Debra Prinzing

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Episode 503: Farmer to Florist Collaborations in the SF Bay Area with Hannah Brannan of Gather Flora and Elise Schultheis of The Flower Wagon

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021
Gather Flora and Sonoma Flower Mart
Jordan Wach (left), Hannah Brannan of Gather Flora (center), and Jessica Hole of Sonoma Flower Mart (right), photographed in 2020 on the Sonoma Flower Mart truck, preparing to deliver flowers pre-ordered on the Gather Flora platform

Today, we have two guests who will bring us up to speed on some exciting floral news happening in and around the Bay Area. As many listeners may recall, there was considerable disruption in the floral marketplace last year with COVID and yet so many flower farmers and florists prevailed, pivoted and innovated as they figured out how to get local, seasonal and sustainably-grown blooms into the hands of consumers.

Now, with 2021, the pressure comes not from a pandemic but from a vulnerable global supply chain, and here’s where my first guest enters. Please meet Hannah Brannan, a software engineer and founder of Gather Flora, a web platform that connects farmers and florists to facilitate convenient and improved local flower sales.

Hannah’s love of flowers traces back to a childhood, playing barefoot in her grandmother’s magical garden in Texas.  In 2014, Hannah moved to California, home to 80% of U.S. domestic floral production, where she rekindled her childhood enchantment in flowers.

Hannah has spent the past several growing seasons embedded in Northern California’s floral community. Last year, she ran the sales platform for the Sonoma Flower Mart (with 8 farms and 44 weekly active users) and volunteered on the Board of the Sacramento Valley Flower Collective, all while beta testing .

Hannah Brannan, founder of Gather Flora, loving on some code and software testing specs

As Hannah recently wrote: The most inspiring, locally grown flowers that make it to flower shops today are produced by small and medium-sized, mission-driven, dedicated growers and brought to us by wildly dedicated local florists. However, the time, energy, and multiple rounds of back-and-forth communication aren’t always feasible for busy, hard-working florists. I learned that the sentiment of being overstretched resounded from farmers and florists alike and it was clear that there was a need to apply technology in a thoughtful way to alleviate these challenges. Ultimately, I found that I could best serve the community by merging flowers and software and the result is Gather Flora

Carlos Pavon, on Team Gather Flora, helping to set up the flower stall for Day 1 Gather Flora at the San Francisco Flower Mart

You’ll hear about Hannah’s path to flowers from software coding and engineering to volunteering in a flower shop and on flower farms. It all comes together in her newes chapter — running the Gather Flora Flower Stall at the San Francisco Flower Mart.

Studio Mondine’s first order on Gather Flora to fundraise for the AAPI community (left); Setting up for Gather Flora’s Day One at the SFFM 2021 (right)

To finance the Flower Stall launch, Gather Flora created a Kickstarter Campaign to raise $13,500 needed funds. As of last week, the campaign had met and exceeded its goal at $15,588 and counting. You’ll hear Hannah discuss more in our episode — please join me in wishing this young collective endeavor a huge success. I think the main insight here is that while buying flowers online is very convenient, there are still times when florists want to use their senses and shop in person. Now Gather Flora has a hybrid way to connect farms and florists in the Bay Area.

More resources from and about Gather Flora:

  • CA-based florists and wholesalers sign up for pre-orders here
  • Gather Flora+ Max Gill Master’s Workshop Scholarship Application here
  • In 2021, we are looking to expand our network to 50 CA flower growers. If you are an interested, CA-based grower, please apply here
  • For all non-CA-based growers (US and international) who are interested in receiving future updates about Gather Flora regional expansion click here.
  • Follow: @gatherflora (IG) and Gather Flora (Facebook)

Bonus Guest: Elise Schultheis

The Flower Wagon

When Hannah and I began planning this episode, I suggested we bring in a second guest — a Slow Flowers member who uses the Gather Flora platform.

