Debra Prinzing

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Episode 357: Engaging Customers Through Experience and Inspiration with Scott Paris of High Hand Nursery & announcing our 2019 Slow Flowers Summit Venue

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

We brought the Slow Flowers Summit 2018 to Washington, D.C.

As I mentioned during last week’s show, we’ve just experienced the fourth annual American Flowers Week — the original domestic floral-promotion holiday that’s an inclusive campaign filled with local, seasonal and beautiful flowers and foliage in all 50 states!

This virtual campaign gave me a peek into all corners of the U.S. as I witnessed flowers, farms, creativity and events taking place in region all around the country, as well as connections across social media platforms.

And, during the heart of American Flowers Week, we held the 2nd annual Slow Flowers Summit. As an interactive, LIVE element of the campaign, the Summit drew more than 100 attendees — speakers, designers, flower farmers, innovators, influencers and leaders in the Slow Flowers Movement.

Even though we were inside a hotel conference room, the space was filled with flowers, including the Moon Arch that everyone had a hand in designing (c) Niesha Blancas

In the coming weeks, I hope to release all sorts of content from the D.C. Slow Flowers Summit.

See a gallery of Slow Flowers Summit 2018 photos here.

But for now, I want to share a few words from my opening remarks on June 29th. Please bear with me — it’s personal and as my husband would say, probably contains too much “back-story,” but that’s how I am.

Here’s what I said:

I thought I’d take a moment to acknowledge how significant it is that we’re all here at the Slow Flowers Summit for Year Two. How did this come to be?

There had been talk over the years of a conference focused on domestic flowers, including some initial conversations I had with folks at the California Cut Flower Commission and the SF Flower Mart several years ago.

The desire was real, but the idea never went anywhere, and it later became clear that the Slow Flowers Community wanted something different — more intimate and inclusive — than a big industry event.

So what brought us from idea to reality? Before I left Seattle to travel here, I pulled out an email from April 2015, sent to me by one of our speakers, Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet.

The email’s subject line read: NEW IDEAS.

I hope all is well with you and the family and I’m hoping that the Slow Flowers movement has new and exciting things coming its way. I have been wanting to contact you since I returned from my amazing experience at the Chapel Designers conference in NY and especially after meeting people like Jimmy Lohr of greenSinner and others. My wheels have been spinning and so I wanted to share some of my ideas with you. 

Jimmy and I discussed how our Slow Flowers family needs an event like what Holly Chapple has created for florists across the United States. An event that would gather designers from across the United States who have pledged to use local and American grown flowers to network and train with each other from experts in our field. 

I think it is time we bring the Slow Flowers website to life with an event at which all of the flower farmers and florists who have pledged to use their local and seasonal blooms get together and network. I think it would be great to actually gather everyone together to talk (farmer and florist). Let’s start with the East Coast. [well, Mary Kate, we started last year in Seattle, but yes, today, we’re here on the East Coast!]

She closed by saying: I am really proud that we are still able to stick to our mission of staying 100% American and locally grown in everything we buy. Now that I have bombarded you with ideas and thoughts, let me know if any interest you (because obviously we can’t do it all)!

We had a few lighthearted email exchanges, and while nothing happened immediately, the idea stuck with me because that was the year we launched American Flowers Week in 2015.

The following year, in 2016, I had a memorable conversation with Amy Stewart, author of Flower Confidential, the groundbreaking book that stimulated awareness of sustainable practices and flower sourcing in our industry. We both remarked that the 10-year-anniversary of Amy’s book would take place in 2017. Amy turned to me and said, “we should do something together to commemorate it.” I think she meant YOU should do something, Debra.

The seed that Mary Kate had planted grew a few more roots that day.

Weeks later, during the 2016 SF Flower & Garden Show, I attended a dinner where a very similar conversation took place, with Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers, Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co., who spoke last year, Beth Van Sandt of Scenic Place Peonies, and Bay Area florists Susan Kelly and Kathleen Williford — all Slow Flowers Members. We spoke further about a Slow Flowers “live” gathering, and agreed to continue brainstorming at a workshop Teresa and I were to teach together later that year at her studio in Santa Cruz.

By then, it was September 2016, and I couldn’t let go of the notion that hosting a live conference during American Flowers Week would be a great way to celebrate what was a virtual, social media-centric event. I attended the TEDxSeattle conference a few months later and found myself enjoying the presentations, but spending more time analyzing the structure and flow of the conference — projecting my ideas onto that very successful framework at which a number of speakers and topics are presented in a single day.

