The Terra Bella Story
Melissa Feveyear, the visionary of Terra Bella Flowers, combines her obsession with all things rooting with her background in Environmental Studies/Hazardous Waste Management.
After working in the field and becoming aware of the amount of pesticides used in the production of cut flowers, Melissa couldn’t consciously support the conventional side of the floral industry. She created Terra Bella Flowers to prove that the business of flowers can be a beautiful thing - from the time the seed is planted until they arrive at your door.
Melissa's story can be read in 'The 50 Mile Bouquet' by Debra Prinzing; a book which speaks on the slow flower movement. She is a founding member of The Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, the first cooperative market place for local flower growers.
A few words from Melissa...
A California native, I've been obsessed with flowers as early as I can remember. I was the girl who sat in the field at recess making necklaces of clover flowers. I planted marigold seeds in any crack or crevice I could find in our driveway and spent my evenings perched in my favorite tree, smelling the orange blossoms that grew in the groves surrounding our house. As I got older I loved going to my aunt's flower shop just to sweep the floor and save any little flower heads that I came across.
My love of flowers and the outdoors has led me in a path that allowed me to be in constant contact with them. From kiosk stands in San Francisco's Union Square, to corner flower shops in northern England, landscape drafting, greenhouses and garden centers. I received certification in floral design in San Francisco, and began developing a design style that reflected the way you might find them in the garden- a little wild while still maintaining a little structure, following the design principles of landscape architecture.
My plan was to become a landscape designer, studying botanical varieties of plants that would help pull toxins out of contaminated soil and restore the land to a usable space for parks or wildlife. I took horticulture classes along side of Hazardous waste management classes, and volunteered for The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. Sadly, I became so emotionally involved that I started developing stomach ulcers, overwhelmed with feeling helpless to make significant changes to the world around me. Designing with flowers became my therapy, and taking what I learned about the dirty side of the floral industry, I decided to start my own business- I converted an old Airstream trailer into a little flower shop and sprawled under a blue and white striped awning I opened shop on the corner of 65th and 3rd Ave NW here in Seattle.
The plan was to use flowers that were grown with organic standards and as locally as possible. I sourced my blooms from local farmers markets which became quickly exhaustive with a a little baby who ended up needing reconstructive hip surgery. I closed up the shop until 2006 when I purchased Phinney Ridge Florist, a cute but conventional flower shop. In search once more for sustainably grown flowers, with the help of other northwest flower farmers I met through the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, we formed the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative, a non-profit market place for florists sourcing local and US grown botanicals. Please go to our Partners page to learn more about our growers and the SWGMC.
Terra Bella Flowers was one of the first florist shops in the country to use sustainable and organic practices. We've been featured in many national publications, The 50 Mile Bouquet, and KUOW, our local NPR radio station. The journey continues through movements such as Debra Prinzing's Slow Flowers and American Grown Flowers.org.
As for me, I'm just happy to play with my flowers again.