And I’m delighted to introduce you to Elise Schultheis of The Flower Wagon. We recorded this episode on Earth Day, April 22nd, which was also the date Elise debuted her new, sustainably-minded business in the Bay area. How fun is that!?

Elise’s business emerged from her love of flowers and her entrepreneurial spirit, formed while also completing an MBA with a focus on Sustainability and Social Impact. The Flower Wagon, also named “Flora” is a 1963 Volkswagen Single Cab fueled by flower power. After several months of tuning her up and converting her into a flower shop on wheels, Flora is now filled with fresh blooms and is on a mission to celebrate the San Francisco Bay Area’s sustainable, locally-grown flowers and the people who grow them.

The Flower Wagon with bouquet

Follow The Flower Wagon on Instagram!

sonoma flower mart

A Post-Script: You heard Hannah talk about working with the Sonoma Flower Mart in 2020, and now comes news that the business is for sale. Sonoma Flower Mart, an amazing local flower distribution business based in Sonoma County, California  is looking to connect with interested buyers. Sonoma Flower Mart is an established local flowers business with access to a great network of farms connected through the Gather Flora platform. There is so much community support behind this business and the local flowers community is excited to welcome a who shares the value for community & local. 

If you are interested in learning more, contact Sonoma Flower Mart at Let’s help local flowers flourish in an important hub — California wine country! Sending everyone involved our best wishes to see this endeavor continue under new leadership!

Help me Celebrate our NEW BOOK: Where We Bloom!

where we bloom

As you’ve been hearing over the past weeks, my new book Where We Bloom, recently debuted and the response has been so encouraging!

And if you’re in the Seattle Area, you’re invited to join us at one of two upcoming book-signing events. Meet me, my partner in BLOOM Imprint, creative director Robin Avni, and several of the Slow Flowers members whose beautiful studio spaces are featured in the pages of Where We Bloom!

On May 1st, 2-4 p.m., we will be at Ravenna Gardens at Seattle’s University Village shopping center, signing books and greeting kindred spirits. Farmer-florist Lori Poliski of Flori, featured in Where We Bloom, is bringing flowers from her garden to give away while supplies last.

On May 8th 1-3 p.m., you can find us at PaperDelights in Burien, just south of Seattle, where we are joining Teresa Rao of  Belle Pétale, also featured in Where We Bloom, for a booksigning and mother’s day flower pop-up.

Hope to see you there! We’ll have our masks on as we respect all COVID social distancing guidelines, but hey – it’s spring, it’s almost mother’s day, and we are ready to bloom with you!

Thank you to our Sponsors!

This podcast is brought to you by, the free, online directory to more than 875 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 Banner

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2021, Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers delivers iconic burlap-wrapped bouquets and lush, abundant arrangements to customers across the U.S., supporting more than 20 U.S. flower farms by purchasing more than $9 million dollars of U.S.-grown fresh and seasonal flowers and foliage annually, and providing competitive salaries and benefits to 240 team members based in Watsonville, California and Miami, Florida. Discover more at

For each Podcast episode this year, we thank three of our Major Sponsors. 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

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

Mayesh Wholesale Florist. Family-owned since 1978, Mayesh is the premier wedding and event supplier in the U.S. and we’re thrilled to partner with Mayesh to promote local and domestic flowers, which they source from farms large and small around the U.S. Learn more at

Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 720,000 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.

I value your support and invite you to show your thanks to support Slow Flowers’ ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right at

Debra Prinzing
(c) Mary Grace Long Photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow 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:

Game Hens; Waterbourne; Turning on the Lights; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions

by Tryad

In The Field

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  


SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: San Francisco Flower Mart – a legacy of locally-grown flowers (Bonus Episode)

Monday, January 27th, 2014


Small_SFFlowerMart-Logo-GreenSomething really exciting happened last week – my friends at the San Francisco Flower Mart, the premiere flower market in the U.S., came onboard as presenting sponsors of the directory. This is my other passionate project, and it dovetails nicely with the Slowflowers Podcast.

