Pushing palatable petals 

In a one-room schoolhouse out by the airport, there’s a worthy lesson being taught: You can turn a passion into a career. After 15 years as a certified public accountant in Missoula, Heidi Foley was itching for a more creative job. Her passions: flowers, food, and a desire to give back to this community. So when she got online and saw that the 9-year-old Santa Fe-based company Edible Flowers was for sale, Foley bit. Last November, she became the internet-based business’ new president and CEO, though her friends still title her “the great adventurer.”

“I’m a lavender freak,” says Foley from Edible Flowers’ new headquarters in the 1895 schoolhouse. “And I’ve always thought it would be so great to do a business with flowers. The reason this appeals to me so much is that I’m able to use a different part of my brain for a while, to do something fun and creative.”

Edible Flowers indeed has crafty flair. From gourmet vinegars to flower confettis, the company sells over 40 products, both retail and wholesale, each of which contains at least one organically grown flower. Tulip vinegar and hollyhock lavender vinegar are among the company’s best-sellers; Foley’s personal favorite is the chili squash blossom salad dressing.

Foley plans to expand the Southwest-inspired offerings to include Pacific Northwest flowers such as violets and orchids. She’s started working with local lavender farmer Lori Parr Campbell, and has also partnered with non-profit packing company Mission Mountain Markets in Ronan. Expansion plans include a line of bath and relaxation flower products.

While Edible Flowers is new to Missoula, Foley swears that people have been eating flowers for ages. “The Victorian Era was a huge time of edible flowers among the very wealthy,” she says. “It was a sort of status symbol if they served you edible flowers.” Now we can all be royalty: From March 26–28 at the Missoula Home & Garden Show, Foley will have a booth with samples of petal confetti, sparkling lavender sugar, red basil dressing and more. Or you can go to www.edibleflowers.net anytime you’re stuck at work wishing you had more time to stop and, um, eat the roses.

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