By Tovah Martin
When you think of Loam, Beth Fowler wants you to envision something ravishingly beautiful.
The name of Beth Fowler’s business says it all. When the time came to brand her business, one word captured the concept. Loam. “We want to express that connection with nature,” she explains of the vision conceived with husband Ryan Fowler. “We’re always digging in the dirt, pulling up the connection.” But it’s not just about one family’s awakening. Beth Fowler’s goal is to bring the whole community into that dialogue through flowers, natural curiosities, and other endeavors that honor the land’s bounty.
Loam started many years ago when Elijah, the Fowlers’ high school sophomore (now in the AgSTEM program), was only three years old. “I began to think about my next chapter,” Beth explains. She was working in fashion styling and editorial work—a profession that she continues to pursue and love. But she wanted to branch out and add a more earthy expression for her talents, so she enrolled in floral design courses at the New York Botanical Garden. At the time, the floristry program had not progressed to its current understanding of homegrown ingredients and did not feel sufficiently organic to pull Fowler in. It wasn’t until she revisited floral design in 2017 that Fowler felt the bond. “The old guard was gone and hot young Millennials were giving Master Classes in a movement that had fast-forwarded into cognizance and caring about where cut flowers are coming from, and the bigger picture of pollinators and ecological stewardship.”
But Fowler wasn’t content just to work with the finished product, she wanted to get down to the basics. That’s how Loam gained a micro-farm in New Preston. On extremely poor land, the Fowlers fed what was formerly “a no-man’s land of invasive plants.” The space was limited, “it’s really just a postage stamp—less than an acre.” But what really broke the Fowlers hearts was the fact that it was starving. “The land was initially void of birds and insects.” Gradually, they cleared it, fed it, added raised beds, and cultivated it. Now that formerly malnourished land grows ingredients for Loam.
Fowler’s cut flower year starts early with the first tulips, progressing into the last zinnias of the season with plenty in between. That said, she doesn’t confine her repertoire solely to the typical cuts. Instead, she explores the field and adds ingredients that bring nature’s beauty to the fore. And she definitely does not work alone—being part of a community of growers is paramount to her philosophy. “I never want to grow it all myself. My approach is always to be inclusive—not competitive.” Working with fellow local farmers is part of the allure, but she also seeks fascinating elements globally. And all those flowers find their way into the most wonderful, multi-faceted creations imaginable. From floral “clouds” to floral jewelry worn as fleeting artwork, Fowler explores all expressions. And she has further plans. Currently, Loam has a pop-up shop/studio called The Valley with jewelry designer Bowen NYC in Washington Depot. In addition, Fowler has added a truck to sell her planted container creations, arrangements, and natural curiosities at Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market, etc. Meanwhile, she continues to pursue her career in styling. “I love fashion,” she says, “but flowers are my passion. What I create really does come from the soul.”
8 Anna Jay Lane