Debra Prinzing

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

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to add your information

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

Thank you to our Sponsors

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

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

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

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 642,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

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

(c) Heather Saunders Photography

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

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

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

Music Credits:

Brass Buttons; Fervent; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find and follow Salty Acres here:

Salty Acres on Facebook

Salty Acres on Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS

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

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

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

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

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

This show has been downloaded more than 639,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

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

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

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

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

Music Credits:

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

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find and follow Kat at From Blossoms on Instagram

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

September 2nd in my #slowflowerscuttinggarden

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

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

Thank you to our sponsors

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

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

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

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

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

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

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

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

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

Music Credits:

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

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

Episode 468: Slow Flowers’ Social Media Maven Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020
Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social, the talent and passion behind Slow Flowers’ social media

Whether we like it or not, establishing a social media presence is an essential business requirement. In any visually-driven marketplace, but especially in the floral world, we need to create Instagram and Facebook accounts that we want our brand, mission and values to be associated with.

I launched the first Slow Flowers business page on Facebook in 2013 when my book of that title was released. And I believe that I started the Slow Flowers Instagram account, called @myslowflowers, in 2015 (prior to that I had a personal account @dkprinzing — and it took Dani Hahn of Rose Story Farm to inform me that having a second account on Instagram was allowed!).

Debra and Niesha, photographed at the 2018 Slow Flowers Summit in Washington, D.C.

I muddled along for a few years posting a hodge-podge of images — all pretty, but there was no strategy. After meeting and working with today’s guest, things changed. As I discuss with her in this episode, she was definitely a game-changer, our secret sauce. Please meet Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social, the social media strategist and manager whose talents and creativity have magnified the message of Slow Flowers on Instagram and Facebook.

Niesha, on location at the Slow Flowers Summit in St. Paul, Minnesota (c) Missy Palacol Photography

Niesha and I first worked together as consultants to the Field to Vase Dinner Tour, a project I helped launch with Certified American Grown. We met up at a number of beautiful flower farms around the U.S. where I often hosted the VIP and media guests and Niesha managed the social media for each dinner.

Not long after I ended that contract in 2017, Niesha left her gig and started Fetching Social. I didn’t hesitate for a moment. I asked her to support Slow Flowers with a social media strategy. Niesha has been a vital member of the small but mighty Slow Flowers team and other than Andrew Brenlan, our podcast editor, Niesha been with me the longest. She basically acts as Slow Flowers Society’s freestanding social media department — and I’m so grateful for her talents.

Niesha manages all of Slow Flowers’ visual social media — on Instagram, Facebook and for our events, like the Slow Flowers Summit

Here’s a bit more about Niesha Blancas:
With a personality as colorful as her creativity, Niesha loves to think outside the box for new and exciting ways to showcase her clients’ stories. After graduating from Fresno State with a double major in Public Relations and Fashion Merchandising, Niesha has dipped her toes in various waters, many in which happen to be social-worthy: food, flowers, wine, travel, fashion, and events.

And more about Fetching Social:
Why settle for anything less than fetching? Fetching Social is your business’s ally. We understand that social media can be overwhelming and time-consuming, especially while you’re running your own company. Let us do what we do best so you can get back to business. If you want to compare bucket list adventures, debate the existence of unicorns, or talk one-on-one with Niesha for her branding advice, DM her on Instagram or email her at fetchingsocial@gmail.com.

Last summer, Niesha was a featured presenter at the 2019 Slow Flowers Summit in St. Paul. She presented on Social Media and I’ve got a bonus for you. You can watch Niesha’s presentation — VISUAL STORYTELLING FOR SOCIAL MEDIA – part of a 3-speaker panel with Kalisa Jenne-Fraser and Missy Palacol, below.

Find and follow Fetching Social:

Check out Fetching Social’s JumpStarter Package

Download Fetching Social’s JumpStarter Package below:

Fetching Social on Instagram

Fetching Social on Facebook

Niesha is a vital member of the Slow Flowers Community

Thanks so much for joining me today for my conversation with Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social. I hope you consider reaching out to Niesha to talk about your own social media needs. She has an extensive menu of services suitable for any budget or wish list you might have.

I can honestly say that Niesha’s expertise, professionalism and passion for the Slow Flowers Community is worth every penny — she is priceless and influences so much of what I undertake!

