Book Review :: Fresh From The Field Wedding Flowers

Fresh from the Field Wedding Flowers by Lynn Byczynski & Erin Benzakein

Flower farmers extraordinaire Lynn Byczynski and Erin Benzakein have come together to create a fantastic resource for the floral industry, Fresh from the Field Wedding Flowers. I knew the book was about using local and sustainable flowers for weddings, but wasn’t sure exactly what information the authors would be covering. The book was written with the purpose of educating a marrying couple on how to select and use locally grown flowers. However, I can honestly say that any aspiring flower farmer or floral designer will find this book a fantastic resource. First of all, the book is packed full of gorgeous images—shots from the USA, Canada and the UK of beautiful flowers and floral arrangements created using locally grown product. I found myself flipping through the pages a few times just to look at the pretty bouquets.

Floret Flower Farm - bronze compote flower arrangement of orange peach garden roses, tomatoes, cranberry viburnum, red ranunculus, nasturtium

The authors have included a very helpful guide about the “ingredients” used in the designs—they give both the Latin and common name of the flower, how to pronounce it, what zone it grows in and when it blooms. After the introduction to the flower they give a description of how to grow and when to harvest it. I found this particularly interesting as I’m preparing my own cutting garden! There is a nice section on Floral Design Basics where aesthetics and mechanics are explained, along with tools commonly used in floral designing. Yes, there is a section called For the DIY Wedding to assist a bride in creating her own designs, yet I found the information to be very comprehensive—much of it would be useful to the novice floral designer who is still learning.

Floret Flower Farm - Pink Bridal Bouquet of pink garden roses, ranunculus, dahlias, cranberry viburnum and honeysuckle

Erin has created 4 videos, which come on a DVD included with the book. The videos are well done and quite enjoyable to watch as she instructs the viewer on how to create a bridal bouquet, boutonnieres and two centerpieces. Overall I found the book to be very useful and informative. I would highly recommend it to those of you who are beginning flower farmers and floral designers; the care & handling and designing discussions are helpful.

Fresh From The Field Wedding Flowers Book - making a bridal bouquet

I’m am thrilled to share that I do have a copy of Fresh from the Field Wedding Flowers to share with one lucky reader!!!
To win the copy leave a comment on this post (this post, and not on our Facebook page or via Email) and tell us why you’d like to win this book (are you an aspiring floral designer, an aspiring floral farmer, furthering your education, you want to learn more about designing with local & seasonal flowers, etc?).

The rules — anyone can participate, however if you are outside of the contiguous 48 states you will have to pay for shipping. Comments will only be accepted on this immediate post, not on Facebook, etc.
Comments must be received by Thursday, June 19th & the winner will be announced on Friday, June 20th.

Lynn Byczynski

Lynn Byczynski

Erin Benzakein of Floret Flower Farm

Erin Benzakein

Floret Flower Farm -Blue and Purple Bouquets of purple anemones, blue hyacinth, white spray roses, sweet peas, seeded eucalyptus

10 Flower Farms to follow on Instagram

Looking for some floral eye-candy on Instagram? Be sure to add these 10 floral farms to your follow list – they are always posting gorgeous and inspiring flowers!
{Click on the image and it will take you to their Instagram page}

bare mountain flower farm oregon

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bathtub gardens in british columbia

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ella rose farm california

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erika's fresh flowers in oregon

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lynn vale studios vigrinia flower farm

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pierpont blossom farm on instagram

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rose story farm santa barbara california

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rose hill flower farm oregon

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washington's triple wren flower farmers

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verbena florist on instagram

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BTW .. I figure you are already following the two best known {and absolutely amazing} flower farmers Floret Flower Farm & Love ‘n Fresh on Instagram, but in case you are not … be sure to follow them!

floret flower farm washington

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Love N Fresh Flower Farm

Flower Farm Focus :: Triple Wren Farms, Washington

Triple Wren Farms

flower farmers washington

When did you start your business and where are you located?
We began our flower farming adventure just two years ago, selling our first stems to a local community food co-op in May, 2012. Triple Wren Farms (so named to keep us focused on our mission and vision) is located north of Ferndale, WA, in the midst of a beautiful u-pick apple orchard.

purple anemones triple wren farms

Why did you begin flower farming?
In 2011, our family’s main source of income ended and through a series of unexpected events we started this incredible journey towards a more agriculturally-oriented lifestyle. We began building this business for our family’s future and named it in a play on our children’s names. We are so thankful that, in the course of two years, it has (literally!) blossomed into a thriving family business. We have put in a lot of hard work, but also have been incredibly blessed by the support and generosity of many friends and family, the owners of the orchard we manage, and our amazing Seattle Wholesale Growers Market family.

