Over the next several weeks, the California Cut Flower Commission will be highlighting California flower farmers who are investing in the future and growing their farms through a series of blog posts entitled, “California Growing.” With increasing demand for American Grown Flowers, these farms reflect the dedication, commitment and hard work that is being made to deliver high quality, consistent, year-round supply of fresh cut flowers and greens.
Ocean View Flowers
Ocean View Flowers has been in business for 25 years, and while it recognizes its history, this flower farm is committed to remaining nimble.
Located in the Lompoc Valley, 50 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, Ocean View is taking a multi-pronged approach to increasing quality and productivity, and expanding efficiencies.
Ocean View Flowers has added two solar energy projects, expanded into new flower varieties, improved yields and flower quality, and invested in lean business principles, according to President John Donati.
Many approaches. Many successes.
In 2015, Ocean View invested in a 560 kilowatt ground-mount solar energy system to reduce its overall impact on the environment and offset energy costs. In 2017 it added an additional 1.1 megawatts.
Energy from the solar panels cover the farm’s cooling and refrigeration needs and offset electricity costs farm-wide an in its business offices.
The green energy approach fits well with Ocean View’s commitment to sustainable farming practices.
A forward-thinking nature also applies to Ocean View’s selection of flower varieties to grow. Donati says his team is constantly looking at new varieties that appeal to consumers.
“And we’re nimble with our color mix to reflect the trends for the coming year,” often basing selections on the colors that Pantone and other trend forecasters identify as leading hues.
Improving yields and quality
It’s one thing to grow the right flowers, but getting more flowers to market to meet consumer demand is an entirely different issue.
That’s where Ocean View’s efforts to improve yields come in. Donati explains that they’ve been able to amplify yields by growing in three areas: the Lompoc Valley, the low desert south of Palm Springs and the high desert near Bakersfield.
By growing in different regions at different times of year, Ocean View can take advantage of the best seasonal growing conditions. Better conditions mean more flowers – consistently.
Ocean View first invested in lean business principles nearly a decade ago and that commitment continues today, literally transforming how it does business.
“It’s not just about saving money, it’s about putting measures in place that increase quality, improve efficiencies and reduce the daily tasks required of employees,” Donati explains. “We use lean business practices throughout the organization, from growing to harvesting to packing.”
Ocean View’s lean efforts include the addition of harvesting trailers to reduce the labor required of field employees, financial incentives for employee productivity and a host of initiatives to reduce the number of steps or motions employees in any department take.
Most recently, Ocean View added a second line in its packing department to help reduce the number of motions required of packing employees and optimize the flow of flowers to those who are the last to touch the blooms before the leave the farm.
Together, all of these steps are keeping Ocean View on the cutting edge, and keeping customers supplied with spectacular blooms all year long.
Fundraiser supports wine country recovery efforts
California flower farmers are joining agriculture and tourism industry partners to support a pop-up feast to benefit wine country wildfire recovery efforts. The event, The Grateful Table, will be held Tues., Nov. 21 at 1 p.m. in an idyllic vineyard at the Napa-Sonoma County line.
Donations of California Grown Flowers and floral design are being coordinated by the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC). Flowers will be sent by flower farmers up and down the state in support of this important fundraising effort. Approximately 1,000 people are expected to attend the evening’s fundraiser, making for a very long table where guests will enjoy an all-California Grown farm to fork style dinner in the middle of the vineyard.
CCFC and Certified American Grown Flowers are very familiar with the feast’s format and are prepared to lend a hand thanks to their three years of experience hosting the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour.
“This is a wonderful way for our farms to support the recovery effort of the communities that have been impacted by these fires” shared CCFC CEO & Ambassador Kasey Cronquist. “As their flower donations have come in, we’re learning about the many connections our farmers have with people who were affected by these fires. They are very happy to give their blooms to the cause.”
The floral design team is being lead by Heather Frye and Camille Rowan of Venn Floral. Heather and Camille will be leading a volunteer team of floral designers to help create the beautiful tablescape for the evening’s event.
The Grateful Table is hosted by Chef Tyler Florence and friends, along with the team at Outstanding in the Field.
Guests can purchase single tickets, tables, or buy a seat for a first responder or residents who were affected by the fires.
One hundred percent of ticket sales will be donated to nonprofits helping those directly impacted by the fires, including;
- Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund
- Sonoma County Resilience Fund
- Mendocino County Disaster Fund
- California Restaurant Association Foundation
Visit visitcalifornia.com/grateful-table to learn more and to purchase tickets.
A big thank you to Torchio Nursery and Jessup Transportation for providing the logistics support for this effort.
Thank you to Syndicate Sales for assisting with the hard goods support.
Longtime Dinner Tour Sponsor Syndicate Sales Unveils New Products on Chapple’s Farm
The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour tends to make news in the communities where it stops. But at a recent stop at Hope Flower Farm in Waterford, Virginia, the dinner was the site of a very special announcement from longtime tour sponsor Syndicate Sales.
The firm announced the “Holly Heider Chapple Exclusively for Syndicate” line of containers and mechanics to be released in January 2018. Of course, there was nowhere better to launch the line than right there on Chapple’s farm!
Syndicate Sales Public Relations Manager Anne Graves says the company partnered with Chapple to design a line of containers that’s fluid and romantic, much like Chapple’s decadent design style. The products will help designers achieve Chapple’s sprawling, airy look.
The new product line also includes the mechanics needed to achieve the Holly-like aesthetic.
The containers, available in clear glass and opaque black and white durable plastic, feature a footed compote design.
The upscale glass containers are perfect for “show-stopper” arrangements. The plastic compotes are made of light but durable plastic and are great for transporting Chapple’s unmistakable floral design look to venues.
