In preparation for our upcoming fellowship program and to host our next class, I wanted to share a little more about the process of creating the course and why we designed it the way we did.
In the first part of this blog series, I shared the story of how our workshops came to be. You can read here.
I am a pen and paper person and carry a notebook everywhere I go. I can fill 5 subject notebooks in less than a month by recording the things we do every day on the farm.
There is something about holding paper in your hand that makes it so much easier to learn and understand (at least for me). I need to be able to see and touch things and write down my thoughts as I go.
So when it came time to create the written part of the course, I knew in my heart that it had to become a book – something we could give students to hold in their hands.
The first-year coursebook we taught our on-farm workshops was a small black and white spiral-bound notebook of only two dozen pages. It seemed like a big deal at the time, but I can’t help but laugh looking back as it has come from those early days to this day.
This year’s coursebook comes in at 290 beautiful color pages, packed with the many useful techniques, step-by-step guides and resources we’ve developed over the years. It’s so big now that it needed an actual index, which technically makes it the fourth book.
In addition to the coursebook, we created a sample cutting garden plan to demonstrate small-scale crop planning and succession planting. The best part about this sample plan is that you can lay it on the table and see such important concepts come to life before your eyes that are normally so difficult to understand.
When we taught workshops on the farm, one of the hardest parts was trying to squeeze all the information into three short days. A lot of the chores and chores I wanted to share couldn’t be shown in person because they were seasonal.
What I love most about moving our workshop to an online format is that it has allowed us to share an entire year on the farm, from planning in the winter months, to seeding and planting in the spring, to all the flower care and harvesting. summer and then finally putting the garden to bed in the fall.
The course includes over 150 videos broken into short, bite-sized chunks so students can go at their own pace and watch and re-watch as many video tutorials as needed to master the material.
Our intention to do it this way was that we wanted to build it as a learner with a very hands-on learning approach. I’m a hands-on learner and need to see things on display before I feel comfortable enough to try them myself.
The best thing about this format is that we are able to teach students of different skill levels and learning styles a variety of topics, no matter how big or small, in a way that is easy to understand and apply to their lives and gardens. .
Because the course contains so much information, we’ve deliberately divided it into six main modules, each building on the last. Modules are released weekly over the 6-week course and students can then access all the material to refer to whenever they want.
The reason we don’t distribute all the material at once is that we want students to have enough time and support to work through that week’s module before moving on to the next. It’s so easy to get carried away with the fun stuff like planting seeds or making a bouquet and move on to the harder (but incredibly important) stuff like goal setting, planning and marketing.
In Module 1, we spend a lot of time exploring the essence of why you want to grow flowers, and then go through a series of exercises to clarify your goals, highlight your strengths, and work creatively with what you have.
In Module 2, we cover everything that goes into planning and setting yourself up for a successful season. This module is often the most difficult module, but students always say it is the most useful and important in the course.
Module 3 is all about getting off to a good start and we explore seed starting, the essential supplies you will need and then explore the wide variety of different cut flower species and their specific needs.
In Module 4 we explore the finer points of growing flowers, including soil preparation, weed management, plant spacing, watering and growing in tunnels and greenhouses.
Module 5 covers many different options for marketing, pricing and selling your flowers. If you want a successful flower business, learning how to grow them is only half of what you need – being able to sell them is just as important. I love this module because many people who have struggled with this topic in the past (myself included) have made great improvements from this material.
In Module 6, I share all my tips and tricks for harvesting flowers efficiently and making them last as long as possible. It also covers effective bouquet techniques, how to package and deliver flowers, and the most important things you need to know when selling to florists, wholesalers and grocery stores.
When we moved the workshop online, we were very concerned about losing the community and connection piece that is the heart of the on-farm experience. But what we find is that nothing could be further from the truth.
The amazing florists who once facilitated our in-person workshops now oversee the Floret Learning Community, an online forum for students on the course.
Our den moms workshop shares their wisdom and climate advice with students around the world.
Through the Learning Community, we’ve seen many students form real-life friendships, exchange dahlia tubers, organize meetups, enter plant orders together, and visit each other’s farms and gardens to learn and be inspired by each other.
During the 6-week course, we also hold a weekly Q&A session where Jill and I answer students’ questions about that week’s module. These video sessions are always a lot of fun to shoot and we love connecting with and inspiring students.
Each year at the end of the course, we send out a survey and gather student feedback about the workshop, which we then include in our annual audit so that the program continues to improve over time.
Students have lifetime access to the course and any new material created in the future. Due to the online format, there is no way to fall behind and students have the freedom to work through the material at their own pace.
In the 10 years we’ve been teaching the Floret workshop both on the farm and online, we’ve had students ranging in age from 16 to 76 from over 50 different countries around the world.
Our students include stay-at-home parents, corporate professionals, farmers, new breeders, retirees looking for joy, people working the standard 9-5, and everything in between.
We have also trained all types of organizations, including community gardens, schools, universities, prisons, veterans rehabilitation programs, and programs serving people with disabilities.
If I had known it would blossom when we taught our first backyard workshop, I never would have believed it. It has been the honor of a lifetime to be able to share with others all the lessons I have learned along the way. I am incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity.
If you would like to learn more about our next Floret Online Workshop, you can join the waiting list below.