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October 14, 2013
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Homegrown in Douglas County: Flyboy Naturals

COMPANY: Flyboy Naturals

LOCATION: 15550 Old Highway 99 South, Myrtle Creek, OR 97457; website is www.flyboynaturals.com

MISSION STATEMENT: To provide all-natural, environmentally friendly petals to the wedding and special event industries.

HISTORY: Flyboy Naturals is a family-owned business that was started by Jim and Jami Brown in 1992 in the Monterey area of California. The focus was on freeze-drying fruits and vegetables, which were then sold to businesses for wreath making or for use in other decorative products.

Jami Brown was also a partner in her family’s Everlasting Blooms business, a company that bought flowers from growers and freeze-dried them for the domestic market.

The business’ name of Flyboy Naturals came from Jim Brown being a recreational pilot and the couple’s philosophy of being eco-friendly in growing and freeze-drying their products. The Browns thought because of its uniqueness, the name would be easily remembered.

Soon after moving to Oregon to their newly purchased 11 acres along the South Umpqua River in Douglas County in 1996, the Browns planted 200 white bridal rose bushes and 50 pink bridal rose bushes and targeted the freeze-dried petal market as the popularity of petals at special events from weddings to funerals was growing. Their petal business also increased after Everlasting Blooms sold in 1997. Each year as they gradually converted their property from blackberry canes and hay, the Browns planted more flower varieties and now have about 3,500 rose bushes of numerous colors, 6,000 peony bushes and 3,000 hydrangea bushes. They discovered petals of some flowers didn’t freeze-dry well, so they pulled those plants from the ground and tried others.

They said they were “making their own history” as they experimented with which flower petals would freeze-dry best.

“We don’t know of any other company that’s growing product, processing it and freeze-drying it,” Jami Brown said. “There’s no precedent for it, no history.”

After harvesting flowers, the petals are placed in the freeze dryers and the moisture is removed from the product at minus 40 degrees. The drying process takes seven to 10 days. The result is a fresh-looking, natural petal that retains its size, shape, natural color and beauty. Chemicals are not used in the process.

During the harvest seasons, the business employs 10 to 14 people to help pick and process the petals. Over the years many high school students from the area have had their first jobs with Flyboy Naturals.

Most recently, the Browns have built a greenhouse for an aquaponic operation that will use waste from tilapia fish to help grow organic lettuce. Any extra fish waste will be used in the drip irrigation system to fertilize the outside bushes.

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: Eco-friendly, freeze-dried rose petals for special events ranging from anniversary celebrations to weddings and from memorial services to spa treatments. There are more than 100 colors of rose, hydrangea, peony and lilac petals that are non-staining, not slippery, all natural and biodegradable. Also available are petal cones (for tossing the petals at weddings, graduations, parties) sachets, flower girl baskets and other containers.

Organic lettuce will soon be available.

MARKETPLACE: Petals in bulk are offered online and also through wholesale companies, florists, event planners, hotels, spas and resorts. Although about 80 percent of its business is done in the U.S., Flyboy Naturals has shipped wholesale and retail petal orders worldwide to Canada, Japan, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, England and Africa. The petals are used at memorials, for proposals, to toss at newlyweds, to decorate wedding aisles and tables, and to shoot out of confetti cannons.

When the new aquaponic operation begins to produce organic lettuce, that product will be available at farmers markets. Talks with a produce company about purchasing the lettuce are also underway.

MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS: Flyboy Naturals is the first company in the U.S. to offer eco-friendly, freeze-dried petals, according to the Browns. The business prides itself on providing outstanding customer service, excellent quality and all natural products at affordable prices direct to the consumer.

Flyboy petals have been used in many movies (“Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Madame Butterfly,” “Legally Blonde 2,” “Mona Lisa Smile”), TV shows (“CSI,” “Good Morning America,” and on Home & Garden Television, WeddingChannel.com), commercials (Nikon with Ashton Kutcher, L’Oreal with Julianna Margulies), store displays (Ralph Lauren Fragrances, Eddie Bauer, Neiman Marcus), print ads (Avon, Nikon, L’Oreal, Shishedo) and special events (Princess Diana Tribute Exhibit, New Year’s Eve at The Mirage in Las Vegas).

CHALLENGES AND CHANGES: Farming, whether it is flowers or veggies, has many challenges, from the weather to pest control. Flyboy Naturals uses only natural pest control and organic supplements in the growing of its flowers.

Having developed a worldwide market helped the company survive the challenge of the recent recession in the U.S.

A change is the upcoming launch of a website on a more advanced platform so it can be navigated on any mobile device, laptop or desktop.

Recently, Flyboy began offering memorial petals to the pet care and death care industry for funerals, memorials and celebration of life events.

GOALS: To continue to be the world’s leading producer of eco-friendly, freeze-dried petals. To provide excellent quality, consciously raised fresh food to our local community.

— Information provided by Jim and Jami Brown


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The News-Review Updated Oct 14, 2013 04:09PM Published Nov 11, 2013 11:57AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.