The mechanics are what Chapple refers to as a “pillow and an egg” – grid-like tools to hold flowers in place in containers. These spectacular mechanics eliminate the hassles of fussing with chicken wire and other materials to create loose horizontal bouquets. The “egg” concept lets designers insert flower stems from all angles while keeping them in place during the design process.
The “pillow” follows the same principle, resting on the top of the vase rim and ensuring stems stay in one place and remain hydrated without getting crushed. Because the mechanic rests on top of the container, stems can be inserted around the rim, appearing to spill gracefully over the vase’s edge.
All products in the line are reusable and 100 percent recyclable.
Graves said the recent American Grown Field to Vase Dinner was the ultimate place to launch the line – after all, Syndicate is a quintessential family-owned American company based in Indiana.
Syndicate’s three-year sponsorship of the dinner tour is equally impressive. “There was no more fitting place than at a Field to Vase Dinner, where the crux of the event is about American Grown, to launch the line. And there’s nothing we like to celebrate more than the people, relationships and culture that keeps our industry going,” Graves explains. “It’s a natural fit.”
Naturally, Certified American Grown is extremely grateful for Syndicate’s ongoing support!
For details on the new container and mechanics collection and to sign up for exclusive updates regarding the January 2018 release, check out holly.syndicatesales.com.
Certified Farmer Andrea Gagnon Shares the Origin Matters Message, Wows With Her Flowers
It’s not every day that National Geographic rings your phone. But that’s exactly what flower farmer Andrea Gagnon experienced when the renowned publication reached out to her to request an interview and photo shoot on her Gainesville, Virginia, farm.
The coverage – touting the American Grown Flower movement – can be found in the venerated magazine’s November 2017 issue.
“I grew up in a household where National Geographic was renowned and never thrown away,” Gagnon explains. “It was an incredible process. The photographer came out months before the article was written and we spent seven solid hours shooting.” Yep, seven hours.
Shooting what? Just-picked American Grown Flowers from Gagnon’s LynnVale Studios, a 10-acre flower farm and art studio owned and operated by Gagnon and husband, Lou.
In the course of the photo shoot, the Gagnons created bouquets and centerpieces, along with four versions of a “flower painting” on the barn floor and a stoop. It was one of the flower painting images that became the hero shot in the magazine.
“It was a thrill to observe and participate in the whole process,” Gagnon says. “It ranks among the top five of all of my professional experiences. I felt like I had been on a roller coaster thrill ride of design. I remember looking at Lou when it was over and I could barely stand up. It was so overwhelming and big.”
Also big – the opportunity to drive home the origin matters message, which Gagnon did with prowess in the article.
“The more awareness the American consumer has about where flowers come from, the better it is for all of us,” she’s quoted as saying. “It’s just like asking, ‘Is this a local tomato for my BLT?’ Now people can ask, ‘Oh, is that a local dahlia?’”
How it happened
So how did the American Grown Flowers movement catch the eye of National Geographic?
Turns out that a writer for the magazine was one of the members of the media who were invited to attend the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour held at LynnVale Studios in 2015. Months later, Gagnon received a call from the writer and the odyssey of making it into print began.
During the interview there were lots of questions about the American Grown Flower movement and why it’s important to have consumer awareness about flower origin.
“I never imagined it would make the magazine. What are the odds? I didn’t know until last week that it actually made it in,” Gagnon explains.
But it did. And Gagnon is still on cloud nine. She can’t wait for her father, the longtime National Geographic subscriber, who now lives in an assisted living facility, to see the coverage.
“I’m just so pleased for flower farmers and for these efforts to be acknowledged,” Gagnon says.
Earning the designation of “Design Star” is no small feat in a nationwide community of talented floral designers. And when Christy Hulsey, owner and creative director of Colonial House of Flowers in Statesboro, Georgia, earned the designation of 2017 Mayesh Design Star, she admits to being overwhelmed. And deeply honored.
As she puts it, it’s not every day that an “old-school” flower shop gets this kind of recognition.
But Hulsey’s not one to rest on her laurels. She’s making the most of the honor by wowing guests who participate in the Mayesh Design Star Flower Workshop Tour – with eight stops at Mayesh wholesale flower branches nationwide featuring hands-on workshops. And along with giving students a great opportunity to network, explore floral design, and brush up on social media and marketing tactics, Hulsey is sure to talk about a topic close to her heart. The origin of flowers and the importance of using Certified American Grown Flowers in designs.
“I believe origin matters. I know what various farms do really well and what I’m going to get, so when I’m creating a flower recipe, I need to know what I’m looking for and what farm can deliver it,” Hulsey explains.
It’s thinking wholesaler Mayesh also understands and supports. After all, Mayesh is a sponsor of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, the award-winning pop-up dinner series that’s been criss-crossing America for three years.
For Hulsey, choosing Certified American Grown Flowers is deeply personal. She recalls how Mel Resendiz of Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers took her entire family on a tour of his farm, showcasing the flowers he grows and sharing his family’s story. From that day forward, Hulsey felt it was important to incorporate flowers from Resendiz’s farm when her designs called for it. “It’s important that I use a flower from his farm and think of him. It’s meaningful.”
Hulsey will carry the message to her next stop on the Design Star Flower Workshop Tour on Oct. 17 in Portland, Oregon. In fact, she continually shares the origin matters message in her social media posts for the tour and her stops at Pottery Barn stores nationwide where she leads succulent workshops for consumers and uses Certified American Grown plants.
What does she want florists and consumers to know? Using and buying Certified American Grown Flowers isn’t hard. It is important. And it does make a difference. And yes, origin does matter.