Episode 481: A wedding florist grows a flower farm with Candice Howard of New Jersey-based Duchess Farms
November 25th, 2020
How are you all doing, friends? It’s already the week of Thanksgiving – can you believe it?! I am still racing to plant my five peony roots from Mountain Flower Farm and plant those last 100 hyacinth bulbs from Longfield Gardens, not to mention a few woody shrubs and perennials I purchased locally on a plant-buying trip last month. It WILL all happen this week – I promise!
Speaking of Thanksgiving, despite this ridiculous year we’ve had, one with painful losses and disappointments, I do feel grateful. I’m grateful that our Slow Flowers community has remained connected through the year, thanks to technology. Our membership has just surpassed 800 — an all-time record high, thanks to our operations & membership manager Karen Thornton’s stewardship. Our listenership in this Podcast continues to grow — more than 2,000 downloads each week. And our engagement is breaking all past records, thanks in large part to our amazing social media maven, Niesha Blancas. Ambitious projects continue to drive us forward, all with the goal of inspiring the floral industry and its consumers to embrace local, seasonal and sustainable flowers.
One of the positive results of not being able to travel since March has been moving in-person Slow Flowers Member Meet-ups that took place wherever I landed for a conference, speaking engagement or magazine assignment to the virtual Zoom platform.
We met weekly from late March through late May; and then switched to monthly beginning in June. We’ve held more than a dozen meet-ups this way, drawing hundreds of Slow Flowers members to check in for an hour, hear from a speaker or two, sometimes participate in breakout rooms, gain inspiration and win giveaway prizes.
Today’s guest, Candice Howard, of Duchess Farms in South Brunswick, New Jersey, has been a frequent participant in those Zoom calls. That’s how I learned more about her, which led to a deeper conversation and my invitation that Candice share her story here on the Slow Flowers Podcast.
Here’s more about Candice and her flowers. I excerpted her bio from a recent newsletter:
People often ask me what I did before I became a floral designer and then a flower farmer. So I’ll go back a few years to give you a brief history. I grew up in Millburn, New Jersey and graduated from Rutgers College with a Bachelor’s degree in political science. Most of my career was in government and nonprofit administration/fundraising. I worked for the Governor’s Office, the New Jersey Legislature and the County of Middlesex. I have also worked for a number of nonprofit organizations including Special Olympics New Jersey, Girls Incorporated and Women Helping Women.
In 2013, I received my design certification from The FlowerSchool New York and spent the following seven years designing florals for weddings, which recently led to the decision that I really loved growing flowers. Any future designing I may do will be with my own fresh flowers.
My husband Tom says that I am the farmer…which I am since I actually sow and harvest all of the flowers and everything in between. But he helps me with all the big stuff…like building that great high tunnel and replacing our old fence, both of which gave us greatly expanded growing capacity this year. Tom also installed an irrigation system throughout the beds. So yes, I am the farmer but Tom is the Director of Public Works here at Duchess Farms. We are currently in the process of applying for farmland preservation so that the seven acres we live on will be preserved as farmland in perpetuity. We expect to have that designation sometime this year.
Find and follow Candice at these social places:
Duchess Farms on Facebook
Duchess Farms on Instagram
Duchess Farms on YouTube
As she discusses, Rutgers University’s Beginning Farming program recently interviewed Candice about flower farming. Click on the link below to enjoy all of the challenges, victories and advice in that series.
We have lots of news, which you’ll be able to read in the upcoming, December issue of the Slow Flowers Newsletter – out next week. If you aren’t receiving it, you can find the subscribe link in today’s show notes or in the footer at slowflowerssociety.com.
And of course, it’s totally cliche, but we’re jumping on the CyberWeekend bandwagon here at Slow Flowers. From this Friday, November 27th through Monday, November 30th, you can enjoy two promotional offers:
1. Cyber20 — A 20% off promo code applied to any item on the Slow Flowers online shop. Right now, you can find all three of my books, plus American Flowers Week bouquet labels and our new etched Slow Flowers Society bookmark. And Karen promises that more items will be added to the Slow Flowers Mercantile online shop in December and beyond.
2. CyberSlow — Debra Prinzing’s online course, Slow Flowers Creative Workshop: Floral Storytelling, will return on January 6, 2021, with pre-registration opening Friday, November 27th. Anyone who registers during CyberWeekend — Slow Flowers member or not — will receive $100 off the course ($297 value), paying just $197. As a CyberWeekend Bonus, we’ll also send you a free signed copy of Slow Flowers Journal-Volume One, valued at $20.
**If you miss out on this opportunity, the course tuition will bump up to $247 for non-members and $197 for members as of Dec. 1st.
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 662,000 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.
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. 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 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.
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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