In case you’re not one of the millions of people who watched every episode of Fixer Upper, you might have missed the news: Chip and Joanna Gaines are launching their own channel, the Magnolia Network. According to Deadline, the channel was supposed to launch in October of 2020, but coronavirus-related production shutdowns pushed the date further out than they anticipated. Fortunately, Magnolia branded content will be available on Discovery+ in 2021.
One of the most anticipated shows to premiere on the network is Growing Floret, which features flower farmer Erin Benzakein and her family business, the Floret Farm. Naturally, Benzakein is thrilled about the opportunity. “It is such a tremendous honor to join Chip and Joanna’s new network and have the story of our family and our farm told in such a heartfelt, authentic way,” she said in a statement obtained by Deadline.
So what is there to know about Growing Floret and its stars? How did the concept of the show come to be? And what can viewers expect to see in the series’ first season? Read on to discover the untold truth of Growing Floret.
Who is Erin Benzakein from Goring Floret?
If you’re going to have your own reality show, you have to have both a personality and a story that can carry it, lest you crash and burn after only one season. Well, when it comes to Growing Floret, Erin Benzakein is both fascinating and authentic, with a wholesomeness about her you don’t come by very often.
For starters, Benzakein’s lifelong passion for flowers began when she was a child. “Growing up my great-grandmother Grammy always tasked me with making bouquets for her bedside table and called me her Little Flower Girl,” she wrote in a post on her Instagram page.
Additionally, Benzakein has a green thumb that’s helped her grow and maintain a large flower operation for years. “I run a flower farm and seed company called Floret with the help of my family,” she wrote in another Instagram post. “I’ve been growing flowers professionally for more than a decade now and love to share what I’ve learned along the way.” Certainly being on television will further that goal!
Growing Floret's Erin Benzakein is a bestselling author
Given that Erin Benzakein from Growing Floret is a busy flower farmer, you might be tempted to think that she spends all of her time outdoors in her gardens. However, that’s not the case, as this enterprising floral expert is also a bestselling book author. “My first book, Cut Flower Garden (all about growing flowers) came out in 2017 and my second book, A Year in Flowers (all about arranging seasonal blooms) made The New York Times Bestseller list [in 2020],” Benzakein shared in an Instagram post. “We’re currently in the home stretch of a third book due out March 2021 called Discovering Dahlias, all about one of my very favorite cut flowers.”
If you wonder if Benzakein is a good writer, consider the glowing blurb about Discovering Dahlias penned by none other than Martha Stewart. “I finally realized why I grew these flowers, why I coveted each and every type and form, and why I wanted every color in every size and shape to add to my gardens and flower arrangements,” Stewart wrote. “This is a beautiful book.” Talk about high praise!
Erin Benzakein from Growing Floret looks up to Chip and Joanna Gaines
While Erin Benzakein from Growing Floret will have her own show on Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network, she’s been a fan of the couple for quite a long time. That started when a friend of Benzakein’s suggested she tune in to their show, Fixer Upper, as there were parallels to Benzakein’s life and ambitions. “Within minutes of watching the first episode I was struck by how down-to-earth and genuine Joanna and Chip seemed, and was surprised and delighted to finally find something we could watch together as a family,” she wrote on the Floret blog.
Since that first exposure, Benzakein watched closely as the Gaines built their empire of shops, designs, and content. “It’s rare, and refreshing, to see another couple making it work so well, given the pressure and challenges that come with running a small business and working alongside your spouse every day,” she continued. It will be interesting to watch and see if Benzakein and her family follow a similar trajectory as the Gaines did.
This is where Growing Floret will be filmed
While Erin Benzakein and her family will be the stars of Growing Floret, the location where they film the series is equally important. To that end, Floret Farm is located in a rural part of Washington state, where Benzakein and her family have lived for decades. “In 2001, my family and I left the hustle of city life in Seattle and moved to a small farm in Washington’s Skagit Valley to pursue a slower, simpler, more intentional lifestyle that would help us connect with nature every day,” she wrote on the Floret website.
According to the website for Skagit Valley tourism, the area is a diverse region with abundant wildlife and natural beauty. There’s also miles of coastline for beach aficionados, mountain biking for the more athletic among us, and activities like whale watching and hiking for curious souls. It’s not difficult to see, then, why Benzakein and her family settled in the area, as it really seems to have something for everyone.
