Each year, a delegation of America’s flower farmers head to Washington, D.C. and join together to advocate, share the #originmatters message, connect with members of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus and do a whole lot of storytelling to elected officials.

The trip, which has grown in scale and momentum, is coming up in February.

Farmers from across the United States came together for the largest Fly-In to date in 2017. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

Once again, farmers and representatives from the Certified American Grown program and the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) will meet with lawmakers and the administration about how to remedy the competitive challenges America’s flower farming families face in today’s market.

Delegates from Virginia to Alaska came together to advocate for America’s flower farmers.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography

 

It’s a big trip.

It involves so many people leaving their families and businesses to passionately share the importance, value and sheer joy of growing their flowers here in the United States.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, Co-Chair of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, visits with California growers at the Wine and Flowers Reception. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

But it’s worth it. Every time. And every time more flower farmers sign on to make the trip and share their stories.

Because origin really does matter. And lawmakers and consumers are getting it. And they’re starting to ask about the origin of the flowers they bring into their homes and give as gifts. And that makes all the difference.

If you’d like more information about this year’s trip, contact Andrea Philpot at aphilpot@ccfc.org.

The California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) recently sponsored the California State Floral Association’s 12th annual student design competition at CaliFlora 2017 held at the International Floral Trade Center in Carlsbad, California.

Winners from the CaliFlora student competition, sponsored by the California Cut Flower Commission.

Fifteen students representing California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo; City College of San Francisco and Mission College participated in the timed competition.

Armando de Loer Mejia of City College San Francisco won the competition, with Alyssa Snow of Cal Poly coming in second and Isabel Sarellano of Mission College taking third place. The People’s Choice Award went to Paula Knapp of Mission College.

CCFC Chair Diana Roy of Resendiz Brothers Protea with Mel Resendiz (right) and Rene Van Rems (left).

CCFC Chair Diana Roy attended the two-day CaliFlora event known for its certified florist exam, hands-on design workshops, Top Design Competition, student design competition and feature show.

The CCFC is proud to support the next generation of floral designers by sponsoring the student competition at CaliFlora.

Safeway’s Crystal Hedgpeth Honored for Blue Bucket Campaign That Promotes CA Grown Flowers
 

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Jan. 8, 2018— Crystal Hedgpeth, floral sales manager for Safeway’s Northern California Division, was named 2017 Flower Farm Champion by the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) at its annual meeting January 4 in Santa Barbara.

Hedgpeth earned the award for the creation of Safeway’s Blue Bucket Campaign that showcases California Grown Flowers in the company’s 280 Northern California Stores.

Crystal Hedgpeth was honored as the 2017 Flower Farm Champion at CCFC’s Annual Dinner on January 4, 2018. Pictured here from left to right are Bruce Brady, Promotion Committee Chairman, Crystal Hedgpeth of Safeway and Kasey Cronquist, CEO/Ambassador of the Cut Flower Commission. Photo by Linda Blue Photography

 

“Crystal’s campaign really highlights what can be accomplished when retailers make the effort to connect their customers with the story and source of their flowers,” explains CCFC CEO and Ambassador Kasey Cronquist. “Double digit growth by utilizing the California Grown campaign is exciting to see and something we want to celebrate.”

Hedgpeth designed the Blue Bucket Campaign in response to customer surveys that gave the store low ratings for the availability of locally sourced items. Knowing Safeway stores were chock-full of local products, including the California Grown Flowers that made up more than half of the flowers sold in the stores, Hedgpeth created an attention-getting sales and marketing campaign focused on flowers sourced from farmers in the Golden State.

She attached the misperception about the “lack of local” by grouping all California blooms and foliage in a single display in the floral department. After several brainstorming sessions with her team, a broader vision emerged for bringing a California Grown Flowers campaign to life. The team added a large “iron man” sign atop the display that included the CA Grown license plate logo and with a message declaring Nor Cal Safeway as the “largest buyer of CA Grown Flowers.” And Hedgpeth implemented her division president’s idea that all the buckets the flowers were displayed in be just as blue as the CA Grown logo.

