Bilingual Flower Workshop
At Jello Mold Farm near Mount Vernon, Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall are growing over 150 varieties of flowers sustainably, applying the same sort of local, green standards to their work as organic fruit and vegetable growers are to theirs.
Approximately seven years ago, the couple started planting an orchard with the goal of running a Community Supported Agriculture farm. But somewhere along the way, Szukovathy read “The Flower Farmer” by Lynn Byczynski, and the seed was planted. They set out to reinvent the flower industry in the Pacific Northwest.
Over 80% of fresh cut flowers are produced in Latin America using harsh chemicals and poor wages/working conditions. These flowers are then shipped thousands of miles to reach consumers, burning fossil fuels all along the way. Locally grown flowers, like those grown at Jello Mold Farm, are produced more sustainably, provide good jobs, and bring the consumer in direct contact with the grower, allowing for a higher level of appreciation/inspiration. Buying your flowers locally supports a “fair trade” approach similar to coffee, chocolate, spices, etc.
Szukovathy and Westphall describe themselves as “botanically adventuresome.” Their farm boasts row upon row of beautiful, bouquet-ready flowers — everything from dahlias and lilacs and lupines to sweet peas, sunflowers and crab apples and even gourds and chestnut tree branches. “We see ourselves as an art supply store for florists and flower retailers,” explains Szukovathy, gesturing towards the bright, colorful and fragrant fields that surround her.
In addition to operating Jello Mold, Szukovathy is a founding member of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a producer-owned cooperative of 19 growers from Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. Open three days a week, year round, the market provides the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, greens and ornamentals from over twenty local flower farms. Each week friendly farmers offer a dazzling array of the very freshest seasonal products directly to professional floral buyers.
Szukovathy and Westphall’s vision, commitment to the land and creative spirit are certainly paying off. Demand for their flowers has tripled over the last three years and major retailers like the PCC and the Ballard Market proudly display their wares. To learn more about Jello Mold Farm, visit their website or stop by the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market on Fridays from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM when it is open to the general public.
Jello Mold Farm Website
Farm Walk booklet: HERE
Article and Photos by Amy Besunder