Coming up in just two weeks is the second annual Sustainable Flowers Workshop, led by Slow Flowers member Becky Feasby of Prairie Girl Flowers in Calgary, Alberta. I was so looking forward to being there in person with Becky, the other instructors and the attendees

Not to be deterred, Becky is proceeding with the workshop, September 8 & 9, which will be held in Calgary at the Rosemont Community Hall. She’ll be joined by fellow Canadian, floral designer, artist, photographer and author Christin Geall of Cultivated by Christin. Tobey Nelson and I will join virtually via Zoom. Not quite the same thing, but since Tobey and I cannot cross the U.S.-Canadian border, we’re going to make it as fun and engaging as the Zoom platform will allow!

There are a few spaces left for this awesome workshop. I’ll have the full itinerary and signup information in today’s show notes. I know it will be a smashing event!

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.

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

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

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

Debra and Niesha together in Boulder, Colorado

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:

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

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Olivia Rivas on Facebook

Papillon on Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 634,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

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

Thank you to our Sponsors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music Credits:

Heliotrope; Heartland Flyer; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pine House Edible Gardens on Facebook

Pine House Edible Gardens on Instagram

More about Black Sanctuary Gardens

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

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

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

Gina Thresher (left) and Tonneli Gruetter (right)

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 632,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

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

Thank you to our Sponsors!

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

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

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

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

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

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

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

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

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

Music Credits:

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

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

Episode 465: High desert flower farming in Arizona with Aishah Lurry of Patagonia Flower Farm

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020
Aishah Lurry grows cut flowers in Arizona’s high desert town of Patagonia, just 25 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. All portrait and farm photography (c) Kayla Lewis-Simpson @kaylalewphotography

Way back in February B.C. — and by that I mean February, Before COVID — a Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine editor named Carly Scholl reached out to request an interview. She sent an email and wrote: I’m working on a story for our upcoming April issue about local flower farms, and my research consequently led me to you and your “slow flowers” movement. Your information and research has certainly informed my article so far, but I would love to do a short interview with you about this slow flowers concept to further educate our readers. 

Aishah Lurry, with her brand-new delivery van. The van represents a growth opportunity that allows Patagonia Flower Farm to serve more markets including Tucson, about 60 miles away.

Carly and I had a wonderful conversation — her interest in locally-grown flowers was so encouraging! And in April, she published a four page feature about three fabulous flower farmers in Arizona, including today’s guest, Aishah Lurry of Patagonia Flower Farm. It’s a great article titled “How the Slow Flowers Movement is Making Arizona Bloom,” with the subhead: “Three local flower farms are cultivating communities around eco-conscious blossoms.”

You’ll be inspired by its focus on the importance of local and sustainable flowers and by the stories of all three farmers profiled, including Anne Jensen of Anne E’s Garden Fresh in Phoenix, also a Slow Flowers member, and Shanti Rade of Whipstone Farm in Paulden, a past guest of this podcast.

Read the full article here: “How the Slow Flowers Movement is Making Arizona Bloom”

Read the companion piece: “A Q&A With Debra Prinzing”

Lisianthus!!!

The article did another important thing as it revealed the state’s geographic diversity when it comes to growing flowers. As Aishah and I discuss, Arizona’s flower farmers have much in common, but the state’s growing zones vary widely. Patagonia is located in USDA Zone 8a with average minimum temperatures of 10 to 15 degree; you’ll hear Aishah discuss what this means for her long growing season, despite low precipitation and high daytime temperatures during some times of the year. 

Aishah and her husband Sebastian

Here’s a bit more about Aishah, adapted from the Patagonia Flower Farm web site:

Aishah says flowers are one of the greatest passions in her life. After years of feeling frustrated about having to drive miles out of town for overpriced bouquets filled with imported flowers that died quickly, she decided to start her own micro-farm, Patagonia Flower Farm in 2017. Now her neighbors enjoy the beauty of fresh flowers that last days while keeping their carbon footprint small.

Gardening has been a personal joy of Aishah’s for more than 20 years. She has taught several classes about sprouts, micro-greens, and propagation and today serves with Borderlands Restoration Network to further its native species and public education programs.

Aishah shares her horticultural knowledge and gardening expertise to help  customers enjoy the natural beauty and elegance that fresh, local flowers offer. She considers her flowers a local, affordable, and well-deserved luxury. Each flower in Aishah’s hand-picked bouquets are lovingly grown to ensure health, vibrancy, and longevity of the ingredients. Patagonia Flower Farm ‘s organic and sustainable practices keep the Earth and bees happy and healthy.

