129. Local Flowers | Kirkham & Co | Julio Freitas | Bozeman, MT

Julio Firetas grows Local Flowers

Julio Firetas grows Local Fresh Cut Flowers

Julio Freitas curates flowers using as many local suppliers as he can for Kirkham & Co in Bozeman, MT.

Local Flowers

I’m so excited to introduce my guest today because of a few reasons!

  1. We were just talking about my recent trip to Paris in the Pre-chat and he has also been to Paris!
  2. and Facebook groups have been such a big part of my show lately! And I want to remind you to join the Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook Community! And if you don’t get Facebook, I encourage you to join a Facebook Group.
  3. I met him in the Flower Farmer Facebook GroupTell us a little about yourself.I’ve been getting ready for this podcast and going through what I want to talk about in the podcast. My name is Julio, so it’s not hulio, Julio, is the right pronunciation. I’m from Brazil and I moved to Montana in 2008, when I got a full ride scholarship to go to Rocky Mountain College, in Billings. I moved from Brazil straight to Montana, I had no idea where Montana was, sometimes life takes you down paths you would not even consider and I’m just so glad this path happened because I absolutely love Montana! IT’s my home now.

    I moved here to go to college graduated in 2006, graduated in 2008, transferred at as a junior got an internship at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel in Billings, I had no idea I would work at a hotel, I didn’t want to do it, thought I was going to do my internship

    Hospitality is just one of those things that grows on you…  I thought I was just gonna do my internship and then leave but that little seed of hospitality grew in me and I just loved it. I got to interact in friends, there was never a day I it was such an exciting job!

Getting Started In Floral Curating

At that time I was assigned to be the visual arts for the hotel I would usually do a silk floral arrangement for their table, we would do that each season.

Harper&MadsionStoreFront

Harper&Madisonlogo

One day I walked into a little cafe in Billings called Harper & Madison. It was the week of their opening. I just went in had coffee, and I thought great:

  • we have something in the neighborhood
  • cute
  • food was amazing!
  • pastries were great

I walked in the next week and I just noticed something was missing, I thought where are the flowers?

I went in had coffee,  and I don’t know where the idea came from or why I said it but I just asked

“Hey would you like to flowers, fresh flowers?”

and she said

“Yeah, I LOVE FLOWERS!”

and I don’t know I just thought I do them for the hotel, I can do them for her. And I had no idea how that one sentence would change my life!

I would go in every Monday, at 5am, that was the start of my week, when I was doing arrangements for her.

her name is Joanne Schwartz

let me do whatever I wanted

give me free range to incorporate textures, and designs

people started taking my business card,

from that point on, weddings took over.

Kirkland & Co is born

The first year I had one wedding, then it grew to 12, this year we have 35 weddings so I just quit the hotel, I could not do both.

My mom ask me, “Are you sure you want to leave a steady paying job?”

“Yes, I’m buying happiness!”

It’s been such an amazing journey. Along the way with the flowers, eventually, I started thinking about …. I was going a  wedding here, and the flowers didn’t come in on time, shipped from California and the flowers

such a stressful weekend, by the time they got here

can I just grow flowers? Can we grow flowers here? How many boxes of flowers are begin shipped to places? When we could just grow the flowers. I started researching.

I found 2 farmers who are growing one of which was certified organic, Dylan from Strike Farms, they grew the best dahlias I had ever seen in my entire life! I started thinking, they do flowers and produce, well I want to grow some too, because I have always loved growing. So now I am going to grow flowers professionally this year after trying to do it for a couple of years.

Our company is called Kirkland & Co. We also do interior design and I do the flower portion. And our clients cross over a lot. Maybe my clients will need interior design and Shane will help them, and a lot of his clients need flowers for their home, so I do flowers for them too!

You can do a little bit of everything from Kirkland & Co. That’s a little bit about me and how I got to doing flowers. I love my hotel job, but when you find that one thing that you are supposed to be doing that’s when it clicks. One of our clients once she sent me an email and in her signature it said:

if you find a job you love, you’ll never have to work again

I don’t mind being here. On Saturdays, or Sundays … I love … when I’m doing flowers, splitting dahlia worlds … what I’m doing, time flies when I’m working and it’s a pretty fascinating world and I am excited to here it.

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?

FLowerWorkshopFlower Workshop

The Flower Workshop: Lessons in Arranging Blooms, Branches, Fruits, and Foraged Materials by Ariella Chezar

BIgBookOfGArdeningSkillsThe other book was published in 1993 it’s called The  Big Book of Gardening Skills It talks about everything from soil prep to lawns and landscaping and ponds which I probably won’t get into. And every night I read a little bit about it.

 

 

 

 

Final question- 

Of there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

I the more I learn about flower farming, the more l learn about how important it is to be organic, I know it’s gonna sound cliche, saying that. I just think it is so important what is happening now in the flower industry, this is definitely a movement that I did not see coming because it is definitely a lot cheaper to bring flowers in from another country… the ability to grow and be more productive, and to make it cheaper … where I was reading it, the employees at flower farms not here in the US, where they grow it so non-organically. The the employees have cancer, health problems, inhaling chemicals…

Here’s an article for readers on the affects of flowers.

It’s just definitely not a good way to put beauty in the world and create beauty! I just love the movement, buy local, support organically! Honestly when I started flowers, I just didn’t think about growing organically because we weren’t eating it, but the more research I did I took to heart how important it is not to have that in our environment. And its a pretty substatanial industry is so, keeping all the chemicals that go into growing it, out is so important!

 

read more at http://www.organicgardenerpodcast.com

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