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Our featured guest this week is Katie McClain of Posh Petals, based in Oro Valley, outside Tucson, Arizona. Just like last week’s guest, April Vomfell of Flathead Farmworks, Katie and I recorded this interview in person on March 14th at Hitomi Gilliam’s Trend Summit in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Little did we know that business as usual and all our plans for the 2020 growing and floral design season would be radically changed soon after Katie and I traveled home the following day. I’m delighted to share our conversation with you today.
But first, our bonus series here on the Slow Flowers Podcast continues with our next installment of Stories of Resilience. I believe that now, more than ever, the message of sustainability and seasonal and locally-available flowers is top of mind — among consumers, flower farmers and florists.
I want the Slow Flowers Podcast to be a companion to those of you in isolation, away from your physical community of peers, neighbors, customers and friends. I don’t have many answers, but I do want to keep the lines of communication open and accessible.
Today’s Stories of Resilience guest wrote one of the very first posts that signaled to me that our TIMES ARE CHANGING when on March 14th I noticed 3 Porch Farm’s instagram post offering free shipping of their flowers. They wrote:
“In light of the current situation, we are shipping a box of mixed blooms to your door !! This is the first time we have offered this option and we are excited to be able to bring y’all a little bit of bright sparkle during this time of potential stress. Each box will contain a mix of 35 stems of our blooming beauties for the price of $65. You can expect approximately 7-8 Tulips, 20-22 Poppies (even a few of the big Italian varieties), and 7-8 Daffodils…maybe even a few Ranunculus and Anemones thrown in there too. (Our first succession of Ranunculus is on the way out while our next batch isn’t quite ready yet). But what I can promise is that they will all brighten your day !! .
We will begin shipping this Monday with first come, first serve. We hope to ship throughout the week assuming shipping continues. . . . we can never thank y’all enough for all the love and support you constantly extend our way !! Really and truly, this farm only works bc of your kindness and belief in what we are doing over here !! Sending y’all so much love, happiness, and excellent health.”
I reached out to 3 Porch to learn more and ever since, Mandy and I have been juggling our schedules in order to record this conversation. Based in Comer, Georgia, Mandy and Steve O’Shea are past guests of this podcast in 2016, which you can listen to at this link.
Here’s a bit more about Mandy O’Shea. She graduated from UGA with a degree in Horticulture. During that time, she began working with a local sustainable farmer and selling their goods at the Big City Bread farmers market and other local venues. She has been hooked ever since. Her love for the farm life took her to California via the WWOOF’s program where she learned to combine her love for horses and farming. While in Ca., she also worked at the prestigious organic olive oil company McEvoy Ranch for multiple years helping to manage their 7 acre vegetable and cut flower gardens as well as doing daily flower arrangements to beautify the ranch, the S.F. Ferry building store and for frequent events. After missing her home state for too long, she and Steve packed up their dogs…and bee hives… and headed east bound and down to begin their new farming endeavor. They are passionate about bringing beauty, blooms, and good food to the local folks.
3 Porch Farm is a “Certified Naturally Grown” (which adheres to the same standards as USDA Organic), yet Steve and Mandy’s commitment to sustainable farming goes far beyond that. All 5 of the farm’s vehicles run on waste vegetable oil recycled from restaurants in Athens. Since 2012, 3 Porch Farm is entirely solar powered!! The program is ever-evolving, with over 36 KW of solar panels that provides enough electricity to supply the needs of the entire farm plus the O’Shea house, and still quite a bit extra to feed back into the grid.
With Planet before profit as their operating principal, Mandy and Steve’s goal is to be carbon neutral and to use the farm as an opportunity to put best ethics into practice. The farm is lush with strawberries and blueberries supplying customers at the Athens Farmers Market and Freedom Farmers Market (in Atlanta) on Saturdays. Each year’s love for growing and designing with flowers expands. 3 Porch Farm has hundreds of rose bushes and peonies, thousands of dahlias and ranunculus, and a myriad of other varieties for every season. As they explain on 3 Porch Farm’s web site: “We have the good fortune of living on an amazing farm with a little under 9 acres of gorgeous landscaping, constantly in bloom, and filled with wildlife. It is our great pleasure to spend our years working together to bring something positive to an already wonderful community.”