orange and yellow ranunculus by triple wren farms

What flowers and foliages do you grow? Are there particular flowers/foliages you specialize in?
We grow about 50 varieties of seasonal specialty cut flowers. In a nutshell this means that we specialize in growing items that thrive in our climate during the time of year that makes them naturally happy, and we grow lots of them! So for example, in spring we offer luscious anemone and ranunculus in bright, clear colors and beautiful fall- or winter-sown annuals such as dainty queen anne’s lace, fragrant sweet peas, and vivid calendula. As we segue into summer we work our way through perennials like lilacs, tree peonies, wisteria vine, viburnum, and garden or climbing roses into staples like richly-hued snapdragons, delicate feverfew, bupleurum, and many varieties of sunflowers. The transition into late summer/fall is one of our favorites with fluffy cosmos, brilliant celosia, hot zinnias, golden dill, chocolatey rudbeckia, and spectacular dahlias (including coveted café au lait!). We grow a good assortment of gourds and squash and cold-tolerant flowering kale to harvest as the chilly weather sets in, and then in winter we create amazing kissing balls and foliage cuts from our of fresh evergreens and cedars. Because we also manage a u-pick apple orchard, we also pull either flowering or fruited crabapple branches from the farm throughout the year.

pink and white anemones by triple wren farms

What are your current pest management/growing practices?
We are thrilled to have Triple Wren Farms Salmon Safe Certified!
salmonsafe-brush-logo

Where do you sell your flowers?
We sell the majority of our flowers through the phenomenal Seattle Wholesale Grower’s Market. We also love working with lovely local DIY brides (generally from Island, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties in WA), and we sell our flowers in straight bunches (usually 10 stems of a single variety) to select local groceries, food co-ops, and florists.

Flower Farm Washington State

Do you ship your flowers?
At this point we don’t ship our flowers, but we have experiments and ideas in the works for this future possibility!

flower farm Washington

What are your plans for 2014?
We are looking to expand the quantities of what we grow well, and trying our best to limit ourselves from trying out too many new varieties of flowers. It’s hard to exercise self control!
We are also very excited about rolling out our first Flower CSA program in Bellingham, WA.
Triple Wren Farms also grows edible produce, and we are very proud to have been accepted into Sustainable Connection’s Food to Bank On program in Whatcom County, WA, beginning in January, 2014. The mentoring and farm-business training that we are going to be incredibly privileged to receive will help our farm business as a whole. I’m sure we will carry many concepts over into the way we plan and manage our specialty cut flowers. We’re very excited about 2014!

crabapples blossoms triple wren farms

dianthus and gomphrena by triple wren farms

How do you find out what your wholesalers and/or designers want for the next season?
We ask them! Towards the end of this past growing season I reached out to our most loyal customers (primarily florists and grocery floral buyers) and asked them to let me know what they wished they could find locally grown to buy for their designs. We got a great response and are implementing lots of their ideas this next season in regard to colors, textures, shapes and trends that are on the horizon.

dahlias feverfew flowers

Contact Information:
Sarah and Steve Pabody
360-296-5357
info@triplewrenfarms.com
www.triplewrenfarms.com
www.instagram.com/triplewrenfarms

triple wren farms

yellow sunflowers by triple wren farms

feverfew by Triple Wren Farms

Visiting Greenstone Fields, Virginia

While Holly and I made our flower farm rounds we stopped by Barbara’s – Greenstone Fields. I hadn’t heard of Barbara before this trip, what a pleasant surprise to visit her large flower farm, filled with quite the variety of flowers!

I was quite enamoured by these lisianthus flowers:
pink lisianthus

pink lisianthus

pink lisianthus

pink lisianthus

Tucked away into the forest were rows & rows of logs which will host Shiitake mushrooms:
mushroom logs

gomphrena pink

fields dahlias

gold dahlias

pink celosia

burgundy amaranthus

yellow sunflowers

yellow sunflowers

red zinnias

red zinnias

yellow flowers

yellow flowers

rows of zinnias

salmon zinnia

purple lisianthus

blackberry vines*

Contact Information:
Greenstone Fields
http://www.greenstonefields.com/
38223 John Wolford Road
Purcellville, VA 20132
Phone: 540-882-4408

Flower Farm Focus :: Destiny Hill Farm, Washington, Pennsylvania

Summer Flower Mixture

When did you start your business and where are you located?
Destiny Hill Farm was created in 2011. The farm was originally my
Grandparent’s farm. My husband, Jim and I purchased the 137 acres from
my family and then enrolled in Penn State Extension’s Classes on
farming since we had no farm experience.
Destiny Hill is located 30 miles south of Pittsburgh in Washington, PA.

