If you’re reading this, you likely already agree that origin matters. Where the flowers and greens consumers’ purchase come from and how they were grown matters.
Homegrown flowers matter. And the origin of flowers has become an important call to action in the floral industry.
It’s that thinking that led us to change the name (and format) of our newsletter from Field Notes to Origin Matters, starting now. And the new publication will also arrive in your inbox weekly, instead of monthly. Because we’ve got so much news, so frequently, that it can’t wait 30 days!
You need to read about what’s happening related to the origin of flowers more often and in a more accessible format. So that’s what we’ll be providing every week!
After all, Field Notes was originally created to share news specific to California, but with the growing success of Certified American Grown and BloomCheck, and the demand for homegrown blooms increasing, a weekly Origin Matters newsletter will let us capture all of those news-making items that help people find what they’re really looking for in the floral industry today.
It will open the door to more storytelling. More thought-provoking ideas. More timely news.
Because origin really does matter, and we can’t wait to share how many ways and places that’s being proven!
While roses (especially red) have long been a go-to for Valentine’s Day, California rose farmers are supplying consumers and florists with roses in an assortment of varieties and colors 365 days a year.
After all, today’s on-trend floral designs feature a fluid, airy garden look in a range of hues, from the brightest yellow to the softest pink to the Pantone color of the year, Living Coral.
Enter California spray roses and other design-friendly varieties from California’s rose farmers.
“What we’re seeing today is farmers growing the kinds of roses and other beautiful flowers that consumers want every day, rather than just growing roses for a single holiday,” explains Kasey Cronquist, CEO and ambassador for the California Cut Flower Commission and administrator for Certified American Grown. “California’s rose farmers and the unique varieties they grow are critical to florists nationwide, all year long.”
Who are your California rose farmers? They include California Pajarosa Floral, Menagerie Flowers, Neve Bros., Neve Roses II, Eufloria Flowers, Myriad Flowers, Rose Story Farm, Green Valley Floral and Dramm & Echter.
Paul Furman, owner of California Pajarosa Floral in Watsonville, California, explains that his company has found a niche in the marketplace “for those who want to express love on a daily and weekly basis,” beyond red roses on Valentine’s Day.
“As a rose farm in California, we’re unable to compete on price levels with foreign import competition, especially at the peak demand holidays. We’ve made up for it in our quality, consistency and freshness that can beautify customers’ lives 365 days a year,” Furman says. “There are only a handful of rose growers left in the United States as 99 percent of roses sold domestically are now imported from places like Colombia, however, we’re seeing a growing trend toward domestic roses, specifically those that can be guaranteed as Certified American Grown roses.”
Furman notes that U.S. flower farmers are typically running small family farms that are passionate about providing high-quality, sustainably grown flowers all year long.
“Growing roses and other cut flowers that cater to everyday needs, weddings, special events and any other function that requires quality and freshness first is our goal. We’re a small sustainable farm that employs 50 local families in California and our primary focus is to help our community thrive.”
Bob Echter, CEO of Dramm & Echter in Encinitas, California, concurs that the U.S. market for roses has changed and is less holiday-focused.
“The good thing is that it’s gotten to be a year-round market. Sure, there are varieties and colors that people prefer, but the popular garden look gives us a year-round business, especially with retailers or small chains that do design work. And the California Grown label is definitely an advantage in selling the product.”
“Of course, Valentine’s Day will continue to be an important holiday to our California flower farms,” says Cronquist. “However, with imports flying 35 dedicated cargo planes a day into the port of Miami right now, we look forward to competing for the hearts and dollars of consumers the other 364 days a year.”
Some California flower farms are indeed reporting record-breaking sales in advance of Valentine’s Day.
“While we aren’t rose growers, we’re experiencing the best February we’ve ever had as a company,” says Dan Vordale, president of Ocean View Flowers in Lompoc, California. “The market for California Grown flowers is strong and we’re meeting customers’ needs for flower-giving holidays and every day.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
University of Washington
The University of Washington Huskies team float featured sperengi and purple irises in a nod to the team’s colors.
Mini Therapy Horses
The entry from Mini Therapy Horses included spray roses, mrytle and genestra arranged as flower crowns on the tiny horses.
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.
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.
All in all, it was a breathtaking display of California’s flower bounty!
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.
CCFC Recognizes Her Dedication to California’s Flower Farmers
The California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) presented 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 ceremony and reception honoring Ross followed the recognition of a record-setting nine Rose Parade entries that earned California Grown Certification.
