Empowered Peony Picking

by David Perry on May 10, 2010

in Facts and Lore,Growers,The Sustainable Marketplace,Trivia

Joan Thorndike Shares A Few Delectable Trade Secrets

Organic flower farmer, Joan Thorndike is a smart, generous, soft-spoken woman who has been farming flowers organically since the early nineties, which was well before even organic food had become a blip on many people’s radar screens, let alone organic flowers. I recently spent a delightful day and a half with Joan, meeting several of her longstanding customers, her playful co-workers, her delightful husband, and touring the fields and greenhouses where her flowers grow as one leg of a story gathering trip for this book project. In all, it became a five day, fourteen-hundred mile road-trip which took me south from Seattle, through southern Oregon, home of Joan’s beloved, Rogue River Valley, and finally to Chico, CA, where I then met up with author Debra Prinzing in an attempt to capture the blur and essence of California Organic Flowers‘ annual pre-Mother’s Day rush.

You may get a sense from the video lesson above that Joan’s eyes literally twinkle when she’s talking about the flowers she grows, but in truth, they also twinkle when she’s cutting them, when she’s delivering them to the floral shops, restaurants, homes and businesses she supplies, when she’s telling stories of the amazing people she works with, and when she speaks of those early days as a flower grower with two young daughters in tow. Back then she’d head out to the fields to work in every sort of weather and at the end of a long day, need to hand each of the girls to her husband, Dan, to spray them off in their oversized mudroom sink, releasing them from all that play-accumulated field-dirt they’d brought home, before they ran, giggling into the sanctuary and safety of a warm, clean home.

Which means that Joan’s eyes twinkle almost constantly. She’s kind of magical that way.

So please, if you don’t  know Joan already, enjoy this first meeting and know that it is just the first.  There will be additional opportunities to get to know her here, in time. Promise! And for those of you who already do know Joan, and especially those who were so kind to me during my visit to your most excellent corner of the world, feel free to smile and nod a hearty, “Yep, that’s our Joan” in knowing affirmation. She is indeed the real deal.


You can also visit and read more of her story at her beautiful, Le Mera Gardens website. Enjoy!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Norman May 10, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I learned something useful today. excellent.

Jennie May 11, 2010 at 7:29 am

What a wonderful video! I’m going to try for the first time storing a few peonies this year to use for my weddng clients. I learned that trick last fall at the ASCFG conference, and this video makes me all the more excited to see the magic happen! Thanks for sharing!

p.s. – Can’t wait for that book!

Pam Archer May 15, 2010 at 7:35 pm

This information is so timely! Most of our brides want peonies for their wedding, so to know we can keep them so long in bud form is very helpful. Thank you for the wonderful video. I’m excited to be referred to your site, and will be visiting often.

Julia Hails May 8, 2011 at 10:30 pm

That information is sooo useful, thankyou! I can’t wait for peony season now (which in Australia doesn’t last longer than a month!!), so that I can test this interesting fact! Thankyou Joan!

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