Nigella Pods, Love In The Mist

Red dahlias summer flowers

Why did you begin flower farming?
My Grandmothers and Mother adored flowers and that passion was
passed on to my sisters and me. My wonderful husband trusted my desire
for us to become successful flower farmers.

Sunflowers

Sweet Williams

What flowers and foliages do you grow? Are there particular flowers/foliages you specialize in?
We grow annuals, perennials, bulbs, tubers and shrubs for cuts. I
love all of our flowers but I really admire our hydrangea, lisianthus,
dahlias, sunflowers, roses, calla and of course our lavender. I’m
willing to try anything looking for beauty or funky fun and a good
vase life.
We specialize in lavender, fresh cut flowers and berries. We grow
over two miles of lavender and have seventeen varieties.

wearing Lavender

Lavender in a Basket

What are your current pest management/growing practices?
We use sustainable practices and desire to be good stewards of the
land that we are temporarily in trusted with. My sister is a cancer
survivor and my Mother died from cancer so I’m passionate about a
healthy environment.

bridal bouquet

white rose boutonnieres

Where do you sell your flowers? Do you ship your flowers?
We sell flowers at our town’s weekly Farmers’ Market May-October.
$200 orders may be purchased directly from the farm. Most of our
flowers are used in our weekly on-site Farm weddings and corporate
events and designed by the Destiny Hill Farm Floral and Design Team.
We currently do not ship flowers or sell to wholesalers.

-If you have the opportunity to compare fresh cut local flowers vs.
cut flowers that are grown in Central America, boxed and shipped to
the USA you will be blown away by the long vase life and clarity of
U.S. home grown local flowers.

Destiny Hill Farm

Lavender Cake

What are your plans for 2013? How do you find out what your wholesalers and/or designers want for the next season?
Our plans for 2013 are to communicate well with our Brides and
create each Bride’s dream. Pinterest and Ipads are fabulous tools for
consultations. I share photos of our flowers and floral work as well
as pin hundreds of floral ideas for our customers.
-Each year we want to learn, share, teach and become better farmers.

chair decorations for wedding ceremony

snapdragons

Contact Information:
Destiny Hill Farm
1069 South Main St.
Washington, PA 15301
http://www.destinyhill.com/

Destiny Hill Farm

Destiny Hill Farm

Visiting Green Valley Growers Farm, Sebastopol, CA

Last week we had quite the treat as my mom, niece and I visited a Hydrangea Farm in Sebastopol, California!! It was a particularly hot day here in Northern California, definitely hit over 100 degrees that day – thank goodness we were walking the grounds of a farm where hydrangeas grow under a large grove of trees, quite refreshing.
Green Valley Growers, located in the rolling hills of Sonoma County, grows an abundance of flora available to designers throughout the country. If you live near San Francisco you can visit their booth at the San Francisco Flower Mart. If not, then check out their page here to read about their delivery options. Also, this page has a list of all flora they offer, although they are known mostly for their gorgeous and abundant Hydrangeas.
Jerry Bolduan started this farm in 1986 with Peter Cerda. Originally it was an apple orchard which they switched over to a flower farm, in the past 27 years he and his staff have planted 18,000 hydrangea bushes on this property! There are 380 known varieties of Hydrangeas, Jerry has a 180 varieties planted right here on this farm.

A few interesting bits of information about Hydrangeas:
– Most hydrangea plants prefer morning sun only
– Flower Heads, leaves and roots all drink water, hence why our cut flowers do so well to perk up when they are soaked in a tub of water
– Throw old apples under the hydrangea bush and the blooms will turn blue and indigo
– Oak Leaf Hydrangeas contain a lot of pollen & their leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall
– Hydrangeas are Decidious
– They like fertilizer with high nitrogen

Green Valley Growers

Oak Leaf Hydrangea, brilliant red leaves in the fall. These hydrangeas can take a lot of sunshine.

pink and blue hydrangeas

hydrangea farm

pink and purple hydrangeas

Fuchsias

Fuchsias in large urns decorate the lounging area above the hydrangea garden.