For the past seven years, Ross has graciously bestowed California Grown Certification on Rose Parade entries that feature 85 percent or more flowers from the Golden State.
In addition to her incredible efforts leading up to the parade, Ross has also helped advance the California Grown program, including working on the development of a strategic plan and assisting with funding for the program to the tune of nearly $1 million.
“Sec. Ross has generously offered her time and expertise to advancing the CA Grown program and has been a longtime friend to California’s flower farmers,” said Kasey Cronquist, CCFC CEO & Ambassador. “We are grateful for all of her efforts to bring attention to California Grown Flowers and the hard work of our state’s farmers.”
Just yesterday, Gov. Gavin Newsom reappointed Sec. Ross to continue serving as Secretary of California’s Department of Food & Agriculture — which is great news for California’s flower farmers.
Secretary Ross’ Support In Pasadena Over the Years
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!
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.
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
- University of Washington Team Float
- City of Pasadena Police Department Motorcycles
- Therapy Ponies
- Wells Fargo
- California Highway Patrol
- Blue Shadow Equestrian Unit
As word spreads, expect to see even more California Grown Certified entries next year!
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.
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!
Farai Madziva, vice president of sales and chief of staff for Kitayama Brothers, has joined the California Cut Flowers Commission’s (CCFC) Promotion’s Committee.
Before joining Kitayama Brothers, Madziva was CEO and director at The New Forests Company in East Africa. Prior to that he spent 16 years in the flower business in Kenya and Holland as a GM for Harvest Flowers Ltd. Previously he worked for Langmead Farms in England as a production manager for salad crops.
Madziva holds an MBA from the Royal Agricultural University in the United Kingdom, a bachelor’s in agriculture and land management, and a certificate in marketing implementation mix from the IE Business School.
He started his floral career as a rose grower and graduated to operations management, post-harvest technologies, value chain management, sales and business development.
Other members of the CCFC’s promotion committee include:
Chair, Bruce Brady, Mellano & Company
Felicia Alvarez, Menagerie Farm & Flower
Erin Caird, Por La Mar Nursery
Linda Giovannozzi, B Fresh Floral
Tom Lemus, Farmers West Flowers & Bouquets
Chad Nelson, Eufloria
Bill Prescott, Sun Valley Floral Farms
Diana Roy, Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers
Ivor Van Wingerden, Ocean Breeze Farms
Jana Wilcox, Ocean View Flowers
We’re excited about the insights, perspectives and ideas Madziva will bring to the committee’s efforts to promote California and American Grown Flowers.
PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 1, 2019 — The Certified California Grown 2019 Rose Parade® entry from Cal Poly Universities has earned the Extraordinaire Award that recognizes the most extraordinary entry in the parade, including those longer than 55 feet. 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.
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 85 percent of cut flowers and greens from the Golden State.
This is the eighth year the Cal Poly float has earned California Grown certification.
The 2019 Cal Poly float was titled “Far Out Frequencies” and featured two giant astronauts rocking out with a group of green aliens. At the front of the float was Morgan, a 12-foot astronaut strumming an electric guitar, and his new alien friend “Ketchup,” who played air guitar. The space concert also included Astronaut Sally on tambourine, two aliens on accordion and Tuba Head, a little alien whose head is stuck inside the instrument.
The flowers that covered the award-winning float were donated by California flower farmers and included 7,000 roses, 7,200 gerbera daisies, 3,200 irises and thousands of mums. Students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo grew marigolds for the float, while Cal Poly Pomona students grew strawflower and statice, all of which was dried for use on the float. This year students explored a new use for CA Grown flowers – drying light and dark blue delphinium for the first time.
The Cal Poly Rose Float, the only student-built entry in the parade, has been invited to participate for 71 consecutive years. Over the years, the Cal Poly float has earned 57 awards, but is taking home the Extraordinaire Award for the first time.
“We’re thrilled that the hard work by Cal Poly students was recognized with this prestigious award,” said Kasey Cronquist, CEO and Ambassador for the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC). “The float was a spectacular display of the variety of flowers California farmers grow every day right here in the Golden State.”
The Tournament of Roses Parade® is a New Year’s tradition where nearly a million visitors line Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena to view the beautiful floats first hand, and millions more watch from their homes across the country. The California floral industry has a $12.2 billion annual impact on the state’s economy. California’s flower farmers represent over 4,500 jobs and contribute $1.7 million to California’s economy every day.
