Farm educator Holly Markham will offer a flower growing, arranging apprenticeship this summer

The word “farm” makes most people think of fields of fresh produce and animals grazing in bucolic pastures.

Holly Markham wants people in West Linn and Wilsonville to stop and smell the flowers at the CREST farm. And once you’ve smelled them, she wants to show you how to turn them into visually pleasing arrangements, too.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - CREST farm educator Holly Markham is back at the farm after completing a floral design apprenticeship in San Francisco.Markham is working as the CREST Center’s farm educator, based at the farm on Boeckman Creek Road. Last year — her first at CREST — she worked with student interns and spearheaded the farm’s CSA (community supported agriculture) program. Back for a second year at the farm, she will add a flower growing and arranging class for students entering grades 10, 11 and 12 in the fall.

“Much like the farm to table movement, the field to vase movement is the latest agricultural trend that emphasizes the use of high-quality, organically and domestically grown products,” she said. “Just like the food industry, the global floral industry is characterized by imports grown with high levels of pesticides and shipped several thousands of miles before arriving in our florist shops and grocery stores.”

Markham’s flower growing and floral design apprenticeship class is part of a trend aiming to change that, mostly by spreading awareness and educating future farmer florists.

Students who enroll in the apprenticeship will study all aspects of flower growing and arranging, from field to vase. That means everything from transplanting flowers into the field, selecting varieties and seed selection, how to cultivate them, harvesting and post-harvest handling techniques. The class will emphasize elements of design, including color, texture, how colors and shapes interact together and how to build an arrangement.

The floral focus is something new for CREST, although Markham has deep roots in flower growing and arranging. She ran a flower farm for two years, but gave that up this past winter, when she moved to San Francisco to compete her own floral design apprenticeship.

“I worked for a company there and learned a lot about design and expanded my own skill set. Based on that experience I felt like I could come back here and teach that,” she said. “I pitched the idea (to CREST Director Bob Carlson) because it’s something I really like doing and has had a positive influence on my life. ... He was supportive of it from the beginning.”

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - Markham will offer a flower growing and arranging apprenticeship this summer at the CREST farm on Boeckman Creek Road. The program is open to students entering grades 10 through 12.Markham hopes that the apprenticeship’s focus on design might attract a new type of student to the CREST farm, the type that perhaps is more interested in art than in artichokes.

“One of the special things about flower design is people are often intrigued by it, but intimidated by it,” she said. “What I find is once people just relax and let themselves play with flowers and be around flowers, everyone has an intuitive sense.”

The apprenticeship will run for eight weeks this summer, from July 2 through August 20, and will meet every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost is $150 per student, and the class can accommodate up to 12 students. Each week will feature a different type of floral arrangement, including vase, hand tied bouquets, boutonnieres, crowns, wreaths and more. The ideal participant is simply anyone who wants to learn.

“They don’t even have to be interested in flowers or growing flowers,” Markham said. “Just an openness to trying new things. That’s really what the program is about.”

Learn more or register online at

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