Get A Glimpse At The Breathtaking Uses of California Grown Flowers

A record nine entries in the 2019 Rose Parade earned California Grown Certification – a distinction that recognizes entries decorated with over 85 percent of cut flowers and greens from the Golden State.

From left to right: Peter Samek, Trish Duggan, Janet Justus stand alongside Keith White, lead designer for all of the stunning FTD vehicles in the parade and Secretary Karen Ross.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


It was truly a sight to see on January 1!

And it was a full-circle moment for the event that was originally created to showcase the bounty of what’s growing in California when much of the country is snowbound.

Blooms and foliage from California flower farmers dazzled the crowd on float, equestrian, motorcycle and car entries.

Here’s a look at each of the California Grown parade entries and the flowers and foliage that adorned them.


The eight VIP parade vehicles from FTD, including vehicles for the grand marshal, president, hall of fame, mayor and four Honda vehicles, featured California Grown flowers and foliage such as eucalyptus, ruscus, sprengi, stock, roses, tulips and protea.


Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


CA Grown Certification Banners hang proudly behind the floral-covered fire engine.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


Cal Poly Universities

The float from Cal Poly Universities earned the Extraordinaire Award that recognizes the most extraordinary entry in the entire parade. The float, designed, constructed and decorated by students from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, included nearly 91 percent of cut flower and plant materials from California.

This year’s Cal Poly float was over 91 percent California Grown.


California’s flower farmers have had a longstanding tradition of donating their flowers to support for Cal Poly’s efforts in Pasadena.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


Bubbles stream from the saxophone. Cal Poly’s students take great pride in the animation efforts on their float each year.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


And the variety of blooms, all donated by California flower farmers, was truly amazing! Think chrysanthemums, roses, gerberas, iris, protea, orchids, kale, gladiolus, green trick, craspedia, birds of paradise, banksia, bells of Ireland, luecadendron, grevilia, aspidastra leaves, ruscus and succulents, along with dried marigold, strawflower, statice, delphinium and bromeliad, dracena and vriesea plants.

Blue Diamond Almonds

Blue Diamond participated in this year’s Tournament of Roses and committed to being California Grown.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


The entry from Blue Diamond showcased a deck of yellow, orange and pink California Grown roses, while the simulated bark on the almond trees featured on the float was created from real almond tree bark. Many of the entry’s other almond details were made of ground almond husks, bark and almond shells.


Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

Pasadena Police Department

Leading off the entire parade was the Tournament of Roses Pasadena Police Department’s motorcycle unit featuring white and red roses, freesias, sprengi, salal, Matsumoto asters, irises, callas and gladiolus. The flowers were arranged into a garland on the motorcycles’ handlebars and the back of each cycle featured a spectacular arrangement.

Sgt. Locklin with the Pasadena Police Department.


All California Grown Flowers were used to adorn the eight motorcycles used in the parade.

California Highway Patrol

The California Highway Patrol entry that featured officers on horseback put callas, gladiolus, spray roses, iris, matricaria, ruscus and freesia in shades of purple, yellow and white front and center.

Photo by Misty Welborn.

University of Washington

The University of Washington Huskies team float featured sperengi and purple irises in a nod to the team’s colors.

Photo by Anna Kalins.

Mini Therapy Horses

The entry from Mini Therapy Horses included spray roses, mrytle and genestra arranged as flower crowns on the tiny horses.

Photo by Misty Welborn.

Wells Fargo

The Wells Fargo stagecoach showcased gladiolus, callas, tulips, gerberas, roses, salal, eucalyptus, solidago, sunflowers and alstromeria in vivid shades of red, burgundy and yellow, accented with white blooms and green foliage. For this entry, flowers were used in arrangements atop the stagecoach, in an enormous wreath and to create a WF monogram.

Photo by Misty Welborn.

Blue Shadows Mounted Drill Team

Finally, the Blue Shadows Mounted Drill Team, another equestrian entry, adorned the horses’ saddles with red roses, veronica and baby eucalyptus.


