Debra Prinzing

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Episode 545: Valentine’s Day with all-local flowers — live from the top of the Empire State Building with Jaclyn Rutigliano of Hometown Flower Co.

Wednesday, February 16th, 2022

First of all, I hope you had a happy Valentine’s Day! Today, we are in for a real treat. So many of our members – flower farmers and floral designers alike – are devoted to changing the dialogue around flower sourcing. During what is one of the biggest floral holidays of the year, it has not been unusual to read media reports about flower shortages or all the negatives around flowers in general. The chocolate and jewelry folks wouldn’t have it any other way — just discourage people to buy flowers, right? 

Hometown Flower Co.’s all-local flower cart, designed for the Empire State Building’s Valentine’s Day celebration

Well there is another message and you’ll hear it today. It’s good news – and you already know it! Local Flowers Come to the Rescue for Valentine’s Day, with a new approach to help Cupid get flowers to gals and pals. 

Jaclyn Rutigliano and Marc Iervolino

One of our members is doing something incredible and I can’t wait to introduce you to Jaclyn Rutigliano of Hometown Flower Co. Based on Long Island, Hometown Flower Co. partnered with the Empire State Building to present “Local is Beautiful” – a Valentine’s Day Floral Installation and Pop-Up Shop celebrating New York and New Jersey-grown flowers. 

Visitors to the Empire State Building’s 86th floor Observatory Deck from last Thursday, February 10th through Monday, February 14th were greeted with an eye-catching floral installation designed 100-percent foam free and exclusively with fresh flowers sourced directly from New York and New Jersey growers.

We joined Jaclyn last week while she was putting the finishing details on her pop-up to record a visit and learn more about how this promotion came together. By way of quick background, Jaclyn and her husband and partner Marc Iervolino founded Hometown Flower Co. in 2019 as a Long Island-based sustainable floral design studio and pop-up flower truck. A third-generation floral design, Jaclyn is a past guest of the Slow Flowers Podcast and she and Marc are featured in Where We Bloom, a book I wrote in 2021.

Thanks so much for joining us today to get in the Local is Beautiful Valentine’s Day spirit with Jaclyn. I will share the Floral Facts and talking points that Jaclyn developed for the media, lifestyle influencers, visitors to the Empire State Building and flower customers – Slow Flowers provided support for the collateral material that Hometown Flower Co. shared and we’re so excited to help them get the word out.

Hometown Flower Co. flowers in a bag
Hometown Flower Co.’s signature “Flowers in a Bag” at the Empire State Building’s 86th Floor Observatory.


The majority of the floral industry’s flowers are harvested by workers marginally compensated, around 60% of whom are women. They are then bred for long distance air travel (hence, no more natural floral fragrances) which comes with a massive carbon footprint from long distance air travel. Most stems are already covered in chemical pesticides but then get topped off with a warm welcome at the border with a spraying of Roundup upon entry into the U.S. Nothing says “stop and smell the roses” like a good whiff of Roundup at your nostrils! Flowers then get trucked to various wholesalers who have purchased from a global marketplace, where they then remain until a florist purchases. Once at a florist, they remain again until use for a special event or for a customer order- who then desires a product that will last at least one week. Hometown Flower Co. believes there is a better alternative: source directly from local growers, providing the freshest possible flowers within just a couple of days from when they were cut.

Some Takeaway Floral Facts:

  • Did you know, every year Colombia exports ~30 million roses to the U.S. for Valentine’s Day? That’s a long way to travel! Between the carbon footprint & the pesticides sprayed at the border, we think there’s a better alternative: local flowers.
  • 74% of consumers don’t know where their flowers come from. Currently the U.S. imports ~80% of flowers sold and 200,132 TONS of flowers land in Miami each year. During the weeks of Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, 80,000-130,000 boxes of flowers arrive daily, equaling seven daily flights, six days per week. 
  • What can you do if you live in a region that does not have easily accessible locally-grown flowers? Look for florists and farmers who ship nationwide at,, or check for Certified American Grown labeling for your grocery store blooms.
  • Floral Foam = Plastic. Did you know, the “green stuff” used by many florists to keep designs hydrated is actually a single-use plastic? This outdated and unnecessary design hack ends up in our landfills and is filling up our waterways with microplastics. Help the floral industry ditch the foam: order your flowers sans floral foam.
  • There are flower farmers currently located in all 50 states. 58% of respondents to a recent survey said they want to support locally-grown flowers. Here’s what consumers can do:
  • Request locally-grown flowers from your florist
  • Find sustainable farmers & florists at
  • Look for the Certified American Grown sticker on packaging

Find and follow Hometown Flower Collective at these social places:

Find HFC on Facebook

Discover HFC on Instagram

See more pretty from HFC on Pinterest

Join our February Member Meet-Up

February 2022 Meet-Up graphic
Jim Martin (left), owner of Compost in my Shoe (Charleston, S.C.) and Rita Anders (right),
owner of Cuts of Color (Weimar, Texas)

This Friday is our February Slow Flowers Member Meet-Up and you’ll want to sign up to join us at 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern on February 18th. The link to preregister can be found below or in our Instagram Linktree profile for @slowflowerssociety.

