Debra Prinzing

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Episode 450: Emily Watson of Milwaukee’s Wood Violet and our Stories of Resilience guest, Janis Harris of ASCFG and Harris Flower Farm

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020
Emily Watson of Wood Violet in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Our featured guest this week is florist-farmer Emily Watson, who first appeared on the Slow Flowers Podcast in 2015. I’m delighted that she has agreed to return and share an update on her business, Wood Violet, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You’ll want to go back and listen to that earlier episode — click here.

Wedding design by Wood Violet – personal flowers and ceremony flowers.
Emily Watson, Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based flower farmer, floral designer, entrepreneur — today’s podcast guest.

Five years ago when Emily joined me for an episode, the timing was auspicious. She was in the throes of pivoting from her small cut flower farm operation called Stems Cut Flowers to a wedding design studio named after Wisconsin’s state flower – the Wood Violet.

After five years focusing entirely on designing for couples and ceremonies, the land is calling Emily back. And she’s agreed to discuss her entrepreneurial thought process as her business is again responding to market opportunities.

Here’s a bit more about Emily, excerpted from her web site:

Emily is a farmer florist and small business owner who calls Milwaukee home. With an education in biological conservation and a background in both floral design and landscaping, she started Stems Cut Flowers in 2008.

With a little land borrowed from her grandparents’ farm in East Troy, Wisconsin, Emily envisioned that Stems Cut Flowers would sell to florists and at farmer’s markets, and maybe for an occasional wedding. Well the idea of occasional weddings turned into a nearly every weekend occurrence and it soon became evident that Emily was running two separate businesses. That’s when in 2015, she officially established two separate businesses and launched her floral design studio. Being that the wood violet is Wisconsin’s state flower it seemed an appropriate name for a business that is focused on using locally grown blooms. Stems Cut Flowers continued to grow and mostly supply flowers to the Wood Violet studio.

Beautiful floral design by Wood Violet, with Wisconsin-grown blooms

Find and follow Emily Watson at these social places:

Wood Violet on Facebook

Wood Violet on Instagram

Our bonus series here on the Slow Flowers Podcast continues with our next installment of Stories of Resilience. I believe that now, more than ever, the message of sustainability and seasonal and locally-available flowers is top of mind — among consumers, flower farmers and florists.

I want the Slow Flowers Podcast to be a companion to those of you in isolation, away from your physical community of peers, neighbors, customers and friends. I don’t have many answers, but I do want to keep the lines of communication open and accessible.

This week’s guest: Janis Harris of Harris Flower Farm in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada

Today’s Stories of Resilience guest is Janis Harris of Harris Flower Farm in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. She is also Canada’s regional director for the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers

I have been so intrigued by Janis’s posts on social media promoting local flowers to her community. For the past month, Harris Flower Farm has been marketing no-contact flowers thanks entirely to Janis’s creative efforts. It started on March 21st when she posted this message on Instagram: Fresh Locally Grown Spring Cheer-Up Bouquets; 3 Local Flower Farming Families are Coming Together to Bring You Some Cheer.

Janis, the “flower lady”

Janis directed buyers to visit the online shop on the Harris Flower Farm website to make their purchase of a $10 seasonal bouquet. Well, that project has blown up and taken over Janis’s life. More farms joined in so her marketing efforts are bringing additional revenue to fellow growers. Eager customers continue to order for the weekly bouquet deliveries, paying online and leaving a vase or bucket filled with water on their front porch.

Janis finds herself operating a floral business unlike anything she’s ever done before, delivering more than 100 bouquets in a single day and offering two days of delivery each week. Since the season is early and area farmers’ markets may or may not be able to open during Canada’s stay-at-home mandate, this project has clearly resonated with customers and flower lovers in her community.

A lovely wedding bouquet, grown and designed by Janis Harris

On March 24th, Janis posted this update on the Farm’s IG feed: This past week has been crazy humbling. But also figuring out our new norm of delivering flowers has been a learning curve. So I need to pause the deliveries for a bit so I can wrap my head around how we can proceed with delivering flowers. I also have to STILL BE A FLOWER FARMER. It is critical time for planting and seeding. We are sticking to our original seeding schedules. So there will be lots of flowers this summer. It’s still uncertain where and how we will sell them but I have to keep planting so there is a supply when we are on the other side of this.

To our 2020 couples: please keep us in the loop. We will work with whatever changes arise. Remember it’s your relationship that is important not the date, you still have each other.💕 I will continue to show you what is happening on the farm. Flower farming doesn’t stop. 🌻 stay healthy and positive.

