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.