The Flour Gardener Creates Feasts for Tummy and Eyes

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By Jill Brooke
Mary Mansfield’s whimsical flower-inspired cookies not only charm but are a go-to favorite for people who want to create edible pizazz for parties and special occasions.
A lifelong gardener, Mansfield had worked in a law school before her family moved from Rhode Island to Rochester, New York which has colder winters and far fewer gardening opportunities.
“Living in Rochester means we have only a few months out of the year to enjoy flowers, so I love being able to create them anytime I choose,” she says of her baked goods. ”My love of gardening coupled with my interest in cookie decorating and baking inspired my name, “The Flour Gardener.”
She says she’s been baking and decorating as a “hobby” for about 25 years – not a surprise since this type of skill doesn’t happen overnight.  In fact,  cake decorating was her first love and she made delicious treats for neighbors, colleagues, and friends.
But there’s a reason she shifted from cakes to cookies – and it has to do with love and respect, two qualities that are her signature.
“My son married into a large family and I quickly learned that my daughter-in-law’s beloved aunt was the cake decorator in the family and I wasn’t about to step on any toes, so I focused on learning to decorate cookies so that I could contribute to the many family events that lay ahead,” she said. “There were countless bridal and baby showers, birthdays, etc… so I had lots of opportunities to practice.”
When her own grandchildren came along, she then made their birthday cakes and cookies every year, a tradition that continues to this day. She also improved her skills by working at a local bakery. The owner of the bakery encouraged her to launch her home-based business which she did and is now “The Flour Gardener.”
“Most of my customers came to me by word of mouth, as I only serve the local community, but my Instagram following has brought me other opportunities such as content creation for other companies and some food styling,” she says.
Now she picks and chooses what clients she works with while tending her garden and the business of “The Flour Gardener.”  More importantly, she also wants to share all this knowledge and offers videos and tutorials that we can share with you, beloved flower readers.
Although she has an opportunity to build her business on a bigger scale, she is choosing not to – because this is her “retirement” job.  However,  she gets great pleasure in the happiness her work gives to many. And even if it’s not about cakes or pies, her cookies are awesome.
“I have shifted my focus to content creation, food styling and sharing cookie videos on social media to help those who are learning to decorate,” she says. “As a self-taught baker and decorator who learned before social media, I can really appreciate what a helpful tool the videos and tutorials can be.”
Lucky us that she is sharing the videos with you, beloved flower lovers.

Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD,  floral editor for Aspire Design and Home magazine and contributor to Florists Review magazine. 

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