Safeway’s blue bucket campaign draws attention to the beautiful CA Grown Flowers in each of their Nor Cal locations.

 

“Once we had the merchandising done, it really made an impactful statement. The colors of the flowers were more vivid against the blue buckets,” Hedgpeth explained.

Safeway stores that implemented the Blue Bucket Campaign saw double-digit increases in sales of California Grown Flowers – think 12 to 16 percent. And what started in October 2016 in fewer than 50 stores spread to all 280 Nor Cal stores by Valentine’s Day 2017. California Grown Flower sales are up 14 percent.

In addition to individual flower varieties showcased in the blue buckets, Hedgpeth has since added California Grown mixed bouquets. And in stores where customers are particularly local-focused, she gets “hyper local” and sets up displays and signage for nearby flower farms.

“In our minds, this should be part of our permanent thinking. We’ll continue to support California’s flower farmers and even incorporate the Certified American Grown Flower program. We want to continue to grow this. We have new stores coming in 2018 and 2019 and we’ll continue the campaign in those stores. As long as it’s relevant to customers, it’s relevant to us!”

In 2016, the Flower Farm Champion award went to Lois Capps, former U.S. Representative for California’s 24th congressional district, for her notable efforts to support California’s flower farmers. A founding member of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, Capps served as a co-chair of the caucus since its inception in 2014. She also helped drive awareness of issues impacting California’s flower farmers, certified CA Grown floats at the Tournament of Roses Parade and met with farmers during advocacy events in Washington, D.C.

Farmers Send Flowers to Honor, Thank First Responders at Wildfire Benefit Feast

In early October, wildfires ripped through California’s renowned wine country, displacing more than 10,000 in Napa and Sonoma Counties alone, and wiping out entire neighborhoods and businesses.

Today, we know it was the most devastating wildfire event in California’s history.

Camille White of Venn Floral helps place arrangements down the long table for Tuesday’s event. Photos by Visit CA and Max Whittaker, Freelance Photojournalist.

But on Nov. 21, just days before Thanksgiving, California flower farmers, a team of volunteer floral designers led by Venn Floral of Sebastopol and the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) joined forces with industry partners Visit California and California Grown to support a farm-to-fork style feast for over 500 guests to benefit wine country wildfire recovery efforts.

Hosted by Visit California, The Grateful Table featured celebrity Chef Tyler Florence in partnership with farm dinner event company Outstanding in the Field. The CCFC, with its experience managing the national American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, was tapped by Visit California to assist with the design and execution of the floral tablescape for the event.

California flower farmers sent thousands of flowers for the special fundraising event. Photos by Visit CA and Max Whittaker, Freelance Photojournalist.

Working with Heather Frye and Camille Rowan of Venn Floral, a tablescape was created based on thousands of flowers donated by California’s flower farmers. Resendiz Brothers Protea, Sun Valley Floral Farms, Holland America Flowers, Green Valley Floral, Joseph & Sons, Ocean View Flowers, Camflor Inc., Mellano & Company, CallaCo, Westland Floral, Pajarosa Floral and Kitayama Brothers all responded to the call for donations amidst a busy Thanksgiving holiday rush on flowers.

CCFC CEO & Ambassador Kasey Cronquist with first responders who were honored during Tuesday’s event and presented with flowers for their heroic efforts during the deadly wildfires that swept through the region. Photos by Visit CA and Max Whittaker, Freelance Photojournalist.

Torchio Nursery and Jessup Transportation provided logistics support for this effort. And Syndicate Sales provided all of the vases for the event.

Guests were invited to create their own boutonnieres to wear during the event. Photos by Visit CA and Max Whittaker, Freelance Photojournalist.
Photos by Visit CA and Max Whittaker, Freelance Photojournalist.

Additional floral designers who donated their time to the project include:

One hundred percent of proceeds raised from sales tickets to the feast will support nonprofits that are helping those affected by the wildfires in California’s iconic wine country. And among the guests at the event were people who had lost their homes as well as first responders.