I’m so excited about this month’s topic — our focus is on winter flower crops and designing from the garden in winter. This session is inspired by the fantastic conference I attended and spoke at in Southern Flower Symposium in Charleston, S.C., produced by Jim Martin of Compost in my Shoe and fellow members of Low Country Flower Growers in August 2018. Cuts of Color’s Rita Anders was a keynote presenter, speaking on the topic: “Optimizing Cut Flower Production in our Southern Climate” — and it was an incredible session that enhanced people’s understanding of how they could extend the seasons and grow during the winter months!

We’ve invited Rita to give us a peek into her winter growing practices in Weimar, Texas, and asked Jim to share a floral design demo and talk about winter growing in Charleston. His winter floral designs from South Carolina have been blowing my mind, especially because so much of what he designs with is cut from his own garden. You will love this session! We’ll see you there!

Thank you to our Sponsors

This show is brought to you by, the free, online directory to more than 880 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

Farmgirl Flowers 2022

Thank you to our lead sponsor, returning for 2022, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $10 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually. Discover more at

More thanks goes to:

Red Twig Farms. Based in Johnstown, Ohio, Red Twig Farms is a family-owned farm specializing in peonies, daffodils, tulips and branches, a popular peony-bouquet-by-mail program and their Spread the Hope Campaign where customers purchase 10 tulip stems for essential workers and others in their community. Learn more at

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. Visit them at

Longfield Gardens, which 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. Check out the full catalog at Longfield Gardens at

Slow Flowers Podcast Logo with flowers, recorder and mic

Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast is a member-supported endeavor, downloaded more than 815,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much. As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too.

If you’re new to our weekly Show and our long-running Podcast, check out all of our resources at Slow Flowers and consider making a donation to sustain Slow Flowers’ ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right here at

Debra in the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden
Thank you for listening! Sending love, from my cutting garden to you! (c) Missy Palacol Photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Show & Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow Flowers on the table, one stem, one vase at a time. 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. You can learn more about Andrew’s work at

Music Credits:

Caprese; Turning on the Lights; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions

by Tryad

In The Field

Episode 417: Meet Hometown Flower Collective – a Mobile and Digital Florist on Long Island

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019
Jaclyn Rutigliano and Marc Iervolino of Hometown Flower Collective (c) Hometown Flower Co.

Jaclyn Rutigliano of Hometown Flower Collective is today’s guest. During our conversation, you’ll hear us trying to recall how we originally connected. And finally, while writing this intro, I searched my email archives to find the back story of how Jaclyn and I really did meet!

A new concept (with a twist) for Long Island floral customers — the mobile flower truck that comes to you! (c) Erica Schroeder photography

In March 2015, she reached out to me via the Slow Flowers “contact us” form. She wrote:

Hi there, I handle public relations and communications for the slow fashion brand Zady ( and we are currently coordinating our events for Fashion Revolution Day and Earth Day. 

I am wondering if there is someone I can speak with about possibly bringing in a slow flowers aspect to our events. 

I would love to connect and look forward to hearing from you.

Long Island-grown flowers on the “baby blue” mobile flower shop (c) Erica Schroeder photography

That email led to a long phone call during which Jaclyn brought me up to speed on slow fashion and I brought her up to speed on slow flowers — and we discussed some possible cross-promotions and collaborations. In her follow-up note to me, Jaclyn signed off with these comments:

I am going to spend a ton of time digging into your site  but if you have any other initial suggestions for where I can begin to tackle these issues from the retail and floral design standpoint, I would love to look into that for my parents. Who knows- maybe I will take on the family business one day after all! 

Fast-forward to this past January and I again heard from Jaclyn. It was long after her gig with Zady ended and many years after my Field to Vase Dinner Tour consulting that we referenced. But of course I remembered her immediately.

Hometown Flower Collective’s web site

This time, Jaclyn had some news that delighted me:

Happy New Year and I hope this finds you well. You likely don’t remember but we had emailed nearly four years ago at my previous job when I was representing a company called Zady which was focused on the sustainable fashion movement. I am from a family of florists and when I heard about your slow flowers movement, it really resonated with me and you were kind enough to provide some additional reading materials for me to further educate myself. 

