Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Flower Factory is Becoming a Reality!

There are some crazy exciting things happening in Baltimore right now! Since we started LoCoFlo 7 years ago, we always day dreamed about flower farms in and around Baltimore City.  How cool would it be to support farms in over very own neighborhoods? Well, it’s happening. It’s really happening!

You already know our friends at Butterbee Farm and the Hillen Homestead. Now, get ready for the Flower Factory!

Our friend Walker and the team at Real Food Farm entered the Baltimore Growing Green competition back in August. Sponsored by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore City, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the goal of the competition was for community groups and designers to come together and develop creative greening projects for vacant land in their communities as well as reduce and treat stormwater runoff.

Real Food’s design was for a production flower farm in East Baltimore just north of Johns Hopkins Hospital.

15082732300_1b9e58cc59_o

Guess what! They WON 1st PLACE! They won $63,000 to get an urban flower farm started in East Baltimore!!! AMAZING!!

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this new venture. There is so much to be joyful about. More green space in a community that desperately needs it, more flowers growing and available for sale in our community, an amazing entrepreneurial opportunity for a bright, excited young man…what could be better.

After winning and receiving the prize from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake,  Walker said:

I honestly still can't believe it! This is just the beginning! Look out for The Flower Factory! Thank you again to everyone… this has been one of the greatest things that has happened for me.

photo (17)

Stay tuned for updates on the future of the Flower Factory!

Monday, September 8, 2014

You Deserve A Bouquet Today: #For3oMore

for30more

Cystic Fibrosis. If you asked me a month ago what this disease was all about, I wouldn’t be able to tell you too much. I didn’t know anyone with CF…until I met Katherine. Katherine was introduced to me by a past client and now friend, Renee Beck. Katherine is a beautiful young woman with a passion for life. She is committed to making a difference in the life of people living with CF. Her story inspired me and reminded me that each of us has the power to make a positive impact on our community. She was a perfect recipient for our You Deserve a Bouquet Today bouquet.

In Katherine’s own words:

“At 16 I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.Even 13 years later I’m still a long way from fully dealing with what it means to have this disease and the implications it has on my future.

Right now, my life looks like many other 29 year olds?. I have a wonderful husband, fabulous family and friends, and a job that I love. But unlike most people my age, I have to do time-consuming daily treatments, spend countless hours at the hospital, and worry about what my future looks like.

When I was born in 1984, the life expectancy of someone with CF was just 25 – on September 26th I’ll turn 30! And I can’t wait to celebrate the many things this wonderful life has allowed me to do.”

10623938_833622901146_3083142440515038437_oIn celebration of her upcoming 30th birthday, Katherine and her friends set out to raise $15,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation over 30 days in September.  #for3omore  has raised $8310 to date and there are still 18 days to go! The way it works: great prizes are donated by local businesses. You bid on the prizes like in a regular auction and try to win.  All the bids are donations to Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Local Color Flowers was thrilled to donate a $50 gift certificate for the first day of the auction. Check the site for new prizes this week!

There are still 18 days left. If you’d like to make a donation to Katherine’s fundraiser, check out the auction site. There are amazing prizes to win and you’ll be making a difference in the lives of people suffering from Cystic Fibrosis.

Keep up the amazing work Katherine!! We’re behind you all the way!

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Perfect Day for Head Wreaths at Butterbee Farm

butterbee-butterbee-0032By Carling A. W. Elder

On Saturday, July 26th, I began my day at Butterbee Farm. While the dew still lingered on the earth at my feet, I prepared to guide some ladies through the fun of designing a Midsummer Head Wreath. With the help of my talented and cheerful partners; Laura Beth Resnick, Farmer and Owner of Butterbee Farm, Krystal Masson, Owner of Esther&Harper - Vintage Rentals and Interiors, and Stacy Bauer, Owner of Stacy Bauer Photography and Local Color Flowers Designer, we set up for the class and got ready to begin!

14866479036_f853dc0f55_o            14777321163_4f76010800_o

Our class guests were a delightful mix of excited, adventurous, kind, and flower-loving women. As they sipped Basil Lemonade out of Esther&Harper’s delicate crystal cups, and snacked on Sweet William Shortbread, I had the pleasure of meeting each one of them. Their enthusiasm for the farm and the class was infectious, and made me feel extremely lucky that meeting new people is a central part of life at Local Color Flowers.

14702725890_1ea2f363e6_o

After sharing a brief history of Head Wreaths and Floral Crowns (did you know Head Wreaths started being worn at weddings in Ancient China?), I turned the floor over to the owner of our gorgeous venue, Laura Beth. Laura Beth then led us all on an informative and interactive tour of her farm. Stopping at different flower beds, Laura Beth let us touch, smell, even taste, and harvest flowers for our Head Wreaths. She also told us about her farming practices and plans for the future of Butterbee. After the tour, traipsing back to the work tables with handfuls of just-harvested flowers to use in our designs, I thought you really can’t get more farm-to-vase than this!

