Episode 474: A Flower Farmer Enters State Politics, with Stacy Brenner of Maine’s Broadturn Farm
October 7th, 2020
There is no denying that 2020 has been an insane year. I feel like the constant topics of conversation include resilience, reinvention, adaptation, innovation, not to mention pivoting or survival. UGH.
There’s also no denying that many of you, have, like me, been deeply moved by what’s happening in our world — from social and racial justice to saving the planet, as well as keeping ourselves safe from the ever-present threat of contracting COVID.
It has been so encouraging to hear from guests throughout the past seven months, who have generously shared their personal stories around resilience — flower farmers, florists and designers, and everyone touched by the wedding and events industry. The theme comes through in every episode and I’m grateful that the Slow Flowers Podcast has been a place to convene these conversations in a respectful and thoughtful environment.
The year is not over, especially as those of us in the U.S. are entering the final weeks of what I believe to be a life-and-death election season. Against the backdrop of taking action to change our world for a better place, I’m delighted to introduce you today to Stacy Brenner, organic flower farmer, nurse midwife and candidate for Maine State Senate’s 30th District.
Stacy joined me last February 2019 to discuss the theme of social entrepreneurship, and you listen to that episode here.
Here’s more about Stacy, excerpted from her Stacy for Senate about page:
Stacy Brenner is an organic farmer and small business owner who co-founded and now operates Broadturn Farm in Scarborough. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona, where she studied agriculture and plant sciences. Stacy holds two nursing degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. She spent her early working career as a nurse-midwife, tending to the births of hundreds of babies at Mercy Hospital in Portland. She is a board member of Maine Farmland Trust and Board Vice-President of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Organization (MOFGA).
Raised in a working-class suburb in New Jersey, Stacy spent her childhood romanticizing country life. When she wasn’t watching reruns of “Little House on the Prairie,” Stacy would escape the suburban chem-lawns of her neighborhood to explore the wooded edges of the development with her brother. She always wanted to be a farmer. Like so many other folks from away, she was drawn to the state of Maine by its verdant landscapes, its supportive business climate, its thriving agricultural network and the amazing, hard-working people she met.
In 2002, Stacy, her five-year-old daughter Emma, and her husband, John Bliss, moved to Maine to become first-generation farmers. They entered the MOFGA farmer journeyperson program designed to support new entry growers, and taught themselves how to be farmers. In 2006, Stacy and John opened Broadturn Farm, which produces cut flowers and organic vegetables, hosts weddings, and runs a summer day camp focused on connecting youth with sustainable agriculture. Now employing 30 people at the height of the season, the farm is a thriving example of economic development on farmland protected with an agricultural easement funded in part by the Land for Maine’s Future program.
I’ve been watching along on social media as Stacy’s campaign for Maine State Senate has gained traction, with amazing endorsements from a diverse group of supporters, including the Sierra Club, Emily’s List, Maine Conservation Voters, Maine Education Association, several unions, Emily’s List, Equality Maine, Planned Parenthood and other groups.
What follows is a fascinating discussion that to me, at its core, looks at the question: What can one person do to make the world a safer, more equitable, inclusive and healthy place for all?
Stacy’s path may not be your path, but I know you’ll be inspired by the way she and John have chosen to operate Broadturn Farm with a mission-focused approach that reflects their values. Thanks so much for joining me today. I was struck by Stacy’s comment: “What are you going to tell your kids when they ask: ‘Where were you, Mom, when the planet was burning?’ Do I say, ‘I was watching Netflix and drinking wine?’ I’ve gotta do something!”
That hits home! Stacy’s strengths rest in her dedication to building meaningful relationships with people in her community. She understands that the first step in creating connection is by listening to the concerns of constituents. She promises that when elected, she will collaborate and engage with local community members to help build a strong, inclusive, prosperous Maine. Let’s wish Stacy all the success and do check out her campaign website for volunteer opportunities.
Find and follow Broadturn Farm on Instagram and Facebook
Find and follow Stacy Brenner for Maine State Senate on Facebook
You’re invited to join me this coming Friday, October 9th, for our OCTOBER Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up! We started the Virtual Meet-Ups on a Weekly basis during the early days of COVID in late March.
After eight consecutive weeks of gathering with our community and special speakers through the end of May, we shifted to a monthly meet-up on the second Friday of each month.
This week, join me at 9 am Pacific/Noon eastern, Friday, October 9th — on Zoom — follow this link to join us!
The topic is fall bulb planting — yay! I couldn’t be happier that it’s nearly time! My SPECIAL GUESTS include Slow Flowers member Alica Schwede of Flirty Fleurs and Kathleen LaLiberte of Longfield Gardens, a Slow Flowers sponsor. Bring your bulb selection, planting and design questions to the community! I’ve heard that we might be sharing some bulb collections as our giveaways — so you won’t want to miss that chance!
And speaking of gifts, did you see the beautiful etched Slow Flowers Society botanical bookmark we’re sending to each of you who responds to our 2021 member survey. I hope you take a moment to click on the survey if it lands in your in-box — we are eager to glean insights and input from you to help shape the coming year’s themes and programs.
And all respondents who complete the survey and share their contact information with us will be entered into a drawing for a full registration to the 2021 Slow Flowers Summit, valued at $599. Deadline for participation is November 1, 2020.
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 647,000 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.
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.
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.
And now, all about the giveaway:
Listen for details at the end of this episode for entering the drawing for a free registration to The 2020 Tilth Conference, which will be Virtual this year on November 9-10. The theme is Challenging the Status Quo-Together, with two days of presentations tailored to farmers, food system professionals, researchers and educators have the opportunity to learn from one another and share best practices. I’ve waived my speaker honorarium in exchange for giving away one free registration to a Slow Flowers member! One of the benefits of turning an in-person organic farming conference into a virtual one means that you don’t have to be Pacific Northwest-based to enter!
I’ll be presenting along with some amazing speakers, including keynotes from Chris Newman, co-founder of Sylvanaqua Farms in Virginia’s Chesapeake watershed. He is a farmer and a member of the Choptico Band of Piscataway Indians. And I’m excited to also hear from Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, former assistant secretary of Agriculture in the Obama administration — who I had a chance to meet a few years ago, and Executive Director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University.
To enter our giveaway drawing, please comment in the show notes below about the one thing you are doing in your floral enterprise to address climate change. I’ll draw one winner from all those who comment on Sunday, October 11th, at midnight Pacific Time — and announce the name on next week’s episode.
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.
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