Debra Prinzing

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

April 15th, 2020

Hydrangea harvest with Walt Krukowski of Mountain Flower Farm (c) Taken by Sarah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One exquisite bloom (c) Taken by Sarah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find and follow Mountain Flower Farm here:

Mountain Flower Farm on Facebook

Mountain Flower Farm on Instagram

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

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

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

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

Sign up to be notified about future course releases here

Follow The Gardener’s Workshop on Facebook

The Gardener’s Workshop on Instagram

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

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

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

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

Thank you to our Sponsors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music Credits:

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

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

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

April 8th, 2020

Katie McClain, Posh Petals, Arizona-inspired

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mandy O’Shea of 3 Porch Farm

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

A bumper crop of ranunculus from 3 Porch Farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find and follow 3 Porch Farm:

3 Porch Farm on Facebook

3 Porch Farm on Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

Find and follow Posh Petals at these social places:

Posh Petals on Facebook

Posh Petals on Instgram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you to our Sponsors

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

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

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

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 594,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

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

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

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

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

Music Credits:

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

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

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

April 1st, 2020

April Vomfell of Flathead Farmworks in Kalispell, Montanta (c) Amy Messenger
April Vomfell of Flathead Farmworks in Kalispell, Montanta (c) Amy Messenger

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find and follow LORA Bloom at these social places:

LORA Bloom on Facebook

LORA Bloom on Instagram

30 Day Social Media Action Plan from Kalyx Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snapdragon harvest in April, with April Vomfell

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

Flathead Farmworks on Facebook

Flathead Farmworks on Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you to our sponsors

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

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

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 592,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

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

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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

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

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

Music Credits:

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

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

In The Field
audionautix.com

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

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

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

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