14702877817_f312e5c2c8_o

Once we went through the basics of making a Head Wreath, my “students” dove into making their own designs. Some ladies chose bold, bright colors, while others opted for more subtle, muted tones. One of the best things about making a Head Wreath, especially when it’s for yourself, is that there really is no wrong or right way to do it. At it’s core, all you really have to do to make an awesome Head Wreath is to have a blast playing with flowers, and to make something that you love, which I believe all of our guests did!

14866379616_a65235ff33_o

14889026292_7a53560b30_o

By the end of the class, each guest wore a stunning Head Wreath atop their head. Posing while Stacy took their portrait, each guest looked happy and beautiful wearing their creation. The variation among the Head Wreaths perfectly reflected the designer’s personality and style. I loved seeing the different details each person chose, from ribbon color to how they positioned the wreath on their head. All were perfect.

14866359906_94d3cb63d1_o

14754239141_0a12519f38_o

14570729689_84a74238a7_o      14570977587_ef2d85a6e6_o

14570685930_0f1835213a_o      14734392186_a62842968c_o

14570744578_ee460104cf_o

This design class was Local Color Flowers’ first ever design class at one of our grower’s farms, a dream of Ellen’s for many years. As I admired the Head Wreaths of our guests and looked out over this vibrant flower farm, I felt the joy of a dream fulfilled settle over me. I couldn’t believe that just a few months ago, I had stood in this exact same spot and looked out this same field, resting empty and barren. Now, just like the Head Wreaths we had made, this farm and this dream had come to full circle, brimming with flowers and life.

I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful morning.

To see all the gorgeous photos from our Head Wreath Class taken by the amazing Stacy Bauer of Stacy Bauer Photography, check out our Flickr page.

Friday, August 1, 2014

You Deserve A Bouquet Today: Water Wheel Trash Interceptor

By Carling Elder

butterbee-butterbee-0032You know how you often you hear a story of someone making a positive change to your city and think, “That’s awesome!” but never actually thank or acknowledge them because you assume someone else will?

Here at Local Color Flowers, we are making it our responsibility to thank the individuals who are making positive changes to Baltimore by re-launching our “You Deserve a Bouquet Today” giveway. We know the work these individuals are doing is never easy, and yet they carry on; their dedication affecting work and play in Baltimore in very meaningful ways.With our favorite medium - locally grown flowers, we hope to let these people know just how grateful we are for their contributions to our city, and to share some LoCoFlo love along the way!

Our first bouquet giveaway was to John Kellett, inventor of the Water Wheel Trash Interceptor. If you haven’t see this Water Wheel, get down to the Baltimore harbor! Floating in the water, the Water Wheel looks like a giant sea creature with a glistening white shell, and solar-panel bug eyes. It’s definitely eye-catching, and as John said, a major attraction for both tourists and Baltimoreans alike. Much cooler looking than a harbor full of trash! 

2014-07-31 06.21.46

The Water Wheel works by pulling trash out of the water with a leaf rake. The trash then moves onto a conveyor belt, from which it is dropped into a dumpster. Best part is, the Water Wheel is powered by the renewable energy of the water current, and solar panels! For more information and videos, visit  Facebook (just make sure you have plenty of time - it’s fascinating!).

2014-07-31 06.21.29

The best part of giving flowers to John, was actually meeting him, and hearing his story of the Water Wheel’s inception. When John met us at the Water Wheel, speeding up on his motor boat, he told us how the Wheel began. He told us that he worked down in the harbor for years, and each day would walk across the bridge connecting Pier 5 to Harbor East. John said that each day he felt disgusted by the amount of debris he saw floating the water. He stated that he would also hear tourists commenting on how gross the water looked, and said he often felt saddened that a harbor full of trash was often visitors’ first impression of Baltimore.

Something had to change, and John made it his mission to invent a solution to this trash problem. The Water Wheel has already received international press and recognition.

As we handed John his flowers, carefully reaching out over the water, we thought that there are few people more deserving of recognition than John! What this Water Wheel has done for the harbor already is amazing, and it’s only in the beginning of its journey!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

CSA 2014: Week 4

It’s summer, it’s hot! To help relieve the heat, we wanted to offer a little something to our CSA members in addition to their flowers this week!

Too help cool off, Eric and Carling teamed up to make limeade with locally grown basil simple syrup.  The basil came from our friends at Hillen Homestead!

IMG_2277

Basil Simple Syrup (adapted from Cooking with Flowers)

  • 1 Cup Organic Cane Sugar
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (washed)

Dissolve sugar in water over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it reaches a simmer. Place basil leaves in a nonreactive bowl (glass or stainless steal) and pour hot syrup over top. Let sit 30 minutes, or longer. Strain out basil, and pour into sealable jar ( a mason jar works great!).

Ideas for Basil Simple Syrup:

  • Mix with fresh lime or lemon juice, water, and ice for limeade or lemonade.
  • Mix with gin, ice, and tonic or club soda for a refreshing cocktail.

Carling also made Sweet William Shortbread

IMG_2280

Sweet William Shortbread  (recipe from  "Cooking with Flowers" by Miche Bacher of Mali B Sweets Available for purchase at Mali B Sweets online.

