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November 21 2019

Meet a LoCoFloer: Butterbee Farm

Tags: Meet a LoCoFloer, Farmers

L.B. and I took a walk on a brisk November morning to Bird in Hand for a chat for the blog. Let's jump right in:

I'm meeting my dad later for an end-of-season review.

Oh yeah? He's involved with the farm?

He named it. He's a great storyteller. When I was young he made up stories about an insect called Butterbee. He could make a flutter sound with his calloused fingers from working as carpenter.

Totes adorbs.

We arrive at the coffee shop. I go for a hot green tea and chocolate croissant. L.B. gets coffee.

What about Moms? What does Wendy do for Butterbee?

She's great. She is a health care provider and facilitates support group meetings.

You have a lot of strife among your staff?

Ha. Ha. No! My mom mentors me with leadership skills.

Like your newly elected position with the ASCFG?

Yes! I will be the Secretary starting in January. I'm excited to be getting in the same room with Jennie and Lenny.

Smart. Get some inside information.

Uh? Information about what?

Do you want to make an announcement? You know, for the blog.

I still don't know what you mean.

No, I get it. Making a move for the big chair. Taking down Jennie.

I think you are just trying to get some buzz for your blog.

That's right. Because whether you like it, or you don't like it, you better learn to love it, because it's the best thing going today! WOOO!

Everybody's looking at us.

Sorry. Sorry everybody.

What are you talking about?

The nature boy? Ric Flair? No? OK... What's a typical day like on the farm?

Every morning I meet my team at 7 am by the barn. We fill buckets with water, and then head out into the field to harvest. We cut as fast as we can until the late morning; then we either have deliveries or we spend the rest of the day planting, weeding, preparing new beds, and seeding. Everyone goes home at 4 pm.

Ugh! 7AM? What about off-season?

We take naps! Just kidding. Now we have heated greenhouses so we are still planting and preparing beds long after frost hits outside. We also have special projects we've been putting off. Liz and Jascha are building our new propagation house for starting seedlings.

This all sounds like a lot of work. Don't you have any other options?

Haaaahahahahahahahaahahaha! I could have been a contender! Farming is the best thing ever, don't knock it til you try it! I got into it by accident- my friend worked on a farm in New Hampshire and I hated college and thought I would try farming one summer to get away. I got hooked!

Wow, Marlon Brando. That's an old reference even for me. Bravo. Ok, there's Liz and Jascha. Who else is on the Butterbee crew?

Courtney and Erica are also on our badass team this year! We had Alex and Cathy work with us as interns through the Beginning Farmer Training Program. Jascha and Spencer, who work on the property we lease land from, lend a hand too. Curtis, Jess, and Alex swooped in to save the day when we really needed extra help. So many amazing people make this farm happen!

Who is the hunkiest dude in the flower biz?

Jascha. And Bob Wollam.

Wow. Really? Nobody else comes to mind?

Not really.

Moving on. Beginner Farmer Training Program. What that all about?

The BFTP is a program run by the nonprofit Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. It connects interns, or "trainees," with farmers so that aspiring farmers can experience hands on learning with mentors. I did the program when I started my farm, and my husband did it the year after. It's so helpful not just for learning to farm but also making farmer friends!

What about that time there was a police chase through your farm. Were you trying to reboot the Dukes of Hazzard?

Haaahahahahaha Yes that happened! Someone robbed a bank and he tried to get away by driving through the farm. It was crazy! Also, it turns out that when the police crash into your car while they're chasing a robber, no one reimburses you.

So the farm is on land owned by your old boyfriend's family. How weird is that?

This is true. Sometimes it's a little weird but mostly it's just kind of amazing how life works out, you know?

Are you coming to flower trivia night? Any predictions, trash talk?

I have assembled the BEST trivia team ever to walk the planet. Liz has won trivia here at the farm. Spencer plays trivia on the regs and knows a weird amount of random stuff. Courtney has been a flower farmer almost as long as I have. Alex is a farmer AND a florist, so she will know some stuff that the rest of us don't. If anything I'm the weak link here! Competing teams, IT'S ON! YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW!

What's the future for Butterbee?

We're at a really cool place with farm. We are starting to pull back from field growing. We have more greenhouses. Including the Frost House - named for Ellen

Nice.

