Artwork for podcast GREEN Organic Garden Podcast
replay of 129. Local Flowers | Kirkham & Co | Julio Freitas | Bozeman, MT
23rd March 2017 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 01:13:50

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Julio Freitas creates flowers in arrangements using as many local flowers and organic suppliers as he can for Kirkham & Co in Bozeman, MT.

Complete Show Notes Coming ASAP!

Local Flowers

Kirkham & Co

I’m so excited to introduce my guest today because of a few reasons!

  1. We were just talking about my recent trip to Paris in the Pre-chat and he has also been to Paris!
  2. and Facebook groups have been such a big part of my show lately! And I want to remind you to join the Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook Community! And if you don’t get Facebook, I encourage you to join a Facebook Group.
  3. I met him in the Flower Farmer Facebook Group

Julio Freitas started his career in floral design doing weekly floral arrangements for Harper and Madison, in Billings, MT. He was inspired by the works of Jeff Leatham, Jane Packer and many other European floral designers. Eventually, his work was also noticed by brides and his arrangements in the wedding industry are nothing short of gorgeous! From a casual wildflower look to a more structured, contemporary style, Julio can do it all!

His portfolio speaks for itself! He will always try to create different and unique floral arrangements for you so your wedding can be the “Pinterest” inspiration for other brides! Bouquets, Boutonnieres, Centerpieces, Arches, Aisles… all will be done according to your color scheme, theme, budget and the flowers you want!

When you hire Kirkham & Co. for your floral needs, you also get excellent customer service, from conception to completion as well as unique designs and perfect flowers!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve been getting ready for this podcast and going through what I want to talk about in the podcast. My name is Julio, so it’s not hulio, Julio, is the right pronunciation. I’m from Brazil and I moved to Montana in 2008, when I got a full ride scholarship to go to Rocky Mountain College, in Billings. I moved from Brazil straight to Montana, I had no idea where Montana was, sometimes life takes you down paths you would not even consider and I’m just so glad that this path happened because I absolutely love Montana! It is my home now.


Delivering those beautiful blooms!

I moved here to go to college graduated in 2006, graduated in 2008, as I transferred at as a junior got an internship at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel in Billings, I had no idea. I was never destined to work at a hotel, I didn’t want to do it, thought I was going to do my internship get out of there and go do something else.

Hospitality is just one of those things that grows on you…  I thought I was just gonna do my internship and then leave but that little seed of hospitality grew in me I was there for 7 years, and I just loved it. I got to interact in friends, there was never a day I it was such an exciting job!

Getting Started In Floral Curating

At that time I was assigned to be the visual arts for the hotel I would usually do a silk floral arrangement for their table, we would change that each season.


One day I walked into a little cafe in Billings called Harper & Madison. It was the week of Harper&Madisonlogotheir opening. She had a little flowers display on the table. I just went in had coffee, and I thought great:

  • we have something in the neighborhood
  • cute
  • food was amazing!
  • pastries were great!

I walked in the next week and I just noticed something was missing, I thought where are the flowers? Where’s the flower arrangement?

I went in had coffee,  and I don’t know where the idea came from or why I said it but I just asked:

“Hey would you like to flowers, fresh flowers?”

and she said


and I don’t know I just thought I do them for the hotel, I can do them for her. And I had no idea how that one sentence would completely change my life!

I would go in every Monday, at 5am, that was the start of my week, when I was doing arrangements for her. Her name is Joanne Schwartz and she is just such an amazing person, so glad to call her friend. She let me do whatever I wanted

give me free range to incorporate textures, and designs

people started taking my business card,

from that point on, weddings took over. I would say 3 years after that.

Kirkland & Co is born

The first year I had one wedding, then it grew to 12, this year we have 35 weddings so I just quit the hotel, I could not do both.

My mom ask me, “Are you sure you want to leave a steady paying job?”

“Yes, I’m buying happiness!”

It’s been such an amazing journey. Along the way with the flowers, eventually, I started thinking about …. I was going a  wedding here, and the flowers didn’t come in on time, shipped from California and the flowers

such a stressful weekend, by the time they got here

can I just grow flowers? Can we grow flowers here? How many boxes of flowers are begin shipped to places? When we could just grow the flowers. I started researching.

