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September 8th 2021

The Story of the Floret Workshops Part 2

Written by
Floret

Last week we had the opportunity to visit the Lynden Tribune, a family-run newspaper and printing company that has been in business for more than 100 years.

I am thrilled to be working with their incredible team on some really special projects—our 2022 wall calendar, daily planner, and our Floret Online Workshop course book and sample cutting garden plan.

It was a dream come true to see all of our hard work being printed (locally) right before our eyes. You can tell how excited we are!

A big part of our summer has been focused on revising and expanding the Floret Online Workshop. We’ve filmed dozens of new tutorial videos and completely redesigned the course book. I am so excited to share the latest edition with our new students and alumni.

I love that after 10 years of teaching this program we’re still constantly refining so that it gets better and better each year. Of all of the things we’ve ever created, the Floret Online Workshop is the one I’m most proud of.

Earlier this summer, I shared the story of how our workshops came to be. You can read it here.

As we’re preparing for our upcoming scholarship program and to welcome our next class into the fold, I wanted to share a little bit more about the process of creating the course and why we designed it the way that we did.

I am a pen and paper kind of person and carry a notebook everywhere that I go. I can fill a 5-subject notebook in under a month just taking notes about what we’re working on day to day here on the farm.

There is something about holding paper in your hands that makes learning and understanding (at least for me) so much easier. I need to be able to see and touch things, and write down my thoughts as I go along.

So when it came time to create the written portion of the course, I knew in my heart that it needed to become a book—one that we could give to students so they too could hold it in their hands.

The first year we taught our on-farm workshops the course book was a tiny black and white spiral-bound notebook that was maybe two dozen pages in total. At the time it seemed like such a big deal, but looking back I can’t help but laugh because it’s come so far since those early days. 

This year’s course book came in at 280 beautiful colored pages filled with so many helpful how-to’s, step-by-step instructions, and resources that we’ve compiled over the years. It’s so big now that it needed an actual index, which technically makes it book #4.

In addition to the course book, we also created a sample cutting garden plan to demonstrate crop planning and succession planting on a small scale. The best part of this sample plan is that you can lay it out on the table and see such important concepts, which are normally very hard to understand, come to life right in front of your eyes.

One of the most challenging parts when we were teaching on-farm workshops was trying to squeeze all of the information into three short days. So many of the farm tasks and chores that I wanted to share couldn’t be demonstrated in person because of their seasonal nature. 

What I love most about moving our workshop to an online format is that it has allowed us to share an entire year on the farm—from planning in the winter months to sowing seeds and planting in the spring to caring for all the flowers and harvesting in the summer, and then finally putting the garden to bed in the autumn.

The course includes more than 150 videos broken down into short, bite-sized pieces so that students can go at their own pace and watch and re-watch the video tutorials as many times as they need to in order to master the material.

Our intention behind doing it this way was that we wanted to structure it like an apprenticeship with a very hands-on learning approach. I am such a hands-on learner and need to see things demonstrated before I feel comfortable enough to try them myself. 

The best part about this format is that we’re able to teach a wide variety of topics to students with varying skill levels and learning styles in a way that is easy to understand and implement in their lives and gardens, no matter how big or small.  

Because the course includes so much information we intentionally broke it down into six core modules, each one building on the last. Modules are released weekly during the 6-week course, and then students have access to all of the material to reference any time they like from then on. 

The reason we don’t release all of the material at once is that we want students to have enough time and support to work through that week’s module before moving onto the next. It’s so easy to want to jump to the fun stuff like seed-starting or bouquet making and skip over the more challenging (but incredibly important) things like goal setting, planning, and marketing. 

In Module 1, we spend a lot of time digging into the heart of why you want to grow flowers and then go through a series of exercises to refine your goals, highlight your strengths, and creatively work with what you have. 

In Module 2, we dive into planning and all that goes into setting yourself up for a successful season. This module is often the most challenging but students always say that it is the most helpful and important one in the course. 

Module 3 is all about getting off to a good start and we dig into seed starting, important supplies you’ll need, and then explore a wide range of different cut flower varieties and their specific needs. 

In Module 4, we wade into the nitty-gritty side of growing flowers, including soil preparation, how to manage weeds, plant spacing, irrigation, and growing in tunnels and greenhouses.  

Module 5 covers marketing, pricing, and the many different options you have when it comes to selling your flowers. Learning how to grow is only half of what it takes if you want a successful flower business—being able to sell them is just as important. I love this module because so many people who have struggled with this topic in the past (myself included) have huge breakthroughs going through this material. 

