Debra Prinzing

Get the Email Newsletter!

Episode 618: Fiber and Flowers: Elaine Vandiver of Gholson Gardens and Old Homestead Alpacas updates her story

July 12th, 2023

Hi all, last week, you met Anne Sumner of Walla Walla Flower Farm – what a fun episode, and I especially loved the bonus musical performance recorded in her flower field.

Just down the road from Walla Walla Flower Farm, on Stateline Road, in fact, but on the Washington side, is a historic farm called Old Homestead. This is where Elaine and Mike Vandiver operate two complementary businesses — Old Homestead Alpacas and Gholson Gardens.

The Old Homestead
The Old Homestead at Old Homestead Alpacas and Gholson Gardens, Walla Walla, Washington
Dixie, Winnie (middle, youngest) and Roxy (born the day after your visit)
Dixie, Winnie (middle, youngest) and Roxy (born the day after Debra’s visit)

Elaine is a past guest of the Slow Flowers Podcast (Episode 395 in 2019, which we also aired as an Encore episode last summer). What’s new now is the gift of video!

I’m so happy I was able to return to this beautiful farm for a visit. I filmed the entire tour, narrated by Elaine, as we visited her Alpacas, the Fiber House, the Dye House, and the Cutting Garden.

I know you’ll learn lots about how to balance dual farm operations, and you’ll also be swept up in the story, thanks to Elaine’s bubbly personality and spirit of generosity to share with the Slow Flowers community.

You’ll also meet her intern, Elena Schenkenberg, and hear how she was drawn to this place to learn more about slow flowers, slow fiber and slow fashion.

Here’s just a bit more by way of introduction:

Elaine grows specialty cut flowers on her historic homestead in Walla Walla, Washington. As a seasonal grower, she cultivates rare, unique and heirloom varieties that are picked at their peak for customers who wish to snag a deluxe mixed bouquet from her stylishly functional flower cart at the Downtown Walla Walla farmer’s market (May through October). Elaine also offers weekly flower subscriptions, and assemble floral creations for local restaurants & wineries.

Elaine Vandiver Old Homestead Alpacas
Elaine with one of her friendly, fiber-producing alpacas

Old Homestead Apacas is known for 100% farm-grown knitwear with Alpaca fiber that is hand-dyed using farm-grown heirloom dye plants.

Elaine recently worked with local filmmaker CMBell Company to capture short video narratives of all four seasons at Old Homestead Alpacas and Gholson Gardens. The films are beautiful storytelling moments narrated by Elaine and you’ll hear that audio — winter and spring at the beginning; summer and fall at the end.

Let’s jump right in and meet or re-meet Elaine Vandiver!

And check out the online shop – one of my favorite gifts to myself when I first visited was to purchase a lacy knit scarf of the finest alpaca yarn — hand-dyed in calendula petals.

Thank you to our Sponsors

This show is brought to you by, the free, online directory to more than 850 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms. It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

Farmgirl Flowers 2022

Thank you to our lead sponsor, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $10 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually. Discover more at

Thank you to the 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

Thank you to 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

Thank you to Rooted Farmers. 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

Slow Flowers Podcast Logo with flowers, recorder and mic

I love all this floral goodness and I am so happy you joined 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

Debra in the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden
Thank you for listening! Sending love, from my cutting garden to you! (c) Missy Palacol Photography

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. Thanks so much for joining us today and I’ll see you next week!

Music credits:

Net and the Cradle; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions

by Tryad

In The Field

Leave a Reply