Photo by Misty Welborn.


All in all, it was a breathtaking display of California’s flower bounty!

Debi Lilly florals are found throughout Albertsons companies floral departments.

Albertsons recently added the BloomCheck certification program to its list of approved sustainability certification programs used to certify the plants, flowers and greens sold through their Debi Lilly line of floral products. BloomCheck provides retailers and their customers with a third-party certification that assures that farms are not only following the high standards involved with agriculture production in the United States, but are also committed to continuous improvements in best practices involved with growing flowers and plants.

“We’re pleased to provide Albertsons and Albertsons customers with a sustainability certification program for our domestic producers,” shared Kasey Cronquist, administrator for BloomCheck. “BloomCheck certification is a rigorous set of standards designed to help set our farms apart and accurately credit them on what it takes to produce flowers sustainability here in the United States.”

Farms that complete the BloomCheck certification have undergone a complete review of their production practices with an “on-farm” auditor from Protected Harvest. Protected Harvest is a third-party nonprofit organization responsible for accrediting BloomCheck’s standards and providing the third-party auditors involved with the verification of our farms’ practices.


The ‘Wins’ Really Stacked Up!

California Grown Flowers were front and center at the 2019 Rose Parade, earning recognition in many, many ways!

For starters, Cal Poly Universities’ Certified California Grown float – featuring over 91 percent of flowers from the Golden State – earned the Extraordinaire Award, the award that recognizes the most extraordinary entry in the entire parade!


With over 17,000 stems of California Grown Flowers, Cal Poly Universities’ float was once again an award winning success at this year’s Tournament of Roses, taking home the Extraordinaire Award for the most extraordinary float.  Photo by Tom Zasadzinski of Cal Poly Pomona


The 17,000 flowers that covered the award-winning float were donated by California flower farmers. In fact, over five years, California farmers have donated nearly $100,000 in flowers to the Cal Poly Rose Parade team.

For the past eight years, the California Cut Flower Commission has been working diligently to help bring the tradition of celebrating California Grown Flowers back to the Rose Parade.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


This year also set the record for the most parade entries to earn California Grown Certification. The certification recognizes entries decorated with more than 85 percent of cut flowers and greens from the Golden State. A total of nine entries were certified, including entries from:

  • Cal Poly Universities
  • Blue Diamond Almonds
  • FTD
  • University of Washington Team Float
  • City of Pasadena Police Department Motorcycles
  • Therapy Ponies
  • Wells Fargo
  • California Highway Patrol
  • Blue Shadow Equestrian Unit


CDFA Secretary Karen Ross with Tina Cao of Blue Diamond Almonds.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


This year Well Fargo’s equestrian parade entry was Certified California Grown.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


As word spreads, expect to see even more California Grown Certified entries next year!


Farm Ambassadors helped to hand out over 18,000 California Grown stickers to parade goers who spent time to see the floats being built prior to the parade.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


An amazing 28 farm ambassador volunteers helped engage the crowds of people who attend “deco week.” The ambassadors handed out over 18,000 CA Grown stickers to folks that came by to see the Cal Poly float being built and learn about how these massive floats come together.

These hardworking ambassadors touched thousands of people with stories and information about flower farming in California.

In another first, the California Cut Flower Commission recognized Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, with its first ever Public Service Award during a special reception Dec. 31 in Pasadena as part of festivities leading up to the 2019 Rose Parade.

The CCFC’s Public Service Award given to CDFA Secretary Karen Ross included a crystal vase and beautiful California Grown Flowers.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


Secretary Karen Ross received the first ever Public Service Award presented by the CCFC.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


For the past seven years, Ross has graciously bestowed California Grown Certification on Rose Parade entries. She’s also helped advance the California Grown program, including working on the development of a strategic plan and assisting with funding.

There’s no denying it. The Rose Parade is a premier opportunity to showcase the beauty and bounty from California’s flower farmers!

