Debra Prinzing

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Episode 286: Growing Growers: News from Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers President Dave Dowling and Regional Director Lennie Larkin plus a bonus interview with Elizabeth Bryant

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

As I mentioned last week, I traveled to Corvallis, Oregon, recently to join the 3rd annual Pacific Northwest Cut Flower Growers “meet-up,” and that’s where I encountered the three guests you will hear from today.

I’m going to keep the intros short, because you’ll want to hear the heart of these conversations.

Today’s guests include Dave Dowling of Ednie Flower Bulb Co. and current board president of Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, and Lennie Larkin, a farmer-florist and owner of B. Side Farm & Floral Design in Sonoma County, serving as the west and northwest regional director for ASCFG.

But first, please meet Elizabeth Bryant of Rose Hill Flower Farm, located just outside Portland. Elizabeth is a past guest of this podcast; she appeared with floral designer and friend Kailla Platt a few years ago. Here’s a link to their episode.

Elizabeth is a person with big ideas and beyond that; she’s a big idea person who acts on them. I remember when I first met her and she reached out to me with an unsolicited offer to connect me with people she knew at Slow Food USA . . . she felt they should know about Slow Flowers and hear what I was doing.

That led to an invitation from Slow Food for me to write an article for their newsletter, allowing us to reach the huge Slow Food community with the Slow Flowers message.

Later, Elizabeth instigated the first PNW Cut Flower Growers meet-up, bringing together a core team of volunteers to host the one-day session in early 2015. The vision she held is continuing on today with a dynamic cadre of fellow leaders in the Northwest region’s flower farming and farmer-florist world.

I sat down with Elizabeth during one of our short breaks and asked her to share details about her new project — called “Blooming on the Inside,” involving a flower farm and floral design workshops at Coffee Creek, Oregon’s only correctional facility for women. I know you’ll find it inspiring and I hope that you feel led to show your support by encouraging and even donating to the project.

I hope you’re moved to share your resources to support Blooming on the Inside’s campaign. Money isn’t the only way to help this project — you can follow the link to the funding page and just click on the Facebook logo to post this to your own page — making sure that more people learn about the opportunity. And as Elizabeth says, even a $5 donation makes a big difference!

Okay, next up, Dave Dowling and Lennie Larkin.

Dave Dowling, photo courtesy Butterbee Farms

Dave Dowling owned a successful cut flower farm in Maryland for several years. He placed great emphasis on introducing young people to horticulture through employment on his farm, bringing them to the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers conferences, and mentoring them as they moved into their own cut flower businesses. Dave is responsible for the success of many new growers across the country. His generosity and enthusiasm for sharing are unparalleled.

Annually, ASCFG awards the Dave Dowling Scholarship, open to all undergraduate or graduate students working toward a two- or four-year degree, or a graduate degree, in horticulture or floriculture.  Dave juggles president duties with his “day job,” as sales representative and warehouse manager for Ednie Flower Bulb, based in Fredon, New Jersey.

Lennie Larkin

About Lennie Larkin & B-Side Farm

B-Side Farm sits on one colorful acre next to a small rushing creek in Sebastopol, West Sonoma County, California.
The farm uses organic methods to grow a wide variety of old-fashioned, fragrant flowers for use in our design studio and workshops.
Full-service wedding design is a specialty, and by growing most of the flowers used in Lennie’s designs, she’s invested in every aspect of the process from planting the seeds, to caring for and picking the flowers, to putting the finishing touches on the bridal bouquet before it’s carried down the aisle (a favorite moment, every time).
On-farm workshops offer chances for the public to come out to the farm and get their hands dirty. Workshops include all aspects of flower gardening and floral design – from centerpieces for the kitchen table, to elevated arrangements for special events, to crash courses in flower farming.

