Journal

June 03, 2021

In Celebration

In Celebration

Happy June! Happy National Indigenous History Month!

As a Metis woman, living on Treaty One Territory, that may seem like an odd thing for me to write, especially given the recent uncovering of further atrocities at Residential Schools in Canada. I write these words because I know we are more than trauma, more than what has been done to us. It's important to remember that before the harm of colonization, we were here - living, loving and making our own history. Since colonization, despite colonization, we are still making history and we are making our own path into the future.

This is why we celebrate. Our past. Our future and even our present. Things are far from perfect and it will take years, decades, to continue to work towards truth and then reconciliation but we are more than our trauma and the pain of colonization. We are intelligent, creative, funny and determined. And we are diverse.

Here are a few Indigenous folks of note who have made history and filled our world with beauty.

Betty Albert is a gifted Cree artist. Adopted by a French-Canadian family, it wasn't until Betty reconnected with her birth father that her career took off. Under his encouragement, Betty began to tell the story of her Indigenous relatives through her use of vibrant acrylics. Many of her designs have been featured prominently across Canada. Image is "Three Sisters" courtesy of Ca-Sinn Native Enterprises.

Senator Murray Sinclair, now a well-known advocate and voice of wisdom in our country, began his life in the Selkirk area. He gained recognition in high school for athletics and academics which he carried in to his university pursuits where he study sociology, history and eventually, law. Sinclair was the first Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba and the second in all of Canada. He was then made chair of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission and was instrumental in the development of the 94 calls to action. Sinclair was later appointed as a Senator under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's direction.

Tom Longboat was a long distance runner prior to World War I. He held and broke many records during his running career and was famously determined to train himself, in a way that made sense to him. With the start of World War I, Longboat left his successful running career to join the military. He became a dispatch runner with 107th Pioneer Battalion. After the war, he resumed his running career and continued to set and break new records.

Lee Maracle was one of the first Indigenous poets to be widely published in the 1970s. Maracle is a poet, novelist, screenwriter, actor and storytelling. She is a keeper of myths and legends among her people, the Sto:lo People of British Columbia. She uses her words to create beautiful imagery while telling deep truths about Indigenous people, indigenous women in particular. She was awarded The Order of Canada in 2018 for her contributions to Canada's literary landscape.

So what do these four people have to do with a flower shop? Well, nothing directly, but here, at Academy, we believe in people. We also believe in supporting our community.

This time of year is full of graduations and looking to the future. Its the moment before new beginning. The moment filled with excitement, nerves and great big life questions. It's also the moment when young people could use a little support.

So, this month, as we celebrate Grads, we also want to give back to our local community and lend our support to young adults launching into adulthood. We are doing this through our continued partnership with Ka Ni Kanichihk, a Winnipeg-based organization doing great things in everyday ways in our community.

 

A portion of our proceeds from the sale of our special Graduation Bouquet will go towards this stellar organization. We hope that you will consider gifting this bouquet - no matter the celebration - and help us to spread the love and support, this Indigenous History Month.

 Journal entry written by Academy Florist team member Nichole Forbes

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May 28, 2021

Bloom or Bust: What's Happening in the Flower Industry

Bloom or Bust: What's Happening in the Flower Industry

We have recently marked the one year anniversary of our two-week lock down in Manitoba ... and here we are, still in full blown pandemic mode. This can feel disheartening at first but, honestly, things are improving.

Here at Academy Florist, we are grateful every day for our dedicated team of artists and professionals. We are grateful for their flexibility and creative problem solving as we have had to continually adjust to the ebb and flow of provincial health orders. But mostly we are grateful for our loyal and lovely customers who have continued to support us throughout all of the changes of the past year. You have given us a gift that many in our industry, unfortunately, have not received.

These past 14 months has been very difficult for the global flower industry. It has been a perfect storm that has set off a chain reaction of events that has left many businesses devastated. Many growers and shops have had to close their doors. Thankfully, 40 years in and we are still going strong - but that doesn't mean we are unaffected by the pandemic.

Aside from adjusting to ever-changing public health orders, the most notable difference in our day to day operations is our fluctuating flower inventory. Over the past year, it has been increasingly difficult to source the quantities of our favourite blooms that we are used to. Finding specialty flowers has been especially difficult during certain seasons.

