Midwest-based Field & Florist provides florists and floral designers with locally grown, pesticide-free, hand-cut blooms.
Heidi Joynt has been a patron of Chicago’s farmers markets since she moved to the city in 2008. Her job with the Chicago Botanic Gardens and a background in vegetable farming gave her both personal and professional reasons to go. With every visit, her trained eye scanned the bounty of local, organically grown produce, and she always left with the same question: Why don’t flowers get the same attention as food?
Even at “local” operations such as farmers markets, many of the flowers
on sale are imports. “Eighty percent of the flowers purchased in the U.S. are
from South America,” Heidi says. For American growers, this means watching millions of dollars and thousands of jobs go straight into the hands of an insurmountable competitor. For American consumers, this means shallow variety, spotty quality, and lots of chemicals. “It doesn’t make sense,” Heidi says. “Flowers belong in the same circle of thought as food.”
With the type of fearless spirit that separates entrepreneurs from the rest of us, Heidi resolved then and there that she would do something to fill the void in the cut-bloom market. She borrowed a plot of land from the county’s department of corrections and planted a trial crop of 20 varieties—just enough to test the waters. She called her business Field & Florist. Its mission, in addition to providing quality flowers to wholesale florists and events, would be to educate people on the backstory of cut blooms. Field & Florist’s supple, dewy arrangements showcased varieties unseen in the typical florist’s cooler—flowers like Maroon Fox and Karma Goldie Dahlias. It took only one season to learn that Chicago’s florists weren’t just interested in Heidi’s blooms; they were starving for them.
Now Heidi faced a dilemma of the good sort: How to grow the business (specifically more flowers) within the crowded confines of a major metropolitan area. Fellow Chicago business owner Michael Salvatore, whose neighborhood shop Heritage Bicycle was a favorite display spot for Heidi’s arrangements, stepped up with an almost too-good-to-be-true solution. “I mentioned to Mike that I was looking for land, and he said we could use part of his family’s farm.” The Salvatore family owned a farmhouse and 5 acres of land in South Barrington, Illinois, an affluent suburb about 30 miles west of Chicago. Other than the occasional pig roast, the land had sat largely abandoned since Michael’s great uncle used it as a horse farm in the 1920s. “I think she was a little hesitant at first,” Mike remembers. “We had only known each other a couple months, and she didn’t necessarily get that there wasn’t some catch."
Mike’s offer stemmed mainly from his sympathy for fellow start-ups. “I’ve been there and I know how hard it is,” he says. But he also believed in Heidi’s talent. “She totally takes it to the next level. Her flowers have become part of our brand.”
Not long after that, Heidi encountered another stranger whose kindness would evolve into something more. Marketing consultant Molly Kobelt was on Facebook when she spotted a post from Heidi looking for help at the farm. “I went out that day to help stake Dahlias,” Molly says. “And I never left!” Molly now has part ownership in Field & Florist. Together she and Heidi have turned 20 blooms into 65 and five customers into 35.
The numbers will continue to uptick this year, when the business uproots to Three Oaks, Michigan, a Great Lakes community about 90 minutes outside of Chicago. “We’ll be able to do our own propagation and seed-starting, which gives us tremendous flexibility in planting times,” Heidi says. Dahlias will always be a trademark of Field & Florist, but with the addition of expanded acreage and heated indoor tunnels, perennials such as roses, peonies, and clematis will also have their shot. When it comes to bolstering the American Grown Flower movement, the more blooms the better. “It’s our goal to make purchasing and using locally grown flowers for other designers as simple a process as possible.”
Foraged unfussiness is the backbone of Field & Florist’s look and vision. Owners Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt gathered the components of this seasonal wreath in a 20-minute walk around their farm. Take their lead: It includes Liquidambar leaves, Honeysuckle vine, acorns on the branch, Rose hips, Amaranth, and native grass.
You will need:
a pliable vine or twig
- Find a base form. Heidi and Molly used a honeysuckle vine, but any pliable vine or twig will work.
- Fashion the base form into a circle. Imperfect circles welcome! Secure with floral wire.
- Gather components of wreath. Anything interesting and seasonal will do; all that matters is that the components are of varying textures and colors. It took about 5 bundles of different materials to fill this 6" wreath.
- Attach components to form. Attach a bundle at a time to the wreath form by tightly wrapping floral wire around the bundle’s base. Twist wire in back to secure. Use each new bundle to disguise the previous bundle’s wire.
Feathery grasses are great for finishing off edges. Also, play with asymmetry by keeping materials more lush on one side
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