Designer Debi Lilly is ‘Floral Chef’ at Iconic Event


Debi Lilly served as this year’s Floral Chef for the Farm to Fork Dinner event on the bridge in Sacramento.

The annual Tower Bridge Dinner is the grand finale for Sacramento, California’s annual Farm-to-Fork Celebration. This year the event took on a floral focus with the addition of an American Grown Flowers tablescape created by Debi Lilly A Perfect Event.

Lilly, an event planner, floral designer and two-time American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour designer, served as the “floral chef” for the popular event where 800 diners gather for a multi-course meal at table that covers the length of the Tower Bridge.

Debi Lilly with Crystal Hedgpeth, Floral Manager for NorCal Safeway.

She used hundreds of flowers of plants from farmers throughout California to create a multi-level tablescape that emanated fall sunshine and happiness. Think 440 vases of sunflowers. 440 vases of gerbera. 990 feet of bay leaf garland. 440 jack ‘o little pumpkins, 440 loose sunflower blooms, 440 succulents.

American Grown Flowers took center table during this year’s Farm to Fork event in Sacramento.

And in a nod to a popular feature at all American Grown Field to Vase Dinners, the event also include two boutonniere bars where guests crafted bouts and posy bouquets using California Grown Flowers.

“Everyone loved it and the bar was a dozen people deep the entire cocktail hour,” Lilly shared.

Throughout the Farm-to-Fork weekend, Lilly also hosted demonstrations on flower design trends and designed two trend tables that were fully dressed with linen, crystal, dishes, dozens of vases of American Grown Flowers and, of course, the Certified American Grown Debi Lilly bouquet.

She also recognized the farms that had contributed flowers to the event, gave a shout out to the flower farmers in attendance and discussed the importance of origin when it comes to selecting fresh blooms.

“Where flowers come from is as important as where food comes from. The origin of our food has been a focus for years, and now it’s the big story for florals, too. A lot of consumers aren’t aware that many blooms are grown thousands of miles away in other countries, so helping share the American Grown Flower movement and the stories of the farm families is an incredible opportunity,” Lilly explains.

“For the last four years, we’ve been taking our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour around the country to highlight that the homegrown movement isn’t just about food,” shares Kasey Cronquist, CEO and ambassador for Certified American Grown. It’s also about the flowers at the center of the table being as important as the food on your plate when it comes to sustainability, freshness and beauty. It was wonderful to see Safeway and Debi Lilly take that important floral message to this iconic food event in Sacrament, the nation’s Farm to Fork Capital.”

Ballots Due Oct. 9

If you haven’t already submitted your ballot for the 2018 CCFC Election, it’s not too late.

District ballots were sent in September to farms in those districts.

This year’s candidates for Districts 2 and 4 are:

District 2

Benno Dobbe, Holland America Flowers

District 4

Michael A. Mellano, Ph.D., Mellano & Co.

Ballots must be sent to CDFA, post-marked by Oct. 9, 2018, so don’t delay.

Contact CCFC’s Andrea Philpot with questions at


Assemblywoman Monique Limón takes the trophy from California Cut Flower Commission CEO and Ambassador Kasey Cronquist, winning this year’s Floral Design Challenge. Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

Battling it out with her fellow members in California’s State Assembly, Assemblymember Monique Limón showed off her floral design prowess, winning this year’s Floral Design Challenge hosted by the California Cut Flower Commission.

Members of California’s state assembly participated in the annual Floral Design Challenge hosted by the California Cut Flower Commission. Pictured left to right; Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, Assemblymember Jim Cooper, Assemblymember Monique Limon and Assemblymember Anna Caberello.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

First held in 2016, the friendly design competition between legislators was created to help raise awareness for June as “California Grown Flowers Month,” and the value California’s flower-farming families bring to their communities and the economy.

[Read: “State Senators, Farmers Gather on Senate Floor For ‘California Grown Flowers Month’ Declaration”]

Contestants had just five minutes to create their designs and members of the audience voted for their favorites by placing a marble in the jar after designs were complete.