I found 2 farmers who are growing one of which was certified organic, Dylan from Strike Farms, they grew the best dahlias I had ever seen in my entire life! I started thinking, they do flowers and produce, well I want to grow some too, because I have always loved growing. So now I am going to grow flowers professionally this year after trying to do it for a couple of years.

our company is called Kirkland & Co. We also do interior design and I do the flower portion. And our clients cross over a lot. Maybe my clients will need interior design and Shane will help them, and a lot of his clients need flowers for their home, so I do flowers for them too!

You can do a little bit of everything from Kirkland & Co. That’s a little bit about me and how I got to doing flowers. I love my hotel job, but when you find that one thing that you are supposed to be doing that’s when it clicks. One of our clients once she sent me an email and in her signature it said:

if you find a job you love, you’ll never have to work again

I don’t mind being here. On Saturdays, or Sundays … I love … when I’m doing flowers, splitting dahlia worlds … what I’m doing, time flies when I’m working and it’s a pretty fascinating world and I am excited to here it.

Wow! I think listeners will probably love this is as exciting. Two things, my maiden name is Ramos and my great great grandfather someone was Portuguese… and then when I was on my plane to Paris I sat next to this photographer from Brazil? I’m dying to know how do you go from Brazil and get a scholarship for Rocky Mountain College in Brazil!

Went to school for business school, and I do not play soccer… they probably thought I was gonna teach them soccer but I was like I’m here to learn, I was last kid to be picked in PE. So there was a program in Brazil, called Youth Ambassadors.

program by the US embassy in the Brazil

in 2013 (2003)

first edition

It was to bring 12 kids to America it was a cultural experience for under privileged kids like me. You had to write an essay, and explain in a paragraph, you had to answer what does english mean to you and how you can apply that to your career that you are pursuing. They had kids applying. You had to go to an english school. a school where you just learn English, which is a separate program. And the principal told me to apply, and I didn’t think anything of it. And out of all 27 states in Brazil! They only picked 12,

we got to go to WashingtonDC met with Colin Powell. Then after that we went through Tuscaloosa Alabama and that was my first contact with the south. I just loved how rich it was and then we went to the University of Alabama and we had English classes for 3 weeks.  Then went back to Brazil. Then if you were


in the program

program still goes on… it’s a very successful program. If you are in Brazil you can still hear more about the program. And if you are here look into it too.

So they said if you were part of that program you can apply for a scholarship, but I already transferred as a Junior. It was just an amazing Rocky Mountain College. It was one of the colleges I applied in Iowa, Vermont, Michigan, North Carolina, and Montana.

I did get a scholarship to go to Wilmington, in North Carolina and Rocky Mountain College, I  didn’t know anything in Montana but they have snow,  but I thought that would be a contract to that we have in Brazil.

Oh yeah I’ll do Montana,

I’m glad in the fall because I was eased into Winter, if I would have come in January, because January’s our summer, like the peak of summer.

People always ask me how did you find Montana….

I always say that Montana found me… if they hadn’t those scholarships I wouldn’t have arrived here.

I love that. I always say that there’s so much you gain and it’s almost better not to know what you want to go to college. You never know who’s gonna sit next to you and say hey you’d love this job you never even knew existed and they’ll say Oh yeah you’re perfect for this! If people don’t know Billings is the biggest city in the state and there’s no mountains there. 

Billings is the biggest city between Seattle and Minneapolis. Her’s a huge demographic there.

applied for the internship

never wanted to work in a hotel

someone knew someone who knew someone that said theres this hotel that just opened and they are looking for employees. I said oh, I’ll try that, and I went in and talked to the general manager, and I was a senior. I was going home every summer, and I went home after the internship and my boss called me, we want to hire you for a full time position as a front desk supervisor. I had to cut my vacation short.

I wasn’t ready for it, but you learn that sometimes you just don’t have a 3 month vacation

got  position and then I became front office manager, I was there for the 7 years. Plus I did all their pots for the summer, they were gonna let me do that too, so I got hands on experience!

That’s a whole new market that nobody’s talked about maybe will open some ideas for listeners!

Huge market,

garden center and just buy a basket


hotel for an example

basically outdoor patios

got all different sun exposure.