Who else will star in Growing Floret?
While Erin Benzakein is the founder of Floret and the face of the operation, her family members will also appear on Growing Floret, as they each have special assignments around the farm. For one, there’s Erin’s husband, Chris Benzakein, who’s listed as “the heart of the operation” on the Floret website. In addition to his early financial support, Chris also worked nights and weekends to build the Floret Farm into what it is today. He also taught himself photography, and “he can literally fix anything” around the farm.
In addition to Chris and Erin, their children, Elora and Jasper Benzakein, also may appear on Growing Floret. Elora has been dubbed the animal caretaker of the farm, which includes caring for cats, chickens, and, as the Floret website notes, “many, many tanks of local pond creatures.” As for Jasper, he’s the “helpful assistant” at the Floret Farm, as he assists Chris with various tasks and tends to his own vegetable garden. Could you possibly get anymore wholesome?
The Benzakein clan is assisted by what they call their “extended family,” which includes everyone from a creative director to a greenhouse manager to a seed production manager. What an operation!
You will also see this star on Growing Floret
In addition to the human stars you’ll see on Growing Floret, chances are that you’re also going to see some animal stars as well — the show is filmed on a farm, after all. In particular, Erin Benzakein’s beloved (and once feral) ginger cat, Timmy, has quite an affinity for the spotlight. “Every time the camera comes out she appears out of nowhere,” Benzakein wrote in an Instagram post. “It’s like she can sense an opportunity to be the star of the show!”
Interestingly enough, although Timmy is a ginger cat (who are usually male), she’s actually a female kitty! Benzakein had just assumed that the cat was a boy when she named her, which is an honest mistake. “By the time we tamed her the name had stuck, and now six years later I can’t imagine calling her anything else,” Benzakein continued.
This is how Floret Farm came to be
While the Floret Farm is a huge, bustling flower and seed organization today, it actually has some pretty humble origins. After Erin and Chris Benzakein moved to Skagit Valley in 2001, Erin got to work in her garden growing vegetables and flowers. Apparently she had a bit of magic working through her, as after she shared the bounty of her first bloom, Erin found herself in a unique position. “Soon, word got out about our abundant plot, and people I didn’t yet know began asking if they could order our flowers,” she wrote on the Floret website. “I had never intended to sell flowers, but I loved gifting them and sharing their beauty.”
Erin started small at first, and sold her first bouquet of sweet peas to a woman who was extremely moved by the flowers. “I knew then and there that I had found my calling, and I wanted to devote my life to making other people’s lives more beautiful with flowers,” she continued.
After that, the Benzakiens expanded their operation to two acres, replete with a large design studio. Thus the Floret Farm was born!
What will Growing Floret be about in Season 1?
The two-acre Floret Farm is exactly where viewers will be introduced to Erin and Chris Benzakein in Growing Floret. However, the operation won’t be that size for long, as that’s the narrative arc for Season 1 of the show. “It took us almost 20 years to get where we are,” Erin explained in the Growing Floret trailer. “But now, we’re risking it all.”
The reason? The Benzakeins are expanding their two-acre farm exponentially, to a whopping 20 acre operation. “This has been 18 years that I’ve wanted to be able to do this,” Erin continued. “And now that I get to do it? It’s terrifying!” We can only imagine!
Fortunately, the Benzakeins have support from Chip and Joanna Gaines, who empathize with the enterprising couple. “Y’all talking about the growing pains — Jo and I were just there,” Chip told the Benzakeins in a video for Magnolia Network. “Jo and I are really, kind of old-school thinkers, we’re not really a cutting-edge, millennial couple by any stretch of the imagination.” Clearly the Benzakeins are in good hands.
Ironically, the stars of Growing Floret aren't big TV watchers
While Erin Benzakein and her family are about to become reality television stars on Growing Floret, that wasn’t something that she ever imagined would happen. “While I have really big goals for both Floret and myself, being on TV hasn’t been one of them,” she wrote on the Floret website. “Television is not something that’s been a big part of our lives.” That makes sense, as why would you watch television when you have acres and acres of natural splendor right outside your window?
The family was so disinterested in television that all they had at home was outdated technology. “In fact, for years all we had was an old VHS player, and Jasper and Elora never watched regular TV unless we were at a hotel,” Benzakein continued.
Of course, Benzakein eventually started watching Fixer Upper, and clearly found a lot of inspiration in Chip and Joanna Gaines.
This is why Growing Floret will be on Magnolia Network
While Growing Floret really seems like a natural fit for the Magnolia Network, the Benzakeins had other production companies vying for their attention before Chip and Joanna Gaines came calling. However, as Erin Benzakein tells it, all of the offers and ideas were lacking in some way. “After sitting through close to a dozen conference calls, it became abundantly clear that none of the show concepts were a good fit for us,” she wrote on the Floret blog. That’s when they decided to stop meeting up with producers who had their own agenda.
It was only after the Gaines family and their team approached the Benzakeins that a television show became a reality. “Unlike every other interaction, this was one that made it clear that they were genuinely interested in what we were up to here at Floret,” Erin continued. “They didn’t pitch any smarmy show ideas or try and sway us into a heavily scripted, high-drama production.”
After that, the Gaines sent a production company to the Floret Farm to film a sizzle reel. And of course, Growing Floret got the green light!
Floret Farm cares deeply about the environment
Obviously the Benzakeins have a pretty successful business, as it’s intriguing enough to warrant a reality show about it. But that doesn’t mean that they cut corners at the Floret Farm, or rely on dubious practices to keep their crops thriving. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. “We care deeply about the environment and are committed to conducting our business in harmony with nature,” the Benzakeins wrote on their website. “We use organic growing practices and integrate sustainability into every decision we make on our farm and in our online business.” For as many flowers and seeds as they produce on Growing Floret, that’s seriously impressive.
In addition to being organic and sustainable, the Floret Farm does its best to synch up with natural weather and growing patterns. “We are dedicated to the seasonal flower movement,” the Benzakeins continued. “We enthusiastically support flower farmers and gardeners, as well as floral designers who use locally grown blooms.” Talk about practicing what you preach.
Does Erin Benzakein from Growing Floret have a favorite flower?
If there’s one thing that Growing Floret‘s Erin Benzakein knows inside and out, it’s flowers. After all, when she is not working with them, she is thinking about them in some context. But as for a favorite flower out of all that are out there, Benzakein says she can’t possibly pick just one. “My answers vary and depend on what is in bloom at the moment,” she revealed in an interview with The Seattle Times. “For example, sweet peas will always hold a special place in my heart, as they are the flower that really launched our business.” That’s certainly a good reason to appreciate them.
Of course, given that Benzakein wrote an entire book on dahlias, you know that they have to be especially close to her heart as well. “I also adore dahlias, and that is the flower we’re perhaps best known for,” she continued. “Here on the farm, we just finished planting more than 8,600 dahlias in rainbow order in our main field.” That’s a lot of dahlias!
Before Floret Farm, Erin Benzakein tried these other business ideas
When Erin and Chris Benzakein first moved to Skagit Valley in Washington state, it was a bit of an adjustment. Having just relocated from the urban center that is Seattle, the Benzakeins had to figure out how to support themselves. To that end, Chris worked as a mechanic to support his growing family.
As The Cut noted in a 2017 profile of Floret Farm, when Erin was home with the kids, she decided to try and figure out ways to make money for herself. Her endeavors — which included making candles, selling vegetables, and giving the chicken and egg business a go — didn’t exactly go well. “I didn’t make any money, and there was poop everywhere,” Erin quipped in a chat with the outlet. Indeed, growing and selling flowers sounds a lot more pleasant! We’re glad that Erin was able to find her passion, which in turn gave us Growing Floret.
This advice changed Growing Floret's Erin Benzakein's life
Of course, there would be no Growing Floret had Erin Benzakein not built up a thriving flower business. To that end, back when she was just starting out — when the Floret Farm was still a fledgling operation — Benzakein turned to a friend for advice. That friend, a flower grower from Idaho named MaryJane Butters, told Benzakein that she needed to do something that was acres away from her comfort zone: She needed to put herself out there as the face of Floret. “It was exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do,” she explained to The Cut. “I wanted to hide.”
The outlet went on to share what Butters’ plan entailed. To create a personal connection with clients, Butters not only recommended Benzakein make sure her face was front and center on the company website, but also suggested Benzakein include a photograph of herself in her email signature accompanied by the phrase “tell me what happens.” It obviously worked, because when Benzakein reached out to Whole Foods, they got back to her right away with a large request. After that, the orders just kept on rolling in. Clearly Butters knew exactly what she was talking about.
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