“Progressive and sustainably minded floral pros meet for the Slow Flowers Summit.”
Since the inaugural conference in 2017, the Slow Flowers Summit has given attendees a chance to learn from artists, innovators, thought leaders and practitioners whose commitment to domestic flowers is the core mission of the Slow Flowers Movement.
The third annual Slow Flowers Summit drew 130 attendees from 21 U.S. states and one Canadian province for three full days of programming. Summit guests heard from 10 inspirational speakers and enjoyed four floral tours; a farm dinner; and three design demonstrations, including an interactive foam-free large-scale installation. The Summit took place June 30-July 2, during American Flowers Week. Slow Flowers partnered with Minnesota-based Twin Cities Flower Exchange (TCFE) and Bailey Nurseries Inc., to present the event.
On June 30, Blue Sky Flower Farm and Green Earth Growers, local flower farms, opened their gates for tours, engaging attendees with the vibrancy of Minnesota floral agriculture. The day concluded with a Slow Flowers “Dinner on the Farm” at Green Earth Growers. Produced by Monica Walch of Dinner on the Farm, the optional event drew 100 guests who celebrated local fare from Quince and local cocktails from Tattersall Distilling. Twin Cities Flower Exchange also designed the beautiful table arrangements to showcase local blooms.
Conference highlights included Bailey Nurseries’ president Terri McEnaney’s presentation on “Branding Your Green Platform,” illustrated in part by a larger-than-life female form clad in the nursery’s award-winning Endless Summer Hydrangea.
Three panels led talks across a diverse range of subjects. Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm and Tobey Nelson of Tobey Nelson Events & Design presented their take on “Sustainable Sourcing and Design,” and they demonstrated various green-design techniques, inviting participants to assist in the production.
Kalisa Jenne-Fraser, Missy Palacol and Niesha Blancas, experts on branding and social media, led a presentation on “Authentic and Visual Storytelling” while the “Farmer-to-Florist” conversation about regional wholesale floral hubs featured Amanda Maurmann of the Michigan Flower Growers Co-op, Kelly Morrison of Piedmont Wholesale Flowers and Christine Hoﬀman of Twin Cities Flower Exchange.
Los Angeles-based floral designer Whit McClure of Whit Hazen wrapped up the Slow Flowers Summit sessions as the capstone speaker, sharing her passion for floral activism and social justice, as well as flowers. Two tours fi lled the fi nal day, revealing the production and marketing of local flowers. In the morning, attendees gathered at The Good Acre, the St. Paul, Minn., organic food hub that is home to TCFE. Hoﬀman shared more of the exchange’s story and invited guests to experience “delivery day,” when Minnesota-area farmers arrive with buckets and bins of seasonal flowers. Ashley Fox of Ashley Fox Designs demonstrated her centerpiece design style using just-picked ingredients. The afternoon showcased a tour of the greenhouse operations at Plymouth, Minn.-based Len Busch Roses, the last commercial rose grower in the Midwest.
This was the most extensive Slow Flowers Summit schedule to date, made possible with support from generous sponsorships, including from Wildflower Media’s Florists’ Review. Other major sponsors included Len Busch Roses, PosterGarden, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Longfield Gardens, Syndicate Sales and Flower Farming School Online. Supporting sponsors included BloomTrac Software, Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG), Eco Fresh Bouquet, LORA Bloom and Farmgirl Flowers. Floral donations came from Slow Flowers’ member farms across the U.S: Arctic Alaska Peonies, Charles Little & Company, FernTrust, Florabundance, Greenstone Fields, Len Busch Roses, Mayesh Wholesale Florist, Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers, Star Valley Flowers, Sunny Meadows Flower Farm and Twin Cities Flower Exchange.
Who attends the Slow Flowers Summit?
According to post-event survey, attendees identified themselves in one or more categories:
◦ 52% Flower farmer/Farmer-florist
◦ 43% Florist/Floral designer
◦ 15% Wholesale florist, Educator or Floral enthusiast
◦ 10% Retail florist
What draws people to the Slow Flowers Summit?
“Connecting with other attendees,” “Touring local floral businesses” and “Connecting with speakers” are the three most valuable benefits, according to attendees.
One attendee shared this endorsement in the follow-up survey: “Since its inception, The Slow Flowers Summit has been the best place for me to get inspired and really connect with my local-minded peers! I can’t imagine not attending!”
Another added: “The Slow Flowers Summit is a valuable and well-priced opportunity for education and building relationships. The presentations were varied and interesting. This event is like a tribal meet-up, with the benefit of some well-chosen learning. Highly recommended for flower folks at any level of business or interest!”
What’s up for 2020? The fourth annual Slow Flowers Summit returns to the West on June 28-30, 2020, at the historic Cowell Ranch Hay Barn at University of California/Santa Cruz, home to the famed Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.
Teresa Sabankaya of Santa Cruz’s Bonny Doon Garden Company will co-present the Slow Flowers Summit as a local partner. The full schedule and conference details will be announced in late 2019. More information is available at slowflowerssummit.com