CCFC CEO & Ambassador Kasey Cronquist and CCFC Chair Diana Roy with Chef Tyler Florence.Photos by Visit CA and Max Whittaker, Freelance Photojournalist.

The event was touted as “the best way to show them your California love and help them rebuild the region is to come celebrate: sip, savor, dine and unwind.”

It was also a way for flower farmers and designers to lend their resources and talents to a worthy cause.

A beautiful tablescape was designed and beautifully executed by Heather Fry and Camille White of Venn Floral.  Photos by Visit CA and Max Whittaker, Freelance Photojournalist.

“This was 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 the flower donations rolled in, we learned about the many connections our farmers have with people who were affected by these fires. They were very happy to give their blooms to the cause.”

Over 500 people attended the event, which required 63 tables for the pop-up farm to fork dinner. The dinner table ran right down the Napa & Sonoma county lines. Photos by Visit CA and Max Whittaker, Freelance Photojournalist.

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

Lompoc, California

Ocean View Flowers has been in business for 25 years, and while it recognizes its history, this flower farm is committed to remaining nimble.

The beautiful flower fields of Ocean View Flowers.

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.

Going solar

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.

Ocean View Flowers invests in solar technology at the farm.

The green energy approach fits well with Ocean View’s commitment to sustainable farming practices.

New varieties

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.

Acres of flowers are being harvested more efficiently then ever at Ocean View Flowers.

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.

Going lean

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.

Ocean View Flowers has improved its capacity and quality controls through its focus on going lean.

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.”

Certified American Grown has been hosting floral focused “farm to fork” styled pop up dinners on America’s most beautiful flower farms for the past three years. Photo by Taken By Sarah
Venn Floral is located in Sebastopol, California and co-owned by Heather Frye & Camille Rowan.

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.

Guests of our recent Field to Vase Dinner in Waterford, Virginia, enjoyed both the beauty of Hope Flower Farm and the stunning designs created by Holly Chapple.  Photo: Taken by Sarah Photography.

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!

Anne Graves of Syndicate Sales made the exciting announcement of their partnership with Holly Chapple during the dinner.  Photo: Taken by Sarah Photography.

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.

One of Holly Chapple’s gorgeous designs that captivated guests at our Field to Vase Dinner at Hope Flower Farm. Photo: Taken by Sarah Photography.

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

The November issue of the National Geographic features Certified American Grown flower farmers Andrea Gagnon of Lynnvale Studios.

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.

Beautiful American Grown Flowers arranged by Andrea Gagnon were used to represent the bounty and renewed consumer interest in homegrown blooms.

“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.

The flower farm at Lynnvale Studios played host to one of ten American Grown Field to Vase dinners held in 2015. Photo by Linda Blue Photography

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.

Flower farmer and floral designer Andrea Gagnon of Lynnvale Studios. Andrea also serves as a member of the Certified American Grown Council. Photo by Linda Blue Photography

“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.

More photos from the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Lynnvale Studios can be found on our Flickr page. Simply click the photo to see more beautiful images from the flower farm. Photo from Linda Blue Photography

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.

Christy Hulsey (right) has been sharing her love and support for American Grown Flowers while crisscrossing the country as Mayesh’s 2017 Design Star. 

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.

Christy and her family had the opportunity to tour our flower farms while on the road for Mayesh workshops throughout the country.

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.

This year’s hurricanes put a fine point on the need for domestic flower production. The storms and their aftermaths left many wholesalers nationwide scrambling to find domestic sources of flowers and foliage while the Port of Miami remained closed.

And since recoveries from these storms take a bit of time, the need for new connections can’t be overstated.

A focused directory that helps you find and source flowers from farms who can ship you flowers and foliage.

The California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) has a tool in place that makes finding sources for American Grown Flowers easy. Almost like that “easy button” in those office supply commercials.

When you visit the CCFC’s Farmer Directory, you’ll find flower farmers throughout California  who are renowned for growing spectacular blooms and foliage. Search by variety, location or distribution method, and use our map to get a birds-eye view of all of our farms’ locations throughout the Golden State.

Once you meet our farmers, we’re convinced you’ll appreciate all they have to offer – glorious, sustainably grown flowers and foliage that go from field to vase in no time.

