Debra Prinzing

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Episode 414: Jen Ladd of Sweet Posy Floral, on growing for local customers and destination weddings in Bend, Oregon; plus our State Focus: New Mexico

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019
With her Dahlias: Jen Ladd of Sweet Posy Floral, a Bend, Oregon-based specialty cut flower farm and floral studio.

Located in Central Oregon, Bend is an incredibly beautiful place – across the mountains from where I live, so an entirely different landscape. Yes, the area is considered high desert, but the local agriculture scene for food and flowers is vibrant and active.

Last week took me there for a two-day getaway and you can be sure I wanted to visit a few flower growers during the trip. Today, you’ll join me on one – a tour and conversation with Jennifer Ladd of Sweet Posy Flowers.

Jen Ladd (right) posing with #flowersonyourhead at the 2017 Slow Flowers Summit. Photo by Mud Baron

I thought the last time I saw Jen was in 2017 when she attended (and contributed flowers) to the first Slow Flowers Summit held in Seattle. But she reminded me that we had a very brief “passing hello” at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival this past February. Turns out, Jen helps a family member set up a plant sale booth at the flower show – so we’re going to be more intentional about connecting there next year.

But what a treat to drive just about 10 minutes east of Bend, turn off the highway onto a long, gravel driveway, and come upon fields of annuals surrounding a charming white cottage-style studio and two sturdy high tunnels also filled with blooms.

The studio at Sweet Posy Floral.

I arrived at Sweet Posy Floral, was greeted by two friendly dogs and today’s bubbly guest.

Jen Ladd of Sweet Posy Floral

Jen aptly describes Sweet Posy Floral as an heirloom flower farm and bespoke floral design studio. She owns the farm with her firefighter husband Brandon Ladd, about whom she says, “I truly wouldn’t have been able to bring this dream to fruition without him. He works his full-time shifts at the fire station and comes home and works the farm and helps me with logistics of wedding setups.” A true farm-him partner for the farm-her.

Flowers on Display with Jen Ladd

Jen shares this on her “about” page:

I’ve loved flowers my entire life. As a child, I would go with my grandmother into her garden and watch her love and cultivate the plants, talking to them as she went. “You have to talk to them because it’s a relationship,” she’d tell me. “They’ll only grow and blossom for you if you love them.

When it was time to plan my own wedding, second only to the groom and the dress in importance was the flowers. Destiny brought me to a wonderful woman on a glorious flower farm who set me loose with shears and buckets to cut as many of her beautiful heirloom flowers as I wanted to make my day complete. In those fields, surrounded by the bright blooms, I realized this is what I’d love to do. 

The dream of sharing beautiful, sustainable, local flowers is what Sweet Posy is all about.

Identical in idea to the slow food movement, we believe in the slow flowers movement. We believe that a bouquet can come from a fifty-mile radius, even in Central Oregon’s climate. We believe that special, unique heirloom flowers can be accessible even if they aren’t bred to withstand weeks of shipping. We believe that a wider variety of flowers leads to a wider variety of floral visions we can make reality.

Local is beautiful, when local means real flowers that are pollinated by real bees and destined to brighten the days of real people who love supporting their local farmer artisans. Welcome to Sweet Posy’s growing world!

Love those sentiments!

The seasonal bounty of Sweet Posy Floral
Sweet Posy Floral’s “jar posies” at Market of Choice in Bend.

Even though she was up at dawn to harvest, make market bouquets, deliver them to Market of Choice, a local grocery store customer, and tend to countless other farm projects, when I arrived at Sweet Posy last weekend, Jen greeted me with a warm welcome as if she had not a care in the world. She gave me a tour of the fields, the high tunnels and the studio. We shared a glass of pink champagne and noshed on some delicious appetizers – and finally turned on the recorder to grab this interview.

What a brilliant array of summer blooms!