CA GROWN Certification Ceremony
Kicks Off Rose Parade Festivities
The four parade entries being decorated at Rosemont Pavilion will receive their official
The eight Tournament of Roses Police Department motorcycles are expected to feature red and white roses and a variety of other California Grown flowers and foliage.
The float from California State Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo and California State Polytechnic University at Pomona is titled “Far Out Frequencies” and will feature two giant astronauts who are rocking out with a group of green aliens.
More than 91 percent of the float will be covered in California Grown flowers that were donated by many of the state’s flower farmers. Students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo grew marigolds for the float, while Cal Poly Pomona students grew strawflower and statice, all of which was dried for use on the float. This year students explored a new use for CA Grown flowers – drying light and dark blue delphinium for the first time.
The Cal Poly Rose Float, the only student-built entry in the parade, has been invited to participate for 71 consecutive years. The students’ commitment to creating the entry is a testament to the Cal Poly “learn by doing” philosophy.
Cal Poly Universities’ 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade float is innovative on many fronts. Not only will it be Certified CA Grown for the eighth year in a row, some of the flowers to be featured on the float are student-grown, some are grown specifically for the float by California flower farmers, and the entire effort is supported by the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC).
The Cal Poly float is a consistent award-winner, having earned the Past President’s Trophy for its 2018 entry that featured 97 percent California Grown flowers.
For the 2019 float, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students are growing marigolds and Cal Poly Pomona students are growing strawflower and statice from seeds provided by Ball Horticultural. The mums for the float are being grown by Topstar Floral, and some of the kale to be featured is being grown by Ocean Breeze Farms.
These efforts, along with thousands of stems donated to the effort by California flowers farms, ensure that the float earns Certified California Grown status, meaning that at least 85 percent of the flowers and greens on the float are from the Golden State.
Cal Poly Pomona student Summer Blanco, a deco chair for the float, recently shared that students were harvesting the statice and marigold crops so that they can be dried for float use.
“Our students learned so much about growing crops on campus like irrigation, pests and pest control, weed and weed control, flower processing and much more,” Blanco shared.
The students have also begun drying CA Grown delphinium in an effort to add even more California materials to their float.
The goal: getting as close as possible to a 100 percent California Grown Rose Parade entry!
Flower farmers who would like to help students meet this incredible goal can reach out CCFC’s Anna Kalins at email@example.com to donate flowers. Also needed – Rose Parade ambassadors to volunteer throughout the week and on parade day.
This Year’s Visit Is Critical!
Year after year, we’re reminded of the importance of the face-to-face meetings we have during the annual CCFC fly-in to Washington, D.C.
Our past efforts have netted the reinstatement of the national USDA survey of flower farms, inroads on bringing American Grown Flowers to the White House, expansion of the Cut Flower Caucus and strong relationships with policymakers.
These things happen because we’re there. Flower farmers are seen and heard. They share their stories. They give policymakers a name and face to remember.
It’s serious business. And it works.
Which is why we’re asking flower farmers to join us February 26-28, 2019, for our upcoming fly-in.
This is your opportunity to advocate for the work you do and its impact on the economy. It’s your chance to explain how policies from D.C. affect real farmers and their families. And it’s your opening to help make something big happen for flower farmers – like it did with the reinstatement of the farm survey.
The Commercial Floriculture survey, arriving in your mailbox very soon, had not been conducted for the past two years due to budgetary constraints at USDA’s NASS program. But after leaders from CCFC and a team of farmers from Certified American Grown program flew to Washington, D.C., and met with USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Administrator Hubert Hammer and members of the U.S. Senate, the report was reinstated.
We were heard. And there are other big issues we need to lend our collective voices to.
Let us know you’d like to join the delegation and register here!
If you have any questions, email CCFC’s Andrea Philpot at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And be sure to participate in the Commercial Floriculture Survey, being mailed to farms on Dec. 14.
NASS will be collecting data from growers by mail, phone, online and through personal interviews. Enumerators from NASS will be visiting farms and calling farmers to help complete the survey from Dec. 31 through Feb. 8.
Your participation provides our farms and the larger industry with data that shows just how valuable our farms and flowers are to California and to the economy.
Just one more way to be heard.
College Students Become Flower Farmers For Float Creation
Students from Cal Poly Universities recently harvested marigolds, strawflower and statice grown from seeds donated by Ball Horticultural. After being dried, the flower material will adorn Cal Poly’s 2019 float entry in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day.