Janis and Mark Harris and their family.

I’m so glad that Janis was able to share a moment of her time to record this Stories of Resilience segment for you. Best wishes to you, Janis and Mark! Listen to my 2017 Podcast interview with Janis and hear the full story of Harris Flower Farm.

Find and follow Harris Flower Farm at these social places:

Harris Flower Farm on Facebook

Harris Flower Farm on Instagram

Thanks so much for joining me today as we heard from both a flower farmer and a florist in our Slow Flowers community!

This past week, I was able to get out to my garden to start a bunch of flower seeds – some directly-sowed and some in flats in the greenhouse. Our nighttime temperatures here in Seattle are in the mid-40s right now, so I’m pretty confident that we’re past our last-frost date, but you never know! We have members who were hit with snow this past week, so nothing’s certain.

Our Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Ups continue to have great attendance and participation and feel incredibly rewarding. After four consecutive weeks, I’m even feeling more confident about the Zoom technology. I owe a HUGE thanks to Karen Thornton of Avenue 22 Events, Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social Media and Lisa Waud of pot & box for their incredible talents to help make the Meet-Ups a smoothly run success. They’re part of the Slow Flowers Team that makes it all so joyful for me and keeps me sane.

Replay of April 17, 2020 — Slow Flowers Members’ Virtual Meet-Up

Last Friday on April 17th, Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Company joined us as a special guest – she shared about how she’s designing and selling flowers during the Coronavirus era. We also had a surprise special guest — you’ll have to watch the Zoom replay video of the Virtual Meeting to see who joined us. Click on the video link above to watch!

Please join the next Slow Flowers Virtual Meet-Up on Friday, April 24th at 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. Can’t wait to see you there! Our very special guest will be Julie Tobi, who is a life coach for creatives. I met Julie at Holly Chapple’s Flowerstock last fall and I was so impressed with how Julie views that elusive work-life balance and helps creative professionals lean into the fulfilling careers and lives they actually want to have.

Artist, writer and editor Lorene Edwards Forkner will also join us on April 24th — and she’ll share about her watercolor studies as a mindfulness practice. Follow this link to join the Zoom Meet-Up on Friday.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, plans for the fourth annual Slow Flowers Summit, scheduled for June 28-30 are still in place, but May 15th will be the date when we will make a definitive decision whether to move forward with the original conference dates or reschedule for later in the year. I want to make sure you have 45 days’ notice to adjust your plans if we have to postpone. And just in case, mark October 26-27 as the backup dates for gathering together at our beautiful venue, Filoli Historic House and Garden in Woodside, California. As I said last week: I’m as eager as you are to experience a fabulous conference that’s presented in a safe environment. I hope this plan assures you and assists you in managing your own schedule moving forward into 2020.

Clockwise from top, left: Susan Mcleary, Kellee Matsushita-Tseng, Molly Culver, Lorene Edwards Forkner, Debra Prinzing, Jennifer Jewell, Pilar Zuniga and Emily Saeger

You can contact us anytime with questions and I’ve added links to my email and that of our event manager Karen Thornton in today’s show notes.  You can also follow the Filoli VISIT Page and Slow Flowers Summit Page for additional updates. One more thing — this past week’s Summit newsletter features wonderful updates from all of our speakers, who shared what they’re doing and how they’re managing the COVID-19 shut-down. I’d love for you to read it, too, and you can find the link here.

Thank you to our Sponsors

This podcast is brought to you by, 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.

And thank you to Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at

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

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

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 599,000 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.

I am in love with my greenhouse, designed and built sustainably by Oregon-based NW Green Panels (c) Missy Palacol Photography

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

Music Credits:

LaBranche; Heartland Flyer; Gaena; Glass Beads
by Blue Dot Sessions

Lovely by Tryad

In The Field

Episode 304: Slow Flowers from Ontario, Canada, with Janis Harris of Harris Flower Farm & ASCFG

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

American Flowers Week bouquets from Triple Wren Farms

It’s July 6th and I’m still on a huge high thanks to the incredibly successful third annual American Flowers Week celebration which concluded with Independence Day in the U.S.

I will have a lengthier recap to share in next week’s episode — after all the numbers come in and after I’ve had time to compile highlights and accolades from around the country.

Suffice it to say that participation has reached new heights with American Flowers Week 2017. Last year, in the month leading up to American Flowers Week, the social media impressions hit 1.4 million on Instagram and Twitter. This year, we are at 4.9 million and counting, more than triple the impressions!

