The 50 Mile Bouquet

How is a local bouquet of seasonal blossoms like the first spring dinner of  fava bean pasta?  Both mark a unique moment in the season; a singular phase of the year that must be celebrated and cherished, acknowledged and savored before it’s past.  My good friends Debra Prinzing and David Perry get this and after reading their new book The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers, just out from St. Lynn’s Press you will too.

The 50 mile bouquet by Debra Prinzing & David PerryPrinzing’s thoughtful and passionate interviews with farmers, floral designers, and flower-lovers, richly illustrated with Perry’s luscious photography, creates a satisfying multi-sensory feast of provocative observations and beautiful images.

Why do we settle for anonymous, season-free, chemical laden posies from the other side of the world when there’s bounty all around us and good people working hard to bring their crops to market? Well one, because until recently, how were we to know that those cello-wrapped bouquets, that are oh-so-available at florists, markets, and even warehouse stores hid a dark environmental and human toll behind their alluring good looks.

Note to self: always question the perfect! Like a bug-free vegetable garden, it doesn’t exist in the real world.

Fran Sorin, of Gardening Gone Wild, a smart and informed blog that looks at every aspect of the world of horticulture, recently ran a lovely Q&A with Debra.  Here’s a snippet of my favorite part:

You compare ‘green floral design’ to the authenticity of the slow food movement. Can you explain what you mean?

The notion of Farm-to-Table dining has been around for 40 years, ever since Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley. And since that time, the Slow Food movement has gathered its momentum, its supporters, and its believers. In culinary circles and among foodies, the farmer is the new rock star. We gobble up their food and gobble up heart-warming stories of the artisanal cheese maker, the organic vintner, the heirloom tomato farmer – it’s everywhere and it’s widely accepted that eating food that has made the shortest possible journey from the field to the table is “better” than the alternative. Now, we are witnessing the early efforts of the flower world to catch up with the culinary world.

You can read the entire interview here.

I have an even greater level of respect and gratitude for farmers of all stripes this spring when I’ve been too busy to get out and plant.

I miss fresh radishes.  Last season’s kale has finally gone completely to flower providing a fabulous meal for early pollinators; dinner, not so much.  Fresh tender herbs are producing, the rhubarb is sizing up nicely, and the blueberries and raspberries are fully budded meaning their lovely crop of berries is on its way with little input from me.  I love perennial edibles!!!  But you can bet your last trusty trowel, I made time to get my fava beans planted – I can’t imagine a gardening year without my favorite vegetable.

skagit valley tulip fields

Another sort of delicious crop from the fertile fields of the Skagit Valley

On the floral front – heartfelt  thanks go to my sweetheart who made my May day with a big bouquet of brilliant, jewel-toned tulips – fresh from the Skagit Valley – just outside Seattle. Local Love!!!


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3 Responses to “The 50 Mile Bouquet”

  1. debra May 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    Thanks for the good words, Lorene – and thank you for making the important connection between locally-grown and seasonal food AND flowers raised in the same, earth-friendly way.

  2. Lorene May 9, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Oh my friend… you opened my eyes to that connection (which seems so obvious now~) Local flowers are a lovely way to mark where we are in the year. I’m nearly swooning from the fragrance of a tiny bouquet of lily-of-the-valley on my desk — a bit too, too, if you know what I mean. But an experience I won’t have again until next year so I’m inhaling deeply and celebrating May~

  3. Fruit Maven June 6, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    Hmm.. Hadn’t thought about where my flowers come from…Just when I think I’m making progress, my eyes are opened a little more.