B-Side Farm

About Lennie Larkin

Lennie came to farming and flowers from a background in social work and adult education. Naturally, B-Side Farm has quickly become an educational farm where Lennie not only grows and designs with flowers, but teaches others how she’s doing what she’s doing. B-Side Farm workshops are designed to meet every student where they’re at and encourage them to dive a little deeper into the world of flowers – whether in the garden or design studio. The B-Side Blog is a growing resource for both of these arenas.
Before staring B-Side, Lennie spent two years at the UCSC Farm and Garden, and then moved on to run the educational farm at Petaluma Bounty where she taught the public to grow crops for the local community for three seasons. Before that (in what feels like a past life) she worked in refugee resettlement in her hometown of Boston, translated a novel in Brazil, and took advantage of her final season NOT farming by hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Lennie has now calmed the wanderlust and settled happily in Sonoma County where she runs the farm, is the West Coast Director for the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, and teaches flower farming and horticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College. Lennie is a past guest of this podcast

Flowers and floral design by Lennie Larkin, B-Side Farm & Floral Design

Links:

Instagram: @b.side.farm.flowers
My website: www.b-sidefarm.com
Lennie’s blog post summarizing her OSU Small Farms Conference presentation: 
www.b-sidefarm.com/b-side-blog/how-to-become-a-farmer-florist
Classes and workshops:
www.b-sidefarm.com/workshops

Thanks so much for listening today. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 162,000 times by listeners like you.

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 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 americangrownflowers.org.

We’re also grateful for support from 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 arcticalaskapeonies.com

And welcome to our newest sponsor, 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. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com.

Longfield Gardens has returned as a 2017 sponsor, and we couldn’t be happier to share their resources with you. 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 lfgardens.com.

And finally, thank you 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 ascfg.org

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 KineticTreeFitness.com

Music credits:
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

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SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Farmer-Florist News – from Gretel Adams, Elizabeth Bryant and Kailla Platt (Episode 153)

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

This iconic photo is showing up everywhere and I am so lucky it's mine! So symbolic of American Grown. Design and truck: Tara Kolla, Silver Lake Farms (Los Angeles) (c) Debra Prinzing

This iconic photo is showing up everywhere and I am so lucky it’s mine! So symbolic of American Grown. Design and truck: Tara Kolla, Silver Lake Farms (Los Angeles) (c) Debra Prinzing 

It’s summertime and the Slow Flowers Podcast is on the road. And it’s no surprise to learn there’s at least one awesome American flower farmer everywhere I seem to go.

There are passionate floral designers to be discovered right alongside and that means more beautiful Slow Flowers experiences for the nation’s consumers, coast to coast.

This week I’m sharing a fabulous conversation with a farmer-florist team from Portland, Oregon – Elizabeth Bryant, owner of Rose Hill Flower Farm, and Kailla Platt, owner of Kailla Platt Flowers.

But first, a bonus conversation that I recorded on July 16th at Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Columbus, Ohio.

Owned by Steve and Gretel Adams, previous guests on this podcast, Sunny Meadows is leading the way in changing how flowers get to market in several Ohio cities. The reason for my return to Sunny Meadows was to work with James Baggett, editor-in-chief of Country Gardens magazine, and Kritsada, an uber-talented photographer, to produce a feature story about Gretel and Steve – and their farm, flowers and floral design.

 

Some might call this "flower farm porn," but who cares? Gretel and Steve were really good sports about posing in the flower fields (isn't that vintage tractor a great "prop"?)

Some might call this “flower farm porn,” but who cares? Gretel and Steve were really good sports about posing in the flower fields (isn’t that vintage tractor a great “prop”?) 

You can keep an eye out for that nothing-but-gorgeous story in the summer of 2015 – and of course, I’ll remind you here when the magazine hits the newsstands.

I recorded a short interview with Gretel and two of her summer design interns, Katie Vontz and Danica Jones. They all agreed to chat briefly about what is becoming a popular way for would-be flower farmers and new floral designers to gain training: via internships, apprenticeships or seasonal work-study-style programs. I think you’ll be intrigued and inspired to hear how Gretel filled her need via social media, too.

This is the "ad" that Sunny Meadows used on Instagram to recruit its summer design interns.

This is the “ad” that Sunny Meadows used on Instagram to recruit its summer design interns. 

 

From left: Me, design intern Katie Vontz, Gretel Adams (Sunny Meadows Flower Farm co-owner), design intern Danica Jones and Sunny Meadows floral designer   Kumiko Matsuura.

From left: Me, design intern Katie Vontz, Gretel Adams (Sunny Meadows Flower Farm co-owner), design intern Danica Jones and Sunny Meadows floral designer Kumiko Matsuura.

Next up: A dynamic conversation with collaborators Elizabeth Bryant and Kailla Platt. 