Over the holidays, I called Amy and asked, “If I host a Slow Flowers Summit, will you give the keynote?” She said YES, and I jumped right in, finding a venue in Seattle and inviting a fabulous lineup of speakers. The Summit took place on July 2, 2017 in Seattle. We had 91 attendees and it was incredible as a first-effort.

Amy Stewart and Teresa Sabankaya were two of those first speakers, and a few of you were also there. Thank you for returning — we have Christina Stembel, Kit Wertz and Mud Baron, all who attended last year and — surprise — they’re presenting this year. And we have returning attendees Nan Mattson of Queen City Flower Farm in Cincinnati, a self-described “urban micro flower farm,” and Sarah Reyes of Unfurled, based in Oakland area, a floral designer and self-described “floral liaison” — I’m so happy to see you both here!

Well, that was my recap of the birth of the Slow Flowers Summit. And now, I have a big announcement for you . . .

The 3rd Slow Flowers Summit will take place on July 1st and 2nd, 2019, in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota! Save the dates!

I’m so pleased that we have a co-host in Christine Hoffman, founder of Twin Cities Flower Exchange, a floral wholesale hub that represents local flower farmers and chemical-free practices, now in its 2nd season.

Christine is a past guest of this podcast and I’m so pleased that she agreed to welcome the Slow Flowers community to the Twin Cities – where a lot of exciting things are taking place in the floral world. To share more, I’ve asked Christine to join me for a short preview of what’s in store for you next year!

Sign up to receive Slow Flowers Summit 2019 Updates and Announcements here.

Listen to our past Podcast interviews with Christine:

Episode 193 (May 13, 2015)

Episode 290 (March 29, 2017)

Follow Twin Cities Flower Exchange on Instagram

And if you happen to find yourself in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area on Sunday, August 12th, please join me at a reception Christine is hosting for the local floral community. It will take place at Good Acre, the food hub that houses Twin Cities Flower Exchange. See Details & RSVP for the August 11th Slow Flowers Happy Hour


The Flowering of Detroit, with Lisa Waud of Pot & Box (Episode 181)

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

After the crazy week of Valentine’s Day, I’m shifting my thoughts to springtime, aren’t you? That’s a little easier for me to say here in Seattle, where the thermometers climbed above 60 degrees last week and flowers are popping up everywhere. But someone reminded me today that spring is only 30 days away. Hold on, everyone!












The Slow Flowers Movement and attracted major media attention last week – on wire services, television, radio, print and blogs. I am so grateful for the attention that is turning to American flowers, the passionate farmers who grow our favorite varieties and the talented designers who create magic with each local and seasonal stem they choose. Here is a sampling of some of the headlines we saw last week:











“Slow Flowers Movement Pushes Local, U.S.-Grown Cut Flowers” (that story was written by Associated Press agriculture reporter Margery Beck and it literally went viral — appearing in media outlets large and small – from the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune to member Megan Hird of Farmstead Flowers in Bruning, Nebraska was also featured in this piece.









“Slow Flowers’ Movement Champions Sustainable Blooms,” by Indiana Public Radio’s Sarah Fentem. member Harvest Moon Flower Farm of Spencer, Indiana was also featured in this piece.

“About those flowers you’re buying today; Where did they come from? ask Oregon Growers” from Janet Eastman of The Oregonian. member Oregon Flowers was also featured in this story.

“Just in Time for Valentine’s Day: Introducing Farm-to-Table’s Pretty, Flowery Cousin,” by Sarah McColl on the sustainability blog which also featured Molly Culver of Molly Oliver Flowers in Brooklyn, a member.

Denver Post reporter Elizabeth Hernandez wrote: “Colorado farmers, florists seek renaissance for local flower scene,” featuring member Chet Anderson of The Fresh Herb Co.

And Reuters writer P.J. Huffstutter’s piece “Exotic US Blooms Flourish amid roses in Cupid’s bouquet,” featuring the “slow flower” movement, as well as the CCFC and ASCFG.

We can’t even tally the tens of thousands of impressions that came from this great media coverage – but suffice it to say that, according to Kasey Cronquist, CEO/Ambassador of the CCFC, “In my tenure at the Commission, I can confidently say that this past week of media attention and interest was greater than all of the my other years of doing interviews and monitoring Valentine’s Day coverage.”

He went on to say: “I can also quickly point to the three things that made the difference this year.

