Kelly + Logan

photo: Tyler Rye. This bouquet has already walked down the aisle, been thrown to the ladies, and done a little wading in the ocean. Tough stuff, right?!

photo: Tyler Rye. This bouquet has already walked down the aisle, been thrown to the ladies, and done a little wading in the ocean. Tough stuff, right?!

I love working weddings, and I love getting to know my clients through the process. A nurse and a boatbuilding engineer, it was so much fun to work with Kelly and Logan. Truth be told, with his project management background Logan tested the wedding planning waters and was my primary point of contact for their florals. He also build the arch and all the tables for the reception!

photo: Tyler Rye

photo: Tyler Rye

They had a beautiful, minimalist aesthetic of olive and other greenery and white blooms. Across nearly 80 feet of banquet tables we laid loose greens with brass candlesticks, white candles, and beautiful mixed succulents in gold glass mercury votives. It was romantic and elegant, and a great option for long tables without going for full-on garland. 

Photo: Tyler Rye

Photo: Tyler Rye

This awesome arbor beautifully framed one of my favorite couples as they exchanged their vows. We used simple greenery and a few subtle accent flowers, with Kachemak Bay and mountains creating an unbeatable backdrop!

Photo: Tyler Rye

Photo: Tyler Rye

The pictures from the beach are amazing. Tyler captured their adventure, love, and kindness so well! I'll leave you with a few more of his great photographs, and a big Thank You to Kelly and Logan for giving me the opportunity to participate in this true work of love. 

Photo: Tyler Rye

Photo: Tyler Rye

Photo: Tyler Rye

Photo: Tyler Rye

Photo: Tyler Rye

Photo: Tyler Rye

Flowers: Alaska Stems
Photography: Tyler Rye
Day-of Coordination: i do Events
Venue: Driftwood Inn

For more information on working with Alaska Stems for your wedding flowers, please see our wedding page and our wedding inquiry form!

Spring means tulips!

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April 20th. Our first real tulip harvest for 2017! It's on. Tulip season is a big one around here. There's a lot of build up and excitement getting to this point. The winter was a long and cold one, and we aren't the only ones desperate for a little color and freshness in our home. Read below for more on our tulip venture, but if you just want to get your hands on some....

Where do people get these beauties? A few choices:

  • Weekly/bi-weekly subscriptions. Folks who are signed up with us for regular flower deliveries get top priority on our flowers! We provide big bouquets of fresh flowers in the Homer-area for $25/week, delivered on Mondays. We'll start deliveries on Monday, 4/24!
  • KenaiFoodHub.orgStarting *next week*, we'll be listing tulip bunches for sale on the Food Hub. You could login today and buy salmon, oysters, rabbit, chicken, basil, sorrel, cucumber starts and so much more. But you'll have to wait until Friday, 4/28 to order tulips!
  • Individual orders. Are you hoping to bring some tulips to a friend? Brighten up your home sooner rather than later? We offer vase arrangements and hand tied bouquets of tulips ranging from $10 to $60 available for on-farm pick-up or delivery (charges apply). Call us for availability and to schedule a pick-up or delivery. 435-7209
  •  Save-U-More. As soon as we're able to fill our other orders and we're swimming in tulips (probably by Wednesday, 4/26) we'll start having tulips available at Save-U-More in Homer. We do these on consignment and work to keep them as fresh and stocked as possible. If you HAVE to have flowers, you may be better off calling us directly but we work pretty hard to keep the store stocked!
  • Online StoreSimilar to Save-U-More, once we have a solid cooler full of blooms we'll open up our online store for orders. On our store you can place orders for deliveries, and you can always purchase flower club cards and gift certificates for the farmers market!

If you're still reading, and want to know more about our tulips....

I don't really know how it all began. But early on in our flower growing life, we decided to try tulips. We started fairly big, with around 1,000 bulbs. We were terrified of voles and other bulb-eating rodents. Before planting, we dug out the bed and lined it with 1/4" hardware cloth. Shoveled in some soil, planted bulbs, covered with soil then topped with hardware cloth that connected to the underlying piece. UGH. It was backbreaking at the beginning and at the end. 

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It didn't take long to realize two things. One: Fresh, local tulips are AMAZING and truly unlike anything else if you haven't experienced them. Two: The hardware cloth had to go. It was a mess. So we worked on upping our rodent-trapping game, ditched the hardware cloth, and picked up the pace on tulips each year. 

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This past fall, the amazing crew at Twitter Creek Gardens helped us put in almost 9,000 tulip bulbs. It's our first year with fall-planted bulbs in the new high tunnels, and I'm terribly excited about it. I'm nervous, per usual, about the huge number of new varieties. I'll admit some of the buds are looking small, but Ben assures me that they'll beef up. Spring. A time of fabulous growth and potential, and always a small degree of anxiety on my part! 

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We pull all of our tulips out, bulb on (if at all possible). While some tulips will perennialize, they aren't as good as daffodils at that exercise, and they take up valuable soil in the high tunnel. They also store really well in the cooler with their bulbs on! We harvest at least once, and if it's sunny sometimes three or more times in a day. The goal is to pull them with just a hint of color for the longest storage and vase life potential!

