watering cans, pruning shears, or Mara’s favorite garden sign. In winter, you can find homemade wreaths, lots of goodies for holiday; and also pick up flower bulbs for planting.

The Farm at Oxford also brings fresh bunches of blooms…everything from a gathering of peonies to a combination of what is blooming at the field each week. Customers can find those flowers at garden and lifestyle retailer Terrain.

Stunning dahlias, with the bonus of backlighting

Thanks so much for joining my wonderful conversation with Mara Tyler of The Farm at Oxford. I hope you gained as much inspiration and encouragement as I did from this talented floralpreneur.

Mara Tyler (c) Taken by Sarah

Find and follow The Farm at Oxford at these social places:

The Farm at Oxford on Facebook

The Farm at Oxford on Instagram

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

The Summit team is following the situation closely, monitoring the CDC health and travel information and the San Mateo County Department of Health recommendations. At this time, as reported by the CDC and U.S. Travel Association, there are no restrictions on travel anywhere within the U.S.

High Place at Filoli
FILOLI: the recently-renovated “High Place” at Filoli in Woodside, Calif., destination for the Slow Flowers Summit 2020

Rest assured we are working in partnership with the Summit venue, Filoli Historic Garden and Home, to ensure a wonderful experience for you. We are very optimistic about the prospect of a fabulous conference and hope you are as well. The Slow Flowers Summit team promises to provide you with regular updates if the status changes in the coming weeks or months, but in the current climate, we are remaining positive about seeing you in California — June 28-30 — for a celebration of the Slow Flowers people, passion and practices. You can contact us anytime with questions:

Debra Prinzing, Slow Flowers

Karen Thornton, Event Manager

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

(c) Mary Grace Long Photography

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 588,000 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

Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market. Take advantage of the special subscription offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community.

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

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Find the full catalog of flower seeds and bulbs at 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.

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:

Cottonwoods; Gaena; Glass Beads
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

Episode 444: Ingrid Koivukangas of Alchemy Farm Flowers on diversifying into agrotourism, and our first ASCFG leadership guest, Erin McMullen of Rain Drop Farms

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020
Ingrid Koivukangas of Alchemy Farm Flowers
Ingrid Koivukangas of Alchemy Farm Flowers

Today’s first guest has been on my “wish list” for a few years, basically since she joined Slow Flowers and I became familiar with her business Alchemy Farm Flowers. I’m so happy today to introduce you to Ingrid Koivukangas, environmental artist, flower farmer, floral designer, educator and innovator.

Alchemy Farm on Salt Spring Island, B.C.

As you will hear in our conversation, Alchemy Farm Flowers is based on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, a destination that’s sandwiched between Vancouver Island to the west and the U.S. San Juan Islands to the east. It’s reached via car ferry or float plane and I am mesmerized by the videos and photographs I’ve seen on Salt Spring Tourism‘s web site. Meeting Ingrid “virtually” only makes me more eager to visit her in person.

welcome sign
Welcome to Alchemy Farm

Here’s more about Alchemy Farm and its owner:

Alchemy Farm is situated on ten acres in the beautiful Burgoyne Fulford Valley on Salt Spring Island. The property was once part of the historic 200-acre George and Kate Furness homestead, first settled in the 1880s. 

Alchemy Farm is owned by award-winning environmental artist, Ingrid Koivukangas, and Robin Logan, a retired UK Homeopath and woodsmith. Both are creatives, healers and dreamers. The couple married on the Winter Solstice and they believe in love and magic – hence their chosen farm name: Alchemy Farm. Ingrid and Robin’s stewardship of this magical property is rooted in their deep love for the Earth and Nature, of becoming self-sufficient, living in harmony with all beings and providing safe habitat for bees and pollinators.

The studio at Alchemy Farm where Ingrid hosts classes and workshops.

From the Alchemy Farm fields there is a spectacular view of Mount Maxwell towering over the Fulford Valley. Eagles circle overhead. Choruses of frogs serenade from the many ponds. The original hedgerows, planted by early settlers, still mark the boundaries of the property along the eastern and western edges. The orchard is rich with apple, pear, plum and cherry trees. Blackberries drape over decaying fences. The land is awake with potential as its stewards continue to create a sustainable flower farm, an oasis of healing.

The farm produces gorgeous flowers in tune with the seasons, grown without chemicals or pesticides to provide safe homes and food for pollinators—plus flowers for humans to enjoy. 

Young visitors are enchanted by the Music Garden at Alchemy Farm, where they can listen to the bioenergy of flowers (note the earbuds!)