And we are investing in the future with perennials and woodies.

What else do you want readers to know? Literally dozens of people read this blog.

To my dozens of future fans, I'd like to say: buy local! You don't have to buy everything locally- but try to invest just a little in your local economy every single week, whether it's your farmer's market, a craft show, your florist, your bakery... it makes a HUGE difference! It's better for the environment, better for building community, and more often than not, the products you are buying locally are higher quality.

Alright. Thanks for the chat, but I gotta go sling some Butterbee flowers. Obviously, I ain't no Bob Wollam. I just can't get by on my good looks.

Yep. I'm gonna pick up some treats for the crew on my way out. I learned that from LoCoFlo.

Important lesson. STELLA!

Comments

July 01 2019

Meet a LoCoFloer: Ellen Frost

Tags: Meet a LoCoFloer, Hilarious

Ok. President Business. The Man. Allen Armitage Winner. MBA. Local only. Whatever. We are finally meeting Ellen Frost, LoCoFlo founder and owner, for the blog. You really think you are the shit, don't you?

Don't be weird.

Is it true that you are so flower famous that you were recognized, like you're frickin' Linsey Lohan, at a botanical garden in Florida?

Lindsey Lohan? Is this 2002! Yes, it happened. It was wicked weird. I was in line to enter the West Martello Tower garden in Key West and they ask you where you are visiting from. When I said Maryland, the woman in line behind me asked if I owned Local Color Flowers! She attended a talk I gave to her garden club. I would say it was more coincidental than fame.

"Wicked weird" - who says that? Where are you from?

Buffalo. You know that.

I'm asking for the reader. Why do you think you are so much better than everybody else in the flower industry?

Come on, I don't! I am sensitive to some people in the flower industry who think our model is a critique of their business. Our local-only approach works for us and gives our customers a choice if that is important to them. It is not possible to do this everywhere in the US. We are not the best climate in the country for flower growing, but we can get fantastic local flowers all year. It isn't easy, but local flowers are important to us and is what the business is based on.

That's where the Allen Armitage award comes in! Yeah, let's get after it Chris Cuomo! This how the BLOG BLOWS UP!

What are you talking about? And why are you yelling?

I get excited.

You know the staff doesn't like it when you come into the shop and start yelling.

I'm not yelling at them. Why can't I get excited about flowers? YEEHAW!

OK. That's enough.

Moving on... What is the nerdiest flower thing you do? It's gotta be that Darwin book club. Not only do you read books. The books are about flowers. Then you add Darwin on like homework.

Why don't you read a book and join us?

I like TV. And video games.

I know. Maybe you could just spend one night reading a book instead.

No. Isn't awesome to work with your husband?

Yes.

So, you have been doing this for like more than 10 years. You don't make any money. What are you doing? What are you doing?

It's fun. And we are making a little money.

Alright. Let's get into the story. How did all of this get started?

I finished business school and was inspired by an entrepreneur class. I knew I wanted to start my own small business but didn't know what the business would do.

MBA. We get it.

My friend Marina, who was in my Master Gardener class, had read the book "Flower Confidential" by Amy Stewart and suggested a local-only wedding flower business.

MBA and Master Gardner? You slipped that one in pretty easily.

So, I then read the book - it's all about the global flower industry. Most cut flowers sold in the US are grown overseas. It takes a lot of resources and chemicals to ship, store, and preserve foreign flowers for sale in the US.

So you're a flower protectionist. A Trumpian florist?

You're being weird again. We're a small business selling local products. Economic globalization is beneficial for many industries. Our local flowers are a cleaner, greener product that are grown by our friends who run small, family farms. Plus there are so many more interesting varieties with longer vase life.

BORING!

So, Marina and I joined with our friend Jen, who worked part-time with me at Bridenbaugh Farm to start the business.

OK. Marina - the ideas guy. Jen - the farm guy. Ellen - the business guy. What about the skills necessary to do the work. I guess it can't be that hard to put flowers in a vase. Did you just wing it?

No, we didn't just wing it!

Ow! No punching during the interview.

We took a design class at BCCC. We practiced. This was just on the weekends. And, we only designed flowers for friends at first.

OK. You have your little weekend wedding side-hustle going. How long before you dropped the dead weight and ramped up to be the floral juggernaut LoCoFlo is today.