  • Debra Prinzing’s
  • Launch of Certified American Grown
  • Increasing Awareness of Caring Consumers, Designers and Buyers” is growing with our 500th member! is growing with our 500th member!

On top of all of that excitement, I want to celebrate a major milestone! This week marks the addition of the 500th member to the web site. Please welcome Shelly DeJong of Home Grown Flowers in Lynden, Washington. Shelly’s tagline is “Flowers as fresh and local as possible,” and she specializes in ball-jar bouquets delivered to customers in her community, throughout the year and for special occasions. Welcome to, Shelly!

We can already feel that 2015 might be THE year when the story of American grown flowers hits an important inflection point. As we witness a critical shift in consumer mindset at the cash register, I believe we’ll also see a change — in a good way — in the behavior of wholesalers and retailers who make those important flower sourcing decisions.


One of the things I’m most excited about this year is a series of flower farm dinners that celebrate American grown flowers, as well as the farms and florists who bring them to life. To hear more about this cool project, called the Field to Vase Dinner Tour, I’ve asked special events manager Kathleen Williford to share details.

As I mentioned, you are invited to take part as a guest at one or more of the flower farm venues. The promo code for a $25 discount is DREAM, so be sure to use it when you order your seat at the flower-laden table.


The Flower House logo, designed by Lily Stotz

Speaking of being flower-laden, our featured guest today has flowers on her brain in a big way. I am so pleased to introduce you to Lisa Waud of Pot and Box, a flower shop and floral and event studio with two Michigan locations – in Detroit and Ann Arbor. Lisa is a member of, but I think we originally met when Jill Rizzo of SF’s Studio Choo suggested to Lisa to reach out and tell me about her ambitious project called The Flower House.

Here’s the scoop:

Beginning over the first weekend of MAY, Lisa will host a preview event for an innovative art installation in Detroit.

Imagine this abandoned storefront - filled with Lisa's floral dreams. (c) Heather Saunders Photography

Imagine this abandoned storefront – filled with Lisa’s floral dreams. (c) Heather Saunders Photography

There, potential sponsors, partners, friends and volunteers will get a whiff of the “big project” on a smaller scale. In a tiny storefront, they will install a breathtaking floral display, just next door to a once-abandoned urban property where Lisa and fellow designers ultimately hope to transform an aging, 11-room duplex into The Flower House.

“We’ll generally work our future audience into a flower frenzy,” Lisa says of the kickoff event.

When October 16th-18th rolls around, cutting-edge florists from Michigan and across the country will fill the walls and ceilings of an abandoned Detroit house with American-grown fresh flowers and living plants for a weekend installation.

The project will be featured in local, national, and worldwide media for innovation in floral design and repurposing forgotten structures in the city of Detroit.  

Visitors will be welcomed to an opening reception and a weekend of exploration, and a few reserved times will be offered to couples to hold their wedding ceremonies in The Flower House.  

Re-flowering an abandoned home in Detroit - a glimpse of Lisa Waud's grand idea (c) Heather Saunders Photography.

Re-flowering an abandoned home in Detroit – a glimpse of Lisa Waud’s grand idea (c) Heather Saunders Photography.

When the installation weekend has passed, the structures on The Flower House property will be responsibly deconstructed and their materials repurposed. The land will be converted into a flower farm and design education center on a formerly neglected property. 

For more details on The Flower House, follow these links:

The Flower House on Facebook

The Flower House Inspiration on Pinterest

The Flower House on Twitter

The Flower House on Instagram

I feel like I’m saying this week after week, but today’s conversations, with Kathleen and Lisa, are so truly encouraging.

This IS the Year of the American Grown Flower. Please join efforts like the Field to Vase Dinner Tour and Detroit’s The Flower House to get in on the excitement. Both projects are community focused, with the potential for engaging huge numbers of people.

By exposing lovers of local food and floral design to the immense creativity that comes from sourcing our flowers locally, in season and from American farms, we are deepening the conversation, connecting people with their flowers in a visceral way. All the senses are stimulated, as well as our imaginations.

Thank you for downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast! Each week I share with you our “download” count and we have hit 35,000 downloads to date. I’m encouraged to know more people are learning about the farmers and florists who keeping American-grown flowers flourishing.

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. Learn more about their work at

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Kathleen Williford, passionate “locaflor” and American-grown floral advocate (Episode 146)

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

One of Kathleen's arrangements for a CCFC Field to Vase dinner earlier this year - in her coveted McCoy  vase!

