The other day I had one of those memories pop up on Facebook reminding me that 4 years ago this week I was in Philadelphia teaching my very first flower farming workshop with Jennie Love on her small urban farm, Love ‘n Fresh Flowers. It feels like just yesterday and also a lifetime ago. So much has happened since then.
Early in the spring of 2013, Jennie and I were both exhausted and feeling creatively burned out. At the time, we were both doing weddings using flowers grown on our farms and were constantly being told by other industry professionals that it was impossible to design exclusively with seasonal material.
In an effort to demonstrate that it was actually possible to design using only local flowers and also reignite our creativity we set up a blog called The Seasonal Bouquet Project. Once a week we each posted an arrangement using flowers grown within a 25 mile radius of our farms and listed the ingredients we used. Our goal was to further demonstrate the beauty of locally grown flowers to a wider audience.
While this project originally started as a dare between two friends, it quickly took on a life of its own. In 7 short months, together we created 64 artful bouquets using only locally grown flowers and foliage. Blog followers also started posting their own creations, and by the end of the season over 600 bouquets were created around the globe.
As the project was coming to a close, Jennie suggested that I come out to her farm to co-teach and host a little workshop. She was convinced that some of our East Coast readers might want to come learn with us in person. Little did we know that we would fill three brimming workshops in a matter of hours and spark the modern “Farmer-Florist” movement. Those early classes gave me a sense of how many people were longing to live a flower-filled life.
I returned from Philadelphia inspired and motivated to help share everything that I had learned the hard way about flower farming with as many people as possible. After witnessing the power of those transformative gatherings, I made the decision to start teaching workshops here on our farm.
We’ve since opened up our small operation here in the Skagit Valley over two dozen times and have hosted nearly 500 people eager to learn about small scale, high intensity flower production and seasonally based floral design.
If you would have told me back at the start of the Seasonal Bouquet Project that I would have the opportunity to help so many people follow their dreams I never would have believed you. Being able to share everything I’ve learned so far on my flower-filled journey with so many wonderful people has been one of the highlights of my life. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that the demand for them would be what it is today. This past year, tickets sold out in under 5 minutes, and our workshops were featured in both The New York Times and New York Magazine.
Yet, for every person who is able to snag a ticket, there are countless others who are unable to join in. The hundreds of disappointed, heartbroken and frustrated emails we receive during every registration period is almost too much to bear.
Since day one I have dreamed of making this information available to everyone who wants it, but teaching enough in person workshops to meet the staggering demand is not humanly possible. Last year we tried and it almost killed us.
After a lot of soul searching and thoughtful meetings with my family and the team, we have decided to take a break from hosting on-farm workshops in order to focus on our new farm property and to make this information available more widely. I never intended for our workshops to be an exclusive experience where only a select few could afford or attend. I understand what a massive stretch it is to be able to attend one of our workshops and this hasn’t sat well with me for a very long time.
Over the past 9 months, the team and I have poured our hearts and souls into converting our popular 3 day Flower Farming workshop into an extensive online course. In addition to covering all the information that we share during our on farm workshops, we’ve also added a ton of amazing new resources and helpful tools. Concepts that were impossible to demonstrate in person due to time constraints and seasonality are now covered in depth in this new course.
I know this news is likely disappointing and upsetting for a lot of people. It is for me too. But I can see no other way to share this type of education with those who need it in a sustainable and accessible way.
While our business has evolved over the years, the core is still exactly the same. We are committed to helping as many people as we possibly can cultivate more beauty in their lives and share the magic of nature through flowers.
Next week, I’ll be sharing more about this exciting new project, plus information about how you can apply for one of our scholarships to the new Floret Online Workshop. I can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on.
Seasonal Bouquet Project LIVE photos by Brooke Courtney and Emily Wren