Despite all that is on her plate, I’m so glad that Mandy devoted a bit of time to record this Stories of Resilience segment to share today. Mandy discussed that 3 Porch Farm has joined CalFlowers (the California Association of Flower Growers & Shippers), which is the trade association offering its members access to discounted fed-ex shipping rates. I hope you can take one tip or strategy from our conversation as you adapt and pivot your own floral enterprise. Best wishes to you both, Steve and Mandy!
Find and follow 3 Porch Farm:
Okay, let’s jump right into my conversation with Katie McClain of Posh Petals!
Posh Petals is a flower studio located in sunny Oro Valley, Arizona! Katie has been designing gorgeous floral art for weddings and special events for over 13 years. She is a Certified Arizona Master Florist and extremely knowledgeable when it comes to everything floral. Posh Petals is not your typical 9-5 flower shop. Everything Posh Petals designs is custom inspired by personal conversations with customers. The studio asks questions about the recipient, his or her color preferences, home interior style, aesthetic vibe and more. Typically, Posh Petals is available for daily deliveries, special orders, events, and its specialty: weddings of all kinds.
In the current Coronavirus climate, Katie has added an update on Posh Petals website: “From the Studio to the Porch: We are available for no contact daily delivery orders from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.”
Find and follow Posh Petals at these social places:
Thanks so much for joining me today as we heard from both a flower farmer and a florist in our Slow Flowers community! I don’t know about you, but things are sinking in this week that we are not in a temporary situation, but a long-term one with no end on the horizon. Some days are better than others.
Days when I can do a little gardening, like planting sweet pea seedlings gifted to me by Lorene Edwards Forkner, one of our Slow Flowers Summit 2020 speakers. And days when I can arrange for a contact-free, socially-distanced flower pickup from a nearby farm — thanks Laughing Goat Farm in Enumclaw — and then have late afternoon mental health breaks to play with those local stems.
It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and I know I have felt that way for a few weeks, wondering how Slow Flowers can support our community.
Last week we held our second Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up on April 3rd. We had a great group in attendance and I thank you for joining us; A special thank you to Missy Palacol of Missy Palacol Photography and the Kalyx Group for sharing her 30 Day Social Media planning tool (You can find that link in today’s show notes), and Amelia Ihlo of Rooted Farmers for walking us through the new marketplace for flower farms and florists.
Click above to watch the Zoom replay video of the April 3rd Virtual Meet-Up.
Please join this week’s Slow Flowers Member Virtual Meet-Up on Friday, April 10th at 9 am Pacific/Noon Eastern. Click here to join. All you need is a device with a Camera (Laptop, Smartphone, PC, Tablet). A Mic/Headset are nice, but not a necessity.
Can’t wait to see you there! Our very special guest is Holly Chapple of Hope Farm, Chapel Designers and Holly Heider Chapple Flowers. She will join us to talk about weddings, bookings, managing rescheduling and pivoting to a new reality. Please join us!
Last week I announced updated plans for the fourth annual Slow Flowers Summit, scheduled for June 28-30. In case you missed it, I announced that May 15th is the date when we will announce a definitive decision whether to move forward with the original conference dates or reschedule them. We want to make sure you have 45 days’ notice to adjust your plans if we have to postpone. And just in case, mark October 26-27 as the backup dates for gathering together at our beautiful venue, Filoli Historic Home and Garden in Woodside, California. As I said last week: I’m as eager as you are to experience a fabulous conference that’s presented in a safe environment. I hope this plan assures you and assists you in managing your own schedule moving forward into 2020.
You can contact us anytime with questions and I’ve added links to my email and that of our event manager Karen Thornton in today’s show notes. You can also follow the Filoli VISIT Page and Slow Flowers Summit Page for additional updates.
Thank you to our Sponsors
This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms. It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.
And thank you to Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at slowflowersjournal.com.
Welcome to our new sponsor The Gardener’s Workshop, which offers a full curriculum of online education for flower farmers and farmer-florists. We’ll share more in the future weeks, but we want to give a shout-out and thanks this week to Lisa Ziegler of The Gardener’s Workshop. Online education is more important this year than ever, and you’ll want to check out the course offerings at thegardenersworkshop.com
Our next sponsor thank you goes to 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 www.farmersweb.com.
Our final sponsor thanks goes to 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 ascfg.org.
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 594,000 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 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.
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 soundbodymovement.com.
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In The Field