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October 23rd 2015

2016 Scholarship Winners!

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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.”

IMG_1952Your 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.”

IMG_4843Many 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.”

IMG_1317I 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.


  1. 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.

  2. Heather Watson on

    Antonio: I am so happy for you from a fellow north of the border flower obsessed florist. Enjoy every moment, Heather

  3. Lona Lee on

    As an applicant it was a great pleasure to read and learn about the winners, here on the blog. In fact, going through the application process inspired me to start my own business..flowers and design and community gatherings…and while the road is long and winding until, I thank Floret for the extra push. Something about taking the time to write about your dreams helps you see…that truly, the magic is within us all…we just have to go for it! I hope each of the winners soaks up all the love and magic and adventure that awaits…enjoy friends, enjoy it all!

  4. Helen on

    Congratulations to all of you! Maybe I’ll meet you there :)

  5. Jamie on

    Wow, still in disbelief. Like I said in my fb post. I keep looking back at the email explaining that I won this incredible experience to the floret workshop. I keep staring at the words “You’re a winner”. And thinking, “No way, is this real?” I keep going back to it to make sure my eyes didn’t deceive me. I never would have thought something so incredible could happen to me! I have been dreaming of this since I started my farming endeavor. I have followed Erin and her team for some time. Her designs aren’t so much flower arrangements, they are floral art and I can’t wait to learn everything she has to offer. Thank you, thank you Erin for giving me such a wonderful gift. I am forever grateful. I have had the biggest fattest smile on my face all day! This has been the best news and I still can not believe its happening to me! Thank you all for your kind words of congratulations!

  6. Charlotte Chastain Flora Lore Flowers on

    Thank You!!! Thank You!!! Thank You with All of my heart!!!! I wept with a smile on my face as I read your message and then I went outside and started hoot n’ and holler n’!!!! Yes!!! I continue to have the happiest tears running down my face!!! I’ve been walking around the flowers with my family explaining to the boys why I’m crying, laughing and smiling all at the same time! :) They’re excited and my husband is so incredibly happy for me and our family!!! It’s still sinking in…..It’s the greatest gift that I could have been given at this point in my life! A profound moment in my life story….I am grateful in the truest sense of the word.
    In my life story, there is now a before receiving the Floret flower farming intensive scholarship and after! I know in my heart that it’s a huge game changer. I will always be thankful for this opportunity! I can’t wait to be able to thank you Erin and the Wonderful people you work with in person!!!!

  7. Erika Stephens on

    I am so freaking excited that I can’t stop crying. Congratulations to you three sweet souls✨

  8. Twigandvine on

    Congrats! Three amazing, well-deserving winners! Can’t wait to follow them-especially Charlotte! it’s so inspiring to see other mama’s holding onto and chasing their dreams!

  9. Linda on

    Three more lives touched by all the beauty that is floret!! Congratulations to each of you!!

  10. Desi on

    As creative that is outside the floral industry, but loves flowers, I am always inspired by this community’s support of each other. I don’t often see that in my own creative field, but you are planting the seeds by your example.

    Congratulations to the winners and everyone that put themselves out there to try for a spot!

  11. pam on

    As an applicant, I wish the winners magical and life changing experiences. I hope to be there with you someday. Still dreaming…………..

  12. Mindy on

    A big congratulations to all of the deserving winners! May all of your flower dreams come true.

    “The best business advice I’ve ever received is to wake up every day and plow your own field.”

    • Jamie on

      Love this!!

  13. Mara on

    Congrats to the winners and WOOT WOOT to my friend Jamie on your amazing win!! Can’t wait to hear all about it! Your head will just swim. This will definitely help you get through winter. ?

  14. Julie Hill on

    Yay! Wonderful stories and a wonderful opportunity! I look forward to following the success of every participant! Thank you, Erin, for the information and inspiration you freely give to the flower community. I am excited to start my own new venture…but I have to finish the process of banishing Bermuda grass first! Out! Out! Damned Bermuda!

  15. Jenn Henry on

    Congrats Antonio, Charlotte and Jamie!!! I have butterflies for you all! Erin and Team Floret are gunna rock your world!

  16. pam brewer on

    As an applicant I wish the winners magical, life fulfilling experiences. I hope to be there with you someday. Dreaming on……

  17. Annette Crawford on

    Congratulations to the lucky few scholarship recipients who will be attending the Floret workshops in 2016! Your stories inspire me to keep following my dream! My husband and I got our first planting of spring bulbs (1,000 narcissus and tulips) in the ground this past weekend. It started raining Tuesday night and has been raining off and on all week! We feel extremely satisfied that we got them in the ground before the first fall cold/ wet spell and we are looking forward to the spring already!

  18. Jessica on

    Yay congratulations!!!! What an amazing opportunity!!! I hope to attend a workshop some day!


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