From Long Island flower farms to Long Island floral customers (c) Francesca Russell photography

Years later, my husband and I are in the planning stages to open up our own business . . . possibly a mixed use retail space which will have the retail arm of my parents’ floral event design business. I am keen to approach this differently as currently, I don’t believe there is any florist in Long Island focused on locally sourced flowers. I really want to provide artistically designed flowers that embrace natural beauty, lesser known flowers, greens, naturally grown varieties, etc. And it would be great to source these within a 50 mile radius or at least domestically. Our business will be focused on a tight inventory to minimize waste and to embrace what is readily available. 

I would love to receive some guidance in terms of identifying the right farmers, varieties, the questions to ask, etc. It will be easy for me to follow the same path of my family and just source product from a regular importer but I would love to support local small farmers and source directly- though there are concerns about the cost associated. We are even considering planting our own flowers as well.

Anyways, I’m not sure if you do this or are speaking anywhere on the east coast in the future but I would love to learn from you to help get on the right foot.

Hometown Flower Collective offers a floral subscription (left) and festive, floral-focused events (right) (c) Hometown Flower Collective photographs

It’s so wonderful how people can come into your life for what looks like one reason – only to learn from that experience that we can’t even predict how we influence and inspire one another. Hearing from Jaclyn four years later was an affirmation that all the messages and information I put out into the marketplace about flower sourcing and sustainable practices doesn’t land on deaf ears! When the timing was right, she eagerly devoured the mission of Slow Flowers.

Hometown Flower Collective’s beach-inspired flower crown party and feast (c) Christie Monteleone

Not only has Jaclyn absorbed these Slow Flowers concepts but she has put her entirely personal spin on them. Along with her husband Marc Iervolino, they launched Hometown Flower Collective earlier this year on Mother’s Day weekend, in fact. Their hometown is Huntington, New York – on Long Island. These two Long Island natives and residents are running Hometown Flower Collective as a family operation with their two daughters, August and Sage. Jaclyn’s the ones with her arms up in flowers, overseeing the floral designs, creative marketing, and branding for the company. Marc oversees the day-to-day business operations and logistics. Here’s a fun fact: they are two Leos who share the same birthday and a bold mission to shape a better future for their children and community.

More from the beach party (c) Christie Monteleone

Jaclyn and Marc write this on their web site:
Hometown Flower Collective connects people who love flowers with the local farmers who grow them. A new take on the traditional neighborhood florist, Hometown Flower Collective offers fresh, local varieties delivered right to your doorstep through monthly subscriptions, and through its vintage pick-up truck, Baby Blue, a 1976 Ford F-100, re-imagined to become Long Island’s first mobile flower truck.

The “baby blue” flower truck is party-ready! (c) Christie Monteleone

Our mission is simple: to encourage people to look no further than their hometowns to find beauty grown nearby, and to provide access to locally-grown varieties in places where our farmers are typically unable to consistently reach. Inspired by a third generation flower designer’s experience growing up around the floral industry and witnessing how removed consumers and retailers were from where and how their flowers were sourced, Hometown Flower Co. was founded with a strong desire to change the status quo and encourage people to embrace their roots.

Please enjoy this conversation and listen for some very useful tips from Jaclyn on how to interest the local media in your floral enterprise. I’m inspired and energized by Jaclyn and Marc’s story and I hope you can draw at least one wonderful branding tip or marketing technique from our conversation to enhance your efforts.

Social media, collateral material, messaging and education — all have helped launch Hometown Flower Collective in their marketplace (c) Francesca Russell photography

Find and follow Hometown Flower Collective at these social places:

Find HFC on Facebook

Discover HFC on Instagram

See more pretty from HFC on Pinterest

We’re taking a little hiaitus from our theme for 2019 – Fifty States of Slow Flowers – I’m committed to recruiting a North Dakota guest for you  and we just need another week to pull that off!

We learn so much when we gather together! This photo was taken at the August 28th Slow Flowers Summer Soiree for members in the Oregon & Washington area (c) Missy Palacol Photography

As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.


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.

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

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 – and even September. Arctic Alaska Peonies operates three pack houses supplying peonies throughout the United States and Canada. Visit them today at

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

Local dahias from Laughing Goat Farm, Seattle Wholesale Growers Market and the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden, arranged by Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore (c) Missy Palacol Photography

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 513,000 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

Music Credits:
Lahaina; Flagger; Betty Dear; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions
Music from: