Episode 591: Debra Prinzing Reflects on Slow Flowers Society’s 2022 Year in Review
January 4th, 2023
With 2023 here, it’s fitting to say goodbye to 2022 as we review the year’s highlights. All I can say about 2022 is that after slogging through the pandemic in 2020 and its aftermath in 2021, this past year felt like a sprint, not a marathon. The year seemed to race by so quickly, week by week, month by month, and the march of time propelled our beautiful and inspiring Slow Flowers community through the year, as we sought fulfillment, prosperity and peace — and balance in all things, right?! We lived our values, communicated our message, and supported one another in our shared mission. But wow, as much as the word *slow* is at the heart of all we do here, 2022 was anything but *slow*.
Yet, the annual ritual to pause, review, evaluate, and celebrate – as well as learn from — the lessons and experiences from our past year are activities I wouldn’t miss – and I want to share with you!
One personally meaningful major milestone was the 10-year anniversary of the book that started us off on the Slow Flowers journey — The 50 Mile Bouquet. When it was published in 2012, The 50 Mile Bouquet was the first book to spotlight a major cultural shift and a transformation around how cut flowers are grown, designed and consumed, closely mirroring the culinary world’s locavore/slow food revolution.
One decade ago the floral industry was just beginning to ask for changes, seeking alternatives to imported, mass-produced and chemical-laden flowers. The 50 Mile Bouquet introduced some of the innovative voices of the dynamic new Slow Flower Movement: the organic flower farmers, the sustainably-motivated floral designers . . . and the flower enthusiasts who were increasingly asking, ‘Where and how were my flowers grown, and who grew them?’
The 50 Mile Bouquet included documentary-feature reporting and full color photography to bring readers into the farms and design studios of Slow Flowers practitioners. As the book that coined the phrase “Slow Flowers,” its relevance today is more important than ever, considering issues around climate change, supply chain limitations, and equity and inclusion in the floral marketplace.
Fast-forward, here we are wrapping up 2022, and the issues around flower sourcing are just as timely and more important than ever! From my original storytelling in the pages of The 50 Mile Bouquet, the Slow Flowers Movement emerged, with the launch of the Slow Flowers Society and so many meaningful conversations through the Slow Flowers Podcast interviews and our other programs, content, advocacy and outreach to floral professionals and flower lovers alike.
Let’s take a look at our Membership!
We know that joining Slow Flowers Society as a member takes a financial commitment, a modest one that I believe offers incredible value for anyone in the business of communicating their brand in alignment with slow, seasonal, local and sustainable.
2022, for some, was a challenging year, as flowers continued to be bought and sold in a marketplace that is often based on cheap and convenient. Against that backdrop, we are so grateful to welcome 75 new flower farmers and floral designers who joined Slow Flowers Society as members in 2022. One Hundred percent of our focus is to add value to your investment in this organization. Since launching Slow Flowers in 2013, all of our revenue from membership subscriptions and partner sponsorships are poured right back into building Slow Flowers Society into a relevant and significant presence in the floral marketplace. Our strength in numbers has earned Slow Flowers a place at the table in mainstream floral circles, in the media, in conversations about the future of floriculture and floristry. That is priceless!
In the past year, Slow Flowers Society has produced hundreds of hours of educational resources for you, from the weekly Slow Flowers Show and Podcast (and supporting blog posts) to our monthly Virtual Membership Meet-Ups, and info-packed monthly newsletters, to stories you read on slowflowersjournal.com and in our quarterly digital magazine Slow Flowers Journal, to the feature reports we produce with Johnny’s Selected Seeds for their newsletter – and more. It’s all about education, from growing and design advice to small business and marketing resources. When you add it all up, that’s incredible value for a small membership subscription.
In 2021, we hosted 10 Meet-Ups on a variety of topics important to our members, beginning with our January session when I co-presented our 2022 Slow Flowers Insights and Industry Forecast with Bloom Imprint’s creative director Robin Avni and closing up the year recently with our December Meet-Up focusing on value-added flower farm product development with Natasha McCrary of 1818 Farms and Sarah Wagstaff of SUOT Farm & Flowers.
Thousands have watched the replay videos with close to 8,000 impressions our YouTube channel! This is evergreen educational content always available to you and you can find the YouTube link to search all of our 2022 videos from the homepage of SlowFlowersPodcast.com.
October was our membership appreciation month, with our focus to highlight members and their floral stories ~ all across the continent. During October, we brought weekly member conversations to IG Live and the Zoom Room, with even more opportunities to learn and hear from our members — people at the heart of the Slow Flowers Movement. The social media exposure was incredible, generating thousands of views and impressions. You met and heard from October 4th: On Farm Events with Chelsea Willis of @sweetdelilahfarm and Misty VanderWeele of @all_dahliad_up who shared how they stage on-farm events; we discussed retail floristry with Jill Redman of @forageflorals + Angela Turner of @belfiorefarm; Pam Parker of JP Parker Flowers led a tour of her retail flower shop and discussed being a farmer-florist, and wedding designer Jessica Stewart of @bramble_blossom_pgh shared her tips for keeping your studio sustainable.