Guests used marbles to vote for their favorite floral design.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

This year’s competition was held in conjunction with the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, which hosted over 150 people for a farm-to-fork style dinner on the lawn of the state Capitol.

Assembly members had five minutes to complete their designs prior to judging.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

“I was prepared,” shared Limón, “Representing the largest flower-farming region in the United States, I was careful to listen to my constituents on what it would take to win.”

Assemblymember Jim Cooper, the previous floral design champion, with this year’s winner, Assemblymember Monique Limón.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

As the winner, Limón took home the coveted crystal vase. The vase will be displayed in Limón’s office and filled each month with flowers representing the Golden State.

The winner of the last Floral Design Challenge was Assemblymember Cooper.

This year’s contestants show off their designs at the end of the competition.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.


California flower farmers join with this year’s contestants after this year’s competition.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.
California’s flower farmers celebrating the declaration of California Grown Flowers Month on the steps of the state’s capitol.

On June 11, the California Senate will officially declared June “California Grown Flowers Month.” The resolution is being put forth by Sen. Mike McGuire who represents the state’s 2nd Senate District.

The resolution notes that the designation is designed “to recognize and honor the men and women of the California grown flower industry for their dedication and productivity,” and describes that statewide, flowers are grown across 701 million square feet, spanning the distance from San Diego through the Inland Empire to Carpinteria and north all the way to the Oregon border.

The resolution also recognizes the flower industry’s impact on the state’s economy: creating 145,665 jobs, generating $12.2 billion in business activity and creating $1.1 billion in additional tax


The California Cut Flower Commission will be on the Senate floor with California Grown Flowers on June 11 for the formal presentation of the resolution declaring June as “California Grown Flowers Month.”

California Grown’s mission is to connect Californians with the people who grow and produce their food. Soon, they’ll be doing so via a new marketing campaign that’s described as a love letter to California.

The project will celebrate California agriculture through a digital media effort that includes live action and animated videos, and social media, among other approaches. The goal is to pay homage to the folks that produce all of the state’s crops in a lighthearted and fun way, explains Nick Matteis, executive director for the Buy California Marketing Agreement.

“We’ve taken the story of California agriculture to another level to send a love letter from our California producers and their fine products through a digital media effort we think will be a fabulous story to share with our audience,” Matteis says. “We’ll approach it from the idea that these crops are a gift from our farmers and farm workers for all to enjoy, and we’ll connect to where the product starts and where it ends up.”

That will be achieved with video and images provided by ag organizations – including Certified American Grown and the California Cut Flower Commission – that will show the growing process from planting to growing season to harvest to distribution.

“We’re excited about that fact that this campaign is a love letter from our farmers to the folks that enjoy the products. It’s a positive vibe on so many different levels,” Matteis says.

Be sure to watch for glimpses of amazing California Grown Flowers when the campaign launches!

CalPoly’s Rose Parade Float was Certified California Grown on December 31 and received the Past President award from the Tournament of Roses for most outstanding innovation in the use of floral and non-floral materials on January 1.

PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 1, 2018 — The Certified California Grown 2018 Rose Parade® entry from Cal Poly Universities has earned the Past President’s Trophy, an award that recognizes outstanding innovation in the use of floral and non-floral materials. The float, designed, constructed and decorated by students from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, included nearly 97 percent of cut flower and greens from California.

The float earned California Grown Certification at a ceremony Dec. 31 led by California Secretary of the Department of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross. Certified floats must be decorated with more than (more…)

Get a Sense of What Farmers Experienced

The threat to California’s flower farms from several Southern California wildfires is almost over. (Insert collective sigh of relief here). That said, flower farmers and others in the ag community can tell you it was an experience like no other – and something they hope to never experience again.

