Debra Prinzing

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Episode 387: When Flowers are Your Side Hustle, with Nan Matteson of Queen City Flower Farm, Plus State Spotlight: Arkansas

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

Queen City Flower Farm’s flowers, grown by today’s guest, Nan Matteson

Nan Matteson of Queen City Flower Farm, based in Cincinnati, Ohio

I’m delighted to share today’s conversation with Nan Matteson of Queen City Flower Farm in Cincinnati, Ohio.

I met Nan virtually in 2015 when she emailed me to introduce herself. It was a lovely note from a woman who would become a kindred spirit and friend. Nan wrote this:

“Once vase at a time.” That was the line that hooked me. I could make one vase.

I’m a podcast junkie and a gardener.  Slow Flowers hit my radar either via Ken Druse or Riz Reyes early in the game. I listened all summer. I wanted to hang out with these people. I showed up at the ASCFG meeting in Delaware to explore more. Met you ever so briefly.   

Came home wondering, how can I be a part of this movement?  I could read between the lines. People already owned the land. There was a husband/family in the background. But let’s be honest. I’m single, in my late 50’s, and wasn’t about to leave my good job w/ benefits.

More beautiful bouquets and field-grown zinnias from Queen City Flower Farm.

However, one afternoon in late November I had coffee w/ a local CSA farmer who had no interest in flowers. She said, “Nan, come grow for us on our land.” An offer I couldn’t refuse. 

I spent the winter reading, ordering seeds and tubers. Listening to more podcasts. By spring I knew I still knew nothing about growing cut flowers, but took the advice offered in multiple podcasts, “Just start.” 

So I have spent this summer providing mixed bouquets for Finn Meadows CSA. A barnacle business as Elizabeth Artis would say. A mini-micro biz I say. I average 7 bouquets a week. Not much, but seven more vases of fresh, local, seasonal flowers sitting on someone’s table each week. 

And I continue to listen to your podcast. 

Lucky for me I’m heading to NYC this week-end. And although not planned it turned out that I had scheduled myself the same week as the Field to Vase dinner in Brooklyn. Oh my gosh! So what’s another day in NYC if I can catch that event? I hope to see you there.

Final thought: trend is not a bad word  – embrace it. You’ve created a wonderful trend! (Who am I to tell you what to say?!) 

Love your podcast. Its growth proves its worth. Sincerely, Nan Matteson

Event bouquets (left) and a gift bouquet (right), grown by Nan Matteson of Queen City Flower Farm.

Isn’t that just the kind of email to savor again and again?!

Nan (right) with her sister, at Flower House Detroit in 2015. The women are wearing botanical brooches, which Nan made.

As it turns out, I met Nan that summer of 2015 in Brooklyn, and subsequently, at Lisa Waud’s Flower House Detroit, just a few months later.

She joined Slow Flowers as a member, came to the Slow Flowers Summit #1 and #2 (and she’s already scheduled to join us in St. Paul at Slow Flowers Summit #3).

We’ve met up at other flower events and when Nan came to Seattle last month for a short visit, I told her we needed to record an episode for the Podcast!

Lucky for me, she said YES! I know you will enjoy our conversation and laughter.

And you’ll be inspired as I am, by Nan’s joie de vivre and her determination to keep on growing flowers, even if just for a single vase of beauty.

Find and follow Nan Matteson at these social places — she’s one you’ll want to follow and connect with.

Queen City Flower Farm on Instagram

The Marmalade Lily, where Nan will be growing dahlias this coming season.

All Arkansas-grown wedding by Rose of Sharon Floral Design Studio

Althea Wiles, Rose of Sharon Floral Design Studio

Our theme for 2019 – Fifty States of Slow Flowers – continues today, with Arkansas-based Althea Wiles of Rose of Sharon Floral Design Studio.

Follow Rose of Sharon at these social places:

Rose of Sharon on Facebook

Rose of Sharon on Instagram

Rose of Sharon on Pinterest

Thanks so much for joining me on this journey, seeking new and inspiring voices, people with passion, heart, commitment and expertise to share with you.

I hope today’s episode gave you at least one inspiring insight or tip to apply to your floral enterprise. What you gain will be multiplied as you pay it forward  and help someone else.

We have a vital and vibrant community of flower farmers and floral designers who together define the Slow Flowers Movement. As our cause 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.

Slow Flowers Summit logoThe Slow Flowers Summit is six months away so please save three dates on your calendar as you plan your travel to St. Paul, Minnesota.

First, our bonus flower farm tours and Slow Flowers Dinner on the Farm, taking place on Sunday, June 30th.

On Monday, July 1st, we will all gather at Paikka Event Space for day one of the Summit.

On Tuesday, July 2nd we will tour the Twin Cities Flower Exchange as it’s swimming in locally grown flowers.

I can’t wait to see you there! Ticket sales continue with a special Slow Flowers member discount at $375.

You’ll learn all about the many opportunities to join us — from flower farm tours and dinner on a flower farm to business and branding presentations to interactive and inspiring design sessions . . . all designed to serve you! Sign up to receive updates at

Thank you to our Sponsors, including those highlighted today!

Florists’ Review magazine: I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market. Take advantage of the special subscription offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community.

Madras, Oregon-based NW Green Panels, designer and builder of a wide array of wood-framed greenhouses. Their greenhouses are 100% Oregon-made using twin-wall polycarbonate manufactured in Wisconsin, making NW Green Panel structures a great value for your backyard. The 8×8 foot Modern Slant greenhouse has become the essential hub of my cutting garden — check out photos of my greenhouse here!

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 here.

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

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 405,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much. Thank you all!

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:
Loopy; Rabbit Hole; Gaena; Perspiration
by Blue Dot Sessions
Music from: