Debra Prinzing

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SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: News from Texas’s Flower Farmers (Episode 130)

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Welcome back to the Slow Flowers Podcast with Debra Prinzing.

To start off this week’s episode, I have a personal announcement to make. Last week, on February 19th, I concluded a 45-day funding campaign to generate financial contributions for my new project.

With just 32 hours left of the campaign, we'd already reached $18,000!

With just 32 hours left of the campaign, we’d already reached $18,000!

For listeners unfamiliar with it, will be a free online directory to florists, studios, designers and farmers who supply American-grown flowers to the consumer. Thanks to the fantastic crowd-sourcing site Indiegogo, which was the perfect environment to share my passion, more than 220 “believers” contributed $18,450 to fund the launch. I owe a special thanks to the California Cut Flower Commission (Premiere Sponsor), the San Franciso Flower Mart (Presenting Sponsor) and Mellano & Co. (Presenting Sponsor), for their major support! 

In the next several weeks, we’ll be finishing up the necessary database and web development, populating the site with details about member florists, designers and farms, and planning the pre-Mother’s Day marketing & promotions launch. Stay tuned for more details!

An interviewer recently asked me: “What do you hope to accomplish with this site?”

My answer? “That every time someone wants to give or send or purchase flowers, they stop and ask: Can I buy American Grown? And the site will help them navigate that search.” 

The Arnoskys have always labeled their flowers to promote their Texas origins.

The Arnoskys have always labeled their flowers to promote their Texas origins.

Now, let’s talk about Texas. I have three guests today and you’ll love their larger-than-life personalities.

First, please meet Frank and Pamela Arnosky of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers.

Frank is the new board president of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, but these two are longtime leaders in the organization. Both Pamela and Frank have served in ASCFG board positions in the past.

I first learned about them in Lynn Byczynski’s wonderul reference book The Flower Farmer, originally published in 1997 and reissued with new bonus content in 2008.  Lynn profiled the Arnosky family’s beginnings as growers of bedding plants and poinsettias in Blanco, Texas, before they added cut flowers in the early 1990s.

The flowers were intended for a farmers’ market that never materialized, so Pam and Frank filled their truck with blooms; drove it to Austin and started knocking on the doors of flower retailers. “People were falling all over when they saw the stuff,” Frank said in the interview with Lynn. “That took us by surprise; we really hadn’t known what to expect.”

Pamela and Frank Arnosky of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers.

Pamela and Frank Arnosky of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers.

Here we are, nearly 25 years later, and the Arnoskys are still viewed by many in the specialty cut flower world as the model family farm. You will enjoy hearing from them both in our conversation today, which touches on how to manage so many acres with little or no additional labor – and how to plan for the future by diversifying. 

Here is a link to their book, Local Color: Growing Specialty Cut Flowers. It’s a compilation of 10 years of their columns for Growing for Market, a periodical published by Lynn Byczynski. 

Pam and Frank will be featured speakers at the upcoming Cut Flower Growers’ School, hosted by the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers in Ft. Worth, Texas, on March 3-4, 2014.

Rita Anders of Cuts of Color, in Weimar, Texas.

Rita Anders of Cuts of Color, in Weimar, Texas.

Rita Anders of Cuts of Color in Weimar, Texas, is another fabulous Texas flower farmer who will be presenting at the upcoming Growers’ School.

In January 2013, I visited Rita and spent a wonderful day at her farm – which is located halfway between Austin and Houston. Later, I wrote a story about that visit, which you can read here on Cuts of Color’s web site.

When I was in Austin, Rita joined me in the studio of Central Texas Gardener, a wonderful, long-running show on KLRU, the Austin PBS station.

Producer Linda Lehmusvirta and host Tom Spencer couldn’t have been more welcoming – and our TV segment on locally grown flowers appeared last summer, after the filming crew visited and shot footage at Cuts of Color’s fields and greenhouses.

Rita is the regional VP for ASCFG and is planning next week’s Growers’ School along with cohorts Cynthia Alexander of The Quarry Flower Farm (Frisco, Texas) and Paula Rice of BeeHaven Farm (Bonners Ferry, Idaho).

After I chatted with Frank and Pam Arnosky, I tracked down Rita for more details about the Growers’ School, just in case I could entice any listeners to attend at the last minute. From our conversation, it sounds like walk-ins and last minute registrants are welcome. So consider participating!

In addition to the Arnoskys and Rita Anders, you can hear past Slow Flowers Podcast interviews with several other speakers, including Cynthia Alexander and Gretel and Steve Adams. Anyone who has yet to appear on this show is slated for a future episode — I promise!

texasimageThe Growers’ School promises to be a fantastic educational experience where flower farmers both new and established will hear from some very gifted folks. Here is the schedule and topics:

Monday, March 3

Marketing Session One

1:00 p.m. 
Selling to Florists
Cynthia Alexander, Quarry Flower Farm, Celina, Texas
Cynthia will explain her process of preparing flowers for her florist route, and how to best develop relationships with, and sell to florists.
Floral demonstration: flowers bunched for florist delivery.

1:30 p.m. 
Selling at Farmers’ Markets
Rita Anders, Cuts of Color, Weimar, Texas
Stand out at your farmers’ market! Increase sales with tips from a longtime grower.
Floral demonstration: farmers’ market wrapped bouquet.

2:00 p.m. 
Selling to Supermarkets
Pamela Arnosky, Texas Specialty Cut Flowers, Blanco, Texas
Learn how to streamline your bouquet-making process while increasing productivity.
Floral demonstration: sleeved bouquets for supermarket sales.

2:30 p.m.
Workshop One
Create your own wrapped or sleeved bouquet for farmers’ market or grocery outlet.   
Experienced grower/designers will provide personal assistance.

Marketing Session Two

3:00 p.m.
Increase Your Bottom Line with Top Wedding Sales
Rita Anders, Cuts of Color, Weimar, Texas
Rita will share her methods of contacting and engaging brides.
Floral demonstration: hand-tied wedding bouquet.

3:30 p.m. 
Tapping into Wedding Sales
Gretel Adams, Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, Columbus, Ohio
Sunny Meadows’ wedding business has grown exponentially in the last few years. 
How does this fit into the rest of their farm business?
Floral demonstration: hand-tied wedding bouquet.

4:00 p.m. 
Workshop Two
Reassemble your original bouquet into a hand-tied bridal bouquet. 
Experienced grower/designers will provide personal assistance.

4:30 p.m. 
6:30 p.m. 
Join the speakers and other attendees for dinner at Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant, a Fort Worth tradition since 1935. 
Not included in registration.

Tuesday, March 4 

8:00 a.m. 

Office to Field Business Planning and Record Keeping    
Paula Rice, Beehaven Flower Farm, Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Plan for an organized and smooth growing year with useful record-keeping strategies. Learn to set up an efficient flower grower’s office using QuickBooks to create charts of accounts. Use Paula’s groundworks to plan seeding and field planting schedules, while keeping track of basic cost accounting.

9:00 a.m. 
What to Grow and Why       
Steve and Gretel Adams, Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, Columbus, Ohio
How do you choose which perennials to grow? Which annual varieties are the best producers? Steve and Gretel grow a wide variety of both, as well as woodies and bulbs, and will explain their selection process.

10:15 a.m. 

10:30 a.m.
Seeds or Plugs? Both?       
Frank Arnosky, Texas Specialty Cut Flowers, Blanco
Frank will cover all factors of growing cut flowers, including variety selection, seed types, germination  for plugs, and environmental controls. He’ll discuss tricks of the trade, as well as what to grow yourself and what to buy in as plugs.

11:30 a.m. 
Lunch (included with registration)

12:30 a.m. 
Making the Most of Every Square Foot on a Small Farm  
Lisa Ziegler, Gardener’s Workshop Farm, Newport News, Virginia
Make the most of the high-demand season by providing your buyers a steady stream of flowers. Even better, learn how to get it all done by 5:00 by using the best practices and equipment.

1:30 p.m. 
Harvest and Postharvest     
Pamela Arnosky
Pamela will cover all the steps of handling cut flowers, beginning in the field and going through to the final customer. Topics will include harvest practices, preservatives and hydrators, coolers and storage, packing, shipping and extending vase life for the customer. She’ll show you the tools, sleeves, and equipment she uses, and provide sources for materials.

2:30 p.m. 
Creating and Finding Markets for Your Flowers
Steve and Gretel Adams, Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, Columbus, Ohio 
Are you crazy to offer wedding flowers? What’s the best way to approach local florists? Are flower subscriptions profitable? Learn from these dynamic growers what to do – and what not to do.

3:00 p.m. 
Breaking into Business: Getting Florists and Supermarkets on Board  
Lisa Ziegler, Gardener’s Workshop Farm, Newport News, Virginia
You may not be too small! Lisa gave up her farmers’ markets to turn her attention to florists and supermarkets. Learn how to build your business to get those dreamy orders and keep happy customers.

3:30 p.m. 
3:45 p.m. 
Season Extension       
Mimo Davis, Urban Buds, St. Louis, Missouri   
Don’t limit your production to a “typical” growing season! Hoophouses, tunnels, and succession planting can stretch your cut flower offerings on both ends of the season.

4:30 p.m. 

It has been my pleasure to share with you today’s podcast conversations. 

Because of the support from you and others, listeners have downloaded episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 7,000 times! I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts.

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. Learn more about her work at  


California Flower Farmers Share the Love With

Friday, February 14th, 2014

California Cut Flower Commission named Premiere Sponsor of Debra Prinzing’s SLOWFLOWERS.COM, a new online American flower directory


SEATTLE, WA (February 14, 2014) – This Valentine’s Day, California’s flower farmers are showing their love by making the largest contribution to date to the campaign on Indiegogo. The California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC), representing all of California’s flower farmers, became’s Premiere Sponsor with their $1,500 contribution. Designed to connect flower lovers to local floral retailers that support and sell locally-grown flowers, the campaign has surpassed its goal to raise $12,000 and now has more than 200 “funders” contributing in excess of $17,000 to the cause.

“I’m very encouraged to have such support from the flower farmers of California,” shared Debra Prinzing, the Seattle-based author of Slow Flowers (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013) and leading advocate of American flower farming. “With imports representing over 80 percent of flowers sold in this country, the mission of is to help people who care about the source of their flowers easily find and identify ways to buy American-grown flowers.”

Scheduled to launch this spring, will feature easy-to-use search tools to find floral vendors in several categories, including florists, studio designers, wedding/event designers, supermarket floral departments, CSA subscriptions and farmer-direct. Members of pledge to supply their communities with local, regional and American-grown flowers.

“Debra is making a difference and creating a conversation that we support,” explained CCFC CEO/Ambassador Kasey Cronquist. “Currently, there is no other resource like that makes it easy for flower lovers to be assured of the origins of their flowers and bouquets.”

Prinzing created to fill an unmet need that she had as a consumer and lover of flowers. “ is a simple solution to a problem I have continued to face over the past several years,” she said. “While writing and speaking to groups about my passion for American flower farmers and their flowers, I am continually asked how the average person is supposed to know where to buy American Grown flowers and how they can be assured that what they are getting is locally grown. I created to be my answer, a free, public and user-friendly resource that can help others, too.”

Prinzing’s grassroots Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign continues, with five days remaining for additional support for her efforts. Visit the Indiegogo campaign to watch a video and for more information about the project.


About the California Cut Flower Commission 

The California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) was created by the state legislature in 1990 with the mission to promote California cut flowers and foliage. The CCFC is overseen by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and is funded by grower assessments. The Commission represents the state’s 250 growers who collectively produce more than 75 percent of the cut flowers grown in the U.S., generating $278 million in sales (2011). For more information about California cut flowers, visit or on Facebook/CaliforniaGrownFlowers. 

About Debra Prinzing

Founder Debra Prinzing is a Seattle-based outdoor-living expert who writes and lectures on gardens and home design. She is the leading advocate for a sustainable and local approach to floral design and is credited with creating the term “Slow Flowers.”

In 2014 Debra launched, a free online guide to florists, shops and studios who design with American-grown flowers. She is the author of seven books including Slow Flowers and The 50 Mile Bouquet (both by St. Lynn’s Press) and is the producer/host of the weekly “Slow Flowers Podcast with Debra Prinzing,” found on Itunes and – Exciting updates from the Indiegogo campaign

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

I’m watching and excitedly dancing in my seat from Austin, Texas as you and the other pioneers of sustainable floriculture change the face of the industry! Brava!!

Can’t wait for the directory project to come to fruition- my tiny donation did’t break the goal mark, but every little bit counts. Thanks from EcoChic Floral.

– Natasha Madison, EcoChic Floral, Austin, TX

Above is just one of the many supportive messages I’ve received in the past three weeks since launching the Indiegogo campaign to help me complete the launch of the site. 

So fun to see this project on the big screen at last night's Indiegogo Seattle Event!

So fun to see this project on the big screen at last night’s Indiegogo Seattle Event!

It has been so gratifying to run my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, the amazing resource that has such an inspiring tagline: “Fund what Matters to You.” Truly, if you are planning on taking this path to help raise funds for your own passion and dreams, this is the company to work with. They’re amazing!

SO many people – friends, family, fellow advocates in the Renaissance of the American Grown Flower Farm – and more, have contributed funds large and small.

Even more people loyally promote this project on their own social networks, like my Facebook friend Annie Haven of Authentic Haven Brand Natural Brew who constantly gives me a thumb’s up or an encouraging comment or re-post. It means so much.

Or my number-one supporter Kasey Cronquist, CEO of the California Cut Flower Commission, who has been picking up the telephone to call and encourage someone else to get involved.

Or, like my friend Susan Appleget Hurst, some are sending an email to an entire networks of people, encouraging them to view flowers as part of agriculture. Thanks so much to you all! 

Here are some stats:

Funding goal: $12,000 (by February 19th)

Funds contributed to date: $10,050 – that’s 84% of the goal!

Number of people who’ve contributed: 145

Number of states represented: 29

Number of countries represented: 3 (U.S., Russia and the Netherlands)

There is one opinion that occasionally bubbles up in our industry that the idea of supporting local and seasonal flowers is “something that happens on both coasts” and that it is nonexistant in the central part of our country.

Let’s debunk that misperception right now. The supporters in Texas, Iowa, Montana, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Michigan, Tennessee and New Mexico believe in the importance of American Grown flowers. They’ve joined supporters from East Coast and West Coast states — Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Florida, Washington, D.C., Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Maine and Massachusetts! That’s seriously impressive and such a wonderful representation of flower farming, floral design and demand for local flowers.

Thanks to the San Francisco Flower Mart for coming onboard this week with a $1,000 PRESENTING SPONSOR contribution! 

Thanks to the Los Angeles Times (reporter Lisa Boone) for blogging about this project last week – that was a great show of media attention.

Thanks to Rochelle Greayer of the Studio G Blog for this wonderful post. I love that she describes as “an online farmers’ market for flowers.”

Thanks to Indiegogo’s Bret Harris and Amanda Hat for inviting me to be part of their Seattle Event last night. It was pretty fun to be with other fans of Indiegogo, including Joya Iverson who successfully raised $29,525 for her new venture Tin Umbrella Coffee Roasters – a whopping 160% of her original goal of $18,500.  

Here are some more fun photos from last night’s event:

I brought a bouquet of local flowers - from farms in Washington, Oregon & California - to illustrate my passion for American Grown. . . it was a perfect "show-and-tell" and this guy won the bouuqet as a giveaway (his birthday is this weekend). Real men love local flowers!

I brought a bouquet of local flowers – from farms in Washington, Oregon & California – to illustrate my passion for American Grown. . . it was a perfect “show-and-tell” and this guy won the bouuqet as a giveaway (his birthday is this weekend). Real men love local flowers!


From left: Amanda Hat from Indiegogo, me, Joya Iverson of Tin Umbrella Coffee, and Bret Harris from Indiegogo.

From left: Amanda Hat from Indiegogo, me, Joya Iverson of Tin Umbrella Coffee, and Bret Harris from Indiegogo.


Thanks Indiegogo!

Thanks Indiegogo!

That’s it for now~ I’ve got lots more to do before this campaign ends . . . AND before we launch Hoping to have a *beta* (soft launch) to share in the coming weeks. That’s the plan and my design and programming team is working tirelessly to finish. Stay tuned!

Introducing A Directory of American Flowers, Florists, Designers & Farmers

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Every Sunday morning during 2013 I posted the Slow Flowers’ seasonal “bouquet-of-the-week” to share with you. We tracked the seasonal story of floral design, flowers, foliage and the farmers and gardens from which those ingredients came! It was a fantastic year in flowers, wasn’t it?

So what’s up for 2014?

For now, I’m going to take a break from weekly floral postings, but that does not mean I’ll be sitting around with my feet up on the ottoman perusing seed catalogs. No, I’ve been busy for the better part of the past six months working on the upcoming launch of 


Today, the funding campaign went live on Indiegogo and I invite you to check it out here. You’ll find lots of background information about why and how began.

I have many people to thank for helping me get to this point. Special thanks to Hannah Holtgeerts of and her brother Luke Holtgeerts for creating the all-important video!

Preview it here: 


Special thanks to our on-camera floral designers: Lynn Fossbender, Melissa Feveyear and Sara Jane Camacho
Special thanks to the team at Metric Media, especially Bob Meador, Willo Bellwood and Jacqui Lott for creating the look, feel, logo, topography and navigation – and to Martin Fletcher for his expertise and patience with our database!
Special thanks to all the florists and flower farmers who agreed to “endorse” this project for the campaign (Ann Sensenbrenner, Ellen Frost, Debbie Demarse, Polly & Mike Hutchison, and Diane Szukovathy/Dennis Westphall)
Special thanks to Kasey Cronquist of the California Cut Flower Commission and to Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers who lent their voices to the video and so many hours of brainstorming and ideation.
Thanks, too, to the California Cut Flower Commission for sharing visuals and infographics for the SlowFlowers Slide Show.
Special thanks to Dave Salwitz for his last-minute audio recording talents
And mostly, thanks to my husband Bruce Brooks, for his endless support, emotionally and financially, for all my creative projects.