About Our Panel Guests
Rita Anders, Cuts of Color, Weimar, Texas
Cuts of Color is owned and operated by Rita Anders of Weimar, Texas. Rita began growing greenhouse tomatoes in 1979 when her grandfather retired and asked her to take over the family business. She started out with a 4800 ft2
greenhouse filled with only tomatoes. By 2005, Rita decided to expand her business to grow beautiful flowers, along with several vegetable varieties and herbs and Cuts of Color was born. To this day, Rita believes her decision to grow flowers and herbs in addition to growing tomatoes, was the most rewarding experience of her agricultural career. Rita truly enjoys growing her crops and making bouquets and finds customer satisfaction is her top priority. Cuts of Color houses 26,000 ft2
of greenhouse production, in addition to 2 acres devoted to field growing. Cuts of Color practices sustainable agriculture using organic growing methods whenever possible.
Eileen Tongson, FarmGal Flowers, Orlando, Florida
Eileen Tongson is the owner of FarmGal Flowers, an urban flower farm and design studio. Eileen is also one of the gardeners at East End Market, where she grows flowers and helps maintain the market garden. In addition to growing her own flowers, Eileen designs with them and provides arrangements for special occasions and events. Eileen completed the University of Florida IFAS Master Gardener Program and has studied flower farming and floral design at numerous locations over the years including Floret Flower Farm and Flower School New York. Eileen is also a Gardening and Floral Design instructor at Harry P. Leu Gardens and East End Market. Her flowers and gardening expertise have been featured in Flower Magazine
, Florists Review
, Edible Orlando
, Slow Flowers, Orange Appeal
, Houzz, The Spruce, and most recently, in Floret Farm's book, Small Plot, Big Impact: Inspiring Stories, Profiles & Advice from 30 Flower Growers From Around the World
and Debra Prinzing's book, Where We Bloom
. Eileen was voted Best Florist in Best of Winter Park 2022, 2021, 2020, and 2019 and was named the Garden Club of Jacksonville's Designer of Distinction in 2022. Clients have included The Ford Motor Company, Chico's (clothing), Williams-Sonoma Winter Park, the Orlando Museum of Art, and the Orlando Magic. Eileen is also a contributor to the Growing Kindness Project, where she shares her knowledge and skills for growing flowers in hot climates and encourages others to "garden and give." She continues to expand and refine her skills through floral design/flower farming workshops across the country and as a member of Slow Flowers Society and the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers.
Taij & Victoria Cotten, Cotten Picked, Pittsboro, North Carolina
After responding to a Craigslist ad for Valentine's Day in 2017 at Preston Flower Shop, Taij and Victoria were hooked working with flowers. They quit their jobs and traveled North Carolina's Piedmont farming region, talking with any farmer who had time or space for them. They quickly realized they wanted to farm. That led to farmhand work while they also took classes in sustainable agriculture at Central Carolina Community College. After more than 4 years working for other operations and gaining valuable skills, Taij and Victoria stepped out on their own in 2023 to lay the groundwork for their own flower farm on family land. They are bringing past experience in growing seasonal vegetables and specialty cut flowers, along with floral design, to build a farm-based lifestyle for themselves and their two children, Carleigh and Titus. The Cottens are featured in Black Flora: Profiles of Inspiring Black Flower Farmers + Florists
, by Teresa J. Speight. They are frequent speakers and generously share their knowledge with aspiring flower farmers and agriculture students.
Julia Keel, Full Keel Farm, Fort White, Florida
Full Keel Farm is a small, family farm owned by Julia and Earl Keel. Their flower farm developed out of a love for growing, decades working in and around agriculture, and a shared desire to build a small farm at their home in north central Florida. The couple met working at a research station on a large Florida cattle ranch, where they started growing vegetables together in a small garden. Over the next several years, they planted more and more vegetables, often while dreaming about scaling up from hobby growing to having their own small farm. In the spring of 2017, inspired by the Slow Flowers movement, they added two 50-ft beds of cosmos and zinnias into their vegetable garden, and quickly decided to transition to growing flowers exclusively. They are deeply thankful for the opportunity to grow beautiful flowers and share them with their north central Florida community.
About Our Presenters
is an author and founder of the Slow Flowers Society, connecting hundreds of growers, designers, and floral industry experts across North America.
is the Flower Product Manager at Johnny's, with 9 years of experience managing the flower program.
Welcome to the Resources page for our Flowering in the South Webinar, a list of educational materials related to the webinar. The webinar has taken place, but in case you missed it we have posted the video recording and slide deck from the webinar below, along with related learning materials on this topic.
OVERVIEW: Catch up on what it means to grow flowers in the challenging climatic conditions of the southern US.
Debra Prinzing, founder of the Slow Flowers Society, and Hillary Alger, Johnny's Flower Product Manager, host a guest panel of experienced cut-flower growers from Florida, North Carolina, and Texas.
We hear their farming stories firsthand and discuss regional growing challenges, lessons learned, and their favorite varieties.
Our panel also fields attendees' questions in a session moderated by Hillary Alger.