Several things have occurred over the last year and a half that has led to this global flower shortage. The pandemic caused a sharp drop in flower demand last spring. This led to many family-owned farms to go out of business as much of their stock sat unused in the fields which led to a shortage of cash flow to pay employees and upkeep the farm. 

These farms were fixtures in the flower industry for years and now all of their former customers are looking for new suppliers which puts more demand on the remaining growers. The farms that were able to stay operational cut their staff to bare minimum and planted a significantly smaller crop in an effort to stay afloat. This added to the shortage product we all experienced this spring.

Last spring, growers in other areas experienced a stretch of bad weather which put a further strain on the supply. South American farmers have faced back-to-back seasons of cooler and wetter weather than is normal. This made crop yields smaller than average. As farmers, they are used to good years and bad years but the pandemic has made recovery after a bad couple of seasons more difficult.

Another difficulty we've faced in the industry is issues with transport. Our flowers come to us by sea, ground and air - depending on the country of origin. Travel restrictions have resulted in fewer flights globally. This has impacted the availability of 'out of season' flowers greatly.

I know this all sounds dire but the good news is we can still get flowers. Local growers have actually been doing pretty well during this time. They have been creative and willing to go the extra mile to help out stores like ours. Our buyer is also creative and diligent in sourcing the freshest product for our customers. Prices and availability of some product has changed but we are working hard to stay your favourite floral stop in The Peg.

We just ask, that during this time, you remain flexible and trust our designers to create beautiful bouquets and arrangements for you - just as we've always done. If there is something in particular you are looking for the earlier you place your order the better. For weddings and special events, we recommend that you place your order at least six weeks in advance, if you can.

 But, most of all, know that we appreciate you and we value your business. Thanks for sticking with us for the long haul. Your faith in us has been a gift.

Thank you. Truly.

Journal entry written by Academy Florist team member Nichole Forbes

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May 21, 2021

Summer Markets in Full Bloom

Summer Markets in Full Bloom

In late 2019, before the world closed, I was running to catch a train in Glasgow's Central Station and zipped past the most charming flower stand I'd ever seen. It was so quaint and lovely that I stopped in my tracks to enjoy the view. I snapped a few pictures, missed my train and spent the next 40 minutes sipping coffee and perusing the flowers until the next train came. No regrets.

I've often thought about that flower stand and wondered what other charming flower markets are out there. So, I did a little google search and found some spectacular markets from nearly every corner of the earth. From annual flower festivals to little posh neighbourhood pop-ups to massive outdoor markets - the world really is filled with flowers!

Here are a few you many want to check out for yourself:

Kashmir, India has an entirely lovely floating vegetable market where rafts of fresh blooms can be found in abundance. Vendors paddle their canoes around Lake Dal to sell their wares wholesale. With no permanent shops on the shores, this unique market does an exceptional business in this charming, traditional way.

Mexico City's Mercado Jamaica has been in business for well over 20 years and it's a sight to behold. It's open 24/7 and hosts wholesalers, growers and small family vendors alike. The more than 1,000 stalls dedicated to the flower trade carry in excess of 5,000 varieties of flowers, greens and plants.  This popular market is an explosion of scents and colour that is sure to delight!

Keiv, Ukraine hosts an annual flower show that is much more than merely a market. While they do a considerable trade during the fair that begins is usually held in June, this event is an opportunity for vendors, growers and designers to network and show of the very best of their talents. From unique tabletop arrangements to giant outdoor floral installations, this flower show is blooming with inspiration.

Europe is full of incredible flower markets but none are as stunning and unusual as France's 200 year old Marche aux Fleurs. This blend of an open air and closed stall market is located along the Seine and boasts tree-lined pathways and historic buildings. Stalls are overflowing with charming, fresh cut bouquets and sophisticated artistic arrangements. Aside from the longevity and location of this market, the other unique feature is on Sundays it is also a bird market. Rare, exotic and beautiful birds also join the flower-filled stalls for tourists and vendors to peruse and purchase.

