FIELD TO VASE:
THE FLORAL FARM-TO-TABLE MOVEMENT
Next time you are perusing the flower shop, eyeing that grocery store bouquet, or admiring an arrangement at a local restaurant, I urge you to contemplate how that flower got there. It’s the first conscious step to changing the industry and fueling the discussion of the field-to-vase movement. Ask the flower shop owner where they source their blooms. Put in a request at your local grocery stores that they team up with wholesalers that pre-arrange bouquets with American grown flowers. Strike up a conversation with a chef mentioning that their centerpieces carry as much importance on table as the food being served. When it comes to food and flowers: buy fresh, buy local, buy seasonally.
What is field-to-vase?
The phrase “field-to-vase” is meant to communicate the same ethos described by the “farm-to-table” movement that is currently sweeping through the world of fine dining. There is growing demand to go "back to the roots" of growing and purchasing local, organic, sustainable, field grown, fresh cut flowers. These are more than just buzz words, they represent the philosophy behind the field-to-vase movement. Simply put, flowers sold stateside should be grown domestically to support the local economy and our local agricultural communities.
What is Field to Vase?
Field to Vase is a collaborative online resource to help the public understand the growing movement of localizing the flower industry. It features a blog that includes articles and photographs submitted by flower industry experts and select contributors, easy to understand industry digits and statistics, and introductions and contact information of U.S. flower growers. As the Editor of Field to Vase, I quite enjoy connecting with domestic flower farmers and eco-conscious florists in order to promote the discussion of the local flower movement on the Field to Vase blog and social media outlets; follow along @fieldtovase on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
74% of consumers don’t know the origins of their flowers–do you know where the flowers in your bouquet were sourced? The most quoted, and shocking, statistic of the flower industry is that 80% of flowers sold in the United States are imported from other countries. Should your flowers really have more frequent flyer miles than you? No way! What about all those dangerous pesticides? 20% of pesticides used on imported flowers contain known carcinogens that are banned in the U.S.–no one should have to worry about poison when burying their nose in a fragrant bouquet. Furthermore, did you know that over half of domestic flower farmers have gone out of business since 1992? American flower farmers simply cannot compete with cheap outsourced labor wages. Take Colombia for example: flower workers earn only $6/day and commonly work 70+ hours a week without overtime pay. Why does such a wholesome commodity have such ugly industry practices? More importantly: what can we do about it?
Of all the flowers grown domestically, a whopping 77% of them are grown right here in California! Here are some fine flower folks that you should support in our SLOcal community:
CENTRAL COAST FLOWER GROWERS
Orange Blossom Creative (Atascadero)
Offers a unique and thoughtful way to enjoy local, seasonal flowers and foliage displayed in re-purposed vessels.
Wilder Floral Co. (San Luis Obispo)
Sources floral products primarily from California growers and currently about 90% of their product comes from SLO County.
Krysti Jerdin of Orange Blossom Creative
“I ABSOLUTELY LOVE FILLING A RUSTY CAN OR WEATHERED PIECE OF POTTERY WITH A BOUQUET OF SEASONAL BLOOMS AND TWIGS.” - KRYSTI JERDIN OF ORANGE BLOSSOM CREATIVE
Orange Blossom Creative designer Krysti Jerdin exclusively uses local and seasonal flowers from her own garden, local landscapes, or local flower farmers. Her floral arrangements are wild and abstract, with lots of contrasting elements and textural curiosities. Often times Krysti will pair lush showcase flowers with twigs, branches, berries, seedpods, and spent blooms. She never recreates the same arrangement twice and always offers up her bouquets in unique vessels that are truly one-of-a-kind!
What is your background?
I am a local girl who grew up here in San Luis Obispo County. My mom has a green thumb and has always enjoyed gardening, so I guess you could say that I have been hanging out in the garden my whole life. In addition to growing up around seasonal flowers and foliage, I come from a family of collectors of second hand and vintage objects. The passion for collecting unique things comes in handy for flower arranging, as many of the pieces I collect I use as flower vessels.
What is your personal floral design philosophy when it comes to arranging flowers?
Let the pieces in the arrangement do the talking. I find it is better to allow the flowers to move in the direction they want to. If I am looking for a certain style or feel in an arrangement then I search out the stem or branch that naturally flows in that direction; I do not use wires or tape to force the arrangement.
What are your favorite springtime flowers and why?
I love cottage garden flowers: hollyhocks, delphiniums, garden roses, peonies, and wild flowers. I think I am drawn to them for their color pallet; they remind me of a watercolor paints. Plus cottage flowers are romantic!
Asha Renew of Wilder Floral Co.
San Luis Obispo, California
"WILDER FLORAL CO. WAS BORN OUT OF THE IDEA THAT HIGH-END, LUXURY FLORALS AREN'T JUST FOR WEDDINGS. I BELIEVE PEOPLE DESERVEWELL-DESIGNED BOTANICAL BEAUTY EVERY DAY." - ASHA RENEW OF WILDER FLORAL CO.
Wilder Floral Co. is the cute little flower shop on the corner of Chorro & Pismo—you can’t miss the bold black painted building, the elegant gold lettered signage, and the classic striped awning. Owner Asha Renew creates breathtaking, luscious, whimsical floral arrangements. She sources her gorgeous goods from local growers and farms, including the speciality garden roses she has become known for. Additionally she supplements her seasonal arrangements with ingredients from SLOcal farmers’ markets and her own backyard cuttings.
What inspired you to become a florist?
One day, when I was six years old, the doorbell rang. I ran eagerly to answer it but no one was there—except a small, colorful bunch of wispy, dainty wildflowers from the field at the end of our cul-de-sac. When I picked them up I noticed a handcrafted tag wrapped around their loose stems with writing similar to my own adolescent lettering that read Happy May Day. From then on I've known I wanted to bring that type of love, natural beauty, and joy to others. I'll never forget that feeling.
How would you describe your floral design aesthetic?
My design aesthetic is inspired by the natural world—using wild fruit or vines, and unique, fragrant, antique roses, and elements that lend to organic textures and shape. It wouldn’t be unlike me to tuck a cluster of grapes or even baby tomatoes on the vine or bolted cilantro into a Wilder bouquet! Wilder Floral Co. arrangements overall are romantic and lush with a balance between refined and natural imperfections. The arrangements themselves are distinctive and seasonal, using locally sourced and premium flowers.
What are your favorite springtime flowers and why?
Nothing comes close to a true English garden rose—the kind that are often depicted in old Dutch Masters’ paintings, petals upon petals layered and unfolding to reveal a warm, Old Rose fragrance. They come in every color imaginable and so many different ruffled patterns and shapes; every year I discover a new favorite variety!
Carla Wingett & Karen Irwin of Huckleberry Market
San Luis Obispo, CA
WE LOVE THE WAY PLANTS GROW NATURALLY. WE LIKE TO LET THE FLOWERS FALL INTO THE SHAPES THEY WANT, IN NATURAL AND SOMEWHAT WILD WAYS. OUR STYLE IS A FRESHLY PICKED FROM THE GARDEN, ORGANIC, AND SIMPLE." - CARLA WINGET & KAREN IRWIN OF HUCKLEBERRY MARKET
Carla Wingett and Karen Irwin are the Co-Owners and Creative Directors behind Huckleberry Market in San Luis Obispo. The creative duo have fused together Carla’s background in garden and graphic design with Karen’s background in teaching and home economics to cultivate a truly unique trifecta: one part florist, one part modern gift shop, and one part workshop space. The floral side of their business offers fresh bouquets, local flower deliveries, and flower memberships to local businesses and residences; they also provide full service floral design for weddings and events. They have garnered up quite the following for being the go-to creative hub for artistic happenings and collaborative gatherings on the Central Coast.
What does it mean to you to be part of the field-to-vase movement?
We’re so happy that Field to Vase (www.fieldtovase.com) has taken on this very necessary movement back to locally grown flowers, and we’re honored to be associated with it. We work individually with each customer to educate them on the importance and benefits of using seasonal and local products, but Field to Vase is taking this conversation to a much larger scale, and we’re so grateful for their hard work and vision.
What sets you and your business apart from other local florists?
Huckleberry Market is not only a florist, we hope to provide our customers and brides with everything they might need to entertain or prepare for an event. We also love to work with brides who have decided to do all of the work themselves, we offer floral design training and all of the supplies they need to put their own flowers together.
What are your favorite springtime flowers and why?
Our favorite spring flowers are those that remind us of our beautiful California landscape. Lupines, poppies and sweet peas all have such great natural forms that they look so pretty just on their own.
Want to learn more about the local flower movement? Check out these reads:
Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful (2008): an around-the-world, behind-the-scenes look at the flower industry and how it has sought to achieve the perfect flower-as-product.
Fresh from the Field Wedding Flowers (2014): a complete guide to using local flowers for the eco-conscious couple committed to having a “greener” wedding.
The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers (2012): Most flowers on the market today are imported, mass-produced and chemical-laden. This book introduces some of the innovative voices of the dynamic new “Slow Flowers” movement.
Kendra Aronson is currently writing, photographing, designing, and self-publishing her first book—The San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Simple Seasonal Recipes & Short Stories from the Central Coast of California. Stay in the loop with fresh updates by visiting www.slofarmersmarketcookbook.com. She is also the Editor of Field to Vase, a collaborative online resource about localizing the flower industry.
[Originally Published in the 2015 Spring Issue No. 9 of Edible SLO]