One of Kathleen’s arrangements for a CCFC Field to Vase dinner earlier this year – in her coveted McCoy vase!  

Kathleen Williford

Kathleen Williford

Today’s guest is my friend Kathleen Williford of the lifestyle blog Bloemster, the California Cut Flower Commission, the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House & Tour, and Staff of Life Natural Foods in Santa Cruz, California.

 Yes, Kathleen is involved in all these endeavors, thanks to her talents, her tendency to say “yes” to all sorts of opportunities, and her genuine love for all-things local when it comes to flowers. In fact, it seems as if everything Kathleen does professionally and personally intertwines like flowers, stems and tendrils in a lovely bouquet.

We recorded this interview on June 1st while working together at the Sunset Celebration Weekend in Menlo Park, California. Kathleen had just pulled off her largest floral design commission ever the night before – she designed the tabletop flowers for a VIP dinner hosted by Sunset’s editor in chief Peggy Northrop. The setting was gorgeous and everyone raved about the all-California-grown centerpieces, which were an important reminder of the weekend’s local and seasonal theme. 

Kathleen teaming up with Kasey Cronquist, CEO/Ambassador of the California Cut Flower Commission.

Kathleen teaming up with Kasey Cronquist, CEO/Ambassador of the California Cut Flower Commission.

I’ve worked with Kathleen off and on for a couple of years, thanks to our mutual association with the California Cut Flowers Commission. Kathleen has helped me source flowers from the Monterey Bay area farms for my demonstrations at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show and for a Garden Conservancy workshop I taught in the East Bay Area two years ago.  She is a social media whiz, prompting all of us involved in the American Grown movement to hustle to catch up with her.

Kathleen created the new ALL LOCAL floral department at Staff of Life in Santa Cruz.

Kathleen created the new ALL LOCAL floral department at Staff of Life in Santa Cruz.

Kathleen is the first one to notice a trending topic, a new voice on twitter, a new source of gorgeous local flowers on instagram. I can count on her to always bring me up to speed. Case in point, when a group of us wanted to cheer on the only all-California-grown float in this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade, it was Kathleen who compiled an exhaustive list of the twitter addresses for every single broadcast personality on the various local, national and cable networks . . . just so we could be strategic with our messaging. She was one step ahead of the rest of us.

Social media has been a tool for her promotional work as the special events planner for CCFC’s Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Tour, which will take place this coming Saturday, June 21st.

One of the lovely California grown bouquets Kathleen designed for the Sunset Celebration Weekend VIP dinner earlier this month.

Here’s one of the lovely California grown bouquets Kathleen designed for the Sunset Celebration Weekend VIP dinner earlier this month.

I was invited to participate last year as a speaker and as the guest designer for a delightful field-to-vase dinner that Kathleen organized with her colleague Janice Wills Curtis of CCFC.  We had a total blast and I’m truly disappointed that I have to miss the fun this year due to another lecture commitment.

It was through social media that Kathleen also connected with Holly Chapple of The Chapel Designers, a previous guest on this podcast. Kathleen found her way to the Chapel Designers’ conference that was part of Florabundance Design Days in Santa Barbara this past winter. (Actually, it was Kathleen’s husband Paul who gifted her the two-day design intensive as a surprise Christmas present).

One of many arrangements that graced Sunset Celebration Weekend.

One of many arrangements that graced Sunset Celebration Weekend.

Since that experience earlier this year, Kathleen has been on a floral fast-track, adding special event floral design to her plate, launching a website to support her personal design work – called Bloemster – and further, taking on the floral department management for Staff of Life, where she also handles marketing and special events.

I think she needs to clone herself, because there never seems to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all these to-do’s, but Kathleen knows how to pull it off.

 I thought you’d enjoy hearing about the many ways one person can live out the values of supporting local and seasonal agriculture – from design, to retail, to communications and more. One person can make a difference, and Kathleen demonstrates that every single day.

If you are in the Bay Area this weekend, take a drive to Santa Cruz County for a free tour of several flower farms, nurseries and greenhouses where you can meet a flower farmer, buy cut flowers and plants, and enjoy a slice of the true California floral experience. I’ll add all the details on my web site so you can check out the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Tour. You might just run into Kathleen. She’ll probably be wearing a large-brimmed hat and carrying a clipboard, an armload of flowers, a phone, a tote bag, a camera, or all of the above!

Follow Kathleen at these places:



Bloemster Blog

More McCoy + CA Grown Blooms.

More McCoy + CA Grown Blooms.