And the float is sure to get some attention! After all, the Cal Poly float is a consistent award-winner, having earned the Past President’s Trophy for its 2018 entry that featured 97 percent California Grown flowers. The trophy is typically won by professionally build floats and recognizes the best use of floral and non-floral elements.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students used Ball seeds to grow the needed marigolds, while Cal Poly Pomona students grew the strawflower and statice.
In addition to the student’s effort, Ball also donated kale plugs to Ocean Breeze Farms to help provide the kale needed for this year’s float design.
“It takes teamwork to make all of this work,” explains Kasey Cronquist, CEO & Ambassador of the California Cut Flower Commission. “We weren’t producing the kale that the students were looking for, but Ball was willing to provide the plugs and Ocean Breeze is providing the space for production, and together we were able to get this all in the ground in time for the students to use for their Rose Parade float.”
Cal Poly Pomona student Summer Blanco, a deco chair for the float, recently shared that the flowers were being harvested and prepared for drying – along with a note of thanks for Ball’s donation.
“Our students learned so much about growing crops on campus like irrigation, pests and pest control, weed and weed control, flower processing and much more,” Blanco shared.
When complete, the Cal Poly Universities float will be recognized as one of only a few parade entries certified as “California Grown.” This certification recognizes those parade entries that can assure at least 85 percent of the flowers and greens on the float are from the Golden State.
Together, Ball and the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) are working with the students will help them achieve another award-winning float, while at the same time inspiring the next generation of flower farmers.
Participate In The Upcoming NASS Survey
The national USDA survey of flower farms that provides the industry with vital information about production and trends, and gauges its economic impact, will be conducted again this year beginning in December.
The survey was not conducted for the last two years due to budgetary constraints at USDA’s NASS program. Leaders from the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) and a team of farmers from Certified American Grown program flew to Washington, D.C., and met with USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Administrator Hubert Hammer [article link: http://www.americangrownflowers.org/americas-flower-farmers-must-continue-to-lobby-congress/] and members of the U.S. Senate earlier this year to encourage the administration and Congress to reinstate this important annual report.
“This report provides our farms and our industry with a baseline of data that highlights just how valuable our farms and flowers are to their state and the economy,” explained Kasey Cronquist, CEO & ambassador of CCFC and administrator of Certified American Grown. “The successful effort to reinstate this report highlights just how important our efforts are in Washington, D.C., and that we can and do make a difference when farmers come together. Now we need everyone to stay engaged and most importantly, participate in the survey.”
CCFC and Certified American Grown also worked in coalition with American Hort and the Society of American Florists to help raise the awareness of this issue on Capitol Hill.
The survey is a census of about 10,000 commercial floriculture operations that annually produce and sell at least $10,000 worth of fresh cut flowers, potted flowering plants, foliage plants, annual bedding and garden plants, herbaceous perennials, cut cultivated florist greens, propagative floriculture material and unfinished plants. Annual sales include retail and wholesale sales.
The survey provides the number of farmers, area of production, quantity sold, percent of sales at wholesale, wholesale prices, wholesale value of production for floriculture commodities and average number of agricultural workers per farm or ranch.
The USDA first started collecting data on the nation’s floriculture industry in 1956. The report, called the Commercial Floriculture Survey, has grown to cover six floriculture categories in the 17 main flower-producing states and more than 50 separate crops.
NASS says the survey provides an important snapshot of the industry and helps growers plan for the future.
“Technology has changed production practices and tissue culture propagation has accelerated production,” NASS says on its website. “New products are being developed every year. To keep abreast of the rapidly changing industry, growers and suppliers need data. Individual growers can compare their own operation to other operations to help identify state and national trends as they plan the future of their business. These estimates are also used to support industry claims in cases involving unfair trade practices and in trade negotiations.”
The federal government uses the data to gauge the industry’s economic impact. Sales of floriculture crops have exceeded $5 billion annually, which NASS calls “a significant contribution to farm income and the gross domestic product.”
NASS will collect data from growers by mail, phone, online and through personal interviews. The Commercial Floriculture Survey will be mailed to farms on Dec. 14. Enumerators from NASS will be visiting farms and calling farmers to help complete the survey from Dec. 31 through Feb. 8.
The reference period is the preceding year. The data will be published in the Floriculture Crops report on May 8, 2019.
The information provided by growers will be used for statistical purposes only and no identifying details of respondents will be disclosed.