Green Valley Growers

Beautiful space to relax while surrounded by beautiful hydrangeas and fuchsias and under towering trees, the koi pond just below the deck.

Hydrangeas growing under the grove of trees.

Hydrangeas growing under the grove of trees.

Sebastopol California Hydrangea Grower

Lacecap Hydrangeas

hydrangeas sebastopol

blue hydrangeas

blue hydrangeas

purple and pink hydrangeas

Green Valley Growers Hydrangea

Oak Leaf Hydrangeas

Owner and Hydrangea expert, Jerry, gives us a tour of the farm.

Owner and Hydrangea expert, Jerry, gives us a tour of the farm.

Even though it was about 100 degrees this day, standing under the trees and amongst the hydrangeas was quite refreshing.

Even though it was about 100 degrees this day, standing under the trees and amongst the hydrangeas was quite refreshing.

Red Geraniums placed in urns alongside the Oak Leaf Hydrangeas added a nice contrast to the garden.

Red Geraniums placed in urns alongside the Oak Leaf Hydrangeas added a nice contrast to the garden.

Green Valley Growers Hydrangea

Annabelle Hydrangeas. If these are fertilized they can grown to 24″ in diameter! Jerry doesn’t feed them, prefers they stay an easier size for floral designers to work into arrangements.

Nigra, the black stem hydrangea. The cleaned stems look great in a glass vase, can add drama to a design.

Nigra, the black stem hydrangea. The cleaned stems look great in a glass vase, can add drama to a design.

Garden Stairs leading up to the lounging deck, engulfed in Hydrangeas.

Garden Stairs leading up to the lounging deck, engulfed in Hydrangeas.

One of Jerry's beautiful art pieces from China, lovely amongst the hydrangeas.

One of Jerry’s beautiful art pieces from China, lovely amongst the hydrangeas.

Green Valley Growers

Lacecap Hydrangea

fuchsia in urn

purple hydrangeas sebastopol

Popcorn Hydrangeas

Popcorn Hydrangeas

Green Valley Growers Sebastopol California

Oak Leaf Hydrangea

Contact Information:
Green Valley Growers
Website: http://www.greenvalleygrower.com/

Visiting Figone Flower Farm, Miramar, CA

Last week I accompanied Nancy Liu Chin on a visit to Louie Figone’s Flower Farm in Miramar, California. There is something so magical, so enlightening about visiting a flower farm. It becomes very apparent very quickly just how hard farming really is! Always trying to stay up with the latest market trends and desires, keeping customers happy, keeping the farm hands happy, keeping the plants happy. Louie bought this 320 acre property in 1967, he is currently farming 58 acres of it with the help of 5 farm hands. Did you get that? Farms 58 acres with only the help of 5 men, that’s a lot of work! From what the other floral designers in the area tell me, Louie only provides the best quality flowers at the mart .. and I hear his Cafe Au Lait Dahlias are to-die-for! Can’t wait to get my hands on those once they come into season.

Figone’s Farm grows Hydrangeas, Dahlias, Calla Lilies, Dusty Miller, Ranunculus, Anemones, Sunflowers, and a variety of foliages. Sorry designers outside of the Bay Area- Louie does not ship his flowers, he only sells them at San Francisco Flower Mart.

Louie shared with Nancy and I how he has seen the floral industry change over the years, about the heydays back in the 70s & 80s, before box stores and the internet took over. How he used to grow so many Marguerite Daisies and how they took over the farm and he had to rent the neighbor’s land to plant even more daisies. Back in those days he did ship as his daisies were in demand across the country – the farm was bustling with 40 farm hands back then. How the industry has changed, how demands have changed. As most of us know, daisies aren’t requested much anymore. These days it’s more boutique farming, with the dahlias and hydrangeas taking up the majority of room on the farm as they love the mild temperatures in the Half Moon Bay area. Nancy and I did ask about other potential crops, but HMB is not cold enough in the winter for peonies or lilacs, and too much fog in the air is hard on roses.

Louie Figone and Nancy Liu Chin

Louie Figone and Nancy Liu Chin

Hydrangea growing farm

Rows and Rows of Hydrangeas, we saw many plots of Hydrangeas growing.

growing hydrangeas

More hydrangea bushes

Rows of pretty dahlias about to show themselves. From what I hear Louie has the best Cafe Au Lait Dahlias!