Love this hot orange and dark teal combo of Kathleen's.

Love this hot orange and dark teal combo of Kathleen’s.


Locally grown flowers made the Field-to-Vase Dinner a huge success.

Locally grown flowers made the Field-to-Vase Dinner a huge success.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Hannah Holtgeerts and Andrew Wheatley. Learn more about their work at

#Friendlyflowers with Kathleen Williford & Debra Prinzing

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Maybe we’re onto something here!

vase from Kathleen to Debra

Here’s the vase I received in the mail, which Kathleen Williford found online.

It all started just before Labor Day weekend on August 30th, when my friend Kathleen Williford, special events manager for the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers event, texted to tell me she had fractured the bottom of her fibula. “My ankle will not stop me,” she texted. But still, for a very active person, Kathleen felt sidelined. And I could tell she was discouraged.

“We should come up with a joint project,” I texted back. “How about a $10 challenge to find the perfect vintage vase online?”

“OK, you are on!,” she typed. “So we find the vase online, flowers local, $10 max.”

September 5th:

“A beautiful vase arrived today,” Kathleen texted. “I LOVE it!” I had sent her a vintage olive-green glass pedestal vase, just like one I own (and LOVE). Kathleen admitted to not really having much experience arranging in pedestal vases, however, she also admitted to being a sucker for colored glass anything.

September 6th:

“Just arrived! So lovely!,” I texted when the vase Kathleen ordered for me arrived. The slender porcelain vessel was embellished with a gold filigree design. And it had this imprint on the base: “Made in occupied Japan,” which I think means it was manufactured during the American occupation of Japan after World War II, from 1947 to 1952.

Yesterday we both posted our respective vases on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, letting people know about the #friendlyflowers challenge. One of my friends saw the photo of the vase Kathleen sent me and she commented: “It’s so gypsy euro retro-ish!” — love that description.

Today, September 10th, Kathleen and I posted our designs. Here is mine:

Friendly Flowers 1.0

A truly local bouquet using all foliage from my garden and my neighbor’s garden. In a very special #friendlyflowers vase

Ingredients include all the goodies I was able to glean while gardening this week:

  • Burgundy Japanese maple foliage, deeply cut. This is a weeping form tree, so you can see how nicely those fringed leaves drape
  • Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’), from my neighbor Colleen. Actually, it’s a flower, not foliage. But I tried to get the greenest stems still in bud
  • False Hinoki cypress – one spray from a container plant (Chamaecyparis obtusa, unknown cultivar)
  • Euphorbia myrsinites (Donkey tail euphorbia)
  • Lime-green leaves from the oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), also in Colleen’s garden

Here’s the vase I sent Kathleen:

Green glass vase with beautiful square pedestal. Flowers: TO COME!~

See her finished bouquet at Kathleen’s Facebook page, Twitter (@kathinated) or Instagram (caflwrpower)

Here’s the bouquet from Kathleen, using flowers from her parents’ garden:

Kathleen used persimmons, sedum, grasses, assorted salvia, butterfly bush blossoms, and lions beard. Stunning~

Kathleen used persimmons, sedum, grasses, assorted salvia, butterfly bush blossoms, and lions beard. Stunning~

If you like this idea, we encourage you to start your own #friendlyflowers challenge. The rules are easy:

1. $10 maximum vase budget

2. Send a vase to your friend and have him/her do the same for you

3. Fill it with #americangrown #slowflowers – all local

4. Post and share to inspire other friendly flower lovers!

A field-to-vase celebration

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Welcome to the Slow Flowers Dinner

Imagine a table set for 40 . . . inside a flower-filled greenhouse. Vintage vases overflowing with just-picked blooms adorn the table and a locally-grown menu is is served.

Imagine a table set for 40 . . . inside a flower-filled greenhouse. Vintage vases overflowing with just-picked blooms adorn the table and a locally-grown menu is served.

Last month I joined with the California Cut Flower Commission to host a “Slow Flowers” dinner as part of the 2013 Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House & Tour.

table setting

The table was set for local food and local flowers.

We called it “Farm-to-Table; Field-to-Vase” and held the dinner in the gerbera-filled greenhouse at Kitayama Bros. Farms in Watsonville, California. The event was a gathering of like-minded persons. Each of us — farmer, florist, media, community advocate — cares deeply about the role of American  flowers in the greater agricultural environment. And everyone in attendance contributed an important voice around the table, a table with locally-grown food and locally-harvested flowers.