While we are not world famous - yet - for our outdoor market, we did host our first ever one over the Mother's Day weekend. Our little market held fresh spring cuts, mini bouquets of roses and lilies and a variety of plants along with hourly specials throughout Sunday. It was so much fun serving our customers in the sunshine that weekend and it was a wonderful way to usher in our Spring season.

What are your favourite flower markets? Be sure to share with us in the comments.

Stay tune for an exciting announcement about the return of Academy's very own outdoor market.

 Journal entry written by Academy Florist team member Nichole Forbes

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April 29, 2021

Mother's Day Done Right

Mother's Day Done Right

I think winter has finally made up it's mind and is leaving room for Spring to do it's thing now. The grass is beginning to green up and the trees have their first buds bursting through. With the welcome of Spring comes the celebration of moms - and all who have mothered us along the way!

Before you get your order in for Mother's Day, we wanted to give you a few tips on how to order without disappointment.

 

Manage Expectations

This is the busiest flower holiday of the year, so florists across the country are preparing and bracing themselves for the wonderful chaos that is Mother's Day. One of the best things you can do for yourself, and your favourite florist, is to manage your expectations. Just understanding the sheer volume of orders that are going out of the neighbourhood shop on this weekend is helpful. Especially in the midst of another COVID restricted time.

 

Order Ahead 

The earlier you place your order the better - especially if you are hoping for delivery as we will max out of delivery spots on Mother's Day weekend. When you place your order please provide us with the recipient's name, address and their phone number. We need to have contact information of the recipient to ensure proper delivery on the big day!

 

Be Open

While we pride ourselves on creating magic for our customers, on big holidays it is difficult to fulfill very specific orders. This is doubly true this year as florists are experiencing a world-wide flower shortage. Some of our old faithful stock items are hard to come by. If you leave us with a colour palette you'd prefer, like bright or subtle or shades of pink, and a style, such as traditional or garden style, and let our designers do their thing, I am sure you will be pleased with the result.

 

Last Minute Beauties

If you find yourself in a last minute crunch, consider picking up one of our beautiful plants or pre-made bouquets. We carry an assortment of tropical and blooming plants that are perfect for that last minute gift purchase. 

 

How it Works at Academy

With safety being our number one priority, we have decided to offer a curbside market from Thursday, May 6th through Sunday May 9th, and close our storefront to in-person shopping during this time. Due to the size of our storefront, we believe that this is our best course of action to keep our team and customers safe during our busiest holiday of the year.  

We will have fresh, ready-made bouquets and plants at varying price points, available just outside our front doors. We will also have the option to add a vase, should you need one. We will be accepting card payments only, using the tap feature. We will not have cash available to make change.  

The market will operate from 9am-5pm Thursday-Saturday and 9am-4pm on Sunday.  Our shop will be closed on Monday, May 10th, as we give our hard-working and dedicated team a well-deserved break.

Thank you for your continued support - our community and customers are the best!

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March 16, 2021

The Blooming Best

The Blooming Best

Can you feel it? Can you feel the shift in the season? Can you smell spring in the air?

It's finally happening, after a long winter of lockdowns, disrupted traditions and a polar vortex, Spring is here. It has felt like a long awaited promise that crept up on us until, all of a sudden, the snow receded and everything begun to emerge from hibernation.

For generations, around the world, Spring has marked a reawakening of the earth. In ancient times, the Sarans & Celts would mark this change in seasons with ceremonies and celebrations. The druids would bury eggs in their fields to invite abundance to the lands. Bitter roots tea would be consumed to invigorate the body and cleanse the blood after a long, harsh winter. North American Indigenous peoples would begin to migrate back to the lands where hunting and harvesting were plentiful. 

Here, in Manitoba, one of the first signs of Spring, for us, is the arrival of Pussy Willows in our shop. These fuzzy little buds are quite popular and are a beautiful addition to our spring bouquets. Close on the heels of Pussy Willows, we start to see the arrival of some of our other Spring favourites - Tulips & Daffodils! These simple beauties are a popular pick for Passover and Easter tables across the province. And just in time for Mother's Day we'll see the arrival of Freesia, Anemone and the ever popular Peonies.

Whatever your bloom of choice is, Spring offers up an abundance of beauty to choose from! Be sure to follow our Instagram account so you are the first to know when our Spring favourites arrive!

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