Story by Diana Keeler / Photography by Troy House / Styled by Ayesha Patel
KELSEY AND HER TEAM OF FELLOW ARTISTS CREATE SIMPLE, SUSTAINABLE STATEMENTS FROM LOCALLY GROWN AND FORAGED PLANT MATERIAL.
“In school, we learn to preserve the most beautiful waterfall — we think nature has to be
extravagant,” says Kelsey Ter Meer, founder and lead designer of the Heart & Soil Flowers
floral design studio. “But there’s beauty in the little things, too.”
" Most of the time local flowers look more beautiful because they haven't been shipped.
The flowers I get from the farm were harvested yesterday, and they help support
someone’s livelihood. "
The Southern California native moved to the East Coast when she was 17; she studied forestry
and worked at farms across the Mid Atlantic. Along the way, she developed her aesthetic
around floral arrangements, which privileged local flowers, grasses, and other materials over the
de rigueur factory-flowers air-shipped from farms around the world. “When I was working on
farms here, I saw this disconnect between rustic, farm-grown flowers and then South American
roses,” she says. “I wanted to merge the two.” Now, when collaborating with clients for high-end
events or hotels, she won’t necessarily lead with her environmental bona fides — instead,
they’re baked into her design work. “I try not to impose our values directly on them,” she says,
adding that the advantages of sourcing locally are often plain to see.
Photos: Troy House | Styling: Ayesha Patel
There’s so much more of a sense of connection with the farmers, and so much more care put
into growing and harvesting and packing them. The end quality is just better than what you’d
For the holiday season, Ter Meer has collaborated with Bloomist on a
series of wreaths, mostly
made with materials found in the natural landscape surrounding her studio in Newburgh, New
York, eighty miles north of New York City. “My personal favorite is the Forager Wreath — we
foraged the base of the wreath, which is grapevine, and then used spryria branches from a local
farm up here. We also foraged the pennycress and the other grasses — it was a labor of love,”
she says. It’s an especially positive turn of events for the grapevine, which in Upstate New York
is sometimes viewed as a pest. “It’s kind of invasive up here — it's not in this beautiful farmer’s
field. It’s pretty marginalized. Some of the grasses [in the wreaths] are grown in the cornfield —
they're the weeds that have grown around the corn — but the grapevine is on the fence.” Trust
us: In her hands, it’s beautiful.