Those are my friends! Marina moved to the Eastern Shore and Jen had twins, so they couldn't be in the business anymore. And that's not nice.

Whatever. I have done more for LoCoFlo than the two of them combined.

Yeah, whatever.

Double Whatever! So what happened next?

We rented a space to work and I eventually left my job to work on flowers full time.

That's it?

Well, I increased my design skills - took more classes. Joined the ASCFG. Built relationships with farmers and customers. Cultivated our social media. Established our brand. Received reviews and referrals. The business grew, we got some part-time help. We bought a van. And we were booking over 100 weddings year.

That's it? What about when I jumped on board?

What about it?

That was awesome.

Hello.

Ok. What about the building?

That changed our business. We were casually looking for a space for years. We were on the roof of a potential building and a man in the street below called to us. We went down and he said he owned the small warehouse across the street and was willing to sell!

Aw, that was so lit!

You sound so stupid when you talk that way.

It's what the kids are saying.

You're not a kid, and they're probably not saying that anymore.

But, I'm cool.

No, you're not.

I'm trying.

Stop trying.

Just keep going.

Well, we made a deal that night and after renovations, we moved in January 2013. We are doing so many more fun things at the shop like Open Studio, Sat@LoCoFlo, Classes, Book Club, private and community events. Plus some more exciting plans.

Oh, right, the thing?

Yeah, the thing.

Ok. Let's wrap this up. Is there anything else you want the readers to know?

I don't know if they got much out of this.

What do you mean. This was great!

I don't think so. I have to do my actual work.

Just finish this up with something schmaltzy.

I'm so grateful for what LoCoFlo has become. We are the largest buyer of flowers for several local farmers. We provide flexible employment for some of our Mom friends and flower growers. We have created a cool place in Baltimore where people can learn and be creative. I am especially proud of remarks by State Senator Mary Washington who recently visited our shop...

Ok hot shot. Cue music: I had the time of my life...

Don't be weird.

Comments

September 11 2018

Meet a LoCoFloer: Bloomhouse

Tags: Farmers, Hilarious, Meet a LoCoFloer

LoCoFlo was very excited to buy the first flowers grown by some spanking new local farmers last week! Bloomhouse is an ambitious new business founded by Jess and Sam, former best friends who are participating in Future Harvest’s Beginner Farmer training program. If they sound like contestants on “The Amazing Race” - that is exactly what I thought when I interviewed them about their business.

In addition to Bloomhouse and learn-working at Butterbee Farm in the program, Jess joined us late last year to be the new Stacy. Still on probation, she is really making a go of it as a designer. When I asked to interview her for this blog, she wanted to make sure Sam was included (“Sam doesn’t want to miss out on anything!”). So we face-timed her in…

Jess, Sam and their first Bloomhouse check

How did all this begin?

Sam was rehabbing an ankle injury last year by hobbling around a park and thought there needs to be a better place to rehab ankle injuries.

OK. Strange. Very millennial - like an episode of “Girls” - then Bloomhouse was born. Why not “Broken Ankle Flowers”?

Ha. Ha. Jess needed to be included in the name. We found the LoCoFlo website. That helped us to discover all the other growers in the area. We went to Bob Wollam’s farm for his annual festival and was inspired to build a place like that.

Acres of flowers, residences, flower interns, venue rental, dog park, ferris wheel, a true compound? This is sounding a little like Waco.

Yes! Like Chip and Joanna!

I was thinking more like David Koresh.

(blank stares)

This was back when you were in the “best friend zone”.

We’re still best friends.

But you can really have only one best friend. And Jess found a new best friend at LoCoFlo. Anyway, Do you have $10,000,000?

No, but we just sold $24 of flowers to you and we will each have $1,000 at the end of the farmer training program and Jess’s fiance Toby has equity in his house.

You’re on your way. And, Tobs will be an investor?

He will have a music studio on the compound.

And when was this ankle-injury-inspired business plan conceived?

Just last year. We came up with the name while watching football.

Wow. And you have already sold flowers?

Yes. We are growing at Toby’s house for now.

Jess at the Food Market with Bloomhouse flowers

Who are your flower mentors?

