The 50 Mile Bouquet . . . nearly there, in the news and more

by Debra Prinzing on February 5, 2012

in How We Did It,Talking With Experts,The Book Project,The Sustainable Marketplace

Nearly sleepless in Seattle

Good News for Flower Lovers!

The opening weeks of 2012 have been super busy (shall we say we’re nearly sleepless-in-Seattle?), which is one reason why this blog has been less than active. Picture your intrepid floral-reporter (Debra), frantically writing captions for something like 200 gorgeous photographs, while our wonderful editor Cathy Dees has been combing through the manuscript of The 50 Mile Bouquet, checking for tiny little typos or word-echos or odd syntaxes, cleaning things up so that our stories flow seamlessly from one to the next.

Now, picture your fearless photographer (David) the man who is happiest when he’s outside, in nature somewhere (the garden, a fly-fishing expedition, a boat in the middle of Puget Sound) – anywhere but glued to his computer. And YES, he’s been glued to the computer, sorting, evaluating and formatting tens of thousands of images, as he suggests the very best versions to our designer James Forkner. These hundreds of images will illustrate narratives of a passionate flower farmer or an inventive floral designer – or the poignant petal on a sun-kissed rose blossom.

It’s the gritty side of creating a book, inside, at the computer – far removed from the blooms that give us joy. Yes, that’s where we’ve been and what we’re doing.

For those of us who think digital photography is as easy as clicking a button and uploading our image to the Web, I want to share a little behind-the-scenes from Mr. Perry’s studio. Unless you’re a professional photographer, you’ll have no idea how many hours each image requires to color-correct, adjust, re-size, etc. Here’s just one example David shared with us:

BEFORE: This beautiful bouquet, designed by Berkeley florist Max Gill for Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Restaurant & Cafe, was photographed in less-than-ideal low-light conditions. As David pointed out:

” . . . quite a bit of work was already done in Adobe Lightroom before outputting the file into Photoshop in the form you see it here, and we still haven’t converted these to CMYK from RGB yet, which is its own sort of nightmare. Multiply that by, oh, say 175 and you start to see the mountain that rises up between the trees.”

Max's Bouquet for Chez Panisse . . . before David's final touches to the image

AFTER: David explained, “(I) brightened just the right elements and sharpened some while imperceptibly softened others, which requires many steps to get a photograph to really ‘sing’.”

Subtly beautiful changes give this photo is special glow. A winner!

David expressed what each of us must have been thinking when we first read his Before-and-After email: “I know it’s not all that different from what each team member is contending with, but it is a good reminder of just how many thousands of decisions go into each page and story and chapter. We’re doing big work here, team, and one of these days, we’ll actually be able to look back on all this and laugh . . . Lordy, at least I hope so.”

We are close

On Jan. 17th, David sent this image around to the team, imagining how James must have been feeling about The 50 Mile Bouquet. That’s Jimmy’s wife Lorene standing next to him. The original occasion of this photograph was last summer when their lovely garden was on a big tour.

Very close to hitting the “send” button and shipping The 50 Mile Bouquet, all 144 glorious pages of it, to the printer. Let’s pause here and applaud two more important players in this narrative. First, our smart and brave publisher, Paul Kelly, of St. Lynn’s Press. Paul is the man who “gets” us and understands the powerful message of our storytelling. It’s not about David or Debra. No, it’s about this monumental, cultural shift that we’re witnessing. The one that makes flower farmers the new rock stars of the sustainable world. The one that celebrates floral designers and their clients who demand Seasonal, Local and Sustainably-Grown ingredients.

Paul picked us up when we were convinced that “self publishing” was the only possible way The 50 Mile Bouquet would eventually see the light of day. He’s our own publishing pioneer and we are so pleased to make the alliance with St. Lynn’s Press.

In the past few weeks, we’re starting to feel public excitement build for The 50 Mile Bouquet’s release. For one thing – FINALLY – our book cover has popped up on We have a special someone to thank for helping nudge things along. She knows who she is. Now that the evocative cover art is on the site, we feel confident about sending you there to pre-order a copy. Here is the link. Please recommend it to friends and “like” it for us.

The official publication date is April 1st – so follow us to learn more about our upcoming book-signings and lectures and we’ll keep you posted.

Yay for SUNSET










We have some early mentions in the press, and we want to share them with you here.

First off, an article commissioned by Julie Chai, Sunset magazine’s senior garden editor (Julie is one of our most loyal supporters – we’ve been sharing our adventures and stories with her from as long ago as 2008). Her colleague Kathy Brenzel, Sunset’s garden editor, actually gave us our first “blurb” for this project – long before it was a reality.

So we are thrilled that our piece, “The 5 Mile Bouquet” (a play on our book title, with Sunset’s special twist to make it their own) appears in the current February 2012 issue of the magazine.

Next, our friend Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm and the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market was recently interviewed by Joshua McNichol of Seattle’s NPR station (KUOW-FM). His January 23rd piece “Local Flower Wholesaler Budding in Georgetown,” profiled the local and slow flower movement and included a quote from Debra about how the floral industry benefits when it can buy direct from flower farmers:

Prinzing says there’s another advantage to using local flowers. They don’t have to travel halfway around the world in a plane. So it’s okay if they don’t fit into a box, or if they’re fragile. Prinzing says that gives florists more variety.

Debra Prinzing: “So all of a sudden you’ve been given a crayon box with 160 crayons instead of 24. And, you know, it’s a great art palette.”

That same week, Jessica Vernabe, a reporter for the online sustainability site, called to ask for a quote to include in her profile of California Organic Flowers. Her story, “California-based Flower Farm Grows Market for Organic Flowers One Bouquet at a Time,” appeared on Jan. 24th.

Thanks to Marc Kessler, who owns the organic flower farm in Chico, Calif., for telling Jessica that we were including a story about California Organic Flowers in The 50 Mile Bouquet. He urged her to call Debra for details and so Jessica asked why COF is so successful as a new-business model for flower farming. Here’s what ended up in the story:

Debra Prinzing, a writer and lecturer in Seattle who is including California Organic Flowers in a book about the shift towards the organic flower market, agrees that the industry sector is still at its cusp. The book “The 50 Mile Bouquet” hits national distribution on April 1.

“It’s considered fringe right now,” she said, noting that some still question why organic flowers are necessary since they are a luxury good. “This is not new, but there is a sort of new awareness that’s being driven by the floral design trade asking for locally grown or organically grown ingredients.”

Prinzing commended Kessler and Keener for meeting some of that demand.

“There are a lot of people growing flowers organically or sustainably to sell to the floral trade, but what Marc and Julia have done is really think like a mainstream marketplace in terms of developing a very consistent product offering (and) branding themselves incredibly well.”

So that’s it for an update from The 50 Mile Bouquet Team. If you hear the sound of corks popping on February 10th, it’s because Jimmy and Paul hit the “send” button to ship our baby off to the printer. . . and we’ll be sure to pop even more corks on our publication date, April 1st.





{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Amy Stewart February 5, 2012 at 9:54 am

I am wildly excited to see this book finally come to life! Well, actually, it’s been ALIVE for some time, but now it will be ON PAPER too! Well done!

Dear Amy: THANK YOU for the shout-out! We are wildly excited that your beautiful Foreword: “Slow Flowers . . . or 50 Miles from Home,” will appear as the opening message to our book! ~ Debra & David

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