Debra Prinzing

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Episode 582: It’s Mum Season with Harmony Harvest Farm’s Jessica Hall and Stephanie Duncan

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022
Stephanie Duncan and Jessica Hall
Sisters Stephanie Duncan (left) and Jessica Hall (right) of Harmony Harvest Farm

This episode came together just in time for you to learn about two Mum-related events taking place virtually and in-person at Harmony Harvest Farm next weekend. A few days ago, I jumped in the recording studio to chat with long-time Slow Flowers members, sisters Stephanie Duncan and Jessica Hall of Harmony Harvest Farm.

Past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast (Episode 283, February 2017), Stephanie and Jessica farm with their partner and mom, Chris Auville in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Today, we’re going all in on MUMS. Featured in Southern Living magazine’s October 2022 issue, chrysanthemums are Harmony Harvest Farm’s signature flower and Jessica has been growing them for over a decade. Every year, Harmony Harvest propagates from more than 80 heirloom mother plants in addition to growing trial varieties of mums for international breeders.

the mum directory
Check out the full Mum Gallery here

There is a full complement of Mum educational content available at

Let’s jump right in and get started ~ I guarantee you’ll want to grow and design with these beautiful autumn blooms. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Click here to register for November 4th Virtual Mum Summit
and the November 5th Mum showcase taking place at Harmony Harvest Farm, including a design demonstration by celebrity floral designer TJ McGrath!

Mum Bouquet and field crops

You’ll also find links to Jessica’s online course THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO GROWING MUMS, and see a beautiful photo gallery of the mums you can grow if you’re in zones 3 to 9.

News of the Week

Slow Flowers Member Appreciation Month

Thank you to all of our special guests who joined me on the Slow Flowers Podcast, on our Instagram Live on Tuesdays and in the Zoom Room each Thursday during the month of October — for Member Appreciation Month. We welcomed eight new members last month and the name of each was entered into a random drawing for a fantastic gift — our 3-year Perennial Membership — valued at $649. The winners are Elissa McKinley & Tylor Hine of Sweetpea Enterprises, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Congratulations! We’ll be in touch to share all the details!

Thank you to our Sponsors

This show is brought to you by, the free, online directory to more than 850 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, 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

And thank you to 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

Thanks to 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

Thanks to 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. Find the full catalog of flower seeds and bulbs 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 900,000 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

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. The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. 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.  Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow Flowers on the table, one stem, one vase at a time.

Music credits:

Algea Trio; Turning on the Lights; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions


by Tryad

In The Field

Episode 330: Slow Flowers’ 2018 Floral Insights & Industry Forecast

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018


The fourth annual Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights & Industry Forecast for 2018

I’m excited to announce that Florists’ Review has come onboard as Slow Flowers‘ lead sponsor for 2018, signifying a strategic partnership that acknowledges the many ways the Slow Flowers approach is moving into many facets of floristry — at all points along the farm to consumer pipeline. Florists’ Review is the only independent monthly magazine for the retail, wholesale and supplier market, reaching the largest number of floral professionals in the industry. I’m honored to be a Contributing Editor producing the monthly Slow Flowers Journal section, filled with unique content reflecting the cultural shift taking place in flower sourcing and design.

Since 2014, I have drawn from input from members of the Slow Flowers Community, past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast and other progressive leaders in the floral industry — including farmers, florists and design creatives — to “predict” the future. While by no means a statistical survey, the Slow Flowers Floral Insights & Industry Forecast serves as a botanical crystal ball to identify emerging themes affecting the domestic floral industry. I’m excited to share these key insights for the first time in print form, here in the pages of Florists’ Review’s “Slow Flowers Journal” section.

Think of these topics as your inspiration checklist for 2018 — Your Next, New and Now Report. Some of you are already engaged in these up-and-coming developments, so consider yourself on-topic!

