Episode 242: North Bay Flower Collective, a Progressive Farmer-Florist Community
April 20th, 2016
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This is the second episode featuring members of the North Bay Flower Collective who invited me to spend two days in Sonoma County last month to tour flower farms, visit design studios and learn more about the stories of their community.
We recorded this segment at Full Bloom Farm, located just outside Sebastopol.
There, flower farmer Hedda Brorstrom welcomed me to her family’s idyllic property where old fruit trees and a flock of hens populate the grounds, along with a greenhouse and huge fenced growing area for Hedda’s organic flowers.
Inside the farmhouse, we gathered around the kitchen table for a delicious home-made meal to break bread with Daniele Strawn and Seth Chapin, other members of the North Bay Flower Collective. After lunch, we walked outdoors to record this episode while seated in the heart of the garden with sunshine on our shoulders and the breezes of an almost-spring day blowing by.
Our topic: The Evolution and Events of North Bay Flower Collective, including its origins, the individual paths that led each of these three to the collaborative group, and highlights of the past year’s accomplishments, especially in public education, outreach and promotion.
We didn’t plan it this way, but it seemed fitting to begin this episode with a bonus interview I recorded with Daniele, who is a partner in Chica Bloom Farm.
Daniele was one of the people who offered to chauffeur me around, so we spent quite a bit of time chatting about the business model that she and past and present business partners created for Chica Bloom.
I asked Daniele to let me record a little background about her flower farm, so you’ll hear that conversation first before I reintroduce her along with Hedda and Seth who share their stories as well.
Here is more about each one of these talented individuals. All three farmer-florists are Slow Flowers members with their individual businesses as well as through the North Bay Flower Collective.
Daniele Allion Strawn is a youth advocate, farm advocate and an ol’ fashioned country girl at heart. She paired up with partner Ariana Reguzzoni and Chica Bloom in February of 2013.
Among the many perks of working on a farm and designing flowers, she appreciates getting her hands dirty (weeding = therapy), observing the complexity of flower growth from seed to seed and creating unique arrangements – ripe with diverse textures and bold colors.
In her free moments, she enjoys riding and spending time with her horse-friend, Penguina. Daniele and her husband, Jeremy, live in the quaint hamlet of Bloomfield, CA (just down the road towards the coast) along with their princess-diva kitty, Ammi majus(ty). They were lucky to get married on the farm with their flowers grown and designed by Chica Bloom Farm.
Chica Bloom Farm is a small sustainable flower farm in Petaluma that grows over 60 varieties of cut flowers for unique bouquets, special events and a Flower CSA program.
The farm specializes in a “farm-chic” design style based on seasonal varieties that grow well in coastal Sonoma County.
Ariana and Daniele say this on the Chica Bloom web site:
“We believe that growing these beautiful plants should help soil, water, air and other creatures instead of hurt them. For this reason, we don’t use chemicals or pesticides that are harmful to the environment or ourselves in our farming practices.”
Next up, Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Flowers. Hedda lives for flowers. An interest in agoecology took hold from a young age, which she credits to having grown up in agricultural rich Sonoma County. Hedda completed her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley in Conservation and Resource Studies specializing in urban food landscapes and garden education. She worked in San Francisco for six years as a garden teacher and coordinator in the school system and at the Academy of Sciences. She holds a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz where her love for flowers grew out of control. Hedda also earned a certificate in herbalism from the California School of Herbal Studies and she makes a line of herbal products.
Hedda says this on her web site: “A strong believer in plant medicine, I love the power, elegance and joy a bouquet gives people. The craft and skill of both being the grower and the florist is an opportunity to give extra care and attention from planting the seed to designing the centerpiece. Thank you so much for supporting organic, local flowers. The slow flower movement is the most beautiful revolution and I am proud to call it my passion.”
Full Bloom Flower Farm is proud to design lush, gorgeous arrangements using flowers grown in abundant, chemical-free flower fields. Sitting on what was once a worm farm, Hedda farms on about an acre with nearly 200 flower varieties. Memorable designs are created with unique floral varieties, colors, textures and shapes to honor the season and bring plants to ceremony.
Full Bloom Flowers web site
Full Bloom Flowers on Facebook
Full Bloom Flowers on Instagram
And finally, please meet Seth Chapin of Evermore Flowers. Seth moved to California in 2009, wide-eyed and eager to dive into the thriving organic farm scene.
His Golden State beginnings overlooking the Monterey Bay at the fabled UC-Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems flooded his mind with inspiration and scientifically-based growing knowledge – and perhaps most importantly a love for cut flowers!
He has carried this love for the color, shape, and texture of flowers with him over the past five years, alongside a deeply seeded yearning to connect with the land.
With an ideal growing climate and the agricultural pulse of Napa as a foundation, Seth took note of the scarcity of local flowers in a valley where they play such a strong role in homes, restaurants, wineries, and events.
The genesis of Evermore Flowers* is rooted firmly in the belief that flowers should be grown locally with sustainable, soil-centric growing practices. Many conventional flower farms have traditionally been focused on production – flowers as a commodity. Much is harvested, but not enough is given back to the earth. As Seth explains: “We should remind ourselves that every seed we plant represents an intimate relationship with the land. A balance between input and output leaves us with invigorated soil that will sustain flower production for years to come.”
And by the way, the origins of the name “Evermore” can be traced to the beautiful folk ballad “The Battle of Evermore” by Led Zeppelin. A line within the song reminds us that “The ground is rich from tender care. Repay, do not forget.”
Evermore Flowers web site: http://www.evermoreflowers.com/
Evermore Flowers on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sethkchapin/
Evermore Flowers on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seth.chapin.9
I know you’ll enjoy these conversations as we learn more about the North Bay Flower Collective. Here is more about the group, including their values and code of ethics:
As a collective, we aim:
- To value cooperation over competition.
- To be environmentally and socially responsible business people.
- To provide our collective with educational and enrichment opportunities.
- To work together to ensure economic viability within our flower collective.
- To pay dues to the collective for providing us with educational, marketing and business opportunities and resources.
CODE OF ETHICS
Members of the collective agree:
- To support locally grown flowers.
- To make decisions based on majority consensus.
- To promote transparency within the group.
- To hold themselves accountable to environmental and socially responsible practices.
- To pay an annual due, currently $25 per year, January-January. This will not be prorated.
- To attend at least 5 meetings per year and to volunteer a minimum of 5 hours per year.
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Until 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.
At the end of each weeks episode, you hear me say this: The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.
Today I want to give my best wishes to Hannah and Andrew in honor of their upcoming marriage, which takes place this Saturday on April 23rd. I’m so excited that they’ve allowed me to create the florals for their ceremony and I wish these two talented friends much joy, love, happiness and a beautiful lifetime together.