We also produced a new Member Benefits Booklet with discounts and coupons from Slow Flowers Society and our sponsors. If you can’t find the link to the booklet, please reach out and we’ll be happy to share it with you. Speaking of reaching out, our membership services gained a boost this past September when Tonneli Gruetter joined us as community engagement and member manager. A flower farmer herself, Tonneli has jumped right in to connect with you, and enhance membership engagement — if you have a question or suggestion, she’s your front-line contact and you should feel free to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In November, we surveyed the Slow Flowers community – an annual exercise that informs our planning and forecasting for the year to come. Here are some highlights:
We asked Members how they engage with Slow Flowers Society and about their participation in the long list of benefits and features for 2022; Our Members cited the original benefit of joining Slow FlowersSociety, dating back to the launch of slowflowers.com as an online directory in 2014.
When it comes to Member Benefits
Respondents ranked top member benefits as follows:
69% Business listing on Slowflowers.com
43% Used Slow Flowers badges and logo on business branding/communications
34% Featured in social media post @slowflowerssociety
28% Purchased discounted tickets for Slow Flowers events
20% Attended Slow Flowers virtual meet-ups
20% Collaborated with other Slow Flowers members for special projects
18% Interviewed as guest on Slow Flowers Podcast
12% Participated in American Flowers Week
11% Participate in Slow Flowers Facebook Community
Where do you fall on this list? Are you missing out on features and programs available to you as a Member?! Take a moment to align our services with your floral enterprise! In 2023, we will continue these features, so if you’re not participating, that means you’re missing out on all the benefits of your membership!
Relating to Member Value, I’m so encouraged with these numbers:
81 percent of you rate the value of your Slow Flowers membership as high value or very high value – up from 75% in 2021
and 82 percent of you are very satisfied or extremely satisfied with their Slow Flowers membership, up from 78 % in 2021
We asked members to share key ways in which they find value in their Slow Flowers member benefits.
The top items:
80% of you say: I want to Align my business with the values of the Slow Flowers Movement and Show my support for the mission of the Slow Flowers Movement
70% of you say: I want to connect with like-minded floral professionals and Educate myself and/or my staff about the importance of Slow Flowers.
We chose two thank-you gifts for our name drawing of those of you who completed our survey – and congratulations to our winners! On December 14th, I drew the names and announced the winners during an IG Live with Niesha Blancas, our social media manager:
Adrianne Gammie of Marilla Field & Flora received a Complimentary Premium Level Slow Flowers Society Membership for 1 year
April Vomfell of Flathead Farmworks received a Complimentary 2023 Slow Flowers Summit registration – June 26-27, 2023 in Seattle, Washington
Congratulations to Adrianne and April!
For 2022, eight creative Slow Flowers individuals and teams participated in designing and producing our American Flowers Week botanical couture collection! These stylish and artistic floral fashions engage viewers with flowers and nature in new ways. We marvel how each look in the American Flowers Week Collection is unique to the location and season where it was produced and photographed — elevating flowers and foliages as works of art.
On June 29th, we invited the creatives who participated in our Botanical Couture collection to appear in the Slow Flowers Show and discuss their designs. And in conjunction with our American Flowers Week 2022 campaign, Slow Flowers Society and its publishing partner, BLOOM Imprint, released a special digital issue of Slow Flowers Journal, available for free download. The Summer 2022 edition featured our botanical couture collection and the stories of each designer, flower farmer and the floral ensembles designed with iconic American-grown botanicals. We already have five designers lined up to create looks for the 2023 American Flowers Week campaign so get ready to be wowed! And keep an eye out for more details on how to participate when we unveil our 2023 artwork next February.
In 2022, we produced an ambitious, fifth Slow Flowers Summit, as the 3-day gathering moved to lower Hudson Valley outside New York this past June. Since its inaugural conference in 2017, the Slow Flowers Summit has given attendees a chance to learn from artists, innovators, and thought leaders whose commitment to domestic flowers is at the heart of the Slow Flowers Movement. This past year gathered more than 125 progressive and sustainably-minded floral professionals from 25 states and two Canadian provinces.
Guests heard from seven inspiring presenters and enjoyed a farm tour, five design demonstrations, an interactive day of hands-on floral design, and a immersive maker-artisan experience. On Day One, attendees convened at The Red Barn at Maple Grove Farm in Bedford, New York, a private farm owned by local philanthropist George Bianco. On Days Two and Three, the Summit moved to nearby Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture and its Arts & Ecology Lab, which develops sustainable uses for all that a farm produces. Thank you to our partners, speakers, sponsors, and to all who attended this magical conference.