We wash all of our stems pretty well. In talking with some other farmers this winter it sounds like maybe a bit too well - it takes a lot of time! But, it's part of our system and part of our awesome final product so we'll keep it! After washing they are wrapped in newspaper around the tops to keep them straight, and stored in buckets, totes, bins...by the end we're scrounging around for anything with four sides to stash our tulips in!

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When it's time to make bouquets, we'll pull out big bunches of wrapped stems, cut off the bulbs, and lay them on the table in big piles. We bunch into 8-stem hand-tied bouquets or vase arrangements in regular or large sizes. 

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In about a month we are done with tulips, and pretty excited for a break. I'll start putting in an order for fall bulbs, and all of our energies will shift to summer blooms. 

In October, our crates upon crates of bulbs will arrive. We'll rally a crew of wonderful help. We'll dig out beds, nestle in the beautiful silky smooth bulbs, cover them with soil and tuck them in for the winter. We'll set traps with peanut butter for the voles, and cross our fingers for a cold (but not too cold) winter. We'll wait patiently, and then not-so-patiently for the spring to come. As soon as the soil starts thawing, I'll start carefully digging around in the beds - looking for deep stems. Ben will lightly chastise me (I'm always digging around...patience, he reminds me. Patience). Then the stems will poke through, the leaves will flush out, the buds will form and then again we'll be greeted with the bright streaks of spring color. I really love tulips. 

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Remote, rustic elegance

Homer sits on the edge of Kachemak Bay, with majestic views of mountains, glaciers, ocean and volcanoes. Every wedding venue has its unique charms, and they all are breathtaking. We are so lucky to live and work here! Last summer we had so much fun taking that unique beauty a step further, across the water to the south side of the Bay.

Last summer we had so much fun taking that unique beauty a step further, across the water to the south side of the Bay. Katelyn and Van were married at a family home in Tutka Bay – surrounded by an incredibly beautiful rocky shoreline, trees dripping in green, and rising mountains. The day was sunny and hot, tucked back against the shore. Coming across the Bay was a different matter, with waves crashing and soaking some of those on the back deck of the boat! Thankfully our florals were tucked safely in the cabin, and a dryer was available on the other side for some wet clothes!

Shawna and Madilyn (Madilyn Robinson Photography) heading across the Bay. This photo is looking back toward the Homer Spit and Land's End Resort. 

Shawna and Madilyn (Madilyn Robinson Photography) heading across the Bay. This photo is looking back toward the Homer Spit and Land's End Resort. 

Wedding party flowers, packed and ready for a (protected) boat ride across the Bay!

Wedding party flowers, packed and ready for a (protected) boat ride across the Bay!

Soft, classic and elegant – this wedding featured a beautiful color palate of whites, greens, silvers with soft blush accents. We got to deck out a few outhouses with arrangements, and hang garland on a seaside deck. The bride’s family built an amazing structure over the deck, complete with chandelier! Hanging wreaths and a fabric-backed arbor with off-centered florals set the scene beautifully.

photo by Madilyn Robinson

photo by Madilyn Robinson

A sweet touch in one of two outhouses for guests.

A sweet touch in one of two outhouses for guests.

photo by Madilyn Robinson

photo by Madilyn Robinson

photo by Madilyn Robinson

photo by Madilyn Robinson

Shawna and I had a fantastic time, working around the decks and winding wooden pathways to add floral accents around this incredible property. Katelyn was a wonderful, sweet bride from start to finish, and all of the friends, family and fellow vendors were fun company on this beautiful day. The wild blueberries were pretty amazing as well!

Heading home after a fun, and long, day! The *best* way to commute to work - by boat!

Heading home after a fun, and long, day! The *best* way to commute to work - by boat!

photo by Madilyn Robinson

photo by Madilyn Robinson

As the light returns here in Southcental Alaska, it's fun to be planning our crops and 2017 weddings, and dreaming of these sunny blue sky days! We still have some availability in our schedule - get started with a wedding inquiry form and I'll be in touch within a few days. 

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

2016 Highlights: Bridal Bouquets

As we say goodbye to 2016, we're excited to reflect on successes and opportunities heading into 2017! Here are some highlights of bridal bouquets and a wide range of styles and color palattes from the wedding season. Getting married in 2017? Learn more here and contact us for more information!  

photo credit: Joshua Veldstra

photo credit: Joshua Veldstra Photography

photo credit: Chugach Peaks Photography

photo credit: personal friend of the bride, Amanda

photo credit: friend of bride, Emily

photo credit: Chugach Peaks Photography

photo credit: Ceremony Photography

Expanding Opportunities in the Farm Revolution!