Definitely LB at Butterbee. Also, Maya at Hillen Homestead

What about local flower O.G.s like Dave Dowling, Bob Wollam and Leon Carrier?

They are so accomplished and know so much, we get nervous.

What else do we need to know about Bloomhouse?

Jess is the muscle and Sam is the business.

Nice. At LoCoFlo Ellen is the macaroni and I am the cheese. Partnerships like that can’t lose!

Comments

July 04 2018

Meet Stacy Update: SBJ

Tags: Meet a LoCoFloer, Hilarious

Sweet Baby James is here! He was born among the hydrangeas.

Comments

May 22 2018

Meet a LoCoFloer: Stacy Yeager

Tags: Meet a LoCoFloer, Hilarious

First question, elephant in the room, any big news?

Did you call me an elephant? I’m 8 months pregnant!

When’s the big day?

June 15. Hopefully sooner!

Ooh! We’re getting close. Boy or Girl?

Boy. And you’re not involved.

Name?

James

So cute! Does Forrest know?

(giggling) Of course, I see him every day.

Gotcha. How did you get started at LoCoFlo?

When I was a junior in college, I was looking into summer programs for agricultural volunteers. I really wanted to go abroad and live on an organic farm. I wanted to be a Wwoofer.

What? A Wookie?

(giggling again) No. WWOOF. It’s World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farming. During my research, I found Laura Beth who was a Wwoofer. Now she owns Butterbee Farm. She introduced me to Ellen.

So, you were looking for an idyllic summer on a organic farm in a foreign land, and you became a flower designer in Waverly?

(more giggling) Yes. That is how I met Ellen.

Those are totally different things. What did Ellen say?

She invited me for an interview for an internship.

And you you nailed it?

I guess so! I started learning in the winter of 2014 and you hired me for the summer.

Now you are our lead designer!

If you say so.

Yes, you are our number one! (Until James messes that up.) What do you do at LoCoFlo?

Mostly design arrangements. Whatever needs to be done. Make garland, wedding consultations, styling, wreaths…

Wait. What’s styling. Like me - high stylin’?

(pity giggle) Playing with dead flowers.

Oh right, I remember. Your viral post?

(lots of giggling) I guess so?

Tell us something we don’t know about you.

Oh my. I’m kind of an open book. I don’t know. I like scary movies and shows. Turkey Hill is my favorite ice cream.

I already know that. What is your favorite LoCoFlo memory?

I think the beards was really fun. Our first nacho party at Carling’s house. There are lots of good ones. The best was making a mock up of my own bridal bouquet.

What about the time we brought the compost to Real Food and drove up on the man who…

GROSS! NO!

What about the time you were introduced to the Saddleback caterpillar hidden on the back of a leaf?

No! That hurt a lot. It felt like my hand was on fire!

What about the time...

These are not good memories.

What is your theme song?

“It’s A Good Day to Alive” by Travis Tritt or “Chicken Fried” by Zach Brown Band.

What about “Drunk on a Plane”?

(exasperated giggling) No. I wasn’t drunk on the plane. I spilled some wine,.and I shouldn’t have told you about it.

Maybe if you took it easy on the sauce you wouldn’t have…

(not giggling) I WASN’T drunk! And it WASN’T fun flying to South Africa with wine-soaked pants.

I know the answer to this one: WTMD or WPOC?

I like gravel in my travel. (Editor’s note: Local Color Flowers is a proud sustaining monthly donor to WTMD.)

Why is your alias Princess Peach?

I don’t know, you gave it to me.

Yeah, I don’t know either.

Who is your favorite co-worker at the shop?

I’m not answering that.

Is it me?

No.These questions are weird. I have a question for you - Are you using my baby to promote LoCoFlo?

Maybe. Also, I thought I might get a jump on recruiting Sweet Baby James to replace me as delivery boy. I ain’t getting any younger.

Let’s wrap it up. Thanks for talking with me.

Rude!

Comments

February 14 2018

Meet A LoCoFloer: Forrest (Valentine's Edition)

Tags: Hilarious, Meet a LoCoFloer

How long have you been a customer?

I wouldn’t call myself a customer, but I am a regular. My crib is next to the shop. I’ve been coming to LoCoFlo for as long as I can remember.

Oh, so you’re a neighbor?