The overarching theme for 2018 is “Flowers without Borders,” which to me reflects the disappearance of silo-like barriers that previously separated growers of flowers from sellers of flowers from designers of flowers. Thanks to technology and social media, the ability of conventional “gatekeepers” to control the flow of information and product has greatly diminished. Transparency is power, making it easier than ever before to identify sources of fresh and uncommonly beautiful flowers and foliage. So here’s to a new floral landscape where accessibility is the driving force.

#1 Flower Farmers Diversify into Seeds, Bulbs and Plants

Beyond selling their crops to wholesale, retailer and independent florists, entrepreneurial flower farmers are finding new ways to turn expertise into cash flow. This phenomenon has moved far beyond seed-swapping and informal exchanges of plant cuttings.

One story of diversification comes from Bailey Hale of Ardelia Farm + Co. in Irasburg, Vermont. A trained horticulturist and two-time Philadelphia Flower Show gold medal floral designer (through his former studio MODA Botanica), Bailey now raises specialty cut flowers for farmers’ markets and florists and provides full-service wedding and event design. He turned his own hunger to find sources for uncommon “couture” flowers into a spin-off venture called Farmer Bailey, a custom plug brokerage.

When he’s not tending to his own farm, which is famous for producing sweet peas long into Vermont’s cool summer months, Bailey has become a cut flower hunter. He evaluates new varieties, contracts with a large wholesale nursery to custom grow “plugs” of must-have cultivars and markets his ever-expanding online catalog of irresistible choices to flower farmers and farmer-florists like himself. Bailey saw an un-served opportunity in the marketplace and used his connections and ingenuity to fill the demand. The result is a thriving new venture and the chance to influence the types of blooms — from Asters to Verbenas — entering the floral marketplace.

#2 Flower Farmers Launch Direct-Ship Wholesale Programs
Shipping to designers in markets that don’t otherwise have access to their unusual flowers, Gretel and Steve Adams of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Columbus, Ohio, “have opened door to get our product to florists without having to physically deliver it,” Gretel explains. Recently, their farm joined a shipping cooperative to take advantage of discounted overnight rates, an essential part of keeping their pricing competitive.

After a season of testing packaging methods and learning to navigate the FedEx system, Sunny Meadows expects to unveil The Columbus Flower Company’s national wholesale flower shipping program this spring, beginning with its huge ranunculus harvest. “We’d like to be able to send flowers to designers in New York, or Los Angeles, or places that don’t have access to a good flower market,” she says.

Gretel, also a wedding and event designer, feels she can add value for florists who order from the farm. “My favorite clients are florists who give me an inspiration board and a budget and I’ll pull a mix of ingredients that I myself would use.”

In Weyers Cave, Virginia, Jessica Hall and her family run two businesses, Harmony Harvest Farm (specialty cut flowers) and Floral Genius (pin frogs and other flower frogs). Jessica also reports of plans to ship flowers in 2018, borrowing lessons learned from shipping flower frogs across the U.S. to Floral Genius’s  wholesale accounts.

Harmony Harvest spent 2017 trialing packaging, stem hydration and shipping methods to determine best practices for a farm-to-florist wholesale program. “I believe there is a collective army (of smaller flower farms) that can take care of the U.S. need; they might be able to grow those flowers and see that it’s possible to ship. I’m going to figure it out and hopefully that will change the industry,” she says.

#3 Retail Garden Centers Add Floral Design Services

Last year’s Floral Insights report highlighted “Return of Brick and Mortar,” documenting a possible reversal of the decades-long decline in floral retail, as I witnessed studio florists with a distinct local and community focus open a new generation of retail flower shops. The next wave in this shift continues in retail nurseries and garden centers, which are opening or reviving in-house floral shops with a distinctly local emphasis.

Slow Flowers Journal featured The Flower Shop at O’Donal’s Nursery outside Portland, Maine — which recently introduced full-service floral design as a sister business to a 60-acre tree and shrub nursery. Manager Rayne Grace Hoke credits having a distinct aesthetic inspired by O’Donal’s extensive plant collection for much of the shop’s success.