In Module 6, I share all of my tips and tricks for harvesting flowers efficiently and getting them to last as long as possible. It also covers efficient bouquet-making techniques, how to package and deliver flowers, and the most important things that you need to know when selling to florists, wholesalers, and grocery stores. 

When we transitioned the workshop online we were so worried about losing the community and connection piece that was the heart of the on-farm experience. But what we found is that nothing could be farther from the truth.

The amazing farmer-florists that once assisted at our in-person workshops now help moderate the Floret Learning Community, an online forum for students in the course.

Our workshop “den moms” lend their wisdom and climate-specific advice to students all over the world. 

Through the Learning Community, we’ve seen so many students form real-life friendships, set up dahlia tuber exchanges, host meetups, go in on plant orders together, and visit each other’s farms and gardens to learn and be inspired by one another.

During the 6-week course, we also host a weekly Q&A session where Jill and I answer questions from students about that week’s module. These video sessions are always so much fun to film and we love being able to connect with students and cheer them on. 

At the end of the course each year we send out a survey and gather student feedback about the workshop that we then take into our annual audit so that the program continues to improve over time. 

Students have lifetime access to the course and any new material that’s created in the future. Because of the online format, there’s no way to fall behind and students have the freedom to work their way through the material at their own pace. 

In the 10 years that we’ve been teaching the Floret workshop, both on-farm and online, we’ve welcomed students ranging in age from 16 to 76 from over 49 different countries around the world.

Our students have included stay-at-home parents, corporate professionals, farmers, brand new growers, retirees looking for a joy job, people working a standard 9-5, and everything in between.

We’ve also taught all types of organizations, including community gardens, schools, universities, prisons, veteran rehabilitation programs, and programs serving people with a wide range of abilities. 

If I would have known way back when we taught our very first workshop in my backyard that it would have blossomed into this I never would have believed it. Being able to share all of the lessons I learned along the way with others has been the honor of a lifetime. I am so incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity. 

Workshop registration is open now through October 22 at 5 p.m. PDT. Click here to learn more and register. 

17 Comments

  1. Kathleen Miller on

    Dear Erin, Jill and Team Floret,
    I just wanted to express my sincere gratitude for the joy that the Floret Online Workshop has brought me this year. I loved the course, and being a full time teacher, I appreciated being able to work at my own pace. I loved the encouragement to try things, see what worked, make mistakes, change course and keep going. I have learned so much about farming. Each morning my dog and I “walk the farm”, which is actually a undersized city lot stuffed with flowers. I love seeing all the beauty in my garden. The joy that growing flowers and gifting them to people has made the last year bearable. Next year, I have plans to get my timing tighter and start a CSA. Thank you for all the support and learning you have provided. I am a happy city flower farmer! Kathleen Miller

    Reply
  2. Sue Rosenfield on

    Words can’t express my gratitude and admiration to the Floret family & team. I sit here while surrounded by bouquets and vases of flowers from my own garden, I give away arm loads of flowers to neighbors, friends and strangers, and my payment is the joy on their faces. Over the course of the last year I’ve gone from a little idea, “I think I want to learn this” in the 2021 workshop to an astonished “oh my god” each week when I find a new bloom in the garden. The healing of those that walk through it who saw it when it was a frozen weedy patch, to now, watching a bumble bee sleep under a dahlia petal, is priceless. This year I plan on picking up on all the learning I didn’t get to last year. Now that I know I can grow flowers, I want to work on the marketing part of it. I was too shy to sell more than $11.00 of flowers this year, but that $1.00 bill-my first, is nailed to the shed wall as a reminder and pledge to my future. Thank you guys for bringing life to the farm again. Much healing joy to you all.

    Reply
  3. Diane Astarita on

    Dear Erin & Floret Team,

    A bit teary eyed here , sitting on the couch surrounded by the most amazing flowers and thinking of myself last year at this time. Thank you Erin for “cheering me on”! It was your encouragement that helped me make the decision to become part of the 2021 Class. Although this year has been filled with many unexpected financial challenges I’m pleased with the decision to invest in myself.and our community It has been a year filled with the most stunningly beautiful flowers! Although it’s been my pleasure to grow flowers here in the Sierra foothills for several years now, this year was off the charts, beginning with the first spring bulbs, then continuing with a consistent and flow of stellar flowers many of which we have never grown before. They have graced our community and my life. So looking forward to continuing to grow together!

