Debra Prinzing

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Episode 522: Vashon Island Flowers, Part One: A Visit to Sweet Alyssum Farm and a conversation with Alyssa O’Sullivan

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

Last week I took a short ferry ride from the mainland – from Tacoma’s Pt. Defiance – to Vashon Island, Washington, a beautiful, evergreen place with deep agricultural roots and people who love both living among nature and having relatively quick access to the urban settings of Seattle and Tacoma. I actually look at Vashon Island everyday from my upstairs office window — across Puget Sound to the west. I don’t get there often enough, but before summer came to an end, I wanted to schedule an afternoon visiting two Vashon Island-based Slow Flowers members on their flower farms.

Alyssa O'Sullivan
Alyssa O’Sullvan of Sweet Alyssum Farm on Vashon Island, Washington (c) Rylea Foehl @familieswhofarm

And so, today you’ll enjoy Vashon Island Flowers, Part One, my visit to meet Alyssa O’Sullivan of Sweet Alyssum Farm, and next week, I’ll introduce you to island flower grower Halee Dams of Marmol Farms during Part Two.

Alyssa O'Sullivan in her sunflower field
Alyssa in the sunflower field (c) Rylea Foehl, @familieswhofarm

Meeting them and enjoying a glorious change of scenery, not to mention personal field tours, inspiring conversations and 2 ferry rides, was just the thing I needed to re-center my mind and remind me about why I care so much about nurturing and supporting the Slow Flowers Movement and its members through content like you’ll enjoy today.

recent bouquets from Sweet Alyssum Farm
Recent floral bouquets from Sweet Alyssum Farm

Alyssa is the owner and founder of Sweet Alyssum Farm, which grows specialty cut flowers to nurture creativity within the local floral community on Vashon Island and beyond. Her focus on sustainability nurtures the earth, animals and people these flowers touch along the way. 

U-Pick flowers at Sweet Alyssum Farm
U-Pick flowers at Sweet Alyssum Farm

As a small, creatively-run farm, Sweet Alyssum shares flowers through several outlet, including:

  • Market bouquets at local farmers markets
  • flowers for weddings and events
  • bouquets for several local food CSAs
  • and special order arrangements
Prolific blooms
A prolific harvest at Sweet Alyssum Farm

I know you’ll enjoy our conversation as Alyssa describes the many ways she and her partner are creating multiple income channels to sustain their livelihoods on their beautiful property.

Here is a link to Alyssa’s essay “Why Flowers,” which she wrote last year for Slow Flowers Journal online

camping at Sweet Alyssum Farm
Imagine!! Camping at Sweet Alyssum Farm

Thank you so much for joining us today. Did you catch the details about on-farm camping at Sweet Alyssum Farm? Right now, for $35/night, two guests can settle into a spot there on Vashon Island. Alyssa books campers through a website called I checked out her listing, which sounds just like the farm looks: Sweet Alyssum is located on 12 acres of sloping fields set against a tall, forested backdrop, and only a 5 minute walk from restaurants, shopping, bars and groceries. Level campsites are spaced around the property, each with a fire pit and picnic table. There is a communal central deck for campers’ use, with a water spigot, power outlet and sink, plus a propane stove and some cooking utensils. While the working farm fields are not open to campers, the flowers serve as a terrific backdrop. And, there’s always the You-Pick flower patch and farm stand at the entrance of the property, open for shopping, picture-taking and flower-picking seasonally.

Tempted? Click here to book your camping trip soon!

Rebecca Raymond and Gina Thresher
Meet Rebecca Raymond, EMC, of Rebecca Raymond Floral (left) and Gina Thresher, AIFD, EMC, of From the Ground Up Floral (right)

Slow Flowers Meet-Up Logo ArtPlease join us this Friday, September 10th, when we resume our monthly Virtual Slow Flowers Member Meet-Ups, after a summer vacation. The time is 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern, as we welcome Rebecca Raymond, EMC, of Rebecca Raymond Floral and Gina Thresher, AIFD, EMC, of From the Ground Up Floral who will share tips for planning and executing a successful Styled Shoot!  They will give attendees an inside peek at their new webinar, The Ins and Outs of Styled Shoots, which covers best practices for the entire Creative Process of producing a collaborative Styled Shoot. Bonus: Gina and Rebecca are extending a $100 off discount to Slow Flowers members who sign up via this course link and they will also share a few other surprises!
Follow this link to pre-register for the session. You can always find the link in our Instagram profile at slowflowerssociety, as well. And PS, we know this is a busy holiday week, with lots of weddings and also Rosh Hoshanah! So rest assured, you will be able to find the replay video of our Meet-Up on YouTube later in the month.

Thank you to our Sponsors!

Farmgirl Flowers Banner

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2021, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting more than 20 U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $9 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually. Discover more at

2nd sponsor bar
sponsor logo bar

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

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

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

(c) Mary Grace Long photography

Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 762,000 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 our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.

I value your support and invite you to show your thanks to support Slow Flowers’ ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right at

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Show. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow Flowers on the table, one stem at a time. 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. You can learn more about Andrew’s work at

Music Credits:

LaBranche; Cottonwoods; Turning on the Lights; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions

by Tryad

In The Field