While fire officials are now focused on “mop up” activities in the Carpinteria area, the Thomas Fire appears to have left flower farms largely unscathed. Mandatory evacuation orders have made accessing farms and the daily harvesting flowers challenging, but those evacuation orders are anticipated to (more…)


December 7, 2017

Nation’s Flower Basket Threatened by California’s Thomas Fire

CCFC Creates Interactive Map to Track Fires Near Flower Farms  

The nation’s flower basket is being threatened by the Thomas Fire in Southern California, a fire that has already consumed 96,000 acres and is rapidly expanding due to winds and dry conditions.

The fire is burning close to nearly two dozen flower farms in the Carpinteria Valley, known as “the flower basket of the United States.” Smaller fires have also been reported near flower farms in San Diego and Lompoc.

To help track the fires and their potential impact on flower farms, the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) has created an interactive online map that shows which of the state’s flower farms are near fire locations. View the map, which is being regularly updated, at

To add to the conversation and provide additional updates, several Southern California flower farmers will be using Facebook Live to provide updates and video of the fires.

“The map shows the fires statewide and will help answer the question we’re currently hearing a lot, like ‘How are these farms that I’ve bought my flowers for decades from doing?’” said Kasey Cronquist, CCFC CEO and ambassador.

The raging Thomas Fire, which is now edging closer to Ojai and Carpinteria on two fronts and forced the closure of Highway 101  and Highway 150 for hours Thursday as flames burned on both sides of the freeway, started Monday night in Santa Paula and quickly tore through Ventura toward the Pacific Ocean.

The wildfire has 5 percent containment and is burning its way into the Los Padres National Forest.

Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said if the wind continues, and rain doesn’t touch the region, the Thomas fire could continue for a few more weeks.

Visit and follow the California Cut Flower Commission on social media for ongoing updates.

December 8: Facebook Live Update withCalifornia Flower Farmers David Van Wingerden of Westland Orchid in Carpinteria, CA and Bruce Brady of Mellano & Co. in Santa Ana, CA. 

powered by crowdcast

December 7: Fire Update with California Flower Farmers Ivan Van Wingerden of Everbloom and David Van Wingerden of Westland Orchid in Carpinteria, CA. 

powered by crowdcast

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About the California Cut Flower Commission

The California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) unites the state’s approximately 225 flower farmers to advance California’s $320 million flower industry. In addition to providing cooperative marketing opportunities and administering advocacy efforts, the commission has positioned the California Grown brand as a highly recognizable, consumer-facing brand to drive sales of the state’s fresh flowers and foliage. Learn more at

Media Contact:

Kasey Cronquist

CEO & Ambassador


Out of an abundance of caution, the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) announced that it was suspending its annual year end meetings scheduled for December 7-8 in Santa Barbara due to the Thomas Fire burning just south of Carpinteria.

In a letter to California’s flower farmers, CCFC CEO & Ambassador Kasey Cronquist wrote, “The uncertainty of the fire’s path, potential road closures and the need for hotel rooms for evacuees were all factors that were considered in making this decision.”

The Thomas Fire continues to grow and remains at 0% containment with high winds expected to continue through Friday.

“Currently, none of our Santa Barbara or Ventura County flower farmers are facing any immediate threat to their farms or flower production,” Cronquist explained. “However, mandatory evacuations have affected many employees, friends and family members, including CCFC’s Anna Kalins whose family was evacuated from their home in Ventura on Monday night and has not been able to return.”

Click to view map online.

Current information on the Thomas Fire can be found at and a map outlining the fire’s path can also be found at

Our deepest thanks and appreciation go out to all of the firefighters and first responders who are doing their best to protect people and property while battling these fires, and our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected and displaced by the wildfires in Southern California.

CCFC’s Annual Meetings and Awards Dinner will be rescheduled.

The CCFC’s official announcement to farms can be found here.

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.

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.”

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.

Dramm & Echter

Encinitas, California

There are a handful of conditions that flowers need to grow well. Sun. Water. The proper temperature. Humidity. And carbon dioxide.

Get these things right and flower productivity really takes off.

