2023 Speaker Profile: TRACY YANG
Meet Tracy Yang, co-founder of JARN Co. Farm in Monroe, Washington. Tracy will present at the Slow Flowers Summit on Day Two (Tuesday, June 27, 2023) during the Flower Farming Panel. Her talk, MAKING THE LEAP INTO FLOWER FARMING, will include an illustrated lecture and design demonstration, followed by a Q&A.
For over 10 years, Tracy Yang was part of the health, fitness, and dance world but 2020 introduced a new move to the personal trainer, massage therapist, and hip-hop dancer: the COVID-pivot. “I went from traveling the country and doing all sorts of fun stuff to being in my room wondering how I was going to survive,” says Tracy, who’s based in Everett, Washington. The final spin from the fitness world to flower farm would take a few more steps though.
Farming is in Tracy’s family — her mother was a vegetable farmer and her sister owns a flower farm in Carnation, Washington — and since Tracy was at loose ends, they encouraged her to join the family trade. No, was the quick answer, followed by maybe just for a while after more prodding. “It gave me something to do,” she says. Tracy helped her sister with flower deliveries and, when COVID-19-rules allowed, at her Bellevue market stall. When the Mother’s Day rush approached, Tracy’s boyfriend, Nick Songsangcharntara, came along to help. He was smitten. “He’s a big people person,” explains Tracy, “so interacting with people all day was a lot of fun.”
Nick continued to help out and was so enthused that he suggested they start their own farm. Because of her family background Tracy understood the vagaries of the industry — “I could see the ups and downs of it all,” she says — but Nick’s zeal eventually won her over and the couple are now entering their third year as flower farmers with their business Jarn Co. Flowers. While her eventual entry into the industry was more measured, Tracy is energized by the couple’s mission to provide their community with fresh, sustainably grown flowers.
Tracy and Nick farm four acres in Monroe, Washington, where their largest crops are tulips and dahlias. They’re currently starting to harvest their almost 30 varieties of specialty tulips — all either a parrot, fringe, or double. The dahlias they’re prepping for planting are heirloom, Tracy explains, “whatever I have I’ve been gifted; they’ve been in the family for 20 years or more.” Most of those 15 or so varieties are unnamed — the provenance lost over time —but she’s adding 60 more this year. “And I do know their names,” says Tracy with a laugh. The couple sells their flowers through a CSA subscription, the shop Petrikor in downtown Everett, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, and through direct sales at various markets and events.
Despite being relatively new to the flower farming scene, Tracy isn’t holding back with her ideas to strengthen Jarn Co.’s business and is keen to bring other flower farmers in the north Puget Sound region along for the ride, too. To that end, she’s just launched the SnoCo. Flower Collective — with the trip-off-the-tongue handle, SnoCoFloCo — for flower growers in Snohomish, Island, Skagit, and King Counties.
The idea for the collective came to Tracy during her second year of farming when she noticed so many small flower farms popping up in her region. She wondered if there was a way for the farmers to get together. “It just didn’t make sense for us to keep to ourselves,” she says. “It means having to work harder than we should.” Working together, she thought, would elevate them all and “there’s such power in community.” “If we want more people to support local flowers and slow flowers, then we also have to make them accessible,” she explains. “We have to make it known that there is a bunch of flower farms in the area.” For their launch year, the collective will open every Thursday for 10 weeks starting July 27 at Fleurs Creative Botanical Market in the historic downtown of Snohomish.
“It’s one thing to grow great flowers,” Tracy says, “it’s another thing to sell them.”
The new collective and their strategic approach to flower farming demonstrate the couple’s strong business acumen. Both had parents who ran their own businesses—Nick’s parents had businesses in food services—so they watched their parents be their own bosses. (As Tracy said about her mom in a Slow Flower’s podcast, “my mom has grit and hustle in her DNA.”) Couple that with Nick and Tracy’s own business experiences as adults even before they entered the flower farming industry is evidence that attendees at the Slow Flowers Summit will be in good hands for Tracy’s presentation: Making the Leap into Flower Farming.
At the Summit, Tracy will be sharing the Jarn Co. Flower story and offering business advice for the small-scale flower farmer. “It’s one thing to grow great flowers,” Tracy says, “it’s another thing to sell them.” While she clearly loves and appreciates the beauty of flowers, she hopes her pragmatic advice will offer a more rounded, holistic perspective.
On the day we chat, Tracy’s array of tasks point to the reality of many hats a flower farmer can wear. She’s spent most of the day meeting and planning with members of the SnoCoFloCo and only now, when most of us are probably thinking about making dinner, is Tracy heading off to the farm — “I’ve got to go be a plant mom.”
Slow Flowers Summit welcomes Adrienne Mason as our profile contributor for the 2023 season. Adrienne Mason is a writer and editor based on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. She specializes in writing about science, nature, and the cultural history of the west coast. She is the author of over 30 books for both adults and children, the most recent of which is Whales to the Rescue. Adrienne also specializes in writing for museums, parks, and interpretive centers, and her work is in dozens of exhibits across Canada. When she’s not at her desk, Adrienne spends as much time as possible outdoors—hiking, camping, beachcombing, and in her garden, to which she recently added two large cut flower beds. Visit Adrienne at adriennemason.com.