Celebrating American Grown Flowers

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We were inspired recently by two events which celebrated locally-grown cut flowers and the farmers who grow them for us.  One of them was held in our own backyard.

In September a Field to Vase dinner was held at Jello Mold Farm in Mount Vernon. Jello Mold Farm is a 7-acre sustainable, organic flower farm,the dream fulfilled of Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall. 

Jello Mold Farm (you identify the farm by the copper jello molds nailed to a power pole by the entrance) is a founding member of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative established in 2011, whose mission is to foster a vibrant community marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top quality products to the floral industry of the Pacific Northwest. 

The Field to Vase Dinner Tour is a series of dinners that took place across the United States over the past months to highlight local purveyors from flower farmers to florists. Lucky for us, one was held in our area.   We arrived at Jello Mold Farm late in the afternoon on a glorious sunny September day. 

The farm was filled with fields of dahlias, zinnias and other plants, including the pumpkins that they grow for us at Ravenna Gardens. With a glass of wine in our hands we started our tour of the farm with Diane & Dennis, as they explained their vision and their commitment to land stewardship. Sustainable grown means much more to them than freedom from toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides. One third of their seven acres is set aside for wildlife habitat.

The dinner was held in the fields, with one long table laden with over 100 vases filled with flowers from the farm and 10 other Northwest flower farms. The vases were created by Melissa Feveyear of Terra Bella Flowers and the featured florist for the dinner. Melissa is the provider of the fabulous bouquets we sell at Ravenna Gardens during holidays (next up, Thanksgiving).

The delicious dinner was a 5-course meal from Chef Erik Johnson of Capitol Cider in Seattle, which included items from the farm. Wines and cider accompanied the meal, and as the sunset we sadly left feeling very fortunate to have participated in such a special event.

The Field to Vase Dinner Tour has concluded for 2015, but hopefully it will be back next year and you will have an opportunity to participate. Also on Facebook as Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

The second event which really excited us happened just last weekend in Detroit. Flower House Detroit, the vision of Lisa Waud, a Detroit florist and owner of Pot & Box, a floral design business.

Lisa was inspired in 2012 when she saw images of the Christian Dior couture show, held in a Parisian mansion field with flowers. This year, she purchased a derelict house for $250. Before tearing the house down and creating a flower farm for her business, she brought together 36 floral designers from around the United States, to create a series of still-life tableaux, using over 36,000 American grown flowers. Here’s a link to a video.

Inside Detroit Flower House - Images from Yahoo Homes

We couldn’t write this without mentioning local writer and impassioned advocate for a more sustainable flower industry, Debra Prinzing. Debra wrote The 50 Mile Bouquet in 2012 and is the creator of www.slowflowers.com. She also blogs at www.debraprinzing.com, where you will find weekly podcasts which aren’t to be missed.

Here is a link to Debra's podcast giving a virtual tour of the Flower House in Detroit. Debra is a Board Member of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market and also served as co-host for each of the Field to Vase Dinners.

To see  more images from the events - Seattle & Detroit. Most of the images used were taken by Linda Blue.

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