Flower farmer Bob Echter of Dramm & Echter is investing in ensuring flower-growing conditions are just right for the flowers and greens he grows. This approach nets increased productivity to meet the demand from customers who can’t get enough of his (more…)

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.

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers

Fallbrook, California

When Diana Roy looks out across the steep, brush-covered hillside Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers purchased a few years ago, she sees a vast world of opportunity.

That’s why Roy, business manager for Resendiz Brothers, is excited to share the company’s plans to expand its production by 43 acres over the next three years. And the farm won’t just grow in size, it will also expand into (more…)


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.

Green Valley Floral

Salinas, California

Green Valley Floral is so confident in the California cut flower market that it has doubled down on two innovative expansion efforts. The firm has formalized its rose propagation program and has broadened its brokered product offerings – two moves that demonstrate strong demand for the bounty of California Grown Flowers.

A rose propagation program that Green Valley started two years ago as a trial has become official, says Janet Louie, sales manager and owner. In fact, Green Valley Floral has doubled the space dedicated to propagation and can now grow enough plants replace the 400,000 square feet of rose plants it grows as the plants meet their lifespan (roses need replacing every five to seven years).

In addition to being able to replace plants, the propagation venture allows Green Valley Floral to expand into new rose varieties. Louie says they are transitioning from hybrid tea roses to garden-style single stem and spray versions to meet demand.

“We specialize in event work and garden-style roses are wildly popular as far as color, shape and scent,” Louie explains.

Janet and Curtis Louie of Green Valley Floral. Janet Louie serves as a Commissioner for the California Cut Flower Commission in District 2. Green Valley is a Certified American Grown Flower Farm.

On a second expansion front, Green Valley Floral – growers of hydroponic roses, gerberas and lilies – is also broadening the flower and foliage varieties it offers customers by increasing the products it purchases from local farmers.

Beautiful double lilies grown in California by Green Valley Floral.

Louie estimates she’s purchasing product from as many as 20 nearby small farms, allowing Green Valley Floral to sell California grown delphinium, gardenias, stephanotis, dahlias, dusty miller, lavender, eucalyptus, geranium leaves and ming fern, to name just a few.

On any given day, Louie can offer customers 30 to 50 additional flower and foliage products, helping surrounding flower farmers along the way.

She says uncovering and bringing additional original products to market is exciting and helps meet her customers’ appetite for sustainable American Grown Flowers that are grown within a few miles of her farm.

The bottom line – Louie’s optimistic about flower farming and customer demand for locally sourced flowers.

“If you’re going to grow the best flowers on Earth, this is the place to be. Sure, there are changes in the ag community in terms of labor and energy for example, but the demand remains. I can feel it. Customers call us more often than I call them,”  Louie says.


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 Breeze Farms

Carpinteria, California

Tucked between the coastal mountains and the Pacific Ocean, June Van Wingerden can look out almost any window and see rows of greenhouses spilling over with gerbera daisies.

She can’t wait to add more.

“We’re in the process of getting permits to build 6 acres of greenhouse to grow lilies in,” says the owner of Ocean Breeze Farms.“Right now, it’s just dragging.”

You can’t have too many greenhouses in Carpinteria. The area, dubbed California’s “flower basket,”is known for supplying half the state’s cut flowers. At one point, as many as 90 percent of gerbera daisies in the United States were germinated in one of the extended Van Wingerden family’s nurseries.

“Demand is great. Almost every greenhouse is growing gerberas in Carpinteria,” she says. “They’re kind of known as the California flower because they’re hard to ship, so they don’t travel as well from South America.”

Rene VanWingerden giving a tour during the annual Carpinteria Greenhouse Open House.

With around 40 acres of greenhouses, June and Rene Van Wingerden work hard to keep up their gerbera numbers while also expanding their other varieties. In addition to buying another 4-acre gerbera nursery with Rene’s brother, they’re looking forward to adding new high-end greenhouses that will help them grow oriental lilies more efficiently.

