Preparing this post fills me with so much excitement, it’s a little hard to type. I know the anticipation has been building for so many and it’s finally time to introduce this years Floret Workshop Scholarship winners!
The team and I were so touched to learn that the process of applying for the scholarship last year helped to propel many “dreamers” to become “doers.” The process of sharing your dreams and what you aspire to create was not insignificant. To all of you who were able to move beyond self doubt and fear, to finally branch out to try new things and even start new businesses, I want to give you a big ole’ high five, or fist-bump and shout WAY TO FREAKING GO!
For far too many people, conventional career paths have left you feeling emotionally and creatively empty. Lots of you have a massive internal tug of war between what you feel you should do and what you are truly “called” to do. The garden beckons you, flowers help fill you up and connect you with what really matters. As one applicant wrote, “I adore how flowers bring us back to what is important in life: connection with each other and with nature.”
Yet I know that for so many lovely souls who completed the application, the prospects of truly following your dreams is scary and hard. But, as one applicant so poignantly put it, “what’s hard is living a life unfulfilled.”
Another essayist shared, “I have a fear of living life never doing anything extraordinary. This is my chance for magic. I just need help conjuring the right spells.”
Your essays included many fantastic quotes that have inspired you (several of these just may end up in my collection taped above by my sink) such as:
“Don’t quit your day dream.”
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” ~William Shakespeare
“Happiness held is the seed; Happiness shared is the flower.” ~John Harrigan
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~Mary Oliver
There were quite a few of you who were inspired by the need to “bloom where you are planted,” whether it is a transition in life circumstance, or a relocation from another farm, home, or even other continent.
This entire scholarship process reminded me of something that I’ve always known but it was reiterated time and again as I read through essays: the sheer power that flowers have to tap into our deepest emotions. The amount of joy they create, the comfort they provide, the happiness they inspire, the memories and nostalgia they stir, and the healing that can come from the simple act of growing, sharing or receiving flowers is nothing short of remarkable.
For some, flowers have provided comfort in the wake of broken marriages, shattered dreams and broken hearts. Reading the hundreds of raw, heartfelt essays brought tears to my eyes and one in particular, left me an absolute mess as I couldn’t imagine reeling from such unimaginable loss.
You have planted particular flowers, entire gardens, and even started new flower-focused careers in memory of loved ones lost. Here are just a few passages that tugged at my heartstrings:
“…flowers spoke to me through my grief like nothing else.”
“flowers have become my happy place and refuge from the storm. I have found myself through them and reconnected to a part of myself that had lain dormant. Flowers helped me heal.”
“Seeing things grow after having a life vanish so quickly before my eyes. An empty heart was slowly being filled. Planting, crying, growing…”
“My passion for flowers began when my grandmother passed away…her nurse gave me the amaryllis from her bedside and told me it represented “success after a struggle.”
And, as one applicant wrote, she committed to honor a loved ones lost by “living a life authentic to my heart.”
Many scholarship seekers shared that, similar to my story they had very special memories of flowers from their childhoods, shared with mothers, grandmothers, and other loved ones. The colors, textures and fragrances of flowers always trigger a flood of warm thoughts of happy times.
Once again this year the team and I noted the number of applicants with botanical names or names reflective of their vocations, including Farmer, Iris, Yarrow and even Myosotis.
And more than a couple enterprising husbands submitted heartfelt, thoughtful applications nominating their wives. I loved each and every one of them and wish I could have given more scholarships away in honor of their efforts, creativity–and humor!
This was another record-breaking year for the number of applications we received–with close to 700 from virtually every state and 15 different countries around the world.
Be sure to zoom in to see your region in more detail. If map doesn’t appear in your browser, try re-freshing the page or click here to view map in separate window. Seeing the number of seasonal flowers lovers continue to grow around the country is such a thrill.
I have to say, choosing winners is a time consuming and heart wrenching process. There were so many deserving applicants. Narrowing the list felt nearly impossible. This year after going back and forth, the team and I found a way to sponsor one more lucky applicant, for a total of THREE scholarships to attend 2016 workshops.