In the last survey, which covered 2015, the nation’s total floriculture crop value was estimated at $4.37 billion, up from $4.20 billion for 2014. California was the leading producer with 685 operations producing crops valued at $1.08 billion, followed by Florida at $1.03 billion. Those two states accounted for 49 percent of the nation’s floriculture crop value. Rounding out the top five states were Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio.
Award Recognizes a Friend to Flower Farmers
Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner Cathy Fisher was named the 2018 Flower Farm Champion by the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) at its annual meeting Nov. 18 in Santa Barbara. She is the third recipient of the prestigious award.
Fisher was recognized for not only her balanced and straightforward approach to regulating farms and collaborating with flower farmers, but also for her amazing efforts during last December’s Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
“Cathy went above and beyond the call of duty to help work out a plan so flower farmers and workers could access farms that were located in the fire danger zones,” noted CCFC Chair and flower farmer June Wingerden in presenting Fisher with the award. “She worked with CCFC CEO and ambassador Kasey Cronquist to link up with Cal Fire and law enforcement to open up access to nurseries and farms. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in harvested crops were saved because of Cathy’s quick action. She did this without thought of reward but just as part of her job.”
And flower farmers throughout the area (and statewide) are forever grateful for her efforts!
Fisher has served as Santa Barbara County ag commissioner for two terms, beginning in 2010. She began in the industry in 1988 as an agricultural biologist trainee with Contra Costa County Department of Agriculture. She was promoted to deputy agricultural commissioner in 1998, and was appointed chief deputy by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors in 2007.
In 2017, the Flower Farm Champion award went to Crystal Hedgpeth, floral sales manager for Safeway’s Northern California Division. 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.
In 2016, the recipient was 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.
Cal Poly Rose Float Team Shares the Floral Love
Petal It Forward is an annual event organized by the Society of American Florists that elicits squeals of delight and encourages a pay-it-forward attitude. On this special day, florists nationwide randomly surprise people on the street with flowers. Lucky recipients receive two bouquets – one to keep and one to share.
This year, the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) partnered with Cal Poly Universities’ Rose Parade Float teams to bring Petal It Forward to the Cal Poly Pomona and San Luis Obispo campuses on Oct. 24.
At Cal Poly Pomona, students assembled bouquets from more than 1,000 stems donated by Myriad Flowers, Mellano & Company, Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers and Ocean View Flowers. They then handed out their bouquets from a booth outside the Rose Parade Float Office and at a cultural center office on campus.
In San Luis Obispo, the Rose Parade Float team handed out 300 bouquets donated by Holland America Flowers in the University Union Plaza and at Dexter Lawn, a campus social center. The bouquets disappeared in 45 minutes, much more quickly than the planned three hours.
In addition to spreading the flower love, Rose Float teams, outfitted in Rose Float shirts and flair, took the opportunity to tell recipients about the annual Cal Poly Rose Parade Float – currently under construction for Jan. 1, 2019. They also shared that flower donations from California’s flower farmers, with help from CCFC, make both the float and Petal It Forward possible.
“Through our tradition of support for the CalPoly Rose Float team, we have a great relationship with the students on both Cal Poly campuses,” shared Kasey Cronquist, CEO & Ambassador of the CCFC. “So, our farms were quick to support these students wanting to encourage their fellow students with flowers during Petal It Forward.”
Summer Blanco, Rose Float deco chair for Cal Poly Pomona, said the event “made a lot of people’s day.” Adding, “It was great to do on campus. You could see people’s faces light up. They were thrilled.”
In San Luis Obispo, deco chair Sydney Strong said that surprising people with a random act of kindness and spreading joy with flowers was both fulfilling and exciting.
“It was also nice in that it allowed our program, Cal Poly Rose Float, to interact with parts of our community that we usually don’t see on the day-to-day. We got many ‘this made my day!’ reactions. What was especially cool was how excited those that we gave flowers were to then give a bouquet to someone else,” Strong said.
Both Blanco and Strong said they hope Petal It Forward becomes an annual tradition for the Cal Poly Rose Float teams.
“It would be a great Rose Float tradition to have on campus!” Blanco said.
Dan Vordale, a longtime flower industry executive, has taken the helm at Ocean View Flowers, a Certified American Grown farm in Lompoc, California. The past chair of the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) also returns as a commissioner for District 3.
Vordale, previously vice president at Ocean View, says he’s thrilled to lead a great team at a time when there’s a lot of excitement in the floral industry and from consumers around homegrown flowers.
As president, he plans to continue improving the quality and consistency of the blooms grown at Ocean View and extend efforts to improve the customer experience. He’s also working toward earning BloomCheck certification, recognizing the high sustainability standards involved with growing flowers at Ocean View.
