America Is In Season

By Bill Prescott of Sun Valley Floral Farms

“Flowers are the angels, whereby they write on the hills and fields mysterious truths.” 
 – Benjamin Franklin 

Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776; as of today, there are 56 Certified Flower Farms in the United States … coincidence? Yes!

Welcome to American Grown Flowers Month!

This is an opportunity for flower farmers large and small to step up their games and make July a record sales month! There’s no better time to shine the light on flowers grown in the United States.

It may surprise you to learn that there are 56 Certified American Grown farms in the U.S., and applications have been streaming in daily from flower farms across the nation. Know a flower farmer? Forward them this blog; now’s the perfect time to get certified and plug into this groundswell movement. (No Pun Intended!)

Flowers at Monticello

The resolution declaring July as American Grown Flowers month notes that the U.S. Senate recognizes: that purchasing flowers grown in the United States supports the farmers, small businesses, jobs and the U.S. economy; that growing flowers and greens in the United States is a vital part of the U.S. ag industry; and urges “all people of the United States to proactively showcase flowers and greens grown in the United States in order to show support for our flower farmers, processors and distributors as well as agriculture in the United States overall.”
This thinking is what led to the bipartisan resolution designating July “American Grown Flowers Month.” Yes, Democrats and Republicans actually agreed on something, which is in itself a cause for rejoicing!

Celebrating Independence Day with American Grown flowers on the table makes sense. The likes of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington always had American Grown flowers on their tables, right? It would have been weird to call them British Grown. Did this lead directly to the American Revolution?

Check out Jefferson’s epic Celosia and single-bloom Tuberose. Nice!

Books have been written about George Washington’s gardens at Mount Vernon, and if someone has made a vase in the image of your head, well, you must be a serious flower-lover.

A George Washington bust tulip vase!

Have a great flower-filled Fourth of July and American Grown Flowers Month!

You’re Going To China? Really?

Delegation of American Flower Farmers Return From Trade Mission To China

Do you really think there is opportunity for American Grown Flowers in China?

Why bother with exporting to China when there is so much work in our own market?

You can’t possibly imagine American farms will be able to compete with Chinese production, can you?

Lane DeVries of Sun Valley Floral Farms and Robert Kitayama of Kitayama Brothers arrive Beijing as part of a delegation of American flower farmers.

I’m not sure I would qualify these as “frequently asked questions,” but these are some of the logical questions that were asked before our delegation’s departure to China last week.

And for good reason.

Considering the current climate for trade relations, the known cost of production for U.S. farmers and high tariffs currently in place for importing to China, what could possibly make this trade mission an opportunity for serious consideration by our farmers?

Certified American Grown hosted two seminars for floral industry wholesalers, importers and retailers while in China. Members of the American Grown Flowers delegation pictured left to right: Jim Omoto of Kendall Farms, Mel Resendiz of Resendiz Brothers Protea, Cathy McClintock of Kendall Farms, FJ Trzuskowski of Continental Floral Greens, Lane DeVries of Sun Valley Floral Farms, Christy Hulsey of Colonial House of Flowers, Robert Kitayama of Kitayama Brothers, Diana Roy of Resendiz Brothers Protea and Kasey Cronquist of Certified American Grown.

Resting on these reasonable assumptions, you couldn’t justify the trip.

However, it is our first-hand accounts, previous experience and recognized opportunities that had us returning to China.

Each farm sent product to showcase at each seminar. FJ Trzuskowski of Continental Floral Greens stands by his table during the trade seminar in Beijing.

 

A number of the attendees join our delegates for a photo after the seminar in Beijing.

Christy Hulsey provided design demonstrations with Certified American Grown Flowers for attendees.

In 2017, our farms returned from an exploratory mission and found that, despite conventional wisdom, opportunity for American Grown Flowers existed in China. In fact, since that time, our farms have already begun selling into the country.

Unlike the exploratory trip in 2017, this most recent trip was for market development. Certified American Grown hosted two seminars featuring American Grown Flowers and a presentation of floral design by floral designer Christy Hulsey. The seminars were attended by wholesalers, importers, retailers and floral designers. Over 50 people attended each of the seminars, providing our farms the opportunity to showcase their flowers and discuss business opportunities within the Chinese floral market.