Rows of pretty dahlias about to show themselves. From what I hear Louie has the best Cafe Au Lait Dahlias!

rows of dahlias

The dahlia fields are coming along nicely!

irrigation pond

Two creeks fill this pond with the water that will irrigate all the flowers on the property.

old tractors

Retired Tractors

old tractor

Nancy Liu Chin

Nancy is going to become a farmer! Just kidding!

green hydrangea farmer

Hydrangea fresh in from the field, being carried into the barn.

pink and blue hydrangea

Processing Hydrangea for market.

green hydrangea

Hydrangea processed and headed for the large walk-in cooler.

blue hydrangea

Blue hydrangea waiting on the processing tables.

flower buckets

I’ve seen these buckets filled with alluring blossoms placed on carts at San Francisco Flower Mart, then find myself headed to Figone’s stall to pick up said flowers for myself! (on a side note, return buckets to your wholesalers/farmers, it’s a HUGE expense for them!)

hunting dog

Sal waiting to go for a ride around the farm

moss covered branches

Lots of bundles of moss covered branches.

wild pink and red roses

Wild Roses growing on the property

abandoned greenhouse

Abandoned Greenhouse

nasturtium

Nasturtium growing along side the road on Figone’s Farm.

Louie told Nancy and I that his son, Joe, will take over the farm one day. As I was leaving I noticed this drawn into the concrete, it made me smile.

Louie told Nancy and I that his son, Joe, will take over the farm one day. As I was leaving I noticed this drawn into the concrete, it made me smile.

I hope you enjoyed having a look around Louie’s farm!

Contact Information:
Ph: (415) 543-1711
San Francisco Flower Mart Stall 74B

Expert Panel : Locally Sourced Product

I’d love to know if you source flowers locally or from US farms. If so, can you share your experiences working directly with growers? If not, why not—so we, as growers, can improve and reach out to designers … we’d love to know what your favorite “locally sourced” flowers/foliages are.
Submitted by LynnVale Studios, LLC

Robyn from Bare Root Flora:
We are fortunate that our local brokers get a fair amount of flowers from Colorado’s own Jordan’s Greenhouse, which grows a hefty portion of the tulips, dahlia, anemones, and ranunculus we buy. Colorado was actually home to many large flower growers back in the day, but those farms went by the wayside long ago. What we wouldn’t do for a Floret Flower Farm down the road! 🙂 We do try to patronize other fabulous growers like Swan Island Dahlias, out of Oregon, for example. But most of that road ends up being navigated by our wholesalers themselves–we don’t have a tremendous amount of experience working directly with growers. I’d love to get hooked up with more small-scale artisan flower farmers, so if you’re out there, let us know about you!

Ariella Chezar:
As much as possible I grow my own and use local growers. The balance comes to me from the San Francisco and the New York markets. I tell the local growers which flowers I am interested in, and they grown them. I am always after unusual varieties and colors but most especially, I am interested in flowers that have been grown responsibly and without pesticides.

Brandon from Epic Flowers:
We’ve been working with local farms for close to 15 years now. What we look for is product that you do not find in traditional designs. Local farms have played a big part of our success because they listen to what we want and they have made is possible for us to design with fun unique florals and greens. Some local farms compete against us florists. This is a turn off, as you might know and when it comes to who we buy tulips from this spring we will remember that. Local farms who want to work with local florists need to know competing against us is not sustainable. Our favorite locally grown flowers: Varieties of Coxcomb/Amaranth, veggies/fruit (ornamental peppers, artichokes, okra, raspberries) snow on the mountain, peony greens, canterbury bells, red shuttle flower, turtle flowers, bergamot, a variety of herbs (mint, Sage, rosemary)

Cori from Moss Fine Floral:
I do source flowers locally as well as from local and national floral wholesalers. I would love to support more independent farms but have only successfully worked with a few. I’ve found that the two farms I work with most are very casual which only works with a very casual client. My calls are sometimes not returned and email is sparse with these growers. This doesn’t stop me from chasing them as their product is always gorgeous and they do service with a smile. If there are farms out there that are reading this post and they can work with me in Chicago I’d love to hear from you!

My local faves are limited but extremely fresh: Zinnia, Cockscomb, Dahlia, Lisianthus, Peony, Limelight Hydrangea, Amaranthus, Tuberose, Sunflowers, Gomphrena, Ornamental Kale, Euphorbia, and Eucalyptus.

Cathy from Sprout Flowers:
My only experience working directly with local growers has been pretty limited. I don’t have time to get out of the shop to go hunting down growers and the few who are willing to deliver are rather scattershot and inconsistent.