Find and follow Patagonia Flower Farm at these social places:
Patagonia Flower Farm on Facebook
Patatonia Flower Farm on Instagram

More about Aishah’s Hydroponic Tulip Production

Growing trays for hydroponic tulips
Inside Aishah’s cooler during her winter production of tulips under light
Look how clean and tidy these bulbs are!

Aishah sources the bulb trays from Leo Burbee Bulb Co. in Ohio

Lisianthus with companion flowers — all field-grown at Patagonia Flower Farm

Thanks so much for joining my conversation with Aishah Lurry. I’m encouraged by her focus on community and collaboration — a model we’ve seen happen with success across the Slow Flowers Movement — and definitely among the new Arizona Cut Flower Growers group. Watch for details about the future of this collective. And if you’re in the Tucson area, reach out to Aishah to join her CSA customer list. This was a great episode and I learned so much about the personal drive to grow flowers in challenging conditions. Best of luck with those dahlias, Aishah!

Now, more than ever, your Slow Flowers Membership gives you an important story to share with your community and your customers. Our monthly Slow Flowers Meet-Ups continue Friday, August 14th (9 am PT/Noon ET) and you’re invited to join us – virtually – via Zoom.

The COVID-19 pandemic drove us to begin this ritual in late March, and I’ve heard from so many of you who have valued the opportunity to connect with kindred spirits across the continent. After hosting weekly Meet-Ups for about 10 weeks, we shifted to monthly sessions to accommodate the increasingly busier and complicated schedules of our members. Since June, we’ve met on the second Friday morning of each month.

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

Join us on Friday, August 14th

Gina Thresher (left) and Tonneli Gruetter (right)

This month’s guests include Gina Thresher of From the Ground Up Floral and Tonneli Gruetter of Salty Acres Farmthey’re among the instructors in a new virtual floral conference taking place in late August called Fleurvana. You’ll hear more from Gina and Tonneli and learn how you can grab a free registration for the three-day conference — I’ll be speaking there too. You can join us at this link. See you next Friday!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 630,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

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

Thank you to our Sponsors

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

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.

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.

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 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.

(c) Jean Zaputil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow the Council Member on Facebook

Follow the Council Member on Twitter

Thank you to our sponsors

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

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

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

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 627,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

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

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

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

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

Music Credits:

Welcome Home Sonny; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

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

In The Field; Acoustic Shuffle
Music from:
audionautix.com

Episode 463: REPLAY Soul Fire Farm’s Leah Penniman, author of Farming While Black

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020
Replay Episode with Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm and author of “Farming While Black.”

Today, we are celebrating the 7th Anniversary of the Slow Flowers Podcast. I want to take a moment and marvel at the significance and what this means to me — the significance of sharing so many wonderful conversations with listeners over the years, since launching this little project on July 23, 2103.

The timing of this podcast’s debut was just a few months after the publication of the book Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm, when I introduced the first-ever podcast for the floral marketplace. I began to invite guests to share their voices, ideas and inspiration. From domestic flower farmers to designers taking a seasonal and sustainable approach to their floral art, I’ve have pursued unique programming for you.

For 362 consecutive weeks, this has been the podcast you can rely on to bring you stories of American flowers and the people who grow and design with them. This podcast actually pre-dates the launch in May 2014 of 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.  Slowflowers.com began with about 250 members across the U.S. and it has evolved into the Slow Flowers Society with 750 sustaining members across North America, members who, like you, care about making a conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

(c) Mary Grace Long

So we have a lot to celebrate and a lot to be grateful for. We’ve shared conversations on topics important to progressive, sustainably-minded floral entrepreneurs and I’m excited to continue the strong momentum as this show is more popular than ever. Episodes have been downloaded by listeners like you more than 625,000 times over the past seven years, and we currently enjoy 10k to 12k monthly downloads. So while metrics aren’t everything, they are one important indicator of the relevance of our content.

I want to pause and thank all of our current Slow Flowers Podcast sponsors, just to remind you that their contributions sustain the production and distribution of this show.

