With the summer wedding season upon us, young brides are increasingly choosing venues that reflect their love of simpler, calmer more peaceful places. Places that connect their families and guests to the source of their sustenance, yet are still stylish and chic.
They want places that evoke feelings of lush, bountiful, vibrant, fresh and wholesome harvests out in the bright air of new beginnings.
Driven by the values of authenticity, purity, healthiness and peacefulness, they are creating a new brand of gracious living.
It’s a philosophy and lifestyle rooted in the farm-to-table movement that’s ushered in growing numbers of sustainable local farms, a return to canning, gardening, craftsmanship and earth-friendly, healthy living. It’s a lifestyle championed by the young Millenialls, a generation so inundated with technology that they crave the organic, sensory alternatives of local farmer’s markets and back-to-nature experiences.
The leadership of the younger generation as they embrace all things natural, organic and earth-friendly could explain why wedding decor has been the most dramatic expression of the farm-fresh look and feel. The photos above and below, for example, are from weddings on the lush grounds of Bear Flag Farm, a sustainable farm located in Winters, Calif. on 30 acres of lavender fields, fruit trees, vegetable crops and a vineyard. As an outgrowth of the casual chic vintage style trend, outdoor weddings, receptions and dinner parties are highly popular, along with handmade, authentic and organic decorations and invitations that often combine fruits, vegetables and flowers.
But weddings and tablescapes aren’t the only venues influenced by farm-to-table values. “Home furnishings in the spirit of this trend have been popping up in categories from textiles to tableware and even lighting and furniture,” said Michelle Lamb, editorial director of The Trend Curve.
Why has the farm-to-table movement resonated so deeply? “It’s all about what is real. There is no pretense here,” said Lamb. “It’s about you and your authentic self and trying to do things in a way that is better and healthier for you, your family and the earth.”
While the farm-to-table style has vintage and rustic overtones, it is equally appealing to urban and suburban dwellers. “Just because it is handmade or organic does not mean that it is not very sophisticated, elegant and upscale,” Lamb added, pointing out that Villeroy & Boch recently revealed that its Petit Fleur mini scattered floral china design from the 1970s shown below is having a revival at bridal registries in stores around the country.
“This look can be executed beautifully at any price point,” Lamb said. “Everyone embraces the growing need to be surrounded by furnishings and decor that exude a sense of calm, comfort and connection to nature.”
One of the most pervasive materials of the vintage, farm-fresh, organic movement is burlap. Who would have thought that burlap would become so fashionable? One of the country’s top suppliers to the floral industry recently observed that, for the first time in the company’s history, all 20 of its top-selling ribbons contained the same fabric: burlap. That’s according to J Schwanke, CEO of uBloom.com. In addition to running an educational website about flowers, Schwanke is known as “The Flower Expert,” and is a trend specialist and spokesperson for 14 floral farms and 27 different floral companies.
Schwanke has seen a tremendous influence from the farm-to-table movement on floral decor. “For many years, we had the modernist look, and then Martha Stewart brought in the compact look that was all flowers. Today, we see a looseness in arrangments, as though they have been gathered from a meadow,” he said. “Daintier flowers like daisies, lilies and garden roses are mixed with grasses and pods.”
Slow flowers, flower arrangements made with only locally grown, organic flowers are also a part of this movement. One of the country’s top event and wedding floral arrangers on the East Coast, close to New York City, embracing this movement, is Gloria Battista – Collins, whose floral arrangement below demonstrates the look. This arrangement was made from organic flowers grown in her own 1 acre garden in the Hudson Valley.
Rivaling burlap as most symbolic of farm-to-table looks are mason jars. “Mason jars are a memory piece that remind us of how we engaged with flowers as a child,” Schwanke said. “As children, we picked flowers from the garden or meadow and brought them into mom who proudly displayed them in a mason jar because it was so easy.”
Mason jars are the rage for many of today’s brides, he said. “Brides will say to the floral director, ‘I want 37 mason jars that all look alike–or 37 that all look different.'”
When De Leo Textiles introduced its new Market Fresh Collection including 90 fabrics inspired by themes such as milk and honey tones, berries, root vegetables, organic textures and lemons, limes and oranges, it picked up on the mason jar theme in its High Point, N.C. showroom at last month’s interational Showtime fabric exposition.
“The Market Fresh Collection is one of the most successful introductions we’ve ever had at Showtime,” said Celia Schauble, creative strategist for De Leo. Added designer Amber Cummings, “We wanted to show fabrics that are fun and fresh yet traditional to help the traditional furniture buyer stretch a bit.” Amber is seen standing below with a storyboard representing one of six groups in the Harvest Fresh Collection, a grouping inspired by milk and honey, freshly-made soap, flower gardens and lavendar.
“We see the farm-to-table look as all about nurturing yourself at home at the end of the day,” said Cathy Smith, De Leo’s director of product management. “We are all so surrouned by technology that is rigid and inorganic, so there’s a real drive to find that organic balance in our lives.”
Ultimately, foods that are harvested from local, sustainable farms were cultivated and touched by a real person–farmers like Jason and Bonnie Lewis who run the Wild Pilgrim Farmstead near Lenoir, N.C. Wild Pilgrim Farmstead creates artisan products like Cajeta Mustard and Strawberry Chardonay Ginger Jam from its farm and uses organic practices in growing fruits and vegetables and raising grassfed beef and lamb. Each week, it sends out over 100 packages of season-fresh produce like the one below to customers in the surrounding counties.
“Our hope is to raise our children in a lifestyle in which they can perfect an art and pass it along to their children through the generations,” said Bonnie Lewis. All three of the couples’ children–Arah, 15; Eli, 9 and Molly, 5–are active on the farm. Arah, shown below with a lamb, has recently received apprenticeship training with German bread bakers and is learning to make artisan breads like the strawberry and cream loaf below, breads that are among the products customers can purchase from Wild Pilgrim Farmstead.
“We believe we have chosen a simpler, calmer life with a closer connection to the earth,” Lewis said. “Our customers seem to crave to talk to us. They want to hear about the simplicity of our lives… They say our pickles remind them of what they ate at their grandparents’.
“It seems that just a taste of our vegetables or the fragrance of our bread is, for many, like a trip to the spa!”
Kim Darden Shaver
Leslie Hendrix Wood
Founder, Editor In Chief of Hadley Court
Gracious Living. Timeless Design. Family Traditions.