In the works right now, is a free online directory to help you find florists, studio designers, wedding and event planners, supermarket flower departments and flower farmers who are committed to American grown flowers.

Inside the San Francisco Flower Mart: Connecting Bay  Area florists and flower lovers with fresh, seasonal and local blooms.

Inside the San Francisco Flower Mart: Connecting Bay Area florists and flower lovers with fresh, seasonal and local blooms.

I’m currently raising funds to complete this project via Indiegogo.  To date, supporters of American Grown flowers have contributed $11,045 to the campaign, with SF Flower Mart’s $1,000 contribution giving us a huge boost earlier in the week.

I happened to be working in SF this past Monday, so I stopped by the management office and grabbed General Manager Bob Otsuka and Jeanne Bose, the SFFM’s marketing/promotions director and social media strategist, for a quick conversation, recorded as a Bonus to the Slow Flowers Podcast. Listen to what Bob and Jeanne say about the Market’s decision to bring their support to the launch.

It’s fascinating to learn about the history of this amazing center for locally grown flowers – and inspiring to know that we’re on the same path to promote more American Grown Flowers to the floral industry and consumers alike. 

Seasonal blooms, six days a week.

Seasonal blooms, six days a week. 


There's a huge selection of local California-grown roses . . . in awesome colors~

There’s a huge selection of local California-grown roses . . . in awesome colors~

Here is a little slice of history, as told on the Market’s web site:

With beginnings paralleling the growth and development of the San Francisco Bay Area, the origins of the San Francisco Flower Mart go back to the late 1800’s when land was plentiful. Local flower growers could bring their product to Lotta’s fountain in downtown San Francisco three days a week, selling their product to local flower shops. [Note: Lotta’s fountain is located at the intersection of Market, Geary and Kearny streets in downtown San Francisco.

A need for a centrally located market bringing together the three ethnically diverse groups of flower growers was fulfilled with the opening of a market located at 5th and Howard Streets in 1924. As flower growers expanded production areas outside of the Bay Area and as product from other parts of United States came in, the need for a larger more modern permanent facility led to the design and construction of our current market at Sixth and Brannan Streets in the South of Market area of San Francisco.

The grand opening of the San Francisco Flower Terminal in September 1956 marked the establishment of an industry icon. Today, officially known as the San Francisco Flower Mart, we now have over 60 vendors, purveyors of cut flowers, potted plants, blooming plants and floral supplies. We have evolved from being a “growers” market to being a marketplace for floral wholesalers. Product, which at one time was only from the immediate Bay Area, now comes from the far reaches of the world.

As you will hear in this podcast interview, more than a century after it was established, the San Francisco Flower Mart continues to reflects the character of locally-grown flowers and the farmers who grow those blooms.

In addition to family flower farms selling direct to the floral industry and consumers, you will also find wholesalers who stock flowers from growers in other parts of California, as well as Oregon and Washington. And while people in “the flower biz” are served here as wholesale customers six days a week, some days as early as 2:00 a.m., the DIY flower lover/designer is also welcome to shop – after 10 a.m. 

A bustling center for flowers - with more than 60 vendors.

A bustling center for flowers – with more than 60 vendors.  

Racks of California-grown hyacinths recently offered by Torchio Nursery, a vendor at the San Francisco Flower Mart.

Racks of California-grown hyacinths recently offered by Torchio Nursery, a vendor at the San Francisco Flower Mart.

This is truly a flower mecca and you must add it to your flower bucket list if you haven’t been to visit. I’m thrilled to feature the San Francisco Flower Mart and doubly thrilled that this important center for local flowers will be a Presenting Sponsor on the site for the year to come, connecting More American Flowers with Customers, One Vase at a Time.

 All photographs used here, courtesy (c) Jeanne Boes, SF Flower Mart