Ingrid teaches flower workshops to businesses, groups and private students, incorporating botanicals harvested directly from her gardens. She created the Alchemy Flower Music Garden Tour as an environmental art exhibit that connects visitors to the music created from the bioenergy of flowers! It’s a magical experience. Those who visit the seasonal Farm Stand can shop for flowers, jams, fruits and veggies, from May to September. Alchemy Farm’s online shop offers dahlia tubers, seeds and other products.

Florals grown and designed by Ingrid Koivukangas of Alchemy Farm
Enjoy this tour of Alchemy Farm’s Sound & Music Garden

Find and follow Alchemy Farm at these social place:

Alchemy Farm Flowers on Facebook

Alchemy Farm Flowers on Instagram

Alchemy Farm Flowers’ new Bee Garden School

Erin McMullen of Rain Drop Farms.

Next up, our first interview with one of seven regional directors who are part of the ASCFG leadership — we’ll be recording conversations with all of these folks throughout the coming year. I hope to record as many as possible in person, but we’ll have to see how and where my travels in 2020 take me.

Please meet return guest Erin McMullen of Rain Drop Farms. Erin and her husband Aaron Gaskey are veteran flower farmers in Philomath, Oregon, near Corvallis. Rain Drop Farms was established in 1999 on a one acre plot in their backyard.  They had every intention of growing vegetables, and threw in a few dahlia tubers that grandma gave them. Later, after a long search, Erin and Aaron were finally able to purchase their own piece of paradise and move to the farm’s current location, at the base of Oregon’s Mary’s Peak.

Those dahlia tubers made the move with them and before long they had more flowers than potatoes and the beginning of a dream. Rain Drop Farm grows flowers in a way that benefits not only flower-loving customers, but also their natural neighbors.  This means avoiding using harsh chemicals or insecticides and opting for natural and organic solutions to any pest problems. This all supports their belief that the flowers that grace our tables should be as healthy as the food we feed our bodies. 

Erin is entering her second year as the West & Northwest regional director, representing the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

Before we wrap up, I want to announce the winner of last week’s book giveaway. Last week you heard from Jennifer Jewell, author of the new book, The Earth in Her Hands – 75 extraordinary women working in the world of plants and host of the NPR program Cultivating Place. I am so honored to be included in this book, and last week you heard me as part of Jennifer’s panel at the NW Flower & Garden Festival, where I appeared with two other women featured in its pages: Christin Geall and Lorene Edwards Forkner.

Our book giveaway comes thanks to Jennifer’s publisher Timber Press. Last week, we asked listeners to post a comment about an extraordinary woman who influenced their plant journey. Thank you to all who took the time to comment on our show notes at debraprinzing.com and on Instagram’s @myslowflowers In a random drawing last Sunday, March 8th, I selected the winner: Catharine McCord!

Catherine posted a comment celebrating her friend Shelley who can be found on IG as @artemisiaandrue, as an incredible mentor, herbalist, teacher, and friend, writing: “Shelley has introduced me to many plants, spiritually and medicinally. My life is forever changed as I share this knowledge on how plants can be our emotional, spiritual, and nourishing allies.

Congratulations Catharine — look for a copy of The Earth in Her Hands coming to you soon!

The Slow Flowers Summit takes place in just four months and you’re invited to join the uplifting experience that has been called a Floral Mind Meld. Our first two days will be hosted at Filoli Historic House and Garden in Woodside, California, outside the SF Bay Area, where we will gather on days one and two — June 28-29th.  On day three, June 30th, we will enjoy a special tour of Farmgirl Flowers’ headquarters in San Francisco, hosted by our friend and past Slow Flowers Summit keynote speaker, Christina Stembel. All in all, it will be special and exclusive — and I can’t wait for you to join us!

Many of you have been asking about lodging – and I’m happy to announce that our event manager Karen Thornton has just posted details about room blocks under the Travel & Accommodations tab at Slowflowerssummit.com.

Teresa Sabankaya in her garden in Bonny Doon, California

We’ve also included details about a special, limited, pre-Summit opportunity that’s just been announced. Our co-host Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co. in Santa Cruz, and her husband Nezih Sabankaya, are throwing a Speaker Dinner in their private gardens in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The dinner will take place on Saturday, June 27th, the night before the Summit begins, and it is separately priced. The seating is limited, so if you’re interested, follow the link at the Summit website.

It promises to be an intimate evening for anyone who travels to the area early and wants to connect with fellow attendees and speakers. Thank you, Teresa and Nezih Sabankaya for creating this lovely opportunity.

Designed by Nancy Cameron of Destiny Hill Flower Farm.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 586,000 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

Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market. Take advantage of the special subscription offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community.

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

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.

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.

(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:

Castor Wheel Pivot; Alustrat; Great Great Lengths; Gaena; Glass Beads
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

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

In The Field
audionautix.com