Jessica Balnaves and Ryann Mead started True Leaves Floral in the winter of 2015. They are farmer-florists who grow their own flowers from seed to vase, creatively arranging them for homes and businesses. They also produce botanicals with their locally propagated flora.
We had a little chat with them to explore their journey and what they have to offer to the Keenobby family:
What is a flower farm and how did you start the idea of “seed to vase” into your project?
A flower farm is a growing space dedicated completely to the propagation, care and harvest of flowers. We decided to take on this project with a heavy focus on sustainability, and to grow everything ourselves from seed. We see such beautiful work being done with urban farms like Brooklyn Grange and Eagle Street, with the way they have brought so much awareness to farm to table eating, and we are essentially aiming at doing the same for flowers.
Tell us a little bit about the True Leaves Floral and its inception?
When Jess and I met in 2015 at the Bushwick Food Coop, we both had stable careers in the food world in Brooklyn but also both had a background in organic farming, Jess in an urban setting, and Ryann on rural land. We got to know each other and quickly realized we were both eager to get our own growing project off the ground. That’s when we decided to grow flowers together!
The U.S. currently houses a $20 billion flower industry, but we import over 78% of our flowers from abroad, often from farms with very poor working conditions and very little regard for land repair, or diversity in selection. What we understood from those numbers was that a) There is a huge market demand for flowers, and b) There is a serious problem with flower access, variety and labor rights. We want people to be able to come to our gardens, enjoy our flowers, see and participate in the growing process first-hand, and realize exactly why it is important to source your flowers locally.
Since its inception, True Leaves has remained open to the market’s needs. We have a flower farm, a flower CSA program (Community Supported Agriculture), we do weddings, events, service restaurants and businesses, and you can even find us at farmers markets. Beyond that, we provide restaurants with edible flowers, and we have a botanical line where we produce teas, tinctures, floral waters, and more. We are flower obsessed and love it!!
What inspired you to start True Leaves Floral and how does the farm give back to the community?
Jess brought the idea to Ryann to grow flowers over a dinner at her and her husband’s house, and over the course of the evening, we had already tossed around the idea of doing a flower CSA, which is the main source of business for us now, and just got super excited and haven’t looked back since.
We try and stay really involved with the local community of Bushwick primarily. We are members of El Garden Community Garden, we sell at Bushwick Food Co-Op, volunteer and support BK Rot compost, and more. We also hold classes as often as possible to educate the community on ways to grow, arrange, apply flowers to daily life.
What can the participants expect from your workshops?
To be in a gorgeous garden, being taught by two ladies who genuinely love what they are doing. You can expect a garden tour, to learn a bit about growing, harvesting and preparing your flowers for arrangement. Depending on the class theme, you will learn something different each time. We also usually provide you with cupcakes to decorate with our home grown violas, which is always fun, too 🙂
Tease your green thumb with Ryann and Jessica at True Leaves Floral Seed to vase Flower Farm. Join then for an amazing workshop: https://www.keenobby.com/profile/15-jessica-b/