Since I am relatively close to the Boston Flower Exchange, it’s my guess that it makes the most sense for local growers who have consistent product to sell directly to wholesalers and not sell a few bunches here and there to random small shops.

peach bridal bouquet

Designed by Erin of Floret Flower Farm

Flower Farm Focus :: LynnVale Farm

Andrea LynnVale Farms
Flirty Fleurs Farm Interview with LynnVale Studios at LynnVale Farm

When did you start your business and where are you located?

My husband Lou and I started growing in 2002 on his 8th generation family-owned farm
in Gainesville, VA.

Why did you begin flower farming?
Many people ask us this and I’d like to say we had it all planned out to the last detail
with a shining business plan to point toward. Initially, we had little access to large
farming equipment, little commercial growing knowledge, two Bachelors of Architecture
degrees from Virginia Tech and a strong desire to reconnect with family, offer our
children space and opportunity and the desire to create a beautiful place – a creative
destination. Lou had built a successful career at Walt Disney Imagineering around
designing and executing what hadn’t been done before, what most people couldn’t
get their heads or hands around. My strength? I’m very good at taking wild leaps,
just not so skilled at packing the correct parachute or gauging how fast the ground is
racing toward me. I trusted Lou, we trusted our vision and our own abilities to tackle
any obstacles that might challenge us and we jumped. Lou returned to painting
and I started my first seeds. My experience with celosia describes my romance with
flower growing perfectly. Once they sprouted I was thrilled, once planted I struggled
to maintain them, weed them, feed them, fret over them. Once they began blooming
I was mystified – I’d never seen a picture of celosia. Finally, I took them to market
and received glowing customer appreciation. I/we were hooked. With enough similar
experiences with each other flower crop we tried (save buddleia) we decided we loved
flowers and flower growing enough to get serious and so I ran (not walked) to the
ASCFG.

Dahlia Farm

What flowers and foliages do you grow? Are there particular flowers/foliages you
specialize in?

We are fortunate in Virginia to have a very long growing season so with season
extension (hoop-houses and tunnels) we can have flowers from March through
November. We grow over 100 varieties of flowers foliages and herbs, from Anemones
to Zinnias. We don’t necessarily specialize in any one crop but we do grow roughly
an acre of zinnias and dahlias as they are much in demand from both our retail and
designer clients. Anything with fragrance, be it flower or herb is on our list as well as
anything weird and funky that might appeal to the discerning designer.

Zinnias Flowers Farm Virginia

What are your current pest management/growing practices?
Technically we are “conventional” farmers. We share a field with a farmer that leases
the property who practices “no-till farming.” On our farm we choose organic methods
first and utilize chemical/inorganic means in cases of imminent crop failure. We are
a small operation, there is little time nor desire to spray regularly. We plant disease
resistant varieties wherever possible, focus our energies on promoting beneficials,
raising the healthiest plants and feeding our soil using sustainable methods. In some
cases this means giving up growing certain cuts which prove to be consistent pest
magnets, such as Campanula Champion, flower thrips love this one too much in our
area.

Virginia Flower Farm

Where do you sell your flowers? Do you ship your flowers?
This year we’ll sell at two area farmer’s markets – Saturdays at Burke, VA and Sundays
in DC at the Palisades Famers market. We deliver to our wholesale clients on a weekly
basis. Last year we toyed with the idea of shipping flowers as we are only twenty
minutes from Dulles Airport, something we’re considering again for this year.

Zinnias Virginia Flower Farm

What are your plans for 2013? How do you find out what your wholesalers and/or
designers want for the next season?
For 2013, we’ve elected to drop our weekday markets altogether in favor of serving the
needs of more area designers. We gather trend information from a variety of sources
but most of all from the designers themselves. We ask lots of questions throughout the
season and create our master list at this time of year, often choosing certain varieties
with specific designers in mind. We also follow numerous wedding blogs and individual
designers who’s work we admire for future trends so that we can not only grow for our
customers but also for our own work. Growing with designers in mind has opened
the door to a wealth of new varieties. Flowers with shorter stems, delicate vines,
temperamental foliages that we might find difficult to handle or market to our retail
customers are finding new homes in gorgeous bridal bouquets, wrapped around ornate
candelabras or draped along the most inventive tables-capes.