Find and follow Jen Ladd and Sweet Posy Floral at these social places:

Sweet Posy Floral on Facebook

Sweet Posy Floral on Instagram

Sweet Posy Floral on Pinterest

I’m so pleased that you joined me today! Finding balance is a theme we keep coming back to on this Podcast –a balance between passion and wellness; between creative urges and sustaining a creative livelihood. Neither my guests nor I have all the answers, but we strive for honesty and transparency in our dialogue and we want you to be part of that conversation.

A recent Bend area wedding, with lush and local flowers created by Sweet Posy Floral

Another constant theme of the Slow Flowers Podcast is community. We didn’t have time to share the story of Jen’s first CSA week ever, but suffice it to say, it involved the biggest disaster a new flower farmer could face – a freak June frost that decimated her entire early season flower crop.

Jen put out a call for advice to others she had met through the PNW Cut Flower Growers annual gathering and several flower farmers not only jumped in with encouragement and advice, but farms actually gifted Jen and her husband Brandon enough flowers to cover week one and week two of their CSA commitments.

Those flower farmers have become good friends to Jen and Brandon, and I just want to acknowledge them today – Erin McMullen and Aaron Gaskey of Raindrop Farms in Philomath and Beth and Jason Syphers of Crowley House Flower Farm in Rickreal – both in the Willamette Valley. To this day, Jen wonders if she would have given up in discouragement if the community of Oregon flower farmers hadn’t stepped in to help support Sweet Posy Floral through that natural disaster. Of course, both of those flower farms are part of the Slow Flowers Community so it was no surprise to learn of this story. And I know for certain that Jen and Brandon would do the same thing to pay it forward with a fellow grower or florist in need.

Thank you, Jen, for being that voice of honesty this week. I love your work, the beautiful life you’ve shaped for yourself, and your grit balanced with lovely artistic expression.

The Calhoun women flower farmers, from left: Lillian, Emily, Susannah, and mom, Diane.

Our theme for 2019 – Fifty States of Slow Flowers – continues today, with Diane Calhoun and Susannah Calhoun, mother-daughter farmer-florists of Calhoun Flower Farm in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

A desert-inspired bouquet, grown and designed by Calhoun Flower Farms.

In the podcast, you’ll hear me flub a couple of times and call their farm: Calhoun Family Farm. We laughed because it’s certainly that, too. Theirs is a farming family. Sister Lillian Calhoun is a frequent support on the business side of things and you’ve actually met Diane’s daughter and Susannah’s sister Emily Calhoun as a past guest of this podcast on two occasions – Emily owns FloriographyNM, based in Albuquerque.

You can meet Emily in Episode 176 (January 2015) and in a follow-up interview in Episode 317 (October 2017)

Dazzling flowers, photographed in the white sands of New Mexico (c) Justin Lee Burr

Calhoun Flower Farms is boutique floral enterprise located in the magnificent Mesilla Valley of New Mexico. Diane and Susannah grow and distribute their field grown flowers for the floral trade, consumers, and events flowers throughout NM and West Texas. They offer farm tours by appointment and often rent their farm for photography sessions.

Find and follow Calhoun Flower Farms at these social places:

Calhoun Flower Farms on Facebook

Calhoun Flower Farms on Instagram

Susannah Calhoun (center), with her floral designs (left) and Calhoun Flower Farms (right)

I am so grateful to you for joining me and for spending your time listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast today. Thank you to our entire community of flower farmers and floral designers who together define the Slow Flowers Movement.

Calhoun Flower Farms employs and serves the community of El Paso, Texas, and Las Cruces, New Mexico (c) Justin Lee Burr

If you feel moved as I am to support the people of El Paso, Texas, some of whom work for and buy flowers from Calhoun Flower Farm, follow this link to join Slow Flowers in donating to the El Paso Community Foundation.

El Paso Community Foundation’s short-term goal has been to use donations to assist families and victims by paying for funeral, travel, and basic need expenses. Long term, the foundation wants to support the community’s need to heal as a collective while addressing the trauma people there have suffered as a whole. The Foundation has also established the El Paso Victims’ Education Fund – a scholarship fund for the children of those shot and injured or killed by the shooter on August 3, 2019. Your contribution will join others in providing tuition assistance and related expenses to college or university, or an established trade or vocational school. Learn more by searching the hashtag #elpasoSOstrong.