The final two days of the trip included a visit to the Chinese growing region of Kunming. China enjoys massive production. China boasts over 1.3 million hectares of fresh cut production, growing over 12 billion stems per year and generating over $22 billion. Over 180,000 farms grow for the cut flower industry, with the average farm just under an acre of production. Many of the large farms are over 20 hectare. We visited two such farms on our visit to the Kunming region.

The American Grown Flowers delegation while in Shanghai.

 

Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist kicked off each program with an overview of the Certified American Grown program.

Our delegation met with the general manager of the Yunnan United Floral Transport & Marketing Co, otherwise known as FLY. They were established in 2002 and they represent approximately 80 percent of the production sold within the industry. They manage the floral auction, which operates much like the Holland auction did.

Our visit to Kunming Yang Chinese Rose Gardening Co. provided our delegation with first-hand insights into both the current production and future expectations for the floral industry’s expansion in China.

 

The delegation toured flower markets in Beijing, Shanghai and Kunming.

Ultimately, optimism for opportunity for American Grown Flowers continued to grow throughout the week. Despite high tariffs, a rocky trade environment and an enormous amount of local production in China, niche opportunities to present American Grown Flowers as high-quality, sustainably grown and produced by great flower farmers in the United States do exist.

The idea of selling American Grown Flowers into China at a better price than our farms might get in the United States may sound counterintuitive, but if it can be done, it would sure help our farms at home grow.

We’ll see where the next steps take us, but based on all that our farms learned and experienced, this week’s trip was invaluable.

The delegation visited Kunming, China’s flower growing region. China has over 1.3M hectares in cut flower production.

About the Trade Mission: 

This trip was developed out of a USDA Foreign Ag Services grant program. Certified American Grown received a Market Access Program (MAP) grant and a Quality Samples Program (QSP) grant to return to China to develop market opportunities on behalf of our farms. A delegation was formed and the group left on June 23 to host seminars on American Grown Flowers in Beijing and Shanghai. The group traveled to Kunming to learn more about the industry and its growing regions.

Kelly Perry to Lead Design at Nashville Tour Stop

Renowned Designer is Known for Her Entrepreneurial Spirit

Kelly Perry of Team Flower and Philosophy Flowers will bring her creative energy and breathtaking designs to the tablescapes at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 5.

Kelly Perry brings her passion for celebrating the moments of life with the beauty of flowers to the Field to Vase Dinner Tour on October 5, 2018. Photo by Heather Payne Photography.

Perry, who as a sixth grader convinced classmates to create silk flower corsages for a friendship banquet and then started a cake-decorating business in seventh grade, has built an incredible following of flower-lovers throughout the floral industry and beyond.

Perry will invite guests to take in the beauty of American Grown Flowers during our Nashville Field to Vase Dinner at Green Door Gourmet with stunning tablescapes like this one.
Photo by Heather Payne Photography.

Her passion and entrepreneurial spirit are mesmerizing.

At Team Flower, a global flower community that provides professional learning about floral design and growing flowers, Perry heads up all content development and classes.

Photo by Heather Payne Photography.

Perry also operates Philosophy Flowers in North Carolina, a boutique floral design business that specializes in weddings.

Her work has been featured with Southern Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings and nearly 60 other publications.

Perry is a believer in the transformative power of small exquisite moments. Once I really started noticing the beautiful little things, like poppies blooming along the side of the road, a life shift began to happen,” she told Flower magazine.

 

 

“For me, flowers are all about celebrating the present moment. That’s why I love working with American Grown Flowers, especially ones grown close to home. Seasonality is important to me. Designing with these types of ingredients connects us to the moment, something that’s easy to breeze through in our busy world. I’m looking forward to creating for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in partnership with American farmers and my Team Flower friends. May it be an invitation for us all to slow down, settle in and celebrate the day, ” Perry shares.

You don’t want to miss this opportunity to connect with one of the floral industry’s most vivacious and inventive designers and teachers!

 

Dinner Guests Get a Hands-On Flower Experience

F2V Boutonnière Bar is a Guest Favorite!

At every American Grown Field to Vase Dinner, guests are invited to visit a boutonnière bar where they can design a custom floral “wearable” with flowers from the farm they’re visiting.

