sustainable flowers workshop

There is a great need for the introduction of new values in our society, where bigger is not necessarily better, where slower can be faster, and where less can be more.

Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day

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Join us on September 16-17, 2019 in Calgary, Alberta at The Commons in Inglewood for a one-of-a-kind workshop for florists, flower farmers, gardeners, and creatives of all sorts. The sustainable flowers workshop will provide you with training and information from leading professionals in the fields of eco-floristry, flower farming and growing, and sustainability. We have assembled some of the best in the business - experienced designers, growers, planners, and thinkers - to walk us through what it takes to be sustainable.

Enhance your floristry skills, cultivate your knowledge of plants, and create a toolbox of mechanics that will allow you to create foam-free installations for weddings, events, and everyday. In the company of florists, flower lovers, flower farmers, and gardeners, we will create magical beauty using all locally sourced flowers from Alberta and B.C. We will feature stunning blooms grown by some of the most talented growers in Alberta, showcasing all that is possible here in our challenging (but endlessly rewarding) horticultural zone 3.

The goal of this workshop is to create a supportive and encouraging environment within which to learn innovative techniques for creating floral displays that celebrate the ultimate beauty of nature, while also minimizing waste. We will provide you with the tools you need to advocate for sustainable floristry methods with your clients, as well as information on how to support local flower growers and reduce the need for imports in your floral practice. You will also have the opportunity to learn about sustainable growing methods from leading flower farmers here in Alberta.

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day one

Be prepared to be amazed by the eco-prowess of the sweet and sassy Tobey Nelson of Tobey Nelson Weddings + Events. Based on Whidbey Island, Washington, Tobey is the original eco-florist. Having worked entirely foam-free for almost a decade, Tobey is an expert at teaching everything you need to know to make ALL of your arrangements and installations foam-free.

Tobey has a BSc in Horticulture from Michigan State University and has studied with Gregor Lersch, Hitomi Gilliam, Francoise Weeks, Susan McLeary and many others. Tobey practises sustainable floristry, with the goal of being environmentally-friendly at every turn.  She aims to encourage floral businesses to embrace a “do no harm” mentality, and think about choosing better-than practices. Informed personal efforts made toward sustainability are something that Tobey champions - taking small steps towards considering the environment and society in our work. In addition to sustainable practices, Tobey is also a local flower advocate - choosing local and seasonal flowers first.

You will learn foam-free mechanics for hanging installations and large floor-based arrangements. The techniques you learn will provide you with the tools you need to create foam-free floral installations for your weddings, events, and special occasions. Learn how to “MacGyver” your way into creating floral masterpieces. All of the techniques learned will be easily transferrable to some of the more complicated creations of floral practice - arbors & chuppas, stunning backdrops, and large free-standing feature pieces. Feel confident with your new skills and be proud of learning how to tread more lightly on this Earth with foam-free techniques.   

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day two

Day two will start with a community breakfast at The Commons in the dynamic community of Inglewood, during which we will meet and mingle with sustainability experts, flower growers, and slow flower enthusiasts. This day is all about dissecting sustainability and figuring out how we can best apply it to our businesses as florists, growers, and gardeners. You don’t have to have participated in day one in order to hang out with us on day two.

Day two is a speaker series designed to provide you with the tools and information you need to make your business sustainable - environmentally, economically, and emotionally.

We will address questions such as: What does sustainability in floristry, flower growing, and small business ownership mean? What economic, environmental and social implications are there for us to consider?


cost and schedule

Monday September 16, 2019

  • 8:15am - Meet at The Commons in Inglewood. Breakfast provided.*

  • 8:45am - Introductions and start of foam-free mechanics with Tobey Nelson. Although no official break is scheduled during the morning (because we have lots to learn and lots to do!), there will be snacks available throughout the day and opportunities to stretch your legs.

  • 12noon - Lunch (Catered onsite)

  • 1:00pm - Let’s get to work! The entire afternoon will be dedicated to creating and completing our installation. Snacks will be available, so you can take a break when needed.

  • 5pm - Clean up.

  • Evening - on your own.

Tuesday September 17, 2019

  • 8:00am - Meet at The Commons. Community breakfast, with time for meeting our experts/mentors and enjoying our beautiful floral installations created on Day One.*

  • 8:45am - Introductions

  • 9:00am - Let’s get growing! We will start by getting down and dirty. Soil science, growing, and local flower farming - all from the perspective of sustainability. Do you want to learn to grow a few key items to add to your business as a florist? Are you interested in finding new and innovative ways to support local growers? Do you want to learn more about the environmental and ethical reasons to support local flowers? Led by Heather Henson and Clara Qualizza.

  • 10:15am - break

  • 10:30am - Let’s keep growing! Building on the topics covered in the morning, our mentors will continue their discussions on growing, the environmental implications of supporting local flowers, and how to get involved in the Slow Flowers community. Bring your notebooks and get ready to ask questions! Becky Feasby, Heather Henson, Tobey Nelson and Clara Qualizza.

  • 12 noon - Lunch (catered onsite)

  • 1:00pm - Sustainability and the problem with plastics. Learn about plastics and how they are adversely affecting our Earth. Find productive and meaningful ways through the plastic problem, with simple changes you can make everyday. Learn about how different materials break down in landfills and the compost - and what you can do to affect positive change in your floral, farming or gardening work. Led by Tobey Nelson and Briana Loughlin.