Your contact information:
www.lynnvale.com
phone: 571-238-4230
twitter: https://twitter.com/LynnValeStudios
pinterest: http://pinterest.com/lynnvalestudios/
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/

Celosia Virginia Flower Farm

Insight into a Small Growerʼs World by Andrea Gagnon

Last year we grew more flowers and reached out to more designers than ever with great success. Finding the right grower, or growers, that work with you, grow for you, anticipate your needs, and consistently meet or exceed your expectations can be as challenging as finding a designer who values your product, delights in the unusual and understands and is comfortable with the uncertainty of Mother Nature. Time to nurture,
trust, and clear communication are key to the incredible, fulfilling collaborations waiting to made. If youʼve never reached out it can be a little daunting. Whatever your reasons, an individual grower may choose to sell wholesale – they are not, however, wholesalers, in our opinion, and hereʼs why…

WHO are they?

Smaller growers are not that unlike designers in that they are, with few exceptions, flower addicts who are motivated to create, raise, and nurture beauty in this increasingly visually stimulating world.  They also have LAND and generally a desire to responsibly use and/or preserve it.
Flower farming is high-density farming, a single acre can grow a lot of flowers thus smaller growers often “grow where they live.”

Diane from JelloMold Farm

our dear friend and colleague Diane from JelloMold Farm in Washington is an expert grower of
flowers, teacher of growers and creator of cooperatives (SWGMC in Seattle, WA), photographed by
David Perry for ʻ50 Mile Bouquet,ʼ by Debra Prinzing

WHERE are they?

Smaller growers are everywhere, thriving as much in rural areas as they are in suburbs, even inner cities. Most sell independently while some, where the interest in supporting locally grown is strong, have formed thriving cooperatives such as Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative. LynnVale Farm has been farmed actively by our family for eight generations and is located only 30 miles west of downtown DC. What used to be rural countryside is now brimming with houses, people and big box development. Our local community often patronizes our
business specifically to support our efforts to keep our farmland open and productive. As we are so close to the city we occasionally have designers come and “cut their own” for special events, unfortunately, we (and they) also have to deal with DC traffic. Plan your designer visit for early in the week and plan to stay awhile – itʼs pretty typical for most designers to get lost in our fields for
at least an hour, or two, or….

LynnVale Farm

LynnVale Farm, nestled amidst 100 acres of family-owned land is a floral designers paradise at peak
season.

WHAT do they grow?

Smaller growers tend to start raising what grows well in their area. For us here in Virginia, heat and humidity-loving zinnias and celosia are easy to grow and market. As their businesses and markets grow so too their growing season. What they grow reflects the dominant markets they
sell to – retail to public? retail florists? wedding designers? wholesalers? Building a strong flower farm is like building a sound house, a strong foundation in long-term crops, for us, hydrangeas and peonies, balanced with perennials and annuals.
Every year this relationship gets evaluated on our farm. This past year we stopped forcing lilies to bloom all season long for our retail markets and instead focused on annuals that would add texture to any event designers palette. Our sales to designers skyrocketed and to our surprise we sold more lilies during their natural blooming season than ever, turned out our retail customers love the excitement of “whatʼs blooming next” as much as we do.

Salvia “Wendyʼs Wish,”

Delicate bracts of our Salvia “Wendyʼs Wish,” proved a favorite of designer Ellen Frost from Local Color
Flowers in Baltimore, Ellen sources all of her product from local farms so sheʼs especially interested in
anything new we have to offer, photo by Local Color Flowers

WHEN to contact them?
In the off-season, contact growers as early as possible, many ordering, growing and marketing decisions are made then. At LynnVale we order tulip bulbs in July, ranunculus in April, etc.
During the growing season, as much advance notice as possible and the earlier in the week the better. Our biggest challenge is breaking the “wholesaler habit,” i.e. designers call us at 7am, they need it on their doorstep by 1pm, and we are knee-deep in mud, literally. For some clients we created the LynnVale Designer CSA program where we work together to set a weekly budget,
listen attentively to our clients needs and style, and we arrive each week with a balanced assortment of “our seasonal best” from LynnVale Farm.

farm fresh flowers Virginia

an impromptu visit to Holly Chapple led to her lovely bouquet below featuring our oregano,
viburnum berries, lysmachia, and hydrangea. photo by Holly Chapple

textured bridal bouquet

design and photo by Holly Chapple

HOW to communicate?
For our clients, we send out a weekly availability list yet increasingly, social media is proving a powerful tool in helping us develop and sustain designer/grower relations. Pinterest tops our list.
Ellen Frost, from Local Color Flowers, created a board entitled “Growers wish list!” We check it regularly and we also pay attention to the individual boards designers are creating for their brides/clients. In turn we create boards for what weʼre planning to add to our gardens in any given year.