Here are a few Raves from our members:
“I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the Slow Flowers Summit. From the beautiful day of flowering at Red Barn at Maple Grove Farm to the inspiring presenters and classes, to the impeccable Stone Barns Center with its amazing grounds and delicious farm-to-table food, it was a tour de force to be sure! I know the Slow Flowers team put in countless hours to make the Summit a wonderful experience for all and it really was. I feel like I have found my tribe in my fellow Slow Flowers members! Your spark of an idea has become an incredible movement!”
“I learned so much from fantastic speakers and presenters. My favorite part was meeting and getting hands-on (experience) working on installations with those experts and the wider community of attendees. I’m feeling inspired and I’ve picked up some new tricks of the trade!”
“We are so inspired by all of the growers, artists, florists and ALL of the amazing people we met at the Slow Flowers Summit and we had a great time learning and connecting with other like-minded farmers and designers! Beyond excited to be part of the Slow Flowers Society and the Slow Flowers Movement!”
The ambitious programming continues for 2023, with an expanded list of speakers, topics, and experiences taking place over two days at Bellevue Botanical Garden in the Seattle area, June 26-27, 2023. You’ll be hearing much more about the 2023 Summit in the coming months, but save the date and we hope to see you there.
Slow Flowers communicates with our members through many channels, and we learned through this year’s Survey which of our methods are most used.
Ninety-five percent of members follow Slow Flowers Society on Instagram, while more than 40 percent engage with us via Facebook. The metrics for social media are easy to track, and they are impressive:
On @slowflowerssociety on Instagram, we have close to 41k followers, with an annual reach of 1.3 million. New in 2022 our social media manager Niesha Blancas launched reels on our @slowflowerssociety IG account, generating more than 165,000 views; clearly our most popular social media feature.
We also launched a member texting service and we use it judiciously, not over-spamming, but utilizing the channel to get useful and timely information at your fingertips. We know people can gain their flower farming and floral design news in many ways, through many channels, and we want to make it easy for our members to receive what they want, when they want it.
Our Slow Flowers monthly newsletter now reaches 3.6k subscribers, both members, followers, and fans who are interested in this Movement. We love producing the info-packed newsletter as it gives me a way to stop and reflect on all that has happened in any given month — chronicling everything from hosting our Slow Flowers podcast guests to featuring new promotional opportunities for members. The newsletter is a popular resource for our members – in fact, in the recent survey, more than two-thirds of you tell us you usually or always read it. You can always go back and read the archives from month to month; the archives are easy to find in the link at the bottom of slowflowers.com.
SLOW FLOWERS JOURNAL
Earlier, I mentioned the special botanical couture issue of Slow Flowers Journal, published last June, that issue served as the launch of our quarterly e-zine. The digital magazine is co-produced with BLOOM Imprint, and our goal is similar to our book publishing efforts: to support stories by and about Slow Flowers members. The subscription to Slow Flowers Journal is free to our members, as a member benefit. In 2022, we shared the issue widely, as an introductory promotion. In 2023, we will charge a market-rate subscription for nonmembers, either on a per-issue or annual basis.
Earlier this year, I’m proud to say that Slow Flowers Society and BLOOM Imprint received the GOLD Medal of Achievement for Slow Flowers Journal in the Trade: Special Project category. The e-zine was published in June 2021 via Americanflowersweek.com and features the cover fashion and photography of Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social Media and model Jada Cruz.
BLOOM Imprint, our floral lifestyle book publishing arm, continued its ambitious publishing schedule for 2022, producing four titles, including:
Black Flora in February
Growing Wonder in March
Small Farm, Big Dreams in April
and House + Flower in June.
Each of these books shared the beautiful message of a flower-centric life, and the expertise of authors and those featured in the pages.
These titles and our authors generated impressive attention in the media, and just to mention a few here: Veranda, Washington Post, Sunset Magazine, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Better Homes & Gardens, Architectural Digest, Flower Magazine, New York Times, House Beautiful, Cottage Journal, Apartment Therapy, Garden Design, Canadian House & Home, The American Gardener, Homes & Antiques, Cultivating Place on Public Radio, Central Texas Gardener on Public Television, Martha Stewart Online, Seattle Times and Cottages & Bungalows, among others. This type of attention underscores the significance and relevance of the books BLOOM Imprint has been producing — and we’re so proud of this work.
For the past 2 years, Slow Flowers has partnered with the National Gardening Association and gardenresearch.com to include cut flower questions in their annual National Gardening Survey.
The 2022 survey expanded on the 2021 findings, revealing that consumer awareness, attitudes and behavior about domestic and local cut flowers has only continued to increase.