Since moving to Alaska eleven years ago, I’ve had amazing opportunities to wear a lot of different hats. For eight years I worked for Cook Inletkeeper, engaging here in Homer and around the state on efforts to help build and support healthy, vibrant communities. Last year, as I started looking to move on and focus on our farm and design business, one of my ‘swan song’ grant proposals to the USDA was funded. The proposed project was to develop an online ‘Food Hub’ for our community, run as a pilot for two years with funding then hopefully successful enough to exist on its own into the future. I’m writing about it here because I’m passionate and excited about marketing and access to local flowers and food. I live in a fishing community (both sport & commercial), the self-proclaimed ‘Halibut Capital of the World’, and yet you can’t really buy local seafood at the grocery store. We have the highest density of USDA-funded high tunnels in the country, but precious few market outlets for this aspiring cottage industry of small scale farmers.

'Little Emily' works at Emily Garrity's Twitter Creek Garden. Photo by K.Boone for the Kenai Peninsula Food Hub. 

Around the country, food hubs are all the rage. Although they come in many flavors, ours - the Kenai Peninsula Food Hub - is essentially a weekly online farmers market. Robbi is our Food Hub Manager (she’s also our Farmers Market Manager and director of the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival) and we’ve worked with farmers, customers and community partners throughout the region to start us off on the right foot. It’s a straightforward process: As a producer, I log in to our website weekly and update what I have available (including a price, photo and description). I have two days for my updates – then it’s the customers’ turn! From Friday through Monday at 10PM anyone can log in and fill up their carts with locally grown flowers, food, household goods and crafts. Late Monday night all producers receive an emailed ‘pick ticket’ – it outlines exactly what I sold and to whom. I have Tuesday to harvest and arrange, and then Wednesday I bring in my flowers. This year our food hub operated on Wednesdays out of the Kachemak City Community Center. The community gave us a good deal on the rental, it’s a large indoor space with ample parking, and they have plenty of tables available for use.  Through the dedication of some volunteers and the Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District, we were also able to run a food hub location up in the Central Peninsula (Kenai/Soldotna) area.

Robbi is also one of the Food Hub's most active customers! Photo by K.Boone for the Kenai Peninsula Food Hub. 

Robbi is also one of the Food Hub's most active customers! Photo by K.Boone for the Kenai Peninsula Food Hub. 

Throughout this winter, in addition to working on planning for our farm, I’ll continue to work with Robbi and all of our community partners and other local farmers to help continue developing our capacity to not only grow but to market and sell our flowers, vegetables, fish and other locally-grown and created products. Around the country, we’re in the middle of an incredible small farm and local/slow food/flower movement. It’s inspiring to work with such a vibrant community in Southcentral Alaska to figure out how best to translate that movement into sustainable small farms throughout the region. 

Gratitude.

photo: Katie Boone, Ceremony Photography

Thanksgiving tomorrow. I love this time of the year - family and friends, food and music. The annual Homer Nutcracker, the Chamber Christmas Tree lighting, the Pratt Museum's holiday party complete with a Santa in the homesteader's cabin. All of it comes wrapped in a daily rhythm of cold (mostly, usually, hopefully) and short days, long nights. 

And opportunities for reflections of thanks, and forward leaning to a bright future. 

This year I'm thankful for (in no particular order):

  • Toddler Sadie, who is learning to navigate the world, make choices, push boundaries, empathize with others, be grateful and kind. Sometimes. Also thankful for our quick healing from pink eye earlier this week. Yowzers.
  • Baby Linnea, who is pushing past her baby state as she nears the one year mark (next week!). She has one word ("HOT"), and she's practicing standing all by herself. She's opinionated and cheerful. I'm so thankful for our healthy kiddos.
  • Transitions! I've been mulling over my dreams for years now. It's still a slow and steady project, but I'm SO THANKFUL for the opportunity to lean in to Alaska Stems - to our farm and our design business - in 2017 and beyond. And I couldn't do it without....
  • Ben. This goes without saying, but as my graduate advisor told me when I started my M.S. in Wildlife Biology, "You must always remember what is important. These are the three things that are important: being kind to children, respecting your elders, and telling the people you love that you love them." It's not your standard advice for starting off grad school, but it's how I knew I was in the right lab. So with that, I'll take another opportunity to express my deepest gratitude and love for Ben. In parenting, farming, design, critical thought, and navigating this crazy complex world - I'm so thankful. 
  • Instagram. I know that sounds silly. But truly - the vast majority of those I follow are engaged in farming, flowers and design. They create things and support beauty and kindness around the world. It's a source of daily inspiration that I've been especially thankful for during the past few months. 
  • Being a part of a physical community. It's a broad and diverse community, despite it's fairly narrow (and cosmic) reputation. And I love it. I love engagement in day to day life in a place. Digging in and committing. It can be a challenge sometimes for my travel-loving heart to wrap around the relatively stationary life in a single community. But with that sacrifice comes huge payback in personal grounding.

May you all have a season that is filled with gratitude. With empathy and compassion for those around you - friends, family, neighbors, strangers on the street. May you do something each and every day that helps make the world just a little bit of a better place. I'll be working to do the same, and I hope our paths cross along the way!

(all photos in this post are thanks to the wonderful Katie Boone of Ceremony Photography. Check out her fun post about her trip to photograph Food Hub producers up here in Alaska this past September.)