Scabiosa Pods

This photo is a great visual reminder to us to grow more Scabiosa, ʻPing Pongʼ pinned to the board
“Growerʼs Wish List” from Ellen Frost of Local Color Flowers in Baltimore. photograph by Jennie Love of
LoveʼnʼFresh Flowers

WHY buy local flowers?
VALUE –
I hear often from designers that our flowers can be expensive and the answer is a resounding “YES!.” Why? we offer unique hard-to-find or hard-to-ship varieties, our flowers are freshly harvested with superior vase life, we often custom grow for designers, our flowers arrive hydrated in water – ready to use, no labor, no unpacking, no shipping stress.
Sure, it appears on the surface that buying directly from a farm should be inexpensive right? after all, seedʼs cheap, right? Every so often I have to remind customers that the price they are paying for any specific flower is NOT just related to what it cost me to grow it that year, but rather the 10 years I spent learning how to grow it consistently, beautifully and sustainably.
Our favorite feedback “We always know which flowers are LynnVale flowers because when they (the weekly arrangements) come back to us they are the only flowers left looking gorgeous.”

Cafe Au Lait Dahlias

LynnVale, ʻCafe au Laitʼ, dahlias are often the most requested variety from designers and, for us, one of
the most difficult varieties to grow well in hot-humid Virginia growing conditions.

VARIETY –
Smaller growers are generally “niche growers,” they are not trying actively to compete with wholesalers but rather compliment them. This means growing varieties that either do not ship or store well, dahlias, fully blown lisianthus and delicate herbs and vines, for example. Growing is expensive business and field space is valuable, finding the right variety to grow, the proper way to grow it, the market to sell it to and customer acceptance is a true art. Nurturing a relationship with a grower is the best way to have a voice in what gets grown in your area.

Saipua floral design

Tablescapes by Saipua, featuring an assortment of local Virginia-grown flowers and LynnValeʼs
Love-in-puff vine and lemon basil

FRAGRANCE –
One year, as a thank you, we helped out one of my loyal designer clients for Valentineʼs Day.
After four wonderful days of hectic, barely-controlled chaos we would have given my eye-teeth for a sprig of basil or freshly harvested stock or sweet pea. There simply is no substitute with regard to natural, “fresh from the field” fragrance as so many flowers have either had it bred out of them or suffer serious fragrance loss due to cold storage/shipping.

Erin Benzakein Floret Flower Farm

Irresistible! freshly harvested blooms by sweet pea expert Erin Benzakein of Floret flower farm, photo by
Floret.

the BIGGER Picture –
Whether grower, designer or both, we are all increasingly supporting, subject to, at the whim of an industry that is out-of-balance. At present 80% of all cut flowers in the US are imported, the more that balance tips toward 100% the less say the design community will have in what is actually being grown and perhaps more importantly how itʼs being grown and by whom. If price drives the market the flowers that cost the least to produce, are easily grown, and suffer the least damage will prevail and variety and speculative growing will decline as local, American growers, regardless of size, struggle to compete.

The extreme opposite is happening in the food world, where local food and local sourcing is “where itʼs at.” Revered by chefs, demanded by customers, locally sourced ingredients are essential to any top chefʼs success, just as any artistʼs materials. For our own designs we
primarily source from our own gardens but like many designers we crave the unique and unusual touches that may be either out of season or not easy to grow in Virginia. Not wanting to put all our eggs in one basket we regularly turn to our neighboring farms and have cultivated strong relationships with American growers AND our local wholesaler. Maintaining balance in our own business, diversity amongst our crops and our customers, maintaining flexibility and being truly open to new opportunities has led to our continued success and we hope the tips weʼve shared
will help you to “KNOW YOUR FLOWER FARMER!”

cafe au lait dahlias

floral design by LynnVale Studios, featuring our ʻCafe au Laitʼ dahlias, ʻCopperheadʼ amaranthus,
trycirtis ʻSonomeʼ and dusty miller blended with imported garden roses, seeded euc, scabiosa
and brunia from Potomac Floral Wholesale, photography by Northern Virginia Wedding
Photography

Thank you, Andrea of LynnVale Farms, for this insightful article on understanding and supporting small farms.
We will be posting interviews with small farms in the coming weeks, stay tuned and get to know your Flower Farmers!