SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: A Lavender Farm Wedding with Local Flowers grown by Nancy & Jim Cameron of Destiny Hill Farm (Episode 157)
September 2nd, 2014
In musical theatre the term “triple-threat” is used to describe super-talented individuals who can act, sing – and dance. I’ve been thinking a lot about how triple threat applies to other professions, such as in the floral world, where Destiny Hill Farm is a true triple threat.
Today’s podcast episode introduces you to Nancy and Jim Cameron – and the story of how they created Destiny Hill as an agro-tourism destination for growing cut flowers, designing florals and producing weddings & special events.
Based in Western Pennsylvania, this 137-acre farmstead and the people who run it do three things very well:
1-flowers are grown here, including 5,000 lavender plants and hundreds of varieties of annuals, perennials, grasses and woody ornamental shrubs.
2-there’s a full-service floral design studio that incorporates those botanical elements into bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, altar pieces and more; and
3- Destiny Hill is a wedding and event destination that hosts and produces between 20 and 25 functions each year, led by event coordinator Mimi York.
I met Nancy earlier this year when Destiny Hill contributed to the Slowflowers.com campaign on Indiegogo, and then this past February when she attended a wedding bouquet workshop I co-hosted with Alicia Schwede of Flirty Fleurs. When I made the connection that Destiny Hill was located about 30 minutes outside of Pittsburgh, we started planning my visit when I was scheduled to attend a Garden Writers conference there last month.
Jim and Nancy graciously picked me up in downtown Pittsburgh and drove me out to the farm. It was a rainy summer day – familiar weather to a Seattleite like me. By the time we arrived at the majestic landscape that’s home to the Camerons’ personal residence and business enterprise, we all agreed that the rain wouldn’t stop our fun.
First, we toured the pristine horse stables, which during wedding season are converted to the cocktail area. Next Jim led us to the show barn and rolled back a pair of enormous barn doors to reveal the arena – yes, horses were originally trained here, but the barn is now finished with a new party floor and decorated with huge chandeliers, lanterns and strings of lights that hang from the open beams.
It is simply a stunning venue for a barn wedding. Upstairs is an elegant bridal suite and downstairs is the ladies’ lounge. And of course, there’s a staging kitchen for the caterers and a huge dance floor.
In all, it’s a luxurious place to hold a wedding for up to 400 guests who can enjoy a day on a lavender farm without ever getting a speck of dirt on their fancy attire.
They swear they couldn’t have done any of this in four short years without Event Planner Mimi York, who seems to effortlessly handle everything from customer service to caterers to DJ’s and even unruly guests. I believe them. These three are a great team. and they know how to work hard and have fun at the same time, making every guest feel special.
I know running a flower farm is incredibly difficult. So is being a studio florist. So is being a wedding and event venue. And at Destiny Hill, these three things happen seamlessly. It may not be for everyone but if you are considering using your farm as a wedding venue, I know you’ll find Nancy and Jim’s story incredibly inspiring.
After we finished the podcast interview and ate a delicious lunch, Nancy and I went to her huge flower fields and clipped some beautiful flowers — dahlias, zinnias, celosia, scabiosa, sunflowers, hydrangeas, eucalyptus, raspberry foliage, hypericum and more…. thankfully, Jim drove us back to the design studio in a golf cart because our arms were laden with so many stems. We had about 30 minutes to create an arrangement with those super-local flowers and then it was time to say good-bye.
Attention Lavender lovers: here are two upcoming events to put on your calendar:
On Saturday, October 25th, please join me at the 2nd NW Lavender Conference, held in Clackamas, Oregon just outside Portland.
Produced by Susan and Jack Harrington of Labyrinth Hill Lavender (Susan was a past guest of this podcast), this three-day conference attracts beginning and veteran lavender farmers with an impressive lineup of speakers and workshops. I’m scheduled to talk to attendees about the Slow Flowers Movement.
Next summer, if you find yourself in Western Pennsylvania next summer, please mark your calendar to participate in Destiny Hill Farm’s Lavender Festival on June 20-21, 2015. This is the only time of the year when the public can visit Destiny Hill and inhale the fragrance of lavender, listen to presentations about growing and gardening with lavender and sample delicious lavender-seasoned fare. You can find details at their web site, destinyhill.com.
Thanks to listeners like you, this flower-powered podcast has been downloaded more than 19,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.
My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.
And speaking of this podcast, here’s a huge thanks to my engineering and editing team, Hannah Holtgeerts and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net