On the opposite coast, Windmill Gardens, an independent garden center in Sumner, Washington, also debuted a new flower department. According to owner Ben DeGoede, Windmill brought floral design in-house for the first time since 2001, taking over space once occupied by a tenant and rebranding as Windmill Floral Studio. The beautiful, full-service shop has a commitment to providing only locally-grown and American-grown flowers. “The Slow Flowers movement and the buy local movement has inspired us to take floral back again,” he explains.

General manager Wendy Pedersen explains that the flower shop “wants customers to support local farmers.” There are obvious synergies for couples who book Windmill Gardens’ outdoor wedding venue and hire Windmill Floral Studio to design their flowers.

#4 Flower Farmers Shift into Retail

While it may seem “counter-trend,” a number of flower farms are opening retail spaces in prime locations where their flowers are marketed alongside related hard goods and artisan products. It’s a move welcomed by consumers who want to buy farm-direct in urban and suburban markets. I’ve identified Chicago, Boston and Albuquerque, among other cities where flower farmers have opened retail shops to sell their blooms.

In Boston, Field & Vase, a new venture of Stow Greenhouses, has opened two retail spaces at The Shops at Prudential Center, a major downtown retail hub. Barbara Rietscha and Dave Buchholz incubated their first retail venture two years ago at Boston Public Market, a year-round, indoor farmers’ market with 40 vendors and a New England-grown mandate. Success in that venue attracted the attention of developers at the tony Prudential Tower, and this past September, Field & Vase opened two locations there — a permanent kiosk in the heart of the mall’s central court and a full-service shop-studio that is large enough to accommodate custom design work, event production, client consultations and ongoing workshops.

Barbara says adding multiple retail channels to sell their farm’s value-added flowers was an intentional decision. By selling the flowers they grow direct to consumers through retail, Field & Vase enjoys larger margins and gets out of the wholesale environment dominated by price competition with imports. Additionally, at the Prudential locations, the business promotes other flower farms that aren’t set up to do retail themselves. “We source within the U.S. because we believe in local,” Barbara says. “We want to be a venue for flower farmers who don’t have retail outlets themselves.”

#5 Aromatherapy and Wellness Remedies

Botanically-inspired fragrances, body care remedies and other herbal and scented goods have a natural affinity for floral consumers, and I’ve noted some brilliant ways that florists are taking advantage of this. From developing their own candle and soap collections to offering aromatherapy-themed events, florists are tapping into ways to cross-promote flowers and aromatics.

Stacey Carlton, AIFD, of The Flora Culturist in Chicago has made the fragrance connection for her customers with an “Aromatherapy Bar” service. It’s a smart way to extend into a new revenue stream incorporated into parties and special events. Guests are invited to create a personal, custom fragrance blend — or to follow Stacey’s cleverly personalized scent recipes. From intimate gatherings like bridal showers to large interactive events, the Aromatherapy Bar gives guests a social experience and a new way to engage with fragrance.

Farmer-florist Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Flower Farm in Groton, California, is a certified herbalist who studied at the California School of Herbal Studies. She extends her farm’s season by creating and selling “small batch, field to face” herbal and aromatherapy products.
Full Bloom Flower Farm’s skin care line includes rich hydrating creams made from roses, calendula and lavender grown on her farm. A rosemary hydrosol is an organic spray that can be used either on the face after sun exposure or used in cocktails after a long day of gardening. Hedda’s personal favorite product is the Injury Salve which she uses after a day of farming to soothe sore muscles. She sells her products online, alongside other farm-logo items like tank tops, sweatshirts and hats.

#6 Cause-Related Flowers

Flower farmers and florists alike are investing their talents in helping nonprofits and others in their communities. Floral philanthropy or “flowers with heart” efforts are inspiring, and I love seeing flowers used as a currency to change lives and advance important causes. A number of feel-good projects caught my attention in 2017 and I am certain they will continue in 2018.