Beautiful blooms at the boutonnière bar await guests of the Sacramento Field to Vase Dinner. Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

This hands-on experience is one of the most popular aspects of the event!

Making their own boutonnière gives guests a chance to be creative and they absolutely love it.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

Guests love learning how to create a boutonnière (or corsage), adding in their own personal style and then getting to wear the floral swag they create for the rest of the event.

Smithers Oasis/Floralife is the celebrated sponsor of this guest favorite.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

At each stop, the available flowers and foliage at the bout bar, kindly sponsored by Smithers-Oasis/Floralife, change, reflecting the blossoms and greens grown at the farm we’re visiting.

Guests have designed with Florida ferns, California protea and Alaskan peonies, to name a few. And when they don they’re creations, we’ve noticed they have a bit more spring in their step or swag in their swagger.

Plus they’ve learned a new skill they can use again and again for other special events – always using Certified American Grown Flowers, of course.

Just one more way guests, and our amazing sponsors like Smithers-Oasis, are getting involved in this amazing dinner tour that’s crisscrossing the country!

 

We’re headed to Star Valley Flowers in Soldier’s Grove, Wisconsin, on Sept. 8.

You don’t want to miss this next stop!

 

American Flower Farmers, Designer Head to China on Trade Mission

Christy Hulsey of the Colonial House of Flowers will join Certified American Grown for a trade mission in China.

 

A delegation of American flower farmers, accompanied by Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist and renowned floral designer Christy Hulsey of Colonial House of Flowers, is headed to China on a trade mission focused on market development activities.

 

 

During the trip, the group will meet with targeted importers, wholesalers and retailers in Beijing, Shanghai and Kunming to establish contacts and present business information. They will also tour the largest Chinese cut flower growing region in Yunnan Province to gain an understanding of production, its market structure and distribution network.

Last year, a delegation from Certified American Grown met with industry representatives in China.

 

The delegation headed to China this year includes:

  • Kasey Cronquist, Certified American Grown
  • Lane DeVries, Sun Valley Floral Group
  • Christy Hulsey, Colonial House of Flowers
  • Robert Kitayama, Kitayama Brothers
  • Cathy McClintock, Kendall Farms
  • Jim Omoto, Kendall Farms
  • Mel Resendiz, Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers
  • Diana Roy, Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers
  • FJ Trzuskowski, Continental Floral Greens

The trip is a result of months of work by Certified American Grown to secure federal grant funds through the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to develop export markets for American Grown Flowers.

In 2017, Certified American Grown conducted a comprehensive assessment in China to determine the Chinese market potential for increased sales of American Grown Flowers and greens. A five-member team of U.S.-based experts traveled to China to assess the market. As a result, several U.S. flower farmers began shipping to China.

Standing in front of the floral American flag she designed, Christy Hulsey declares her pride in American Grown Flowers.

As part of this trip, designer Hulsey, a longtime friend of Certified American Grown and last year’s Mayesh Design Star. Hulsey was responsible for creating the beautiful all-American Grown American flag installation at WFFSA in 2016 and served as a lead designer for Certified American Grown at the First Lady’s Luncheon in 2017. She will be bringing her design prowess to events being held with flower buyers in Beijing and Shanghai.

As a lead designer for the event, Christy Hulsey brought her talents and love of American Grown Flowers to the First Lady’s Luncheon in 2017.

 

Senate Declares July ‘American Grown Flowers Month’

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) introduced a resolution on June 12 designating July as “American Grown Flower Month.”

The resolution notes that the U.S. Senate recognizes: that purchasing flowers grown in the United States supports the farmers, small businesses, jobs and the U.S. economy; that growing flowers and greens in the United States is a vital part of the U.S. ag industry;  and urges “all people of the United States to proactively showcase flowers and greens grown in the United States in order to show support for our flower farmers, processors, and distributors as well as agriculture in the United States overall.”

American consumers spend almost $27 billion per year on floral products each year. While the majority of consumers would prefer to buy homegrown flowers, only 20 percent of the flowers sold here were grown in the United States.

