Over the last week, the team and I have been pouring over all the scholarship essays, narrowing down the list of top candidates and deliberating about each one. The in-box was flooded with applications from many incredible and deserving individuals from across the county (including 17 countries from around the world—more on that below) which made the decision-making process excruciatingly long and difficult. Some of the submissions made me laugh out loud; others brought tears.
I was amazed by the number of applicants who have botanical and flower-related names (it was destiny!) and the fascinating paths people took to get to where they are today. For some, it was a direct path. They were bitten by the flower bug early in life and they pursued their passion for flowers and have created interesting flower-centered careers. For many others, the path was less linear. Professionals in a wide array of fields from physicians, attorneys, engineers, and television reporters applied, many of whom want to step back from their screens, get out in nature, escape from the stress, and tap into their creative sides. So many heartfelt applications clearly confirmed the old adage that flowers really DO feed the soul. Graphic designers, artists, and other creatives were also well represented among the applicants and the theme of “cultivating creativity” was strong among the submissions. I was so inspired by the honesty and thoughtfulness that was poured into the applications and seriously wish I could give out dozens of scholarships!
After winnowing down the list of top candidates, there were a few that I kept coming back to for various reasons. As I was going through the applications, I decided I really wanted to invest in someone that had a serious amount of passion and drive and was best positioned to take what we teach at a Floret workshop and run with it and really launch their business to new heights. I wanted to find that little seedling, provide it with lots of love and support and then sit back and watch her bloom. I think we found two great candidates who will do just that. So, without further ado, let me introduce the two 2015 scholarship winners:
Flora Brown of Frinklepod Farm (left) and Jenn Henry of Field Day Creative.
Here’s a little bit about these two lovely ladies:
FLORA BROWN OF FRINKLEPOD FARM
Flora Brown is a farmer-florist from Arundel, Maine where she and her husband and two small children live on a four acre diversified farm where they grow vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers. While the family has extensive experience in growing vegetables, flowers have been a relatively recent addition to their farm offerings.
Intrigued, I did a little digging to learn the origin of the farm’s name. It turns out, Frinklepod Farm’s name is inspired by one of Flora’s kids’ favorite books, Uno’s Garden, by Graeme Base. The story follows Uno, a human who moves into a pristine forest; as the number of people and buildings increase, the number of fictitious plants and animals (including the Feathered Frinklepod) decrease. After near collapse of civilization, the humans change their ways and the species begin to reappear. They share, “We hope that our farm can mirror the main themes of this book: the importance of ecological biodiversity, conservation, and the need to maintain a healthy balance between humans and nature.” As an outgrowth of their commitment to caring for the earth and those less fortunate, Flora and her family dedicate a portion of their fields to growing crops to donate to local food pantries.
But it was Flora’s description of floral design that first caught my eye: “I see my work as a bit out of the mainstream; most of my flowers are field-grown, we really emphasize sustainability, and my meetings with brides usually happen at a picnic table next to the goat pen. I want people to LOVE flowers and I want to make them accessible to everyone, both financially and aesthetically.”
Flora and her husband are currently exploring options for scaling up their farm business and, as she describes, “I would love to have all the tools possible to help inform our planning and I cannot think of a better way to acquire them than through a Floret workshop.”
Flora will be attending a Floret Farmer-Florist Intensive later this year. I can’t wait to work with her!
JENN HENRY OF FIELD DAY CREATIVE
Jenn Henry is a flower lover that grew up in the garden and went on to study Landscape Architecture before deciding to pursue a career in floral design. Jenn is preparing to launch her own design business, Field Day Creative, and has dreams of one day growing into a successful farmer-florist with a few acres to cultivate. In the meantime, Jenn started planning and planting away in her home’s small yard after being inspired by my interview with Kelly Sullivan and her mini city garden. She seeks to, as she describes, “create honest and natural designs using healthy blooms, wild twisting vines and fresh lush foliage to create those bouquets that make people weak in the knees. Richmond needs a source for unique flower varieties. I’m starting in my garden now but I want to share that with all of Virginia one day.”
I love than Jenn has already got a taste for what is in store for her as a floral designer and is ready for any challenge, as evidenced by her story about being asked to do an ‘English Garden’ wedding: “Before asking any pertinent details I said yes. When the guest list surpassed 300 I enlisted my Mom’s help to pull it off. The client offered us their garage as a workspace. We had our share of nervous moments from wilty stems, to a sweltering prep space to gusty winds. We wrapped the sad stems in paper for support until turgid, we finagled an ac window unit into the doorway and managed to wire down the arrangements struggling in the wind. We finished our work just in time and it was a great success. I was on the biggest high of my life. Celebrating our accomplishment over a bottle of wine that evening my mom said “Sheesh! Who would want to endure that stress for a living?” I whispered to myself “I think I do.”
In answer to my question about challenges, Jenn replied, “My list of challenges is pages long, chock full of “what if’s” and “how do I’s”. I write about one and then jump to another comparing its degree of difficulty. I have written and re-written this paragraph over and over. But in the end each hurdle ultimately boils down to the one tool that I am lacking – confidence. I owe it to myself to hurry up and woman up. They say the dream is free but the hustle is sold separately. Well this is the year of the hustle. I need to take myself back to the feeling of that high I had after the English Garden wedding, bottle it up and carry that in my pocket.”
Congratulations Jenn! I love your attitude, energy and your hustle and can’t wait to meet you at the Floret Seasonal Floral Intensive in August!
As I mentioned above, we received a staggering 550+ scholarship applications. The level of interest in attending one of our workshops was beyond what I ever imagined. But what is even more exciting is seeing the local, seasonal flower love spreading across the world. We received applicants from 47 of the 50 U.S. states and from 17 countries from around the world. Check it out above!
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.
I want to reiterate my heartfelt thanks to everyone who applied for the scholarship. I can’t tell you how honored I am that so many of you took the time to put yourself out there and are wanting to take the leap. Thank you! We’re going to be offering lots of creative new resources in the coming months, so be sure to check back–there’s so much good stuff to come–including an exciting announcement later this week! Thank you for helping to keep the farmer-florist momentum growing. Together we’re going to do amazing things!