It’s not every day that National Geographic rings your phone. But that’s exactly what flower farmer Andrea Gagnon experienced when the renowned publication reached out to her to request an interview and photo shoot on her Gainesville, Virginia, farm.
The coverage – touting the American Grown Flower movement – can be found in the venerated magazine’s November 2017 issue.
“I grew up in a household where National Geographic was renowned and never thrown away,” Gagnon explains. “It was an incredible process. The photographer came out months before the article was written and we spent seven solid hours shooting.” Yep, seven hours.
Shooting what? Just-picked American Grown Flowers from Gagnon’s LynnVale Studios, a 10-acre flower farm and art studio owned and operated by Gagnon and husband, Lou.
In the course of the photo shoot, the Gagnons created bouquets and centerpieces, along with four versions of a “flower painting” on the barn floor and a stoop. It was one of the flower painting images that became the hero shot in the magazine.
“It was a thrill to observe and participate in the whole process,” Gagnon says. “It ranks among the top five of all of my professional experiences. I felt like I had been on a roller coaster thrill ride of design. I remember looking at Lou when it was over and I could barely stand up. It was so overwhelming and big.”
Also big – the opportunity to drive home the origin matters message, which Gagnon did with prowess in the article.
“The more awareness the American consumer has about where flowers come from, the better it is for all of us,” she’s quoted as saying. “It’s just like asking, ‘Is this a local tomato for my BLT?’ Now people can ask, ‘Oh, is that a local dahlia?’”
How it happened
So how did the American Grown Flowers movement catch the eye of National Geographic?
Turns out that a writer for the magazine was one of the members of the media who were invited to attend the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour held at LynnVale Studios in 2015. Months later, Gagnon received a call from the writer and the odyssey of making it into print began.
During the interview there were lots of questions about the American Grown Flower movement and why it’s important to have consumer awareness about flower origin.
“I never imagined it would make the magazine. What are the odds? I didn’t know until last week that it actually made it in,” Gagnon explains.
But it did. And Gagnon is still on cloud nine. She can’t wait for her father, the longtime National Geographic subscriber, who now lives in an assisted living facility, to see the coverage.
“I’m just so pleased for flower farmers and for these efforts to be acknowledged,” Gagnon says.