Flower farmers met with Senator Diane Feinstein in February in Washington, D.C. The Senator recently sponsored Senate Resolution 540 declaring July American Grown Flowers Month.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“California grows nearly 75 percent of American-grown cut flowers – including tulips, gerbera daisies, lilies, irises and gladiolas,” said Senator Feinstein. “Americans want to support local businesses and growers, but often are unaware the flowers they’re purchasing were grown outside of the United States. Our resolution will help raise awareness and encourage consumers to look for the ‘Certified American Grown’ label before buying flowers.”

Flower farmers met with Senator Dan Sullivan in February in Washington, D.C. The Senator recently sponsored Senate Resolution 540 declaring July American Grown Flowers Month.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“Alaska’s moderate weather and cool soil conditions allows for a growing season that brings beautiful American grown flowers to market throughout the summer,” said Senator Sullivan. “In Alaska, our local peony growers – family owned farms across our state – provide some of the most beautiful and saturated blooms to weddings and events around the country; well after the traditional growing season has passed in other states. American Grown Flower Month is only one small acknowledgment of the value and support we share for these local small business owners, but an important one.”

Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist noted the importance of the national designation recognizing America’s hardworking flower-farming families. “We’re honored to have earned this important recognition and we join flower farmers nationwide in celebrating this wonderful recognition,” said Cronquist. “Naming July American Grown Flowers Month also opens the door for florists and wholesalers to continue to discuss the virtues of homegrown flowers – a point that’s resonating with consumers who want the flowers in their homes to be as fresh and sustainable as the food on their plates.”

To learn more about American Grown Flowers Month, visit AmericanGrownFlowers.org/AGFM

 

First-Ever Book Signing at our Soldiers Grove Dinner!

Get Your Signed Edition of Florists to the Field

Guests at the Sept. 8 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Star Valley Flowers in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin, will be part of a first-ever book signing on our dinner tour. They’ll be able to purchase a signed edition of the spectacular new book Florists to the Field from floral designers Greg Campbell and Erick New, also our designers for the dinner.

The book takes readers on a floral excursion from the Deep South to the West Coast, through the Midwest and across the ocean to Holland, sharing the flower fields where Campbell and New find inspiration.

Plus you’ll get a glimpse into what drives these designers’ avant-garde aesthetic and their knack for large-scale installations.

You can see that aesthetic in person when Campbell and New, also owners of Garden District in Memphis, Tennessee, bring their over-the-top design skills to this stop on the dinner tour.

At Garden District, Campbell and New have created a business based on floral abundance and artistry. The shop provides seasonal flowers, unique gifts and home accents, and their floral installations weave flowers and greenery into breathtaking textural structures.

Their showroom in the heart of Memphis is a soaring showcase of the latest in flowers, containers and antiques.

To meet Campbell and New, and purchase a signed copy of the book, save your seat at the Sept. 8 dinner and add the book purchase at checkout.

Chef for Dinner Tour Stop in Sacramento Named

Meet Executive Chef Dan Watterson

With the third stop on the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour fast approaching, we’re excited to announce the chef for our June 13 stop in Sacramento!

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Meet Dan Watterson, executive chef for Statehouse at the Capitol.

Chef Dan Watterson is creating a delicious menu that will delight the guests of our Sacramento Field to Vase Dinner.

Watterson leads a top-notch culinary team at Statehouse, a brand that includes Statehouse Eatery, Statehouse Café, Statehouse Coffee and Statehouse Catering.

 

 

 

 

He has over 15 years of culinary experience and recently relocated from Washington, D.C., where he was the chef de cuisine for Stephen Starr’s famed French bistro Le Diplomate. Prior to joining Le Diplomate, he was an executive chef for Matchbox Food Group. His resume also includes positions at Hamptons Restaurant in South Carolina and The Ashby Inn in Virginia.

Watterson is planning a multi-course farm-to-table meal that will be paired with Geyser Peak’s amazing wines.

Join the table! You will delight in a delectable meal prepared by Chef Dan Watterson while surrounded by the beauty of American Grown Flowers. Photo by Taken by Sarah Photography

With the announcement of the chef and floral designer Liezet Arnold of Bloem Décor in place, tickets for the Sacramento dinner are going fast!

