Debra Prinzing

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Episode 278: Slow Flowers’ 2017 Floral Insights & Industry Forecast

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Happy New Year and Welcome to the third annual Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights and Industry Forecast.

Unlike most TREND reports, this compilation tracks changing shifts, emerging ideas and new concepts that are taking hold in the American floral world.  Think of it as your Next, New and Now Report. These topics are gleaned from my conversations and interviews that took place with many of you during 2016– Slow Flowers members, including farmers, florists and creatives.  I know some of you have already experienced these emerging developments and your influence has inspired this list.

If you would like a copy of this report, please click here: 2017-floral-insights [PDF download]

I look forward to your reaction, thoughts, and input on the Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights and Industry Forecast, including the ideas and themes I may have overlooked! I invite you to share yours in the comment section below.

Let’s get started:

. In the midst of global floriculture, with trade in cut flowers estimated at more than $100 billion per year, $13 billion of which takes place in the U.S., we’ve been seduced by the notion that the world is our oyster (or flower field).

Mellano & Co. is a Certified American Grown flower farm.

Mellano & Co. is a Certified American Grown flower farm.

In many markets around the country, the wholesale florist is the only commercial cut flowers and foliage source for floral designers, flower shops and studios to purchase product.Yet after branding themselves as the only way to access a world of floral options, some wholesale florists are returning to their roots, at least in part. They are proactively sourcing from American flower farms large and small to stock their coolers and shelves. And beyond this step, many are also using signage and labeling to inform buyers of the origin of that product.

I believe the explosion of farmer-florists and the growth of small-scale floral agriculture in markets across North America has occurred in part because of frustration with the lack of or limited local sourcing by conventional wholesalers. Let me say that again: Farmer-Florists and small-scale floral agriculture have stepped into the gaping void created when wholesalers turned their backs on local flower farmers. And now they’re waking up to the missed opportunity.

The success of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, well-documented by me and on this podcast over the past several years, as well as the continued growth of the farmer-owned Oregon Flower Growers Association market in Portland underscore that demand for local flowers is already in place.

Now we are witnessing a shift among some conventional wholesalers to align their brand with American Grown and Locally-grown flowers. Mayesh Wholesale Florist is the most active in this arena, with active support for, American Flowers Week, Lisa Waud’s Flower House Detroit, and other sponsorships.

When Mayesh opened its renovated Portland, Oregon, branch in early November, the company asked me to make a design presentation. The team there was very supportive of my request for all locally-grown product — hat’s off to Mayesh and I certainly expect that their success at the cash register will motivate other conventional wholesale florists to get onboard.

I’ve previously singled out Santa Barbara-based Florabundance, led by Joost Bongaerts, for making the effort to label all California-grown floral and foliage offerings on his online wholesale site. It is an effective tool — one I hope others will emulate. It is certainly a step that demonstrates excellent customer service and an awareness that Florabundance shoppers want to know the origin of the flowers they purchase.

This past fall, I surveyed members for their take on a number of topics and trends. When I asked, “If you shop with Conventional Florists, are you finding more American grown and locally-grown product than in the past?” 70 percent of respondents said yes.

Here are a few of the specific comments to elaborate:

  • I request American grown from my Rep, and I think there are more boutique, seasonal items that are coming from smaller farmers
  • I have been asking my conventional wholesalers to bring in more American grown product and I think it is helping. The “American Grown” branding really helps us to know that is happening.
  • It’s definitely taking place and some people at the conventional wholesalers are proud to share that their products are American grown.

This last comment reflects that the industry still has far to go. One member noted:

  • It’s a toss up. They say they want to add more but I’m not sure if they are working really hard at. And they don’t do a very good job at advertising what is local and what is not. My Rep knows that I want American grown but still have to ask every time

. This insight is closely connected with item number one.

In general, the conventional wholesale model is changing, as traditional channels of floral distribution are disrupted. I predict that more flower farms will seek and establish new ways to bypass the conventional wholesale pipeline and market direct to florists and consumers. This is a hot topic and certainly one that’s hard to find anyone willing to go on record to discuss.
Our Slow Flowers survey revealed numerous sales channels among flower farmers. Granted, the majority of Slow Flowers farm-members are small-scale producers, but I believe they are the ones modeling how diversification and direct-to-florist commerce can succeed. When asked about their distribution channels, our respondents cited the following top three outlets:

  • Seventy percent are growing flowers for their own weddings and event clients;
  • This is followed closely by farms selling direct to other florists and wedding designers, at around 67 percent
  • With 53 percent of flower farms reporting they sell to local flower shops
    After this top tier, the percentages drop down to one third of respondents who sell flowers via farmers’ markets and CSA subscribers (basically consumer-direct) and about one-quarter who sell to local wholesalers and grocery/supermarket buyers.There is another farm-direct model, and here’s where I think the disruption is most revealing. A number of large farms are experimenting with direct-to-florist and direct-to-consumer models.

There is another farm-direct model and here’s where I think the disruption is most revealing. A number of large farms are experimenting with direct-to-florist and direct-to-consumer models. A few successful single-crop models have been in place, such as Danielle Hahn’s Rose Story Farm, which in the past few years has shifted almost completely away from selling through wholesalers to florist-direct fulfillment, and many of the Alaska peony growers who sell direct to florists and consumers.

Now, diversified, large-scale growers are beginning to spin off consumer-focused web shops, such as Sun Valley’s Stargazer Barn or Resendiz Brothers’ Protea Store. In the scheme of things, these new ventures are moving only a small fraction of their parent farms’ floral inventory.

But I predict that as large farms bend to demand for farm-direct sourcing of flowers (by consumers and florists alike), the path from field to bouquet will speed up and perhaps take fewer detours through brokers and wholesalers. That means fresher, more seasonal and better value for all floral customers.


Episode 271: The flowering of Philadelphia with designer Dan Fingerhut of Floradelphia

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
Flutter Magazine's portrait of Dan Fingerhut, shared here with permission.

Flutter Magazine’s portrait of Dan Fingerhut, shared here with permission.

I’ve had Dan Fingerhut of Philadelphia on my radar for a few years and now that my youngest son is a college student in Philly, I added Dan to my wish list of people to connect with during a mom-visit. Lucky for me, that occurred in September.

Between shopping visits to Target and Ikea for apartment supplies, I snuck away from the campus scene to spend a morning with this inventive floral designer.

Dan Fingerhut is the creator of a busy little floral studio called Floradelphia. Every bouquet he creates dazzles the senses with scent and soul. As you will hear in our conversation, recorded at his postage stamp of a studio that he sublets from a hip art gallery just outside the Center City district, Dan got his start in flowers by wandering Philadelphia’s farmers markets. He was able to source gorgeous flowers but found it challenging to find foliage he liked, so he improvised with scented herbs and became hooked.

As a child, Dan could be found in bright sneakers and a paper crown, smelling the flowers, and imagining everyone living joyfully in a more flowered world.

Floradelphia, the name says it all. Flowers for Philadelphia!

Floradelphia, the name says it all. Flowers for Philadelphia!

Dan poses with a dahlia at the peak of season.

Dan poses with a dahlia at the peak of season.

One of the larger bouquets designed by Dan for local delivery. The vase is locally made by potter Brian Giniewski, whose work Dan promotes and sells.

One of the larger bouquets designed by Dan for local delivery. The vase is locally made by potter Brian Giniewski, whose work Dan promotes and sells.

Today that’s what he’s driven to create for all of his clients. Floradelphia is for everyone who loves fragrance and color; wants a fresh, organic and happy aesthetic; desires local and seasonal ingredients; and values thoughtful, personal service. The studio also teaches floral design and takes a limited number of weddings and events each year, booking up quickly.

A lovely, seasonal Floradelphia centerpiece

A lovely, seasonal Floradelphia centerpiece

According to Dan, Floradelphia is the first in Philadelphia to offer online delivery of local flowers. His flowers, herbs and vase arrangements provide an energizing, joyful, and fully sensory experience for the aesthetically oriented and eco-minded Philadelphia customer, including flower lovers, gardeners, nature enthusiasts, foodies, chefs, design lovers, aromatherapy and fragrance connoisseurs, and everyone who seeks wonderful flowers.

I snapped these photos in September when I spent a morning with Dan Fingerhut and followed him to one of the urban farms that supply his bouquets.

I snapped these photos in September when I spent a morning with Dan Fingerhut and followed him to one of the urban farms that supplies his bouquets.

Dan often gathers his arrangements in a locally-made vessel by potter Brian Giniewski. The artist’s Drip Pots are handmade in Philadelphia. The glossy glazes contrast with the grainy, matte finish of each vessel’s body. The glaze has been developed to melt in a particular way so that the drips can be ‘frozen’ at the perfect time during the firing process.

Floradelphia bouquet, by Dan Fingerhut

Floradelphia bouquet, by Dan Fingerhut

Flowers, herbs, and succulents are sourced locally, grown sustainably, and change with the seasons. Martha Stewart Living named Floradelphia one of the top floral designers to book for your wedding, BuzzFeed called its arrangement “basically works of art”, and Design Sponge recommended Floradelphia as a florist to follow on Instagram.

Ready for delivery!

Ready for delivery!

A whimsical arrangement featuring Brian Giniewski pottery and local ornamental cabbage.

A whimsical arrangement featuring Brian Giniewski pottery and local ornamental cabbage.

Thanks for joining today’s conversation! Be sure to view our show notes to meet Dan Fingerhut, see photos of his work, and follow along at his social places.

Floradelphia on Facebook

Floradelphia on Instgram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 130,500 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.

sponsor-bar_sept_2016Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2016: 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

More sponsor thanks goes to 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

A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens… providing 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

A fond thank you 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

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

PodcastLogoI’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 and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at