I've always loved to garden. The affair started when I was young at my mother's side. We'd spend hours in her perennial flower beds and vegetable plots puttering about, weeding, working the heavy clay, and watching things grow. We'd while away weekend afternoons in nurseries breathing in the scent and walking the muddy aisles. Mom would always come back with a car load and somehow we'd make room for our new friends in our already packed beds. This is certainly where I learned that more is better in the garden. After all, you can always divide.
Graham grew up with a very rich agricultural pedigree (his dad has been inducted into Ontario's Agricultural Hall of Fame and his mum was a master plantswoman) so growing flowers, herbs and some edibles has always been part of homemaking for us. When we bought our own country place about seven years ago, making space for our vegetable and flower gardens was one of the first things we did. This was a part of our heritage we wanted to pass on to our three children.
It wasn't until last year however, that my green thumb turned bright chartreuse with next-level excitement. I had discovered Floret. I don't know what took me so long. But there she was nurturing the local, sustainable flower farming movement on an idyllic plot in Washington State and taking it social big time with her captivating images and helpful how-tos. I was in love with it all. Moving her family to a rural setting, reconnecting to her passion for flowers, doing it small-scale and honourably - and oh so beautifully. This piece in the New York Times sums it up - there's a floral revolution underway.
The seed was planted. I read all I could on the sustainable floral farming movement. Graham and I went on a road trip to Virginia to attend a flower farming workshop at LynnVale Studios. And I was fortunate and thrilled to be going to meet Erin Benzakein and her team at Floret to take part in her flower farming workshop.
I'll have much more to come on our own flower farming plans and on my trip to Floret, but in the meantime, let me share with you where we got our first taste of what it will be like to operate a business in florals at LynnVale Studios.
Andrea and Lou Gagnon are the dynamic, creative force behind the floral farm at LynnVale and have set their architectural and design talents free on their homestead in the verdant countryside in Gainesville, Virginia. They welcomed us into their home and field and shared so much on farming and floral arranging - including some pretty impressive tractor hacks. The lovely Sidra Forman, chef and florist, who is on Martha Stewart's top wedding flower designers list fed us with simple, delicious local fare and showed us garland-making techniques.These experts, combined with the participants from near and far and with varying degrees of experience, made this a vibrant and warm gather.
You can find out more details about upcoming workshops on the LynnVale website. In the meantime, here's a flavour of what it was like.