His vision for Ocean View includes connecting with millennials and generation Z, both through hiring decisions and via social media campaigns, along with a refreshed website.
“Consumers’ decision on how and where to buy flowers continues to evolve, so we’re positioning the company to continue and meet those needs,” Vordale says.
He’ll also work to share Ocean View’s story and commitment to sustainability that includes two solar farms – one that runs the farm’s plant and one that runs the entire farming operation. “It’s a great story to share with mass-market customers who want to hear about sustainability and transparency.”
Other innovations, including increasing yields thanks to an improved flower seed line and improving operations efficiencies will continue to be a focus.
“We are continuously looking for ways to improve. It’s part of our culture,” Vordale explains.
He’s also always looking for ways to give back to the industry as evidenced by his return to the CCFC board.
“The fact that I get to meet new board members, listen to what they bring to the table and share my knowledge is exciting. The Commission has some great stories to tell and has made great headway in sharing what we do and strengthening the industry and our farms.”
Designer Debi Lilly is ‘Floral Chef’ at Iconic Event
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.
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.
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:
Benno Dobbe, Holland America Flowers
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 email@example.com.
Flower Donations, Ambassadors Needed
Plans for the first two Certified CA Grown entries at the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade are already underway, and the ramp up to the New Year’s Day tradition has begun.
The entries from Cal Poly Universities and FTD Companies Inc. – the first to announce so far – will both feature CA Grown flowers and foliage. Additional CA Grown entries will be announced in coming weeks, including a number of equine entries.
The theme for the 2019 Rose Parade is “The Melody of Life,” an effort that pays homage to music as a language for all. This year’s Cal Poly’s float is titled “Far Out Frequencies.”
The float will feature two giant astronauts who are rocking out with a group of green aliens. At the front of the float will stand Morgan, a 12-foot astronaut who strums an electric guitar, and his new alien friend “Ketchup,” who plays air guitar. The space concert also includes Astronaut Sally on tambourine, two aliens on accordion and Tuba Head, a little alien whose head is stuck inside the instrument.
In addition to the featured characters playing their instruments, animation on the 2019 float includes the movement of eyes and arms on some of the aliens. LED lights will add sparkle to the planet’s crystal formations and the guitar amp.
The California Cut Flower Commission’s (CCFC) Anna Kalins, who leads the organization’s Rose Parade efforts, is seeking donations of flowers and greens for the Cal Poly float. In the past, 25 farms have donated flowers to the effort.
Also needed are Rose Parade ambassadors to help at the event itself and in the days leading up to the parade. It’s a great way to connect with consumers directly, share your passion for California Grown Flowers and spend time with industry friends!
To donate flowers or volunteer, email Kalins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks to the following farms who have already graciously planned to donate flowers and greens:
Ocean View Flowers
Joseph & Sons
Sun Valley Group
Money Will Fund Retail Promotional Campaign
The California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) now has yet one more way to promote California Grown Flowers, thanks to a Specialty Crop Block Grant valued at $176,730 from the California
Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).
This is huge news (received just this week)! The funding will supercharge the Commission’s efforts to promote hardworking California flower farmers and tout the “origin matters” message.
Specifically, the grant will fund a retailer-specific California Grown Flowers promotional campaign in the month of June, also known as California Grown Flower Month, thanks to a declaration from the Legislature.
The campaign will launch in stores statewide in June 2019 and include custom marketing materials for each retailer, videos featuring California flower farmers for use during in-store promotions and a social media program touting the overall retail campaign and sharing the farmer videos.
In other words, we’ll be telling our farmers’ stories and sharing the bounty of flowers and greens they grow right here in California.
The goal of the campaign is to increase sales of California Grown Flowers in retail stores statewide and bring consumer attention to the origin of the flowers they purchase.
“This funding to promote California Grown Flowers and California Grown Flower Month could not be more timely,” shared Kasey Cronquist, CEO and Ambassador of CCFC. “We’ve seen how this celebration of California Grown Flowers really drives sales for our retailers during the month of June. It also helps raise awareness among consumers about the quality and value of buying California Grown and supporting our farms. It really does make a difference.”
After all, consumers continue to tell us that origin plays a huge part in their purchasing decisions, trumping terms like “organic” and “sustainable.” So it makes sense to drive home that message in hundreds of stores at the height of growing season.
We can’t wait to get this promotion underway! Your stories, your blooms, your efforts are worth sharing!