Debra Prinzing

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Episode 639: Kristen Rubin of Sweetwater Stem Co. and the new Gig Harbor Flower Farmers Guild

December 6th, 2023

Kristen Rubin, Sweetwater Stem Co.
Kristen Rubin, Sweetwater Stem Co.

This week we’re learning about how one grower has managed her first five flower farming years. Kristen Rubin of Sweetwater Stem Co., in Gig Harbor, Washington, will share how she found sales channels for her blooms at a time when local farmers’ markets were closed due to the Pandemic. Kristen and her husband Allan bought what she describes as a vintage, 8-acre farm in 2019, previously home to highland cattle, when she relocated to her home state of Washington after living in Anchorage, Alaska for a brief period. They chose the name Sweetwater Stem Co. to honor Kristen’s family legacy. Her great grandfather arrived in Idaho at the turn of the century as a pioneer and founded the town of Sweetwater. ​

Sweetwater Stem Co. Gig Harbor, Washington
Sweetwater Stem Co. Gig Harbor, Washington
Sweetwater Stem Co. field crops
Sweetwater Stem Co. field crops

The new farm’s location in Gig Harbor’s Ray Nash Valley became the idyllic spot to put into practice their philosophy of sustainable organic farming.  ​They use minimal till practices and broad-fork their beds to maintain healthy soil biome. Beneficial insects are released during the growing season to guard against pests and non-chemical methods are used to sustain plant health. They use fish fertilizer and brew compost tea to foliar feed by spraying plants weekly to help create an ideal environment for healthy plants and to attract pollinators to their safe haven.

Market Bouquets
Sweetwater Stem Co.’s market bouquets

​Sweetwater Stem Co. grows a variety of flowers and foliage throughout the year, including old-fashioned favorites like zinnias, lisianthus, snapdragons and dahlias, as well as early spring bulb crops like tulips and ranunculus. 

Gig Harbor Flower Farmers' Guild
Gig Harbor Flower Farmers’ Guild

In the second half of our conversation, Kristen will share the news of the Gig Harbor Flower Farmers Guild, a cohort of several are growers formed about one year ago to operate a weekly direct-to-consumer flower market and a specialty wholesale-to-florists hub. Still in the development stage, the guild has talent, creativity, and a vision to bring more local flowers to their community – and you’ll be inspired by their plans.

Follow Sweetwater Stem Co. on Instagram and Facebook
Follow Gig Harbor Flower Farmers Guild on Instagram


News of the Week

Our Slow Flowers December newsletter dropped last week and you can find the link in today’s show notes. It’s packed with great content, resources, stories, and flowers.


2024 Slow Flowers Summit graphic

Remember to grab your ticket to the 2024 Slow Flowers Summit – there’s just three weeks left to take advantage of Early Bird Registration rate! You’ll save $100 Off your Slow Flowers Summit registration, now through December 31st.  We can’t wait to see you in Banff, Alberta, Canada – June 23-25, 2024.


Joy Longfellow and Hilary Alger of Johnny's Seeds
Flower experts Joy Longfellow and Hilary Alger of Johnny’s Seeds

And this Friday is the final Slow Flowers Member Meet-Up for the year – Friday, December 8th at 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. Our meet-up guests – Hillary Alger and Joy Longfellow of Johnny’s Seeds – will share a preview of the dazzling new flower seed introductions for 2024 – and we might even have some seed giveaways! Preregistration is Required. Click the link below to sign up!


Thank you to our Sponsors

This show is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, online directory to more than 750 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 farmgirlflowers.com.

Thank you to Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Find the full catalog of flower seeds and bulbs at johnnysseeds.com.

Thank you to 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.

Thank you to The Gardener’s Workshop, which offers a full curriculum of online education for flower farmers and farmer-florists. Online education is more important than ever, and you’ll want to check out the course offerings at thegardenersworkshop.com.


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 SlowFlowersSociety.com


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:

These Times (alternate take); Drone Pine; Turning on the Lights; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue

Lovely
by Tryad 
http://tryad.bandcamp.com/album/instrumentals
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

In The Field
audionautix.com

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