And so, without further ado, I announce the 2016 Floret Workshop Scholarship Winners:
In attendance at one of our 2016 Flower Farming Intensives will be: Antonio Valente of Antonio Valente Flowers and Charlotte Chastain from Floralore.
Antonio will be traveling from Thornhill, Ontario, Canada to join us for the three-day workshop on flower farming. I loved his story and essay so much:
“I was in the 2nd grade and asked to draw a picture of what I wanted to be when I was older, just as the principal came around to our classroom. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” he asked. “I want to be a florist” I replied. He chuckled and exclaimed that “boys don’t play with flowers!” It was one of the earliest lessons I learned. I never did pursue a career in floral design, but it was always pumping through my veins, and so was my love of gardening. When any of my older sisters received roses from a boyfriend, I couldn’t wait to arrange them! Six years ago I planted a cutting garden. I started with four dahlia tubers. I soon added some zinnias, some roses… Suddenly I had neighbors requesting bouquets and a small Saturday morning flower stand on my driveway. This year I started taking my bouquets to two different farmers’ markets, completely selling out nearly every week! I still have so much to learn however. I need to efficiently grow and arrange more flowers, and have dreams of doing weddings! A scholarship from Floret would help me make up for the lost time of not having pursued my floral passions earlier, and show the world that boys DO in fact play with flowers!”
Charlotte, a first year flower farmer, will join us from Santa Rosa, California. When selecting winners, we were looking for candidates who were truly hungry for the opportunity and could take what they learn and run with it to ramp up their business to the next level of success. Charlotte’s essay, in particular, reflected that potential:
“I am in the midst of realizing a long standing dream of growing flowers/plants on a larger scale and working with them creatively! Love of flowers and growing plants is the thread that weaves its way through my life.I grew up on a farm longing to one day have my own piece of land to nurture.In college, I studied plant ecology and read every organic gardening book I could get my hands on. Having just started a small flower farm and wrapping up the first growing season, I am inspired, filled with questions and thirsting for knowledge and mentorship! I have done everything on a shoestring budget! My husband is a school teacher and with 3 kiddos our budget is tight. Receiving the scholarship would be life changing! It would enable me to invest in my own education saving years learning how to run a profitable, high intensity flower farm and floral design business! To invest in me is to invest in a Mama who is wholeheartedly pursuing her life dream and I will always pay it forward!”
The winner of a seat at our 2016 Floral Design Intensive is Jamie Sammons of Jayflora Designs
Jamie is a third year flower farmer that seeks to learn natural floral design skills in order to incorporate the seasonal flowers she lovingly grows into bouquets for weddings and special events.
“There are so many things I still struggle with , so many questions, and the realization that running your own business is harder than it looks. Classes like the yours are exactly what people need to succeed. To see and experience hands-on and the connections you make with others in the same industry with the same passion that you have. I am so grateful for this flower farming community we have and that there are people like you who want to see others succeed as well. I have been trying to save up to make it out to you for the last 3 years and every time I save up a penny it goes right back into the farm expenses. I have been telling myself every year, “this is the year!” and then reality hits.”
I have to say, reading their gleeful, grateful responses filled me with so much joy that I had a permanent smile on my face all day. Their commitments to continue to pay it forward and help others along the way mean that this spirit of giving will continue to grow and hopefully bring even more beauty into this world.
Thanks you to everyone who completed a scholarship application. Your stories touched us all in ways you can’t even imagine. Please join me in congratulating our three 2016 winners.
As a reminder, tomorrow marks the opening of registration for our 2016 Workshops. We’re anticipating that the seats will fill fast. If attending a Floret Workshop is on your your bucket list, then be sure to set an alarm as a reminder that at 8 a.m. PST tomorrow you’ll want snag a seat while they last.
David Gass on
All these words are so wonderful. Many of them simply opened my eyes and inspired me to live and enjoy life. I’m very grateful to you that you arranged such a competition. I used to doubt and thought whether I should change my life, because it’s quite tolerable, but now I’m sure that I will do everything to make my dreams come true. The first step is to order a resume from top resume and search for a job of my dreams! Thank you.