Yeah, LoCoFlo is the best smelling place around. Plus, they’ve got some sick talent. I have a little somethin’ somethin’ going on with a girl who works there.

Really? That sounds juicy.

Yeah. But we’re keeping it on the down low. She’s got an old man.

Scandalous! How did this start?

It was all Stacy. The first time I trotted into the shop, I wasn’t there more than a few seconds before the squealing started. She picked me up and kissed me before we were even properly introduced.

She picked you up?

Yeah. I only weigh 8 pounds.

Because of your breed?

Well, I’m small for my breed. But, can you blame her? I’m adorable. Everywhere I go ladies faun over me. Dudes too. But Stacy is my main babe. She gives the best belly rubs. Don’t tell Liz.

Who is Liz?

That’s my old lady,

You dog!

You know it. Representin’ all the Doodles.

So, Rover Romeo, what do you have planned for Valentine’s Day?

If I could get on the internet, I would order flowers from LoCoFlo’s website. They have special arrangements for Valentine’s Day, plus gift certificates, The Flower PickUp, and Gift Baskets.

What about their Open Studio on Sunday February 11 10-2?

Yeah, I’ll probably stop over. Open Studio is always the shizzle. But, I need to be careful - I’ve got a lot of ladies in the hood. I don’t need the drama.

Really.

Yeah. Look, I gotta bounce. I’m meeting my homie, Larry.

What are you guys up to?

You don’t want to know.

Comments

October 30 2017

Meet a LoCoFloer: Eric Moller

Tags: Hilarious, Meet a LoCoFloer

What do you do at LoCoFlo?

What don’t I do!?! I truly think LoCoFlo would be out of business within a week without me. I am totally indispensable and irreplaceable.

My primary responsibility is expert delivery of flowers to customers, but that hardly scratches the surface. I wash buckets. I clean the shop. I take out the compost. I’m also the tallest, and we have some very high shelves.

Wow. It sounds like you have your hands full. What value do you contribute to the company?

My most valuable contribution is cultivating the atmosphere and guiding culture at the shop. I’m really good with jokes. The designers and customers love me. They are particularly riveted by my stories from the road. Plus I’m easy on the eyes.

Right. How did you get started at LoCoFlo?

I’m married to Ellen. When she started the business she had two business partners. After Jen had twins, she just dropped out - totally flaked. Then, when Marina moved to the Eastern Shore, I swooped in. That is when LoCoFlo really started to cook with gas!

Oh, I see. The picture is getting clearer. What is your experience with flowers?

None! I can honestly say that after 10 years I still don’t know very much. And I haven’t developed any design skills. But I love working at LoCoFlo. I’ve worked in support roles at companies with great missions in the past: a homeless social service agency, an international health care NGO, and now LoCoFlo which advocates for local farmers.

What’s a typical day like for you?

It depends. During the week, the designers get in early to meet the farmers. Then they make the orders. I roll in late morning and I’m off slinging flowers to offices, hospitals and homes. Sometimes we will have a corporate event during the week.

Every Wednesday night we have Open Studio. It is a drop-in, self-directed floral design event. But it gives our customers a chance to spend some quality time with me. I think of it like office hours with a professor.

On the weekends we have Sat@LoCoFlo which is the bomb, and weddings. Delivering weddings can be intense. A typical wedding delivery includes personal flowers (bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages), ceremony arrangements, and table centerpieces. Often we will also set up and decorate an arch or chuppah. We will stick around until the ceremony is over to break down the arch. Occasionally, I will go back at the end of the night to retrieve rentals.

Why do you say the wedding deliveries are intense?

A wedding is one of the most important days in our customers’ life. Plus, it is so meaningful for the families. Although the flowers only last a short time, the pictures and memories last a lifetime. The floral products, my customer service, the experience we help to provide must be the highest quality. The customer put their trust in us for this day. It is a simple job, but it can be a high pressure situation. I take the deliveries very seriously, and it is a joy to be part of the wedding.

What’s your favorite LoCoFlo memory?

We have a lot of fun. nacho parties, flower beards, photo shoots, awards. Last fall two of our designers and one of our farmers got married (not to each other). We designed the florals and attended all three weddings. We had a party before all of the weddings at the shop featuring our neighborhood Hip Hop Chicken.

Thanks for talking with me

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