“The new greenhouses are all hydroponic so they use less water,” June says. “You have better control of insects because when it’s closed, it’s really closed. And there’s a lot less upkeep on a metal greenhouse than a wood greenhouse.”

June VanWingerden is a Commissioner for District 3 and Vice Chair of the California Cut Flower Commission.

Efficiency is a priority at Ocean Breeze. By growing all of their gerbera daisies hydroponically, they’re able to collect, sterilize and reuse their water three times. These types of efficient growing practices, combined with a healthy local groundwater supply and mild coastal weather, have helped shelter Carpinteria farmers from the effects of the drought.

“Everybody’s become more efficient at growing,” she says. “For example, with gerberas, you can grow minis instead of the regular size and you can grow a lot more of them in the same area.”

For the Van Wingerdens, growing flowers isn’t just a business. It’s a family tradition that stems from centuries growing fruits and vegetables in Holland. In the 1960s, Rene’s dad and uncles moved their families to Carpinteria where they started growing carnations, freesias and chrysanthemums. After working in his father’s business for several years, Rene started his own farm – named Ocean Breeze for the pleasant climate that makes the area ideal for flower farming.

“We’re kind of blessed here. It’s a real farming community with a small beach town to go with it,” June says. “It’s just the perfect place.”

Learn more about Ocean Breeze Farms.

June and Rene VanWingerden of Ocean Breeze Farms.

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.

Joseph & Sons

Santa Paula, CA

Tony Ortiz once asked his dad why he chose to grow flowers.

“He just said it’s something he was really good at,” says the operations manager for Joseph & Sons, the flower farm his father founded 13 years ago. “Harvesting flowers wasn’t anything like growing lemons or avocados or strawberries, and he was definitely good at it.”

For himself, Ortiz can’t imagine a future without acres of larkspur and stock stretching before him. That’s why he’s hungry to add more fields to the family business, which already encompasses more than 400 acres of field flowers spread between Santa Paula, Lompoc and Imperial Valley. He recently had his eye on a 20-acre property, and he’s on the lookout for other likely prospects.

“We’re definitely interested in any agricultural land that’s available to invest in for the future,” he says. “Adding more acreage is something that’s going to be part of my dad’s legacy. When you add more acreage you add more water rights, different climates and the possibility of building more hoop houses. It’s very important for my family to invest in land.”

Flowers are in his blood. His childhood is peppered with memories of riding the tractor with his brother, driving the water truck with his dad for the first time, and harvesting blooms with his mom.

“I get a sense of peace in the flower fields,” he says. “There are no car horns, no one revving up their engine. It’s very serene to look at a hoop house that’s ready for harvest, full of pink snapdragons or blue waltz.”

Joseph & Sons grows about 15 different flower varieties throughout the year, with stock and larkspur available year-round. The farm recently added dianthus to its rotation and is working on boosting production through increased efficiency as well as expansion.

Installing solar panels to power the company’s warehouse, coolers and offices was a big step toward making the business more sustainable—but it’s just one part of his plan to shore up the family farm for the future.

“We’re adding new varieties and new colors as they become available,” he says. “We’re looking at seeds that are more drought-resistant and resistant to inclement weather. We’re also looking into investing in machinery to increase production.”

He doesn’t see the demand for California flowers slowing down anytime soon.

“The industry is very healthy,” he says. “We definitely outshine a lot of the competition. If given the choice between local and imported, most people prefer locally grown flowers.”

Jose Ortiz Sr. founded Joseph & Sons.

As his dad prepares to celebrate his 76th birthday, the family is also working on a transition plan to help the farm change hands into the next generation of ownership. With three generations currently working in the business, including two of his siblings and one nephew, “we’re laying down a very strong foundation for the future,” he says.

Whatever the future may bring, he’s certain it will involve more fields and hoop houses bursting with colorful blooms.

“I’ve always known about the importance of flowers,” he says. “They’re food for the soul.”

Learn more about Joseph & Sons.

Joseph & Sons is a family business, continuing to grow through the next generation.
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