A study of the symbiotic relationship between
humans and the gardens they tend to.
At ORCA, our work begins by understanding that it doesn’t end — a landscape is an ongoing dialogue, shaped by seasons and in response to our environments. Plants + People is an ongoing exploration of what it looks like to plant roots, to honor cycles, to inhabit space, and to accept impermanence through the perspectives of individuals we admire.
Loria Stern’s work is a study in opting into beauty. Best known for Eat Your Flowers, her multifaceted bakery devoted to the art of edible flowers, Loria’s creations synthesize her professional experience in the culinary world and studies of plant medicine, all while reflecting her curiosity-fueled experimentation with the botanicals and natural bounty growing freely in her Southern California backyard.
A baker, chef, author, and entrepreneur, Loria’s through line is finding ways to inject daily life with reminders of nature’s eye-opening beauty, be it in a sugar cookie punctuated by vibrant pressed fig leaves; in a jar of citrus-and-marigold-infused cocktail cubes; or in an artful tiered cake adorned with burgundy daisies and filled with rose-infused jam.
In deep autumn, we visited Loria in her Los Angeles edible garden for a conversation on what’s growing in her garden; her cherry tomato-filled childhood; and her secret ingredient for nourishing fruit-bearing trees.
“When I was old enough to help out in the garden, I was in charge of the cherry tomatoes. I remember picking them to sell at the end of our driveway; for each one I picked I would eat one.”
Can you share more about your relationship to planning and preparing your garden throughout the year? What are some seasonal steps you consider or take?
I am a self-taught gardener and experimenter. I am always trying new things but I have some traditions, like sprinkling wildflower seeds right around Thanksgiving. I also buy good soil and compost and change out my beds twice a year, and I have a small compost that I sprinkle into my garden. I am always picking edible flowers and herbs to bring to the bakery, so in a way that in itself is maintaining the plants. The more they are picked, the more they grow.
What plants do you use for cooking or healing?
Weekly I use thyme and rosemary for roasting vegetables. Mint, marigold, and chervil for salads. My bakery business, Eat Your Flowers, was started and motivated by a culinary application of my love and use of edible flowers and plants.
"My bakery business, Eat Your Flowers, was started and motivated by a culinary application of my love and use of edible flowers and plants."
"I am a self-taught gardener and experimenter. I am always trying new things but I have some traditions, like sprinkling wildflower seeds right around Thanksgiving."