The Bloom Project, profiled recently in Florists’ Review, is a 10-year-old volunteer-run program that upcycles donated flowers into bouquets for hospice and palliative care patients in Portland, Oregon.

On a national level, Christina Stembel’s Farmgirl Flowers selects and supports a monthly nonprofit partner by donating a portion of sales for a signature bouquet in its product mix.

“We started our ‘With Heart’ campaign because we wanted a way to give back to multiple organizations that are near and dear to our hearts throughout the year,” Christina explains. “It’s also a way we can support many organizations that our team members are passionate about.” Since it launched in April 2017, Farmgirl’s ‘With Heart’ program has contributed more than $70,000 to nine different charities.

I’m also impressed with charities using flower farming and floral design as a platform for change. It’s inspiring to watch nonprofit farms that help teens and adults train for the workplace or those that provide sustainable jobs for individuals with different abilities. Some notable efforts include Muir Ranch in Pasadena, WOW Farm in Oakland, Blawesome Farms in the Raleigh-Durham area, Blooming on the Inside in Portland, and other socially responsible enterprises.

The bottom line is that flowers can meet people where they are and be used as a positive tool to instigate change, stimulate progress and enhance lives.


Episode 283: Harmony Harvest Farm and Floral Genius

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

1459132956I’m so delighted to share today’s conversation with three women representing two generations of the Auville Family. Between them, they own two floral businesses.

Mom Chris Auville and daughter Jessica Hall operate Harmony Harvest Farm with their spouses (Chris’s husband and Jessica’s dad Martin Auville and Jessica’s husband Brian Hall).

And as you will hear in part two of this episode, Jessica and her sister Stephanie Auville have just launched Floral Genius, the reincarnation of a product line previously owned and marketed by Dorothy Biddle Service.

FloralGenius_CMYK_MainHere’s the Harmony Harvest Farm story, excerpted from the farm’s web site:

With a deep desire to set roots in a farm setting within the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Brian and Jessica, coupled with her parents, Martin and Chris Auville, created the vision for Harmony Harvest Cut Flower Farm.

In 2011 they purchased a historic 1890 farmhouse with a bank barn on 20 acres of fertile rolling fields. Only a few miles down the road from Jessica’s parents, it was the perfect homestead for Jessica and Brian to begin living out their dream.

Jessica Hall, chief flower grower, and partner in Harmony Harvest Farm, seen against the beautiful rural backdrop of the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Jessica Hall, lead floral designers, Master Gardener, and partner in Harmony Harvest Farm, seen against the beautiful rural backdrop of the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia (c) Picture Perfect Photography


The farm's historic "bank barn."

The farm’s historic “bank barn.” (c) Picture Perfect Photography

At that point, the work really began as each played an impressive role in designing water systems, building walk-in coolers, studio buildings, new entrance roads and greenhouses.

Over the past few years, not only has Harmony Harvest’s business and fields grown and expanded, but so has the Hall family.  When Jessica and Brian embarked on their cut flower farming journey, they had one child Adelaide Catherine.  Now, the picture is much different.  Adelaide became a big sister to firecracker Marion, and most recently twin brothers, Lincoln and Levon arrived.  While the business has flourished, so has their family of 6!


Ranunculus inside one of the farm’s growing structures.

Weddings by Harmony Harvest Farm

Weddings by Harmony Harvest Farm

Harmony Harvest currently grows intensively on 3 acres and operates 3 growing houses, with plans to expand that in the coming season.  With over 200 different botanical offerings, the farm’s decadent selections, not to mention its heart and soul, are poured into each bloom grown and marketed.

With an eye for floral design, Jessica’s ability to arrange the bounty of the fields was a natural complement to the farming side of their business right from the start.  She has always had an artistic flair and dabbled in many creative mediums before finding her passion with the most fragile of paints — flowers. Having spent her teenage years working in a flower shop and taking design classes, she admits to never imagining having a floral profession until the farm came along.

