Into the Field with Peach Mountain Organics

Every so often, you meet someone who is larger than life. What they do becomes more and more incredible the closer you look. Their passion and total dedication is inspiring. They are the best at what they do. Leslie Garcia of Peach Mountain Organics is one of those people. I am fortunate to know her as she grows certified organic flowers locally and brings them to Dorothy Lane Market. We are so beyond grateful to be able to provide our customers with her beautiful flowers.

Down a winding road in Spring Valley is where you’ll find that majestic farm called Peach Mountain Organics. As you walk through the greenhouse and fields, the vibrant colors draw your eye here and then there, while a rain-kissed fresh fragrance gently greets you. Although the local floral bouquet season started in the spring, it’s still going strong even as summer comes to a close and fall takes over. Right now, we are simply dazzled by all of the dahlias that Leslie grows with such care. These late-summer/early-fall beauties come in a variety of different sizes and together form a rainbow of luscious colors making for the most stunning bouquets. On a recent farm visit, Leslie showed us how she cares for each and every stem so delicately and told us why growing flowers is so meaningful to her. Her story is incredible.

 DAHLIA CARE TIP: Cut the stems with clean, sharp cutters and use floral preservative. Always re-cut the stems and change the water after a few days

Nutrition for Life Seminars Aim to Provide Clarity

When I’m shopping here at DLM, I often stop and talk with other customers about their nutrition questions. I am always happy to share my knowledge, but I’ve realized over the years that “nutrition” has become more and more confusing, and it’s no wonder. Every day it seems that nutrition headlines change: Fat is bad, fat is good; grains are good, grains are bad; go paleo, low carb, vegan. It’s enough to make our heads spin. So, I’m asked, what should we eat?

I am not a dietician, so it’s not my job to tell others what to eat. But as a Nutrition Educator, I point out that much of what we’re told about nutrition, food, and wellness is misleading and sometimes just plain wrong. We have to be able to separate the facts from the hype, and when we do, we can have a much clearer picture of what our food life should look like.

So here is the bottom line. All of us are different and will thrive on different kinds of food. But a constant in all of this confusion is that nature has provided us with a variety of foods that supply the essential nutrients needed to provide our bodies and minds with the fuel they need to function optimally.

In our new Nutrition for Life series, we will sort out the facts and learn about essential nutrients, their food sources, and how they support the body. We will discuss inflammation, the many ways it affects our physical and mental functioning, and how we can use nutrition to temper the flame. And finally, we’ll take a look at the role of nutritional supplements in our health and wellness.


Nutrition for Life is an informative 3-part series highlighting the role of nutrition in our life. Register for each class individually ($20 each) or for all three ($50).

  1. Nutrition for Life: The Fundamentals (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. September 18)
  2. Nutrition for Life: Nutrition & Inflammation (11:30 a.m.-1p.m. September 25)
  3. Nutrition for Life: The Scoop on Supplements (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.October 2)

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER NOW

Flower Arrangements in 5 Easy Steps!

Step #1 – Take a moment to enjoy the beauty of the flowers. 🙂

Step #2 – Sprinkle flower food in a wide-mouthed vase and fill vase two-thirds full with lukewarm water. Stir and set aside.

Step #3 – Lay out your flowers. Choose a stem that will be the centerpiece. Begin building the arrangement in your hand. Greenery near the center adds interest. Build each layer a bit lower than the last layer. Rotate the bunch as you go to make each side beautiful. Finish the arrangement with more greenery.

Step #4 – Measure your preferred height of the bunch against the vase. Cut excess length off of stems. Helpful hint: any cutting utensil will work as long as you are able to get a nice clean cut).