    Reply
  4. Kerri Coleman on

    My one comment about the course last year- I wanted the course book to lie flat when I was referencing it. This is very exciting and with new material! I can’t wait. I am winding down in my first year flower farming. I have plenty of room to grow professionally. I have started a registered business and have made lots of friends. Tomorrow, I am donating 10 small table arrangements to the local YMCA fundraiser. I have found joy in doing flowers for our neighbors baby shower and several other occasions. The coupon codes in the back of the book have been helpful and provided the nudge to activate on some parts of the plan. I am excited for round two of the workshop. With knowledge there is power. Thank you, Erin! We are all very blessed.

    Reply
  5. Mary Barry-Magsamen on

    I am part of last years class, though I’m still re-watching the videos and learning! Is there any chance we can purchased the new workbook? Seems like with all of the new info, it would be great to add to our toolbox! I still love the class and avoid saying it’s over since I’m still using it. Just Love Everything Floret.

    Reply
    • Team Floret on

      Hi Mary! Yes, alumni will be able to purchase the new course book. Stay tuned for more info soon.

  6. Gail Butler on

    I am a retiree, looking for a way to give something pretty back. I took the workshop last year and planted my first ever cut flower garden this year, with the goal of ten bouquets a week to deliver to our local senior housing. I’m in the Sierra foothills so we have been smoked in for weeks now but still, I cannot express how wonderful it’s been! Me, my mask and my flowers! My little patch is churning and I can’t wait for next year to try new and different varieties. My smile is always as big as my bouquet recipient’s. Thank you Erin and Jill for making it doable for me!

    Reply
  7. Badge Bourcier on

    A year ago I registered for the Floret online course. And today I sit surrounded by an incredible flower garden. I referred to the course material, reread parts of the book as needed, rewatched many of the video clips to walk me through the next step, the next stage. I am retired, I did it on my own, it was hard work yes, but worth it. I have run a small flower subscription business all spring and summer and now into the fall, sold bulk flowers to local designers and ran a small Flower Fairy Summer Camp for children. So much joy and all thanks to Erin and her vision and crew. I have also taken a page from her book and remembered to give back. With deep gratitude. Badge

    Reply
  8. Leslie Lotspeich on

    We are finalizing our best, most profitable and better yet the most fun year of growing market flowers ever after taking Erin’s workshop course. We have learned how to better market our flowers ( and are getting our name out in our area for the beautiful flowers we grow). We are using Erin’s knowledge for growing with amazing success. We recently entered many flowers in our local county fair. The garden club members were surprised that we could successfully grow so many different flowers! This one class has had a tremendous impact on our business and our family! Thank you Floret!

    Reply
  9. Sandy on

    As my first season of small space growing is ending, I am now ready to learn “all the things” to help even out the ups/downs that are sitting in my notes. As a tactile/visual learner I an beyond excited to sign up, and jump in to all the learning in this format!
    Thank you so much for sharing so generously, and creating a resource for next level knowledge/information.

    Reply
  10. Vicki on

    I LOVE reading your story and getting tips and help from your site. It helps so very much in planting a cutting garden for myself and having flowers to give to friends. Thanks for your graciousness, generosity and willingness to pay it forward. I salute you for all you have done and are doing!

    Reply
  11. Courtney Tjoelker on

    erin – i stumbled across you about a year and a half ago. every time i watch your videos & read your books, my husband makes fun of the noises i make while i’m learning. i live in lynden & have been dreaming of meeting you! to see that you were in town brings me so much joy. the seeds i received from you with my dahlia book are THRIVING. i have never grown anything from seed before, and i may or may not have taken over my husbands bare flower beds while we were dating. we just got married about 3 weeks ago & i am already dreaming up how i’m going to make outside dreamy. (i am still new to the flower world). i hope one day i can take this course & i am so proud of how far God has brought you in your journey. hope to meet you soon :)

    Reply
  12. Linda Bernasconi on

    I’m very excited! I just recently retired and now I have the time to spend more time in my gardens! Thank you for these mini workshops, I have learned a lot so far!

    Reply
  13. Cindy on

    Love the whole concept of seeing, touching, going at your own pace, & having so much expert help to glean from-sounds amazing!! And the pictures that you & Chris take are so gorgeous I want to frame them all❣️So thankful you want to share❣️

    Reply
  14. Barbara on

    I can’t even wait! Squeee!

    Reply
  15. Datlene on

    Thank you for sharing your expertise. I also love all your pictures as I’m a visual learner plus the gorgeous flowers fill my heart with joy!

    Reply
  16. Dave Johnson on

    Guess I will be the oldest student…soon to be 78!
    Look forward to it!

    Reply

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