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Joseph Delarge -Seneca College / eco|stems

 One of the great hidden gems of Canadian floral education is hidden right in the heart of Toronto and that gems name is Joseph Delarge! Joseph is the owner of Toronto’s only environmentally and socially sustainable flower shop where you can find only local, organic and/or fair-trade flowers and plants. Along with his successful business Joseph is the Botany Instructor in the Floral Design Program at Seneca College also located in Toronto, Canada. 

Me making a handmade Red Dogwood wreath.

Me making a handmade Red Dogwood wreath.

YOU CAN FIND ALL THE CONTACT INFORMATION FOR THE FLORAL DESIGN INSTITUTE AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE
What major differences do you find when presenting floral education at a university level verses doing workshops at your shop, eco|stems?

In the workshops we hold at the shop our focus is more on the practical and allowing people to make something pretty to take home with them. We cover a bit of the theory specific to the design they’ve made, whether it’s a floral or plant design. The people coming to our in-store workshops are typically doing it for the experience often with a friend or family member.

I would encourage anyone looking to make a career of it to enroll at Seneca or similar. At the college it’s a bit more involved for the student. For 8 months the students have a full-time college schedule of design theory and practical, botany, art, sketching, customer service classes etc. that have different theory/practical ratios. My Botany class is 3 hours every week for 4 months. Each class is about 2/3 theory and 1/3 practical but the amount of theory covered ensures they are spending many hours outside of class studying. They’re there to learn for their future career. The education is intense and thorough!

Joseph Teaching a Workshop at The Toronto Botanical Garden

Joseph Teaching a Workshop at The Toronto Botanical Garden

What advice do you have for designers looking to become a floral educator or presenter?

I’d say it takes a diverse knowledge, experience and a certain level of expertise. I have a varied horticultural background. I grew up on a farm always in the forests, fields, veggie gardens and flower beds. Went to school for greenhouse horticulture at Niagara College and floral design at Seneca. I’ve worked in greenhouses, landscaping and in many flower shops. I’m always learning! To be a teacher you have to always be building on your knowledge and skills. And I’m always taking every opportunity I can get to be up in-front of a crowd talking about flowers and plants.

Rose-hip armature vase arrangement. No foam.

Rose-hip armature vase arrangement. No foam.

With our ever-changing industry, where do you hope see floral education heading in the next 5-10 years?

I see a glut of floral education programs that don’t even come close to preparing the students for a life in this industry. A lot of people in this industry don’t have a complete grasp of the basic skills it takes to be a well rounded florist. I hope to see a better and more intense focus on the basics. If we train people to be experts in this industry we’ll all be better off.

Photo Property of eco | stems

Photo Property of eco | stems

What do you think are some of the top floral educational advancements that have helped progress the industry?

The internet and all it brings has proven to be a great tool to connect people and learn from each other. It would have to be the top educational advancement.

Photo Property of eco | stems

Photo Property of eco | stems

As a floral designer and educator that values using local, organic and fair trade products, do ever find the industry lacking in the area of more natural and clean practices and the educational opportunities presenting them?

Sustainability within the floral industry is lacking to say the least! Although I think things are definitely improving, it’s so wasteful and harmful to people and the planet in a lot of areas. I started eco|stems to show that there are ways to do things differently. And I’ve proven that it can be done! I am always finding ways to inject a little sustainability into my lessons. It’s a challenge. Saying that, it’s our responsibility as an industry to do our part to lesson or even eliminate any negative impact we may have on the planet and the people we live with on it! You have to be the change you want to see in the world.

Veriflora and Rainforest Alliance fair-trade certifications.

Veriflora and Rainforest Alliance fair-trade certifications.

What has been one of the most interesting floral topics you have taught so far in your career?

Kokedama – a very cool form of Japanese Bonsai has been the most interesting thing to teach so far. Google it. I think you’ll see it become a big thing in plant design in the near future!

In your personal opinion what are some of the shortcomings in floral education that the industry should strive towards working on?

Nomenclature, wiring and taping, hand-tied bouquets, armatures, potted plants are a few specific areas of floristry that I feel a lot of florists have trouble with. There’s definitely room for improvement.

A nest like armature bouquet made for Canadian Florist Magazine in 2014

A nest like armature bouquet made for Canadian Florist Magazine in 2014

Do you have a philosophy when it comes to floral education?

No philosophy I live by. I just try to be a source of information and inspiration for my students. I hope that inspires them to do great things with flowers and plants!

eco | stem Everyday Design

eco | stem Everyday Design

If you could teach or educate the floral industry on any topic, what would your dream topic be?

My dream topic would have to be armatures! How to build them and how to work them into your designs. I have taught this subject a couple of times, it was fantastic! I’ve never been able to explore it in the detail that I would like to with a class.

Floral Art installation From Canada Blooms 2014 To The Theme "Wild".

Floral Art installation From Canada Blooms 2014 To The Theme “Wild”.

How do you think floral educators could advance the presence of the floral industry to the public through education?

Floral educators need to live and breathe flowers and plants! If you have a passion for it people will see and it will be infectious! It can be as simple as having workshops. It allows the public to see all of the work and skill that goes into the beauty we create. That works wonders! Make sure the information you are providing is accurate and up to date! Providing incomplete or inaccurate information is one of the easiest ways to turn people off of the floral industry. You need to always be learning especially if you are going to teach.


eco|stems

Website: ecostems.ca
Email: info@ecostems.ca
Phone: 416-214-6479
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Seneca College

Website: www.senecacollege.ca
Floral Program Website: www.senecacollege.ca/fulltime/FDN
Email: admissions@senecacollege.ca
Phone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 22840

 

Thank you to Joseph for bringing a clean industry perspective to floral education, Floral.today looks forward to the next time we get to enjoy Joseph’s designs and industry perspectives. Make sure to follow Joseph with the links above for some truly beautiful design and to see if the 2 Semester Floral Program is for you.

Enjoy the Rest of Your Floral Education Month,

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