That is clearly only one metric but I’m happy we can point to it for validation that Slow Flowers has created something pretty awesome that everyone who touches American grown flowers can claim and adopt for their own place in the domestic floral scene — from our beloved growers to floral wholesalers, ecommerce, grocery stores and the floral artists and flower shops who connect consumers with their flowers.

Ultimately, it’s also for lifelong or passionate gardeners like me, those of us who fell in love with their flowers through horticulture and the simple act of clipping a bloom from plants we grow ourselves — and arranging them into a nosegay or posy to bring indoors.

I know we will continue the momentum all year long and I can’t wait to share all the news of 2017’s American Flowers Week, including our brilliant first-ever Slow Flowers Summit staged last Sunday on July 2nd. More in our full report next week.

This week’s guest: Janis Harris of Harris Flower Farm in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada

This week, we’re turning to our Canadian neighbors, where there’s an amazing flower farming and floral design community, with equally passionate kindred spirits like my guest Janis Harris of Harris Flower Farm.

Janis is the Canadian regional director for the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers and she has been busy working on the group’s upcoming two-day conference called “Let’s Talk Flowers,” scheduled for August 7th and 8th in the Niagara region of Ontario.

I am so pleased that Janis and I recently recorded this conversation to discuss the conference and give us more insights into her floral business and her farm. Enjoy the photos she’s shared here — of her flowers, floral designs and family farm life.

Here’s a little more about Janis and her family’s flower-filled business. There’s a twist, and that’s the other “crop” grown at their farm — husband Mark’s pasteurized pork livestock enterprise. You’ll hear more about THAT — and how flowers and piggies live in harmony in my conversation with Janis!

A Janis Harris-designed bouquet ~ beautiful!

Janis and Mark Harris and their three youngsters, Cameron, Nathan and Megan, live and farm just north of St.Thomas, Ontario. They have been going to the local market with their fresh cut flowers since 2010

Both Janis and Mark grew up on a family farm. Janis’ parents have an organic vegetable, poultry and beef farm and Mark’s parents have a cow/calf beef farm. They hope to instill the farm life and values to their children. Cameron already loves the farming life, he can be found playing with his tractor toys. Nathan loves helping in the fields picking and hauling in the flower harvests. Megan is already picking up tips on arranging flowers.

Janis and Mark with their three young children.

The fresh cut flower business is a family affair, everyone picks, packs and sells flowers. Cameron and Nathan have grown up at the market, they look forward to introducing Megan to the ins and outs of selling market bouquets.

Harris Flower Farm

Mark and Janis purchased Janis’ Grandparents former dairy farm where Grandma and Grandpa’s love of flowers is apparent throughout the property. There are many established flower gardens filled with collections of lillies, irises, peonies and lilacs. Currently with 3 acres in flower production, the farm is flourishing. Former corn and soyabean fields have been turned into sunflower fields. Lawn has been turned over for perennial beds. The farm is being revitalized and beautified with every growing season. Every year the flowers we grow have increased in number and variety.

An abundance of fresh-picked botanicals!

As I mentioned, along with the flowers, pastured pigs are raised on the farm. Healthy, happy and MUDDY pigs.The pigs have access to outdoors and are cared for in the best way possible, hands on and one on one with each animal. You will often find Mark in the sows’ pens brushing them. Janis designs — literally – with her “Grandma’s garden” of flowers, as well as field production of flowers.  She sells her mixed bouquets at the Horton Farmer’s Market every Saturday from Mother’s Day to Canadian Thanksgiving.

A pastel-hued bouquet

Here’s how to find Harris Flower Farm:

Harris Flower Farm on Facebook

Harris Flower Farm on Instagram

As we readied this episode for posting, the registration for ASCFG’s Ontario meeting has been so successful that there are now only about 6 or so spaces left for you to participate. Here is a link to ASCFG Conference Registration

And, the hotel reservation cut-off for the discounted rate of $119 is Thursday, July 6th. If you hear this information after that deadline, you can still grab a room, upon availability, but the rate may have increased. Here is the link to the hotel information.

Thanks so much for joining us today.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 207,000 times by listeners like you. The month of June witnessed the highest listenership ever — at 11,730 downloads! You helped the podcast surpass March’s listenership of 11,518 downloads.

Hey, that’s pretty amazing considering flower farmers are usually even busier with their duties in June than March — so hey, thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors:

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at

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. Find them at

Longfield Gardens 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. Visit them at
Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at

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. Check them out at
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
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