Sometimes people think they don’t have a green thumb it’s because you get different sunlight

you have someone professional would maybe come in and say there’s no point in planting zinnias or came lilies. Sometimes it’s better to have a professional come and help them have a better looking patio.  That’s what I did by researching a little bit what would

fitting for

sweet potato vines

had to trim the every now and them

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

Yep, yeah, my dad, we have a farm, belongs to our family. My dad always grew stuff, planting something from the time I can remember. He was always planting eggplants or tomatoes, or kale, he always had something growing all the time, seasons on Brazil are very different then here. You have a very mild spring, and then other then that it’s always summer, winter doesn’t exist really.

I always watched him do it, I wish I would have watched him more. He just had knowledge in he is head and I don’t think he gave himself credit, I think a lot was trial and error, based on the area.

I remember helping him in the garden and he would tell us you need to do this, you need to do that. In Brazil, organic wasn’t something that I thought about it was just something that we just did… all the compost from the kitchen, it would just go in the garden. One of the neighbors had cattle, so we just used the manure from the cattle…

I just always watched my dad, his fertilizer was whatever compost we had, but it was never adding any artificial fertilizer, or one of the things that he did I remember, was to fight pests he would just make a tea out of tobacco, because there was a tobacco farm  a few miles from us and he would make compost tea, and spray on the plants. I never thought about it until that he would do that. He would not put that on lettuce, or the leaves that you would eat. He would spark that on the tomatoes or maybe on the leaves, but not the fruit and he would wash it.

So I was talking to my mom and she said, it was so funny, because dad, always had a hard time growing about good size tomatoes

never here about that here…

organic trails was always second nature

never spent money on my podcast

I meant to ask you if you had ever met Claudia from Claudia’s Mesa?


had I known that when I was 4 years old we could do a soil test

I took the basics.

Claudia was in the bridal tour that we did last fall

I got an email from

we should partner up on a farm-to-table dinner

How did you learn how to garden organically?

One of the reasons, he didn’t need to buy any artificial fertilizer, we were growing our own to grow, he didn’t’ believe in spending money if he didn’t need to

I just started researching online

eventually I ran into Floret’s blog

following the practices that she uses at the farm

that’s how I became more aware of how I

I would read something that was done not using organic

fighting voles

you can put poison

the effects such a domino effect

floret had a huge influence how I could grow organically

growing professionally

I’m investing a lot of time and effort into the practices

the Facebook page

if you’re not on Facebook

if you’re trying

the Flower Farmer Facebook Group is extremely resourceful

most helpful and


what they have done and don’t work

huge movement

growing flowers organically


being able to have a group of people

though with you

something I wanted to know

here’s what I did, what worked, what didn’t work, Facebook page a huge resource for me,

a couple of people,

boosted the confidence


simply josepine (1)

I think that’s great advice. And I just have to give a plug to my friend Dacia because Floret Flower’s bought a bunch of her 1/2 aprons for a workshop or something and she also have lovely soaps and I loved my apron for school!

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

Last year, we just had a little plot, were’ expanding on that, we tried zinnias that I direct sowed

anemones were amazing, bloomed all summer long

first time I planted anemones

front yard was a decent size,

got 2 hours of sun in the morning

saw that anemones were sold in the fall

plopped them in the ground

Now I learned, that doesn’t quite work that way

I harvested them all summer long, they just kept coming up and up and up! I used them in every single arrangement that we did because they were just so prolific

one of the ones we invested in this year, so we are growing pastel varieties.

trees, purples, and pinks, and whites

order is about 500 bulbs!

I have about 30 x 60′ and then another probably 100′ x 100′ so it’s a good size!

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

Landscape fabric…

Me too!

I did not have landscape fabric, it was a nightmare! I am hoping that it will help with the weeding portion, because that’s what I hate doing! I have the irrigation drip system! That’s works amazing! I highly recommend some kind of drip system!

regular garden

the sprinklers waste so much water

never get to the roots

one of the advice that I saw in the face page

One thing I recommend is to set some money aside to invest in those supplies because they will last you a life time!

There was some fabric I was going to buy, but it would have lasted me maybe a seasons. IDK whatever that material is called, maybe poly-eurothene. It will last you a while, but make sure if you buy quality that will last.

I made a mistake, I meant row cover. BUT Mike has always used that landscape fabric. I will say Mike always makes sure that he gets every single tiny little bit of quack grass out first. 

Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.


By the time I...




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