In the 2021 survey, 58 percent of respondents said it is very or somewhat important that the flowers they purchase are locally grown. In 2022, that number climbed to 65 percent — nearly 2/3rd of respondents prefer locally-grown flowers.
The attitudes about American-grown flower purchases is also trending up — from 57% of respondents in 2021 who said it’s very or somewhat important that the flowers they purchase are U.S. grown, to 61% preferring domestic flowers in 2022.
Slow Flowers will again participate in and sponsor the National Gardening Survey that is conducted this month, with results ready to share this coming April. I can’t wait to see the needle continue to move up on this positive trend, so stay tuned!
Slow Flowers Podcast
Earlier I mentioned that 2022 was the 10-year anniversary of the publication of The 50 Mile Bouquet. During this year, 2023, we will celebrate the publication of the book Slow Flowers. Its publication in the spring of 2013 led to the launch of the Slow Flowers Podcast, with the first episode appearing on July 23, 2013.
Since that date, the Slow Flowers Podcast has defined this Movement. It was the first ever podcast about flowers, flower farming and floral design, and is an award-winning weekly program known as the “Voice of the Slow Flowers Movement.” Airing consistently, without fail, each week for more than 9 years, this important gift to the floral marketplace focuses on the business of flower farming and floral design through the Slow Flowers sustainability ethos.
Our lifetime downloads have now exceeded one million episodes, and in 2022 alone, due to a major distribution expansion that came along with changing our syndicate hosting platform, the Slow Flowers Podcast was downloaded more than 500,000 times.
On top of this, we have produced a full year of Video episodes, bringing you flower farm tours, studio tours, Q&As, design demonstrations, and a visual immersion into the podcast conversations. You can find the video episodes, which we post each week as the Slow Flowers Show on Youtube, FB Live, Linked in Live and IGTV. Our viewership continues to grow and further enhance how we share the Slow Flowers Movement with you.
The Slow Flowers movement aspires to change how consumers and professionals in the floral marketplace view their flower purchases. The movement involves every facet of the floral distribution pipeline — from breeders and growers to wholesalers, to florists, to consumers — as they ask for domestic, seasonal, and sustainably-grown flowers.
We value our members, partners, sponsors and others who pursuing similar values and goals.
In 2022, Slow Flowers Society sponsored the Black Girl Florists Conference and sessions at the Association of Specialty Cut Flowers Conference. We provided scholarships to BIPOC florists and flower farmers to attend the Slow Flowers Summit and others who pursued continuing education.
We provided educational presentations at CalFlowers’ FunNSun, and spoke about the Slow Flowers Movement at the FREESIA Summit, the Great Grow Along conference, the Madison Square Park Conservancy Lecture Series, the Hardy Plant Study Weekend, King County Library’s Literary Lions, GardenComm International, Northwest Flower & Garden Festival, and for numerous garden clubs around the country.
We contributed to and provided quotes for national and major market media, including stories that appeared in Cottage Journal, Veranda, Better Homes & Gardens, Business Traveler, The Oregonian, Society of American Florists, Johnny’s Advantage Newsletter, BizWoman Magazine, Mayesh Blog, and Avocado Magazine, and appeared on the Blooming Good Time Podcast and the Cut Flower Podcast.
As we wrap up this year-in-review, I want to take a moment to thank all of our sponsors, including our lead Sponsor: Farmgirl Flowers, who has generously returned as our 2023 Lead Sponsor.
Our Major Sponsors for 2022 included:
Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers
The Gardeners’ Workshop
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Red Twig Farms,
Seattle Wholesale Growers Market
Our Channel Sponsors for 2022 included:
Details Flowers Software
Mayesh Wholesale Florists
and Scenic Place Peonies
Coming up in 2023, you’re invited to join our Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up on Friday, January 13, 2023 — when we welcome Emily Ellen Anderson of Curious Lola, a Slow Flowers member and business coach for artists and creatives — she’ll help us with a New Year re-set and you won’t want to miss it!
In late January, Bloom Imprint’s Robin Avni and I will co-present our 2023 Slow Flowers Floral Insights and Industry Forecast in a webinar format, produced in conjunction with the publication of our winter 2023 issue of Slow Flowers Journal. We’ll announce that date soon.
Thanks so much for joining me today. The Slow Flowers Podcast is a member-supported endeavor, downloaded more than one million 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 our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.
If you’re new to our weekly Show and our long-running Podcast, check out all of our resources at SlowFlowersSociety.com
I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Show & Podcast. The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. 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. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow Flowers on the table, one stem, one vase at a time.
Chymique; Game Hens; Gasland; Glass Beads; Lissa; Spindash; Yarrow and Root; Turning on the Lights; Gaena
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In The Field