Send Us Your Suggestions For American Grown Field To Vase Dinner Tour Stops

If our map has a blank look on its face, it’s because we’re just getting started with identifying stops for the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

As we ramp up for our fourth year of this wildly successful tour – bragging timeout: the tour just won Marketer of the Year from the Society of American Florists (SAF)! [“Field to Vase Dinner Tour Wins Marketer of the Year“] – we’re busy asking flower farmers, florists, wholesalers, flower designers and our sponsors where we should stop in 2018.

We’re canvassing the country, checking out locations and looking to shine the spotlight on America’s best flower farms, floral designers and communities that exemplify the growing support and movement for American Grown Flowers.

Got a suggestion for the perfect location? Email us at  info@AmericanGrownFlowers.org and tell us why the American Grown Dinner Tour should stop in.

Kasey Cronquist, CEO and ambassador for the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC), will be a panelist for a session at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in New Orleans Oct. 19-21.

Cronquist will be speaking about trends in flower farming.

The summit draws 19,500 attendees from 60 countries who meet with experts, leaders and decision-makers from every link in the produce and floral supply chain. The event is also a professional learning opportunity where attendees hear about today’s bright ideas that will reshape tomorrow’s produce and floral landscape.

Waterford, Virginia Dinner Sold Out

Just one stop remains on the award-winning 2017 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour. The pop-up dinner is headed to FernTrust Inc. in Seville, Florida, on November 18. Don’t miss this last stop in 2017!

After all, our Oct. 8 dinner at Hope Flower Farm in Waterford, Virginia, was sold out weeks in advance. And we’re expecting sellout dinners in 2018, too.

Repairs are underway at FernTrust.

Despite significant damage from Hurricane Irma, David Register, FernTrust’s executive vice president, is promising an amazing event. In fact, he thinks the hurricane presented the perfect opportunity to really educate guests about how fern and foliage farmers handle whatever Mother Nature deals them – and bounce back in record time.

Experience with these storms helped to prepare for getting things back online after Irma blew through. Shade cloth, used to help protect their ferns and foliage, was purchased in advance of the storm to help expedite the repairs.

The hard working farmers of the FernTrust cooperative rebounded in a matter of days post Irma, filling as many orders as possible just two days after the storm. This after clearing roads of trees, getting generators started to keep harvested fern cool and working to repair damaged shade cloth.

If the team at FernTrust is this resilient, you can bet they’ll pull off the experience of a lifetime for the Field to Vase Dinner. And the learning – that will be hurricane force. Guests will enjoy a multi-course artisanal meal surrounded by fresh fern. Floral design celebrity J Schwanke will wow guests with his designs – making this even more of a must-attend event.

J Schwanke, floral design celebrity, will be creating a greenery tablescape you won’t want to miss.

J plans to create a full-on foliage experience using time-honored techniques and textures to bring the excitement of the "all-foliage" trend to the dining table. He’ll leverage Pantone’s color of the year, Greenery, to immerse guests in the depth, beauty and passion of the latest “all things foliage” look.

Add the VIP farm tour with Register to learn more about fern growing and how he and his team have bounced back from two hurricanes in a row.

Make your experience truly fantastic by adding the foliage design workshop J Schwanke, also on Nov. 18, from 9-11 a.m. At this exclusive event you’ll learn how to weave palm leaves into nautilus shells, create aspidistra roses and attach Milky Way foliage to wine and
champagne glasses. Each participant will also make their own all foliage crown and foliage centerpiece.

Plus, you’ll get hands on in helping create the exclusive foliage photo backdrops that will be part of the dinner.

Show your support for Florida’s hard-hit fern farmers and have a once-in-a-lifetime experience dining among the fern in the “Fern Capital of the World.”

Save your seat!

We’re beyond thrilled to share that the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour has earned the 2017 Marketer of the Year Award from the Society of American Florists’ (SAF) Floral Management magazine.

American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour earns front page attention in the June issue of Floral Management.

The prestigious award recognizes original, highly successful marketing campaigns that increase awareness and the overall sales of cut flowers.

What made for the winning entry? We’ve since heard that Marketer of the Year judges were impressed with the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner campaign on several fronts: its professional execution, its distinct branding and its impressive media pick up.

But what the judges really liked was the dinner tour’s smart and effective use of experiential marketing that immerses the consumer in a floral experience in such a unique way – they’re on the farm with the farmers and the designers, and then they’re surrounded by the beautifully designed flowers during the dinner, and then they leave with their own bouquet.

As one of the judges commented, “When a consumer experiences flowers in this way, it’s a win for the industry.”

For the uninitiated and the yet-to-attend, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour is a cross-country series of elegant, intimate pop-up gatherings located on flower and foliage farms from coast to coast. Seasonal, homegrown and sustainable blooming flowers dazzle on beautiful tablescapes elegantly dressed by top U.S. floral designers, while scrumptious meals are prepared by local farm-to-table chefs.

Photo by Linda Blue Photography

At each unique meal and through the accompanying farm tour and design demonstrations, guests make a personal connection between flowers and agriculture as part of America’s floral landscape. Along the way, they experience the age-old art and science of flower farming while being served platters of delicious, seasonal and locally grown fare through four courses, including specialty desserts accompanied by vintage wines, micro-brewed beers and floral-inspired cocktails.

Guests enjoyed a stunning tablescape at an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Jello Mold Farm in Mount Vernon, WA. Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

Each event includes a tour of the host farm by the resident farmer and a floral design demonstration with one of the nation’s premier floral designers.

As the Marketer of the Year Award winner, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour is the cover story on the September 2017 issue of Floral Management. [See the full story here.]

The recognition is truly an honor. And what it means for flower farmers – now that’s the big news!

Certified American Grown recently published its first “Farm & Flower Guide” in collaboration with Florists’ Review. The publication includes Certified American Grown farm profiles, a botanical directory and a national directory of American flower farms.

Distributed in a special polybagged edition of Florists’ Review and SuperFloral magazines, the guide’s purpose is to be a resource for the industry as momentum for American Grown Flowers continues to grow and provide opportunities to (more…)

Certified American Grown Flowers has selected Where Food Comes From Inc. (WFCF) as its official exclusive third-party certifier.

The new partnership will be launched via video conference on September 14, introducing the team at WFCF and highlighting  program improvements as well as  the new benefits of the Certified program going forward.

WFCF is an agriculture-focused certification company that specializes in origin claims for food and products. Based in Castle Rock, Colorado, WFCF has over 20 years of experience with source verification programs and is recognized as the No. 1 provider of certification and verification services to the food industry.

“WFCF’s depth of experience, paired with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the great potential they see in further developing Certified American Grown, will really help take our program to another level,” said Kasey Cronquist, administrator for Certified American Grown.

Millions of stems of flowers are now Certified American Grown every year to help consumers quickly identify homegrown blooms at point of purchase.

Certified American Grown is the largest consumer-facing brand in the floral industry, communicating the importance of origin and buying American Grown Flowers.

With WFCF in place, Certified American Grown has created a new online audit processing system that streamlines the procedure  for farms seeking to earn this valuable certification for marketing and increasing sales.

Earning certification as an American Grown flower farm not only communicates the homegrown origin of a farm’s flowers and foliage, it also  helps consumers quickly make purchasing decisions based on their understanding of quality, sustainability, seasonality, freshness and consistency.

The American Grown Flowers brand symbolizes a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. flower farms representing small and large entities across the country. Together, the brand and its logo give consumers confidence in the homegrown source of their flowers and assure them that the bouquets and bunches they purchase come from an American flower-farming family.

“The Certified American Grown national marketing program that we’ve really does help drive our sales,” explains Rita Jo Shoultz, owner of Alaska Perfect Peonies. “It’s the only guarantee in the floral industry and our customers tell us they are seeing sales increase in their stores with the Certified American Grown logos.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to be selected as the exclusive certification company for Certified American Grown,” shared Leann Saunders, co-founder and COO of Where Food Comes From. “We see great potential for this program. Combined with our certification experience within the agricultural industry, we’re excited to see this program grow for America’s flower farmers.”