  • 2:00pm - break - snacks included

  • 2:15pm - Sustainable business practices. Learn how to be a good company that thrives in harmony with the environment and community within which it operates. Explore how to keep your sanity in this fast-paced world of social media and online marketing, with expert tips for navigating sustainability as a business, including environmental responsibility and social accountability. Led by the entire panel.

  • 3:45pm - Wrap-Up - Q&A with our instructors and mentors. This will be the perfect chance for us to debrief as a group and spend time discussing all issues of sustainability and how to establish and preserve the environmental, economic, emotional and social integrity of your business. This will also be a great opportunity to ask all your questions as they relate to growing, the Slow Flowers movement, and foam-free floristry.

  • 4:30pm - Closing Reception - Stay and chat with instructors and mentors, while enjoying our fab floral installations made on day one. Complimentary snacks and appetizers will be provided, as well as beer and wine - all supplied and crafted by local companies. Two drink tickets will be provided, with complimentary non-alcoholic beverages available throughout the reception.

* This is a low/no waste event. Please bring your own reusable mug/cup each day. We will have some extra ceramic mugs on hand. No paper cups will be provided.

COST FOR BOTH DAYS: $1,350 CAD - special price until July 24 at midnight MST $1,100.00 CAD



instructors, speakers and mentors

Tobey Nelson, Owner of Tobey Nelson Weddings + Events.

Renowned eco-florist and teacher from Whidbey Island, Washington, Tobey is a silly, sarcastic optimist who is passionate about sustainable floristry and organic gardening.

With a background in Landscape Design, Tobey creates brilliant large-scale foam free floral installations that will make your jaw drop. At the centre of Tobey’s business is sustainability - ensuring that her floral practices align with environmental and human health, that employees are paid more than a “living wage”, and that flowers are sourced from local and/or sustainable farms.

Her work has been featured in Junebug Weddings, Seattle Met Bride & Groom, Cake & Lace, and the Slow Flowers Podcast with Debra Prinzing. Tobey firmly believes in the power of flowers and that business practices can have positive social, economic and environmental impacts.

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Heather Henson, Owner of Boreal Blooms, Cold Lake, AB.

Heather has been flower farming in Zone 3 Alberta for almost a decade and is the co-founder of The Sustainable Flowers Podcast. A talented grower, Heather has mastered the art of flower farming in difficult conditions and grows an array of beautiful, specialty blooms that she showcases in her wildly popular CSAs and her stunning wedding work.

A zero-waste advocate in both her personal and professional life, Heather will provide attendees with tips and tricks for moving their farming and floristry practices in a direction that will contribute to all aspects of sustainability: environmental, economic, and emotional.


Clara Qualizza, Owner of Meadow & Thicket, near Wildwood, AB.

Clara has been farming flowers for several years in Wildwood, AB (about 120 km west of Edmonton) and is the co-founder of The Sustainable Flowers Podcast.

Passionate about the Earth and all things soil, Clara has a strong background in reclamation research, small-scale agriculture, and watershed protection. Nurturing the soil, loving the land, and growing flowers with gentle but focussed attention to the processes that yield perfect blooms are what bring joy to Clara - and what make her standout as a gifted flower farmer! Dahlia expert extraordinaire - Clara will be an invaluable resource for flower growers both large and small.

Briana Loughlin, Co-Founder and Director of Inspiration & Change at Plastic Free YYC. Briana is an enthusiastic environmentalist hoping to spark a change for healthier planet. Through positive, encouraging words and imagery, she hopes to promote plastic-free living within every individual. Plastic Free YYC hosts various events and workshops throughout the year to help foster conversations and build community - bringing people together to inspire each other, learn together and find solutions.


Becky Feasby, Owner of Prairie Girl Flowers in Calgary, AB and host of the Sustainable Flowers Workshop.

An often outspoken advocate of local and sustainable flowers, Becky is keen to bring some of the best that the sustainable floral world has to offer here to Calgary for this special workshop. A supporter of all things slow when it comes to flowers, Becky is a passionate gardener-florist with a 20 year background in Landscape Design and Horticultural Therapy. Eager to change the way we look at fresh flowers - as well as the waste generated from flower processing, shipping, and arranging - Becky founded Prairie Girl Flowers in 2018.

Please join us from September 16-17, 2019 in Calgary, AB to learn how you can make the switch to sustainable practices in your flower business. We will support you and guide you in the right direction so that you feel empowered to make changes that are so necessary for our fragile planet. And we will continue to support you after you leave the workshop, providing resources and encouragement as you continue on your own path to sustainability!


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We will be learning and flowering together at The Commons in Inglewood. This space will allow us to create incredible flower installations - horizontally, vertically and hanging from the incredible ceilings. The Hemingway Room will be the perfect space for us to explore foam-free floral techniques, all the while providing us with ample room to move around and socialize.

Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided by Urbane Culinary, featuring seasonal, delicious and nutritious meals. Coffee and tea will be available each day, featuring delicious Café Rosso artisan coffee.