Thank you to:
Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers
Longfield Gardens
Rooted Farmers
Syndicate Sales
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Mayesh Wholesale Florist
The Gardener’s Workshop
Florists’ Review

Meet Leah Penniman, Soul Fire Farm

We are in a season of challenge and change, and I want to bring you what I believe is a very special and timely replay episode from our archives. It has always been my goal to produce a fresh new episode every week, and but for a few exceptions, I’ve been able to do so. But with the heightened awareness about the fight against systemic racism and Slow Flowers’ stated commitment to support Black flower farmers and florists, we want to turn the focus on their voices, including revisiting past interviews you may have missed. In the coming months, we want to shine a light on Black pioneers and leaders in the Slow Flowers Community, members and friends. We have several new guests booked for the coming months, but today, I want to re-introduce you to Leah Penniman.

Pollinator flowers at Soul Fire Farm

I am so incredibly excited to rebroadcast my January 23, 2019, conversation with Leah as we discussed her new book, “Farming While Black, Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land,” published October 2018 by Chelsea Green Publishing.

Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol educator, farmer, author, and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York. She co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2011 with the mission to end racism in the food system and reclaim an ancestral connection to land. As co-Executive Director, Leah is part of a team that facilitates powerful food sovereignty programs – including farmer trainings for Black and Brown people, a subsidized farm food distribution program for people living under food apartheid, and domestic and international organizing toward equity in the food system.

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

Leah holds an MA in Science Education and BA in Environmental Science and International Development from Clark University. She has been farming since 1996 and teaching since 2002. The work of Leah and Soul Fire Farm has been recognized by the Soros Racial Justice Fellowship, Fulbright Program, Omega Sustainability Leadership Award, Presidential Award for Science Teaching, NYS Health Emerging Innovator Awards, and Andrew Goodman Foundation, among others. All proceeds from the sale of Farming While Black will be used to support Black Farmers.

Soul Fire Farm is a Black, indigenous, and people of colorcentered community farm committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system. Soul Fire Farm raises and distributes life-giving food as a means to end food apartheid.

With deep reverence for the land and wisdom of ancestors, the farm works to reclaim its collective right to belong to the earth and to have agency in the food system.

Soul Fire brings diverse communities together on its healing land to share skills on sustainable agriculture, natural building, spiritual activism, health, and environmental justice. Leah and her colleagues are training the next generation of activist-farmers and strengthening the movements for food sovereignty and community self-determination.

Please buy this book and educate yourself about the Black farming community.

Thanks so much for joining my conversation with Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm and Farming While Black, originally broadcast as Episode 385 on Wednesday, January 23, 2019. As I mentioned in the interview, Farming While Black is required reading for all farmers, and for anyone who wants to have a deeper insight into the racism and injustice in our country’s agricultural history. I highly recommend it — Leah’s passion and spirit jumps off the page as she inspires, informs, instigates and shares her important life’s work as well as her incredibly smart farming advice.

I invited Leah to return to the Slow Flowers Podcast this week and give us an update about Soul Fire Farm’s work, but due to the demands of farming and activism, her schedule didn’t work with ours. I’m grateful that Soul Fire Farm sent us an extensive list of new resources and action items to help the Slow Flowers Community get more involved in social justice work to support Black-owned farms.

Soul Fire Farm on Facebook

Soul Fire Farm on Instagram

Their message read as follows: We are humbled by the outpouring of support we have received from you in the last couple weeks, instilling us with hope for a more just future amidst the grief we feel about the continued legacy of anti-Black police violence in our nation.

Here is a list of action steps you can take right now.

Additional resources:

FAQ page

COVID-19 response

2019 annual report

Policy demands

Food and Land Sovereignty Resource List for Covid-19

BIPOC-led How To Videos, Gardening Projects, and Online Learning Resources

As a show of support from the Slow Flowers Podcast, we have made a $250 donation to Soul Fire Farm and sent Leah and her team a one-year membership in Slow Flowers. We are eager to learn and listen — and I invite you to join me in this important endeavor.

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:

Bombadore; Skyway (acoustica); Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

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

In The Field; Acoustic Shuffle
audionautix.com

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

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

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

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

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

View this post on Instagram

Hear from B&B Family Lavender Farm and HB Farms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annabelle hydrangeas are another top crop from HB Farm

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

HB Farm on Facebook

HB Farm on Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you to our Sponsors

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

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

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

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 624,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

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

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

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

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

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

Music Credits:

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

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

In The Field; Acoustic Shuffle
audionautix.com