 

Senators Feinstein, Murkowski Champion the Reinstatement of USDA’s Annual Floriculture Report

In February, a delegation of American flower and foliage farmers traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate for the reinstatement of the USDA’s Annual Floriculture Report.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein took time to meet with American flower farmers to hear their concerns about the Floriculture Report during the 2018 DC Fly-In. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography

This morning, the Senate Ag Appropriations Sub-Committee’s mark-up was published and includes language requested by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Lisa Murkowski directing $500,000 to USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) budget to reinstate the Annual Floriculture Report.

A senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Feinstein, representing the largest flower growing state in the United States, has been a longtime champion of American flower and foliage farming families. Sen. Murkowski has been a stalwart supporter of the growing number of peony farmers in Alaska. Working together in 2017, Senators Feinstein and Murkowski co-sponsored and passed a senate resolution declaring July American Grown Flowers Month. The reinstatement of this important report by NASS, specifically accounting for the domestic production of cut flowers and greens, was a top priority for both Senators this year.

“This is a great example of how the collective efforts of our farmers can really make a difference,” explained Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “This kind of continued investment in accounting for our domestic industry must remain a priority in Washington, D.C.”

Sen. Feinstein with flower farmers from California. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography

The Annual Floriculture Report serves America’s flower farmers and the floral industry in numerous ways, highlighting the value and varieties of flowers our farmers grow. It also helps to count the number of farmers growing them.

Wearing an all-American Grown corsage, Sen. Murkowski meets with Alaskan flower farmers during the annual fly-in for Certified American Grown.

 

One of the largest contingencies to date attended the 2018 DC Fly-In to lobby for the issues concerning America’s flower and greens farmers, including the reinstatement of USDA’s Annual Floriculture Report. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography

Certified American Grown has been working closely with AmericanHort and a coalition of floral industry organizations, including the Society of American Florists, to raise the profile on this issue, both in the House and Senate.

The inclusion of the request for continued funding is good news for our farms and our industry as the Senate Ag Appropriations process continues to move forward. Certified American Grown will continue to monitor the Senate process and advocate for the reinstatement of the report in the House.

See more images from the our annual flower farmer fly-in to Washington, D.C. on our Flickr page:

Alaska’s peony farmers meet with Senator Dan Sullivan.

Farms meeting with Congressman Collin Petersen, ranking member of the House Ag Committee.

Add a Capitol Tour to Your F2V Experience

At each American Grown Field to Vase Dinner, we love to offer guests the chance to tour a flower farm and chat with a real farmer about the blooms and greenery grown on the farm, sustainability efforts and overall operation.

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When the dinner tour comes to the gardens of California’s Capitol on June 13, we’ll offer a similar – but oh so unique – experience!

A view of the Capitol from the surrounding gardens.
Photo courtesy of The Sacramento Bee.

Guests can sign up for a special tour of the Capitol grounds and building with George Soares, an ag expert and partner in Kahn, Soares and Conway. Soares is a tour guide extraordinaire and plans to show guests all sorts of special locations and artwork as he shares about the Capitol’s history and the ag issues won and lost there.

California’s State Capitol Park, featuring the World Peace Rose Garden. Photo courtesy of worldpeacerosegardens.com.

Join Soares to learn about some of the statues on the grounds, see the site where Queen Elizabeth arrived, where President Gerald Ford was nearly assassinated and where a semi-truck drove into the Capitol building a few years back.

Inside the Capitol, you’ll get a glimpse of a statue of President Ronald Reagan that now resides in the basement, the entrance to the governor’s office – complete with a giant bear Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger found while on a ski trip – and portraits of the last seven California governors.

Guests will also see the beautiful Capitol Rotunda from inside.
Photo courtesy of CapitolWeekly.net.

Along the way, Soares will get you caught up on quite a bit of history, share insider stories and fill you in on ag decisions made in these hallowed halls.

And if the stars align, guests will also get a glimpse of the Assembly and Senate floors or galleries.

State legislators were greeted by bouquets of fresh California Grown Flowers in the Senate Chamber on the day they voted to declare June is CA Grown Flowers Month.

This tour is unprecedented in scope and uniqueness.  Sign up for the tour when you purchase your ticket to dine on the Capitol lawn.