Floral Daily recently announced that Flowers Canada (Ontario) has launched its own version of the Field to Vase Dinner Tour, calling it “Petals & Plates.”

Flowers Canada announces their own version of the “Field to Vase” dinner tour concept.

The Petals & Plates dinner series will stop at three Canadian greenhouses during the months of September and October to help highlight, “Canadian flower growers and their importance in our agricultural landscape.”

The dinner tour is underwritten in part by the Canadian government.

Next up, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour stops at Hope Flower Farm in Waterford, Virginia, Oct. 8 where guests will meet floral designer turned flower farmer Holly Chapple.

Hope Flower Farm

Located in the heart of Loudoun County’s breathtaking countryside, Hope Flower Farm is a tranquil retreat, design facility and destination (also a registered bed and breakfast) where American Grown Flowers and floral designers learn and grow together. Certified American Grown in 2015, Hope Flower Farm covers 25 lush acres deep in the Northern Virginia rural landscape. The historic site was once a working dairy farm and has several impressive barns and a stone Quaker house dating back to 1820.

Holly Chapple

As the 2017 tour winds down, you don’t want to miss this chance to tour this amazing farm, enjoy a multi-course gourmet meal and hear from Holly and husband, Evan, about their passion for American Grown Flowers.

Save your seat!

Planning for the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour is underway. If you would like to have the tour stop at your farm, fill out an application today.

Beth VanSandt and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies.

The most recent stop for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour was Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska. This dinner marked the 22nd dinner in three years as the event continues to crisscross the country. It’s also a dinner that was a year in the making!

This Field to Vase Dinner spotlighted a burgeoning group of peony farmers who harvest glorious, massive peonies during the months of July and August, when there aren’t typically any available in the lower 48.

Despite the remote location, the dinner played to a sold-out crowd of 116 people, many who flew into Anchorage and made the drive to Homer. A number of people from Fairbanks and Anchorage also attended.

Kelly Shore of Petals By the Shore was the featured designer at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Homer, Alaska.

Certified American Grown flower farmers Beth VanSandt and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies, along with an incredible team of friends and family, prepared the farm and hosted an amazing event.

Kelly Shore of Petals By The Shore was the featured floral designers – you may remember her from the CCFC’s work on the the First Lady’s Luncheon earlier this year. Working with Beth, Kelly created a tablescape and design installations that honored the Alaskan fishing culture and the entrepreneurial spirit of Alaska’s peony farmers, while highlighting how all  growing momentum for American Grown Flowers.

Dave Thorne of Delicious Dave’s with Certified American Grown Administrator and dinner emcee Kasey Cronquist.

Chef Dave Thorne of Delicious Dave’s did an outstanding job with the evening’s salmon dinner, especially the king salmon caught the day before on the Kenai River.

Despite the distance to the location, the Alaskan Field to Vase Dinner exceeded expectations – proving that the appetite for American Grown Flowers is a healthy one!

Peter Moran

Society of American Florist CEO Peter Moran will retire at the end of the year after 33 years with the industry’s national trade association.

Kate Penn, currently chief content officer and editor-in-chief of SAF’s flagship publication Floral Management, will assume the role of CEO effective Nov. 1, after which Moran will help work through the transition through the end of the year.

Moran joined SAF in 1985 and became SAF’s executive vice president and CEO in 1991. During the next 26 years, he oversaw several significant changes at the association, including the implementation of a strategic plan that shifted SAF from a segment-driven organization to one guided by its key objectives of providing

Kate Penn

government advocacy, business guidance and consumer marketing. Moran has also led several efforts to put flowers in the consumer spotlight, including his oversight of SAF’s involvement in coordinating the floral décor for four presidential inaugurations.

Penn was hired by SAF as a writer and editor (1987) and then named editor-in-chief (1990) and publisher (1993), vice president of publishing and communications (1999) and, eventually, chief content and publishing officer (2014). Penn has been a key member of SAF’s senior management team and has participated in SAF board meetings since 1999.

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