For those of you that are not familiar with Sweet William or Dianthus, it represents love, fascination, distinction, and pure affection. Culinary Uses: dianthus is sweet, with a slightly clove like aftertaste. The petals are an ingredient in the liquor Chartreuse.  Our sweet william this week came from Butterbee Farm

Of course, we’ve got flowers too! This week we’ve got:

IMG_2274

Hope you enjoy your flowers and treats this week!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Beyond Buying Local! Social Entrepreneurship the Local Color Flowers Way!

14312193607_61aa61ecbf_kFor those of you who don’t know us, I’ll tell you a little about Local Color Flowers.  We’re a floral design studio based in Baltimore Md. We’re in our 7th year of business and since we began the company, we’ve been sourcing flowers locally from farmers within 100 miles from Baltimore. We do mostly wedding work but also have a flower CSA, weekly orders and a subscription program.

While we’re in the business of being floral designers, we see ourselves as much more than that. We’re really social entrepreneurs and we take our job seriously. As leaders in the local flower movement, we believe that our little business has the ability to change the industry one order at a time. Wonder how we’re doing it? We’ll tell you because we think that this is a model that other florists can and should adopt.

First, we’re buying local. In 2013, we spent close to $100,000 on 14460432906_8be778dd9e_kflowers from our local growers. These are not just faceless suppliers. These are folks we know, and visit, and collaborate with, and commiserate with and do favors for, and are indebted to and love. Our growers live close by, support local businesses and eat at local restaurants. Our client’s money, which becomes their money gets recirculated making our community stronger.

In addition to buying from our local growers,  we have a Microfinance Lending Program. Farming is hard work. Many times it feels like it’s feast or famine.  We understand the challenge of seasonal work and are proud to offer small, short-term microfinance loans to our farmers. In 2013, the program's first year, we lent $5,00o to help our farmers buy seeds and plants in the winter before their farmer’s markets began.

We are also keenly aware that our success as a business is dependent on the success of our local farmers. We work hard to nurture, mentor and support new flower farmers in our region. Last year, we started the Flower Farmer Start-Up Buying Promise. New farmers have a lot to figure out. How to grow flowers is first. Then who to sell them too and how to market them. Last year,   we committed to buying the majority of the seasonal harvest from start-up farms including Butterbee Farm and The Hillen Homestead. This allowed them to focus on learning to be the best growers they can be. We continue to buy the majority of available flowers from these farms. We look forward to making this promise to other new start-up farms in the future.

Local Farm Promotion is an important way we let people know where their flowers are coming from. All of our wrapped bouquets are tagged with grower credits. Our farmers also participate in our classes and book club here at the studio. One of the things we love most introducing clients and growers. There is always mutual excitement at those meetings.

9460330767_24245231cd_k

Throughout the winter months, we meet with most of our growers to help with their Crop Planning.  For new growers, we help them choose colors and varieties that will be appealing to designers. For more experienced growers, we help fill them in on color and style trends in the event world.

You might be thinking, WHY go through all the trouble? Wouldn’t it just be easier to to order flowers from the wholesaler and move on? The truth is, of course it’s easier. But who cares about easy. We care about a lot of things, but not about what’s easy.

We care about giving our clients the prettiest, freshest flowers available.

We care about supporting our local economy in a meaningful way. We care about the success and sustainability of the growers in our community. We care about the earth and the natural resources that are used to grow and transport flowers.

LynnVale Studios, llc

For all of these reasons, and more we do what we do…and we LOVE it!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

CSA 2014: Week 3

IMG_2092[1]

Week 3 of our CSA and we’re taking a break from HOT colors and going with a more muted, deep palette.  This weeks bouquets include:

  • White Lisianthus (they look a little like a rose)
  • Dark/almost black dahlias (or some of you may get purple)
  • Wild Carrot/Daucus (looks like Queen Anne’s Lace but dark burgundy or light pink
  • Mountain Mint
  • Lemon Basil
  • Blackberries (yup! blackberries)
  • Scabiosa (little pincushion flowers)

Our lisianthus, dahlias, blackberries and daucus are from Capital Flower Growers.

The beautiful mountain mint came from our friend Bill Harlan of Belvedere Farm. We’re grateful to Nancy for delivering to us today!

IMG_2068

Finally, the lemon basil and scabiosa come to you this week from Hillen Homestead. Located just 1.6 miles from our studio, Hillen Homestead is currently our only Baltimore City farmer.

Maya, her husband Max and their little one, farm on a small plot of land where rowhouses used to stand.

[IMG_0925%255B6%255D.jpg]

In their second year of growing, Hillen Homestead is getting the most out of their space! My favorite from so far are the scabiosa which you’ll see dotting your bouquet this week.

We’re grateful to Hillen Homestead and all of our growers for all of their hard work on our behalf!  They are so much more to us than just “suppliers” they are really a wonderful part of the LoCoFlo family! We couldn’t do what we do without them!

Enjoy your flowers this week! Be sure to change the water frequently and trim the bottoms every two days. Keep them out of direct sunlight to get the most life from them!