Jessica Hall (left) and Jessica and Brian with their family of four.

Jessica Hall (left) and Jessica and Brian with their family of four.

Jessica Hall
As Lead Designer and Master Grower, Jessica is passionate about her client’s personal story. A vibrant and creative soul, she dabbles in all things magical.  She grew up in an agriculturally rich family, where tending to and growing a garden were everyday tasks and nurturing nature was instilled at an early age.

She pursued her love of growing and designing by majoring in horticulture at Virginia Tech. Jessica and Brian met there and together they decided to forge a path and build their own business and work in a family setting.

Today, Jessica runs the day-to-day operations on the farm, leads all the floral design projects, and is the mother of four children.  In just a few short years, they have quadrupled their growing space, added lots of new botanical selections to their floral availability list, and created a humming, growing rhythm for their farm and family.

Jessica admits on her web site:

People say my passion is contagious. If that’s the case, we are all doomed to have an oversized cutting garden and an insatiable thirst to paint with nature.


Chris Auville. Don'tcha love how she and Jessica have such similar smiles?

Chris Auville. Don’tcha love how she and Jessica have such similar smiles?

Chris Auville
Chris Auville, Chief Flower Officer, is the business manager for Harmony Harvest Farm. If you have ever communicated with Harmony Harvest, be it by email, phone, or in person, Chris has most likely greeted you.  Chris corresponds with clients, schedules appointments, produces quotes, and coordinates floral aspects for wedding days and other events.

With a MBA and over 30 years of business experience, Chris is a perfect fit for the farm’s sales and business operations.  From working with brides to creating grocery store contracts, Chris gets it done.

Also serving as Mom to Jessica a Nana to her grandchildren, Chris plays an important role as they all work together under the family business umbrella. As a mother–daughter duo, Chris and Jessica are grateful to work together and complement each other with their backgrounds and experiences.


IMG_5644In part two of this podcast, you’ll hear from Stephanie Auville, Jessica’s sister, who joins us on the line.

The two wanted to honor their late grandmother’s legacy and they wanted to make her proud. A few weeks later a door opened on their future and they decided to walk through it.

Jessica and Stephanie purchased the manufacturing rights and all equipment to mold, make, package, and sell all styles of metal pin frogs.  They’ve named the new manufacturing enterprise Floral Genius.

As we discuss, the floral frog production has been part of the Dorothy Biddle Company for many years. Reintroduced as Floral Genius, Jessica and Stephanie are honored to take over the reins and continue to bring quality and innovative tools to the market for all designers.

Under the leadership of Jessica and Stephanie, Floral Genius will continue as the leading U.S. manufacturer of pin, pin cup and hair pin flower holders. These sustainable, no-rust frogs make brilliant designs . . . “Genius.”

Naturally, there are some great synergies between Harmony Harvest Farm and Floral Genius, although they will operate as separate businesses, both housed at Harmony Harvest Farm. The next few months will entail moving large machines, learning production and building a website.

As Jessica recently wrote on her blog, “I fell head over heels for flower frogs while studying methods of construction with leading designers.  Flower frogs allow for the depth and wild abundance synonymous with luxury garden style design. We hope to give everyone the tools they need to create abundant beauty. From flowers to frogs, I’ve got you covered!”

Find Harmony Harvest Farm and Floral Genius at these social places.

Find Harmony Harvest on Facebook

Follow Harmony Harvest on Instagram

See Harmony Harvest on Pinterest

Catch up with Harmony Harvest on Twitter

Follow Floral Genius on Instagram (this is a brand new feed)

Thanks so much for joining me today. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 155,000 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.

2017SponsorBlockThank 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

We’re also grateful for support from Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at

And welcome to our newest sponsor, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at

Longfield Gardens has returned as a 2017 sponsor, and we couldn’t be happier to share their resources with you. Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at

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

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

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

Blue Jay
by Blue Dot Sessions