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS

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.

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of family farms in the heart of Alaska working together to grow and distribute fresh, stunning, high-quality peony varieties during the months of July and August when the normal growing season is complete. Arctic Alaska Peonies operates three pack houses supplying peonies throughout the United States and Canada. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

FarmersWeb. FarmersWeb software makes it simple for flower farms to streamline working with their buyers. By lessening the administrative load and increasing efficiency, FarmersWeb helps your farm save time, reduce errors, and work with more buyers overall. Learn more at www.farmersweb.com

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 syndicatesales.com.

Photographed at Everyday Flowers in Stanwood, Wash. (c) Missy Palacol Photography

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 505,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

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 soundbodymovement.com

Music Credits:
Castor Wheel Pivot; One Little Triumph; Betty Dear; Gaenaby 
Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.bluehttps://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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

In The Field
Music from: audionautix.com

Related posts

Episode 325: Chicago’s Field & Florist Opens a Retail Store

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt of Field & Florist (left) and a lovely photograph of their new Convertible Vase (right), developed with Chicago ceramicist Angela Venarchik

We’re coming to a close of the year and lately, I’ve been focused on the upcoming 2018 Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights & Industry Forecast, which I will release on January 3rd, with episode 330 of this podcast.

For the first time, our annual Floral Insights will also be published in Florists’ Review — and you can find the report in the pages of the magazine’s “Slow Flowers Journal” section come January 2018 issue. Subscribe to Florists’ Review and read our bonus Slow Flowers Journal content at the special rate of $21 for 12 issues — 62 percent off the cover price! Check out details by following this link or call 1-800-367-4708.

Inside Field & Florist’s new retail shop in Chicago.

One of the themes of the 2018 Floral Insights involves new ways for flower farmers and farmer-florists to bring their botanicals to the marketplace — through their own retail outlets.

I first touched on this idea last month, when I invited Emily Calhoun of Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Floriography Flowers, to share her news, which you can hear in a segment called “Flower Farmers Shift into Retail Floristry.” As it turns out, Emily is just one of several pioneering flower farmers embracing retail channels.

More interior glimpses of the modern, clean aesthetic — a perfect foil for abundant flowers!

Today, you will hear from returning guests Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt of Chicago-based Field & Florist, as they discuss their new retail store in the heart of the city’s Wicker Park neighborhood. And in a few week’s we will feature a Boston area flower farmer who’s recently opened two retail outlets in that city.

Follow these links to their past interviews on this Podcast.

Episode 148

Episode 262

A few lovely details of the Convertible Vase

Cindy Dampier of the Chicago Tribune wrote this recently:

Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt are florists — by way of a garden. Their days are dictated by irrigation and planting plans, bloom times and germination schedules. On any spring or summer morning, you’ll likely find the two of them in boots and work gloves, happily cultivating varieties they’ve carefully selected during a long winter’s worth of research. But unlike most gardeners, blooms are just a starting point for the ladies of Field & Florist. Those creamy peonies and cup-shaped hellebores are the raw materials for a summer’s worth of bouquets that seem, with each delicate, wayward tendril, to channel the garden they came from.

The women were recently featured in a documentary called “A Room with the Highest Ceiling,” produced by The Food Porn Hub. It’s a lovely “short film” and I think you’ll want to take the time to watch and listen to their philosophy (not to mention see their farm!):

One of the new collections of artisanal fragrances offered at Field & Florist

Enjoy these new photographs that Heidi and Molly have shared, taken by Jaclyn Simpson.

And follow these links to Field & Florist’s social places.

Field & Florist on Facebook

Field & Florist on Instagram

Field & Florist on Pinterest

 

Thanks so much for joining us today!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 257,000 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 family of sponsors:

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.

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

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 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 longfield-gardens.com.

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 syndicatesales.com.

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 johnnysseeds.com.

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

(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 KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music Credits:

Photo credit: Jaclyn Simpson.







Related posts

Episode 317: Flower farmers shift into retail floristry – update from Floriography Flowers in Albuquerque, NM

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Farmer-Florist-Retailer Emily Calhoun of Floriography Flowers in Albuquerque

Today you will hear from Emily Calhoun of Floriography Floral based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, an early Slow Flowers member whose news we’re sharing with you today.

In my 2017 Floral Insights & Industry Forecast, released at the beginning of this year, I noted Shift #3 — “Return of Brick and Mortar.” I wrote: “There’s a lot of flower power going on as independent and progressive florists are signing leases and opening retail spaces in the same markets that have witnessed mainstream mom-and-pop floral storefronts being shuttered.”

A few inside views of the Floriography Flowers space — note the “Luxe Floristry” tagline — all images from Spur Line’s Instagram feed.

This insight continues to play out with reports of flower shops around the country hitting my radar.

The newest twist on this story isn’t just florists setting up retail spaces, but also FLOWER FARMERS adding brick and mortar to the mix.

This is intriguing and recently, when I learned that the owners of flower farms that featured on the Slow Flowers Podcast in the past are opening their retail ventures in their markets, I wanted to hear more.

This is a continuing story. Since we recorded this show, I’ve learned of others who fall into the flower farmer-turned-floral retailer narrative.

I’ll be reporting on this shift in our 2018 Floral Insights report, which will be released in Episode 330 on January 3, 2018. Not to get ahead of myself, but please reach out if you have any suggestions to share on that front!

I’m eager to bring you my recent conversation with Emily Calhoun of Floriography, NM. Nearly three years ago, I traveled to New Mexico to meet my friend Paula Panich for a writing retreat in Santa Fe. I knew I would have to fly into Albuquerque so I reached out to our lone New Mexico Slow Flowers member, and asked her if we could have dinner together and record a report for this podcast while I was “passing through.”  It all worked according to plan and you’ll want to go back and listen to that conversation, Episode 176, aired in January 2015.

Flowers from an autumn 2016 Floriography wedding.

A lot has happened since then and as Floriography has evolved and changed, Emily has been at the center of a mini-explosion in cut flower farming in the state of New Mexico. We now have four Slowflowers members in the state and I’ve promised them I’ll visit sometime in the coming year to document more of what’s happening there. Let’s learn more from Emily and the new Floriography retail space at Spur Line Supply Co. in Albuquerque, which she calls her “shopette.”

As Emily mentions, she loves adding edibles to her floral designs.

And here’s an introduction from the “about” page at the Floriography Floral web site:

We began this beautiful journey in 2011 with some canning jars and a tiny piece of dirt in between pecan orchards. From this tiny parcel and with cuttings from the yards of friends and neighbors, Floriography began selling flower bouquets at small farmer’s markets and through weekly seasonal subscriptions to businesses in El Paso, TX and Las Cruces, NM. Customers and subscribers loved Emily’s (Floriography’s founder) designs so much that wedding inquiries started rolling in.  

What started out as a dream to make local flowers accessible to our little community has since blossomed into a thriving event design business that reaches across state lines.

Floriography’s designs and farm flowers have been internationally published in wedding and style bogs and in print via Martha Stewart Weddings and Rocky Mountain Bride. Our team travels across the country designing for high-end weddings and events. We are based in Albuquerque, New Mexico but seriously delight in travel!  

Coming up, By the time you hear this, I’ll be heading to the east coast where you can find me first at the October 7th Slow Flowers Connecticut Meet-up hosted by Michael Russo of Trout Lily Farm in Guilford. There’s still time to join us, so check out debraprinzing.com in the Events calendar for details — or find them in today’s show notes.

I’m continuing on immediately after my time in New England to Holly and Evan Chapple’s Hope Flower Farm in Waterford, Virginia,  where I’ll be a guest at the Field to Vase Dinner they’re hosting on Sunday, and then I’ll join Holly and several amazing instructors at the second FLOWERSTOCK, taking place Monday, October 9th and Tuesday, October 10th. I can’t wait to lead a series of creative writing exercises for the participants — and it’s not too late to register.

Holly is offering a special $200 discount for the Slow Flowers community. Use this promocode for a discount off of the one-day or two-day registration: FSSLOWFLOWER. This discount can also be used for Flowerstock’s “#treattheteam” offer to buy 2 tickets get the 3rd for free. Get in touch with me or write flowers@hollychappleflowers.com to request the promo code for the free ticket if you bring a third member of your staff or team.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 239,000 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 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 americangrownflowers.org.

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

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 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.
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 syndicatesales.com.

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 johnnysseeds.com.

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

(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 KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music Credits:
Betty Dear; On Our Own Again
by Blue Dot Sessions
Additional music from:

audionautix.com







Related posts

Floriography’s Emily Calhoun grows and designs with local flowers in New Mexico (Episode 176)

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Emily Calhoun of Floriography, lover of the Southwest and grower of flowers.

Emily Calhoun of Floriography, lover of the Southwest and grower of flowers.

Last week’s featured guest was Fran Sorin, gardening and creativity expert, and author of the just-released 10th Anniversary edition of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening.

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of "Digging Deep." Read on to find out how you  can enter to win!

“Digging Deep,” by Fran Sorin

Fran graciously contributed a copy of her book for me to give away to our listeners. The lucky recipient from our drawing is Wendy Gorton. In her comment on my web site, Wendy shared her earliest memory of flowers or nature – and I know that when Fran hears this, it will bring a huge smile to her face. Wendy wrote:

I’m adopted and lucky enough to have had an adoptive mother who loved working in the garden. She would take me out with her at a very early age, where we would plant vegetables and flowers and make mud puddles. This time with my mother was such a gift and taught me how to reconnect to what is important in life. A beautiful story in relation to this…my mother told me that one time, after one of our sessions in the garden where we both came in just covered in mud, the social worker stopped by, as was the case with adoptions. My mother was mortified and tried to explain why we were covered filthy. The social worker just smiled and said, “no worries; it looks like this little one is having a healthy childhood.” 

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment and I hope you come back to win something in one of our future drawings!

The gorgeous floral designs of Emily Calhoun, Floriography NM. This is the project that reminds me of Frida Kahlo!

The gorgeous floral designs of Emily Calhoun, Floriography NM. This is the project that reminds me of Frida Kahlo!

Bringing local flowers to the weddings and celebrations of New Mexico.

Bringing local flowers to the weddings and celebrations of New Mexico.

I’m super excited to introduce you to today’s guest, Emily Calhoun. A farmer-florist who owns Floriography, Emily has established her growing fields and design studios in two locations — Albuquerque and Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Albuquerque is in the center of the state and Las Cruces is in that little niche near El Paso, Texas where New Mexico, Texas and Mexico come together. We’re talking 235 miles apart!

Floriography blossomed in 2012 when Emily saw the need, even a thirst, for responsibly grown flowers and a fresh, new design aesthetic that was modern, yet steeped in tradition (just like her!).

She proudly produces and utilizes stunning heirloom flower varieties alongside all-time favorites like sunflowers and tulips.

Check out the arrows that indicate Albuquerque in the north/central part of the state - and Las Cruces in south/central.

Check out the arrows that indicate Albuquerque in the north/central part of the state – and Las Cruces in south/central.

Floriography’s business model is unique in that Emily collaborates with other growers, landscapers, and home owners to harvest many local and native plants, cacti, and foliage, bringing a special touch from New Mexico’s beautiful landscape through her floral designs to table, event, or special occasion.

Sourcing botanicals locally eliminates many of the extra costs associated with the floral industry, thus making it affordable to enjoy the benefits of fresh flowers.

Floriography is the expression of Emily’s pleasure and skill in providing beautiful, unique, natural, and innovative floral design while honoring her agricultural heritage through sustainable best growing practices.

The name Floriography (while it is indeed a mouthful!) reinforces Emily’s belief that flowers carry profound meaning for the thoughtful giver and the lucky recipient.

Backlighting lends a Southwest glow to this Floriography bouquet.

Backlighting lends a Southwest glow to this Floriography bouquet.

Floriography, defined as the language and the art of communicating through flowers, gained popularity in the days of Victorian England. This interest in the language of flowers had roots in Ottoman Turkey, when during the first half of the 18th century the court in Constantinople became obsessed with tulips .

Floriography is founded on this powerful and romantic notion that flowers are such wonderful communicators.

“Our mission is to help our clients express their fondest thoughts, hopes, and feelings through our flowers and design,” she says. “I believe in flowers…”

Emily continues, and this is excerpted from the Floriography web site:

Such a sense of place here. The flowers are as vivid as the architecture, the sun and the sky.

Such a sense of place here. The flowers are as vivid as the architecture, the sun and the sky.

“I am constantly in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds us in the Rio Grande valley.

I love walking through the farm land and down the drainage ditches collecting pods, grasses, and other unique vegetation. 

After living around the country, working in Latin America and Europe as a travel guide and cook, and traveling through several Asian countries, I always knew I’d return to my agricultural roots in southern New Mexico and West Texas to join my family’s farming business.

“Upon returning to New Mexico after one of my adventures, I threw a big dinner party and was  shocked to discover that while we live in a beautiful and productive valley, the closest source for buying “farm fresh” cut flowers was more than 500 miles away.

As an avid dinner party and entertaining enthusiast, I was sad and discouraged that the flowers for my events had to be sourced from such a distance (even South America), and may not have been grown in a way respectful to the environment or the workers.

So, I decided it was time that our beautiful valley should add specialty cut flowers to its agricultural repertoire. Thus began Floriography.”

Full of character and style ~ a Floriography bouquet.

Full of character and style ~ a  New Mexico-grown Floriography bouquet.

“We believe in honoring our environment and agricultural heritage in a way that delights the senses.” is one that resonates with me – and I know it will with you.”

On a sunny, but chilly morning last November, I got to play in the garden with Emily Calhoun of Floriography.

On a sunny, but chilly morning last November, I got to play in the garden with Emily Calhoun of Floriography.

I recorded this podcast in mid November when I was able to visit Emily while traveling through Albuquerque for a day. We had a lovely interlude on her homestead that included playing with all sorts of gorgeous ingredients gleaned from the farm in Las Cruces as well as from the growing fields on her land outside Albuquerque. Here are the November bouquets we designed. I think they’re simply sublime:

Quintessentially local - A gorgeous arrangement, foraged and harvested from only New Mexico-grown ingredients. Design: Emily Calhoun

Quintessentially local – A gorgeous arrangement, foraged and harvested from only New Mexico-grown ingredients. Design: Emily Calhoun

Here's my interpretation of the Floriography style.

Here’s my interpretation of the Floriography style.

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I want to conclude today’s podcast by sharing the very sad news that the Slow Flowers community lost a lovely and wise flower farmer on December 25th. Peg Moran, owner of Friends in the Country, a flower farm in Pawtucket, Connecticut, was Stonington Farmer’s Market’s flower vendor for 17 years, since the market began in 1997.

Peg Moran, Connecticut flower farmer and author of "An Acre Plus: Invitation to A Growing Life"

Peg Moran, Connecticut flower farmer and author of “An Acre Plus: Invitation to A Growing Life”

Here is what the Stonington Farmer’s Market shared on their Facebook Page:

During the growing season, she supplied the Market with a wide range of flowers, from common favorites to unique wonders that she grew on an acre of land she cultivated in Pawtucket. It was always a banner day at the Market when Peg returned for the season wearing her signature straw hat, the back of her car filled with buckets of beautiful flowers.

Her book, An Acre Plus, An Invitation to a Growing Life, describes her journey to becoming an experienced flower grower and building her business, Friends in the Country. She used sustainable farming techniques to raise cut flowers for weddings, parties and local farmers markets. She brought on teen garden apprentices from Stonington High School to learn agricultural techniques and help in her business. She grew annuals in long raised beds and fifty varieties of perennials in terraced beds that curve around her farmhouse on Mary Hall Road. Recently, responding to growing demand, she modified her business model and began growing bulbs for the holiday and early spring seasons, working with other local growers to extend and broaden her seasonal offerings.

Peg was a fervent entrepreneur, and she shared that passion with others, developing entrepreneurship courses and teaching at the University of California as well as far-flung schools in Estonia and Russia. She developed curriculum and taught peer-based programs for microloan lending agencies in Boston, Massachusetts, Willimantic and New London, Connecticut.

She was devoted to sustainable, local and small-scale agriculture. She spearheaded CLUC*K (Chicken Lovers Urge Change), the organization that promoted back-yard chicken farming and successfully worked to change planning and zoning regulations to permit such farming in Stonington.

Peg—author, entrepreneur, farmer and agricultural advocate—lived a busy, engaged life. She was a mother, grandmother and mentor to many. She worked hard, crusaded for causes in which she believed, and supported herself through her lively intellect and avid interests. She will be remembered as “the flower woman” to her customers and “quite a woman” to her friends.

I only met Peg recently – this past November at a Slow Flowers farmer/florist gathering at Robin Hollow Farm in Rhode Island.  It was such a lovely evening and I’m so grateful Peg drove nearly an hour to join us.  I came home to Seattle immediately and ordered An Acre Plus, Peg’s memoir that she self-published in 2009.

After reading every word I sent Peg a note only a few weeks ago telling her how much I adored her book. I didn’t hear back from her and she died six days later. But hope she read my note and that it made her smile.

My condolences to Peg’s family and her vibrant farming community. If you want to be moved by her beautiful language and honest insights about making a living as a flower farmer, I urge you to get a copy of An Acre Plus. I had hoped to have Peg on this podcast as a guest in 2015. Now, sadly, you’ll have to listen to her voice through the pages of her book.

30k Thanks for joining me today.  My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time.  Listeners like you are downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast more than ever before! We reached 30,000 downloads this week. So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts.

This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, 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 thanks to our new sponsor, the California Cut Flower Commission, committed to making a difference as an advocate for American Grown Flowers. Learn more at ccfc.org.

Music credits (Creative Commons License)
Marcus Eads – Johnson Slough
Marcus Eads – Canoe Launch







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SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: A Conversation with Flower Farmer Robert Kitayama (Episode 144)

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Before introducing you to this week’s guest, I must share with you a heartwarming letter I received recently from Emily Calhoun, a farmer-florist who owns Floriography in Corrales, New Mexico. She gave me permission to read her letter to you:  

Here's a glimpse of Emily (right) and the New Mexico floral landscape (left)

Here’s a charming glimpse of Emily (right) and the New Mexico floral landscape (left)

Hi Debra, I wanted to let you know what a HUGE difference your podcast has made in my life and my businesses.  

In January we expanded our farming and design operation to the Albuquerque-Santa Fe area. This means I am traveling that long, lonely (300 mile) desert corridor between the northern and southern part of New Mexico. This drive can be draining and depressing, especially after working huge hours at either location.

Each trip I plug in my phone, queue up the SlowFlowers podcast and get lost in your interviews. The drive disappears and I find myself at my destination refreshed, inspired and motivated to forge ahead – -spreading the good word of local flowers to our clients and educating the state about its potential as a producer.  

In fact, last month I mentioned your books, podcast and phenomenal website in my presentations at the NM Agrifuture conference.  I was presenting on creating successful agricultural businesses in small and urban areas. Naturally, I pushed flowers. Having your resources really helped add legitimacy to what we were doing and showed that this whole flower thing for real! As a result I have been able to recruit farmers, young and old, to grow for us (a la Ellen Frost’s model). WE even piqued the interest of the NM Secretary of Agriculture! 

Right now we are the only commercial cut flower farm in the state and are working diligently on growing that number! Hopefully soon we will be covering the state and the region with locally grown flowers. 

From the bottom of my flower pickin’ heart, Thank you! Emily

Okay, pretty amazing, right? Thank you, Emily – your voice and vision will now be heard by everyone listening to this podcast and I encourage them to check out your great web site, Floriographynm.com, to see what she’s up to in promoting the Slow Flowers Movement on her corner of the planet. Send her a little floral note so she knows we applaud her tenacity in changing New Mexico’s relationship with their flowers — we’re rooting for your success, Emily.  

Janice Wills Curtis of the California Cut Flower Commission snapped this photo as I interviewed Robert Kitayama at Sunset.

Janice Wills Curtis of the California Cut Flower Commission snapped this photo as I interviewed Robert Kitayama at Sunset.

Next, my interview this week comes to you from the Garden Stage at Sunset magazine’s Celebration Weekend at the Sunset HQ in Menlo Park, CA.

I spoke twice this past weekend, sharing the Slow Flowers’ eco-conscious floral design approach – and I combined my exhibit with my friends at the California Cut Flower Commission.

We gave away thousands of lily bulbs for people to take home and plant in their own gardens and took photos of thousands of people who wanted to stand in front of a flower field.

 

Here's our photo in the CCFC-Slow Flowers booth at  Sunset's Celebration Weekend.

Here’s our photo in the CCFC-Slow Flowers booth at Sunset’s Celebration Weekend. (c) CCFC

Those photos were posted all over social media, getting the word out about supporting local flowers. It was a blast! 

I also persuaded Robert Kitayama of Kitayama Brothers Farms in Watsonville, Calif., to sit down with me for an interview. You will be fascinated to hear his family’s story as it spans the generations, several areas in the west and numerous changes in flower crops – as this company has continued to evolve with the times.

A sea of colorful gerberas in the Kitayama Brothers' greenhouses.

A sea of colorful gerberas in the Kitayama Brothers’ greenhouses. (c) Linda Blue, CCFC

Kitayama Brothers has been growing and shipping beautiful cut flowers from Northern California since 1948. Located on majestic Monterey Bay, the company’s greenhouses in Watsonville enjoy perfect flower growing conditions.

The Monterey Bay’s cool evenings along with sunny days create an ideal environment for growing more than 20 different flowers and cut greens. Today, the farm’s top crops oriental and Asiatic lilies, lisianthus, gerbera daisies, snapdragons, mini callas, iris, gardenias and stephanotis, making their product selection a top choice for wedding and event professionals from around the country.

 

Robert Kitayama (left) and his brother Stuart Kitayama (right), pose with their mother at the 2013 Monterey Bay "Field to Vase" dinner.

Robert Kitayama (left) and his brother Stuart Kitayama (right), pose with their mother at the 2013 Monterey Bay “Field to Vase” dinner. (c) Linda Blue, CCFC

I have gotten to know Robert and his family’s floral enterprise in the past few years, including spending a weekend at the farm in Watsonville last year where I arranged centerpieces for the field-to-vase dinner held inside one of Kitayama’s greenhouses the night before the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Tour.

This year’s tour is coming up on June 21st and you can get more details here. And check out Kitayama Brothers’ free gerbera plant promotion here.

 

One of those luscious, lavish gardenias . . . so awesome!

One of those luscious, lavish gardenias . . . so awesome! (c) Linda Blue, CCFC

Thank you for joining today’s conversation with Robert Kitayama, just one of the many passionate flower farmers I encounter on my journeys through the fields and greenhouses where beautiful, fresh and local flowers are produced.

Please join me next week for another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Thanks to listeners like you, this podcast has been downloaded more than 12,500 times.

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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