Are you Joining us for Sustainable Flower Growing this Saturday?

SUSTAINABLE FLOWER GROWING with Master Gardener and Flower Farmer, Ferriss Donham

When: Saturday, 11 am PST

Where: Online on Zoom

This Saturday, Master Gardener and Flower Farmer, Ferriss Donham, will be showing us how she grows beautiful cut flowers sustainably. As a professional gardener who has been working with clients for over 20 years, Ferriss Donham is currently growing cut flowers for her CSA and assisting clients with growing plants sustainably. Ferriss studied at the Harvard Landscape Institute, developed a Master Gardener program and taught horticulture to inmates, and grew her own garden this year without using any water other than rainwater. 

I look to Ferriss as a mentor when it comes to flower growing. Traditional cut flowers have a huge carbon footprint and even though growing and buying locally is a great first step towards sustainable flower growing, Ferriss will show us how to dig deeper into low resource flower farming. 

Many flower farmers are investing huge sums of money in hoop houses, and draining their own financial and physical resources to grow cut flowers. Traditional flower farms drain our water supplies and take huge amounts of physical labor. Often these farms, are not making a profit at the end of the day.

Ferriss is taking a different approach. She’s growing cut flowers on her new plot in Maine, using rainwater and compost. She operates her gardens with minimal physical labor, and minimal financial resources, using what she already owns, and nurturing it along to multiply and expand naturally.  She sells flowers through her CSA and designs florals for events in addition to teaching horticulture and advising her own garden clients. 

This Saturday, she’ll be advising our career students and guests students on Zoom about sustainable flower growing. We’ll be talking about:

*Growing with minimal water

*Minimizing your farm’s overall footprint

*Growing climate specific varieties

*Growing perennials as cut flowers

*Growing without hoophouses

*Minimizing the physical labor involved in your flower growing

Join us on Saturday to get your own flower growing questions answered by Ferriss! 


Growing Flowers Sustainably: 3 Things to Know

The local flower farming movement has grown in recent years. Buying local cut flowers reduces the carbon footprint of your flowers tremendously. Cutting out miles, and many toxic chemicals used to transfer flowers across borders. That said, we can take sustainable flower growing a step further, during these times of climate change.

I’ve been really interested in Ferriss Donham’s flower farm in Maine, as she challenges herself to grow cut flowers with just compost and rainwater. The result does not reduce the beauty, quality, or charm of the flowers. Example here.

“Grow what works, let nature do all the work, keep looking to the earth for answers,” Ferriss says. I asked her, what are 3 basic things to remember when attempting to grow flowers as sustainably as possible. Ferriss says:

The most sustainable flowers are:


Drought Tolerant

Native or happy in your zone without greenhouses 

I think this is a great starting point for any of us to get started growing cut flower sustainably! Thank you Ferriss! If you want to learn more from Ferriss and have the opportunity to ask her questions about growing eco-friendly cut flowers, please join us on September 10th at 11 am PST for the Growing Flowers Sustainably Workshop! Book your spot here.

Flower and Garden Retreat May 2022: Mafra and Sintra

Here is part two of our Portugal Flower and Garden Retreat this past May! 

For the 2nd part of our retreat, we based ourselves in Aldeia da Mata Pequena a 300 year old village, restored to historical accuracy, near Mafra. This is a super special place that all the guests really connected with. Each person or group stays in their own little cottage but we can walk to each other’s cottages and join at the central house for activities.

Highlights of this portion include:

-A foraging walk with renowned wild plant expert, Fernanda Botelho. We went on a hike with Fernanda and she showed us what we can eat, she also shared some ethnobotany with us, explaining which plants were traditionally used in the kitchen or for utility. After our hike, Fernanda showed us what we could make with our foraged ingredients. We combined our wild foods with a special vegetarian meal made by A Praca Sintra with all locally grown ingredients.

-We foraged for flowers searching with a design-oriented lens and made wild foraged arrangements and flower crowns. We made wire-free flower crowns using a compostable method.

-We made wild centerpieces learning low-bowl mechanics, and stayed a table with vegetarian food that we enjoyed picnic style on our terrace.

-Other highlights included a day out in Sintra for the students, a whirlwind afternoon tour of a palace and formal gardens (that we had almost to ourselves!), and a farewell dinner on the beach. We also enjoyed a picnic style traditional Portuguese meal delivered in baskets by a local cook and her mother. 

-Thank you to all the students, and guests for making this such a special experience. Our collaborators brought so much joy for plants and flowers, we all left inspired. There’s something super lovely about connecting with other flower and plant lovers!

A special thank you to our collaborators who made this such a beautiful experience:

Aldeia da Mata Pequena

Fernanda Botelho

A Praca Sintra

Paula Guimarāes our event producer and co-host.

If you’d like information on future retreats, contact Chelsea here or sign up for our retreat emails. We have just announced a new retreat for May 3rd-May 9th 2023.

*Disclaimer: Despite going above and beyond government regulations for COVID, we had 4 cases of COVID in our group. We have since increased COVID measures to include mandatory PCR testing, and revised our itinerary to only outdoor activities. We’ve also revised our scheduling to include more time between retreats to avoid future cancellations and postponements as much as we can. We will still include daily testing, mandatory vaccination, masking when in transport and indoors, and distancing as necessary. 

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