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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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!
For 17 days this summer, California Grown Flowers were center stage at the California State Floral Association’s (CSFA) booth at the California State Fair. This year’s theme was “Back to the Floral Future.”
The fair’s run was kicked off at the California State Fair Gala on June 21 that featured flowers and foliage donated by California Pajarosa, Dramm & Echter, Glad-A-Way, Holland America Flowers, Joseph & Sons, Mellano & Company, Myriad Flowers International, Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers and Sun Valley Floral Farms.
For more than two weeks, fair visitors learned about the value of buying California Grown Flowers and visiting local florists as they viewed floral arrangements at the CSFA booth. Visitors were also provided with post cards and other information about California Grown Flowers that was provided by the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC).
California flower farmers Robert Kitayama of Kitayama Brothers, Janet Louie of Green Valley Floral and Hannah Muller of Full Belly Farm also made appearances at the booth each weekend of the fair.
And flowers were the focus of the fair on July 22 which was declared Flower Day at the State Fair for the fourth year in a row.
In a love tribute, extra donated floral product was given to The Petal Connection, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to connect beautiful floral bouquets with local hospice patients and seniors in need of a little joy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
On Monday, the California Senate officially declared June to be “California Grown Flowers Month.” The resolution was put forth by Sen. Mike McGuire who represents the state’s 2nd Senate District.
In honor of the declaration and accompanying resolution, senators, flower farmers and California Cut Flower Commission CEO and Ambassador Kasey Cronquist gathered on the Senate floor – California Grown Flowers in hand.
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 Oregon.
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 taxes.
It was a proud day, and we’re thrilled to celebrate California Grown Flowers Month throughout June. Join us!
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!
Carlos Cardoza has an enviable problem. He can hardly keep up with demand for the novelty flowers grown at CamFlor in Watsonville where he’s the sales manager.
Since 2012, CamFlor has been growing at a steady rate of 10 to 12 percent a year. Some months it’s closer to 30 percent.
Something had to give.
In addition to recently renewing a 50-acre lease for flower-growing land, CamFlor is adding another (more…)
Take Inspiration From Them, Then Promote Women’s Day March 8!
Neighbors used to call Diana Roy “Flower Girl.”
“I never seemed to have quite enough flowers in my own yard, so I was always asking neighbors if I could cut some of theirs,” she says.
Now the business manager of Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers, Roy has all the blooms she could possibly want. She’s combined her passion for flowers with her background in public relations to help make the farm one of California’s largest suppliers of (more…)
Rene Van Rems, Debi Lilly to Design Tablescapes at California Dinners
We’re always excited when things really start coming together for each of the American Grown Field to Vase dinners, but this year, the excitement is through the roof as we announce that two renowned floral designers have joined the tour.
Meet Rene Van Rems and Debi Lilly!
Rene Van Rems
Designing tablescapes at the April 7 Field to Vase Dinner at Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers in Fallbrook, California, is Rene Van Rems, a renowned ambassador to the floral industry. Van Rems is a leading speaker, educator and demonstrator who has led workshops and design shows in the U.S., Europe and Asia. He’s also frequently featured at art museum events, including “Art Alive” in San Diego. (more…)
It’s not just floats that glide down Colorado Boulevard during the annual Rose Parade. There’s also an incredible group of vintage and contemporary cars – and for the last 5 years, all were adorned in California Grown flowers.
The floral designs for the VIP parade vehicles are the handiwork of Keith White, AIFD, lead designer for FTD, and breathtaking doesn’t begin to describe them.
Since 2006, White has arrived in Pasadena on Christmas Day; he begins working on the cars on Dec. 26, using “trade secrets” to be sure the vintage cars are protected as the flowers and foliage are added. Each car takes a full day to adorn, and this year there were two Honda pace cars and five vintage cars, each receiving unique floral designs.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at this year’s FTD California Grown car fleet: (more…)
Check out the 2018-19 American Floral Trends Forecast
Wrapped inside the pages of the January 2018 issue of Florist’s Review is the 2018-19 American Floral Trends Forecast.
And it’s glorious!
5 Breathtaking Stops Announced for the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour
The fourth season of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour is underway, and Certified American Grown wants you to grab all of your flower-loving friends and head to a flower farm for an award-winning experience you’ll never forget.
Click the video above and imagine yourself at one of this year’s American Grown Field to Vase Dinners.
They have an exciting lineup of farms involved with this year’s floral-infused dinner tour. Known for stopping at America’s most beautiful flower farms, this year’s tour includes amazing destinations, and they’ve also made some notable tweaks to (more…)
Kelly Shore’s Doing Her Homework
A week spent in Alaska with flower farmers was the tipping point for Kelly Shore, owner and lead designer at Petals by the Shore in Maryland.
Shore was in Alaska to design the tablescapes for an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner being held at Scenic Peonies last summer. She went there with a job to do, but when she left Alaska 10 days later, her gut told her that her next job would be to consider an awesome possibility: Sourcing 100 percent of the flowers and foliage she uses in her designs from American flower farms.
“When I went to Alaska and I saw what the farmers there face, it sparked something in me. I had some really good conversations with the flower farmers on the host farm and with other farmers in attendance, and I thought (more…)
Co-Owner of Ocean Breeze Farms Has Long History of Service, Advocacy
June Van Wingerden has been a constant force in the ag community, advocating for California cut flowers and water and labor issues for decades. The California State Senate recognized her dedication when they named her California’s Woman of the Year in 2005. Now, she’s bringing her heart for (more…)