Step #5 – Drop flowers into vase and enjoy! Share your own arrangements on social media! #myDLMflowers

The Simple Pleasures of Culinary Herbs

This is my favorite time of year—I can fling open the kitchen window and invite the balmy air to swirl, reminding me of the pleasures of the garden, lazy evenings on the porch swing, birdsong in the morning, and signs of life refreshing itself. One of the first things I do to mark the season is to establish my potted culinary herbs in a sunny window.

culinary herb

I always choose organically grown herbs, like the Organic Potted Herbs we carry in the Floral Department. I think the organic herbs taste better and I like that they’re ethically grown and nutritionally sound. Two basil plants are a must because I love fresh pesto and it’s so easy to make. In addition, we’ll also have mint, chives, parsley, thyme, and oregano.

While I’m admittedly a casual cook, I seldom prepare a dish in the spring that doesn’t include at least one culinary herb from my window garden. When the honeydew melons are ripe, I pluck a stem of mint, strip the leaves, slice in strips, and sprinkle over a wedge of melon. The fruit is cold and sweet making the mint a refreshing counterpoint. The experience of preparing this also is pure pleasure as the act of stripping the mint releases its essential oils, adding an artful dimension to an ordinary morning.

Flavored vinegars are a cinch to make with fresh herbs, even for the modest cook. Pour two cups of white wine vinegar in a clean jar, add ½ cup of assorted fresh herbs, shake well, and set the jar in a cool, dry place for ten days. Strain the mixture through a cheese cloth into a clean jar and cap tightly. The herb vinegar should keep for about six months at room temperature, ready to jazz up a variety of dishes!

But why stop at the kitchen door? The use of fresh culinary herbs is limited only by the imagination. Tired tootsies? A friend of mine makes a tea with a handful of basil leaves, pours it in a basin, and soaks her feet. Basil contains a natural anti-inflammatory that will ease aches while the aroma soothes the senses. Mosquitoes a bother? Rub enough thyme between your palms to release the essential oils—the scent acts as a natural repellent. Most importantly, don’t wait for a recipe or a remedy to enjoy your fresh herbs. Pluck a leaf from the nearest plant as you go about your day, bruise between your fingers. Then breathe. Relax. Appreciate.

Why Buy Organic When it Comes to Flowers?

Customers frequently tell me that while they can understand why choosing organic and locally grown products for their tables makes a difference, they are less particular about why it matters when choosing flowers. So with that question in mind “why does organic matter?”, I spoke to some of our local growers, whose organic local bouquets you’ll see in our stores.

One of the first calls I made was to my longtime friend Leslie Garcia of Peach Mountain Organics located in Spring Valley. She and her husband Doug have been growing flowers and produce organically for more than 30 years. I asked Leslie why she chooses organic farming. “After I read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, I could not imagine farming any other way,” Leslie says. “It was the first book published that made a clear, meticulously researched case against the use of DDT and the dramatic and dangerous impact pesticides were having on our  environment and wildlife.”

Non-organic farmers may spray and then directly sow seeds in the field. The seedling emerge in a non-competitive environment. “One of my methods is to start seeds in the greenhouse, repotting them after seedling stage, allowing them to grow and become established. Then, I cultivate the ground and set a stronger plant into the bed. This will give it a competitive edge when weeds begin to sprout,” Leslie shares. This method is a successful alternative to using herbicides but requires more labor and materials.

Nellie Ashmore of That Girl’s Flowers, another organic grower whose flowers you’ll find at DLM, agrees. “Non-organic farmers are often able to offer products at a lower price,” Nellie says. “They will use fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides that are not only less expensive but can be applied mechanically. At my farm, I use a wide variety of methods to fertilize and control pests and weeds.” She explains that fish emulsion is an excellent organic fertilizer but that it’s costly and has to be applied by hand. The same is true for the essential oils that she applies to control insects. Nellie also hand cultivates during the growing season to control weeds. So why does organic matter? Besides the reasons aforementioned, health matters, the earth matters, wildlife matters, and clean runoff from farmland matters. Organic matters because it returns something to the soil, contributing value for goods received. “Farming is not suppose to be like mining, taking resources from the land and returning nothing. If we want the land to continue to produce, then we need to nurture it, treating nature with respect and graditude”, Leslie says pointedly.