Elizabeth Bryant (left) and Kailla Platt (right), photographed in their Portland studio.

Elizabeth Bryant (left) and Kailla Platt (right), photographed in their Portland studio. 

Kailla was trained in fine art and landscape architecture and logged a decade designing gardens. But she traces her primary training in floral design to time spent in the lush green of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where she fell under the floral spell cast by her grandmother Jane K. Platt. 

Kailla's work, a seasonal and local floral bouquet.

Kailla’s work, a seasonal and local floral bouquet.

As Kailla puts it: “she filled my young heart with a love of gardens, plants and flowers.  She would generously send me out into her amazing garden with a basket and clippers, telling me I could pick anywhere.  Then, as we selected frogs and filled vases, she would tell me the names and the stories of all these beautiful flowers.  Her garden was a fairy land to me as a child and it continues to inspire me and influence my work today.”

Kailla Platt Flowers, a delightful composition.

Kailla Platt Flowers, a delightful seasonal composition.

Kailla Platt Flowers is a young floral studio inspired by Kailla’s lifelong relationship with flowers. On her website, Kailla writes: “I care about where my flowers come from. I want to know the farmer who grew them.  When possible, I want to gather and forage botanical material myself.  The flowers we give to others, wear in our hair and lift to our faces and smell, should be free of pesticides and harmful chemicals.  Farm to table, garden to vase, me to you.” 

Seasonal design by Kailla Platt Flowers.

Seasonal design by Kailla Platt Flowers. 

Kailla works collaboratively on wedding and event design with another amazing force, Elizabeth Bryant, a flower farmer, floral designer, and founder of Rose Hill Flower Farm, a small, sustainable urban flower farm and design studio in Portland. 

Elizabeth and Kailla at Prettyman's General, a neighborhood mercantile where they  sell their local bouquets.

Elizabeth and Kailla at Prettyman’s General, a neighborhood mercantile where they sell their local bouquets.

Elizabeth and her wife Jill grow flowers on three acres of family land in West Linn, Oregon, about 15 miles southeast of Portland. 

She says: “Our farming and land-care practices are organic and ecologically grounded, with the utmost care given to creating a healthy soil ecology and rich pollinator habitat.  We grow a range of both common and unique specialty cut flowers for use in weddings and events, through our CSA, and direct to florists.”  Rose Hill also provides lush, locally grown arrangements weekly for restaurants, businesses and individuals, or for any special occasion.  

Mixed bouquets by Rose Hill Flower Farm.

Mixed bouquets by Rose Hill Flower Farm.

What you’ll enjoy about this interview is hearing how two creatives – Elizabeth Bryant and Kailla Platt – have distinct points of view and floral businesses that are different from one another, but that they also are collaborative in a way that benefits both of their work – and their clients.

Spring ephemerals, grown by Rose Hill's Elizabeth Bryant.

Spring ephemerals, grown by Rose Hill’s Elizabeth Bryant.

 

Rose Hill's Elizabeth Bryant's flowers and floral design.

Rose Hill’s Elizabeth Bryant’s flowers and floral design.

Kailla and Elizabeth share studio space with Portland photographer Katie Prentiss. In a charming little cottage in Southeast Portland, the three us a combined design and meeting/event space for floral projects.  Together they enjoy great artistic synergy and often partner on projects, including weddings and large events requiring florals.

A floral collaboration.

A floral collaboration.

Thank you for joining me today to hear some of the exciting voices in American flower farming and floral design. Even after a year of producing and hosting the Slow Flowers Podcast, I can guarantee that the list of future guests is very long and I don’t imagine running out of names we need to hear from – inspiring people who are changing the way Americans gather and enjoy flowers in all aspects of life.

Floral design by Kailla Platt.

Floral design by Kailla Platt.

Next week Slow Flowers comes to you from Homer, Alaska, where I’ve happily returned after my 2012 peony-hunting excursion. After that, the road tripping continues, and you can anticipate Slow Flowers interviews with flower farmers and floral designers in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. 

Thanks to listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded more than 17,000 times. In fact, the month of July was our all-time most popular month of interviews with 2500 downloads – and I’m jazzed to know that more listeners are discovering this flower-powered podcast every day.

If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

Until next week please join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. 

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Hannah Holtgeerts and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net

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