Certified American Grown Flower Farm Named ‘American Small Business Champion’

Alaska Perfect Peony Recognized For Its Dedication to Community, Entrepreneurship

Flower farmer Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony has been recognized before for her efforts to improve her industry and community.

In 2014, she was a nominee for Champions of Change for the Future of Agriculture, earning her a trip to the White House. But she was still surprised by the most recent honor her Certified American Grown farm earned – being named a winner of the 2018 Small Business Championship.

Rita Jo has also been a powerful force at our annual Washington DC Fly-In, advocating on behalf of America’s Flower Farmers. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

Shoultz, a member of the Certified American Grown Council, competed with a pool of more than 1,100 applicants and was selected as a champion through a combination of online voting and judging by a panel of small-business experts. The application asked each entrepreneur to describe the unique aspects of their small business that have contributed to their success, their positive impact on the community and their plans to use the prizes to grow their business operations or revenue.

Rita Jo Shoultz in one of her favorite places

“We were really surprised and very honored,” Shoultz says of the win. “Cut flowers don’t always get a lot of recognition.”

That recognition is well-deserved. After all, in addition to running the farm, Shoultz has worked to have the Homer declared the “City of Peonies” and started Main Street Homer, a task force working to revitalize downtown Homer through economic and cultural development, historic preservation and advancement of the arts.

The “champion” designation nets Shoultz an all-expense-paid trip to a training and networking event and the chance to win one of three $15,000 grand prizes. Should she win, Shoultz says she’d use the funding for marketing efforts and to look into selling her peonies in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Championship is hosted by SCORE, a network of volunteer expert business mentors, and is supported by Sam’s Club.

 

Designers Announced for Sacramento, Soldiers Grove Dinners

Meet Liezet Arnold, Greg Campbell and Erick New!

Liezet Arnold will be the featured designer at our next American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Sacramento on June 13.

With the first two stops on the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour under our belt and another dinner just weeks away, we’re excited to announce more floral designers for our upcoming dinners!

Liezet Arnold of Bloem Decor will be designing breathtaking tablescapes at our Sacramento dinner on June 13 in the gardens of the state Capitol.

Next, Greg Campbell and Erick New of Garden District will bring their skills to our Sept. 8 dinner in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin.

Arnold, the daughter of a tomato farmer who grew up in a small village in Holland, began working in flower shops at age 16. After years in the industry, she earned the title Master Dutch Florist.

In 1985, she moved to Beverly Hills to work in a flower shop that catered to celebrity clients and allowed her to expand her floral creativity. Along the way, she met her husband and moved to Sacramento where she started a creative flower shop featuring designs that “maintain European traditions with our unique flair.”

Today, 33 years later, Arnold is still celebrating the beauty and delight of flowers from her Sacramento flower shop. We can’t wait to see how she brings her unique style to the Field to Vase Dinner tablescapes in Sacramento!

Greg Campbell and Erick New of Garden District

At Gardent District, co-owners 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, Tennessee is a soaring showcase of the latest in flowers, containers and antiques.

You can get a sense of their design aesthetic and their commitment to the field to vase approach in their upcoming book, Florists To The Field.  The images in the book hint at the incredible design style diners at the Field to Vase Dinner in Wisconsin will experience.

Thanks to designers like these, an amazing artisanal meal and the opportunity to meet an American flower farmer and dine in fields of flowers, American Grown Field to Vase Dinner destinations continue to sell out.

Don’t miss out on our Sacramento, CA or Soldiers Grove, WI dinners!

 

Rene van Rems Wows at First 2018 Tour Stop

Floral Designer Shares the Inside Story on Prepping for a Field to Vase Dinner

You might think the job of a floral designer is singular – to surprise and delight by creating beautiful flower arrangements.

When the designer is Rene van Rems, you’d be wrong.

Van Rems was the floral designer for the recent American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Resendiz Brothers Protea in Fallbrook, California. But his efforts went far beyond arranging flowers. He started by visiting the site with flower farmer Mel Resendiz to help select the perfect location for the dinner.

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Since proteas are grown on steep hillsides, this was no small feat. But van Rems knew what he was looking for – a hilltop surrounded by other flower-adorned hills that would provide a sense of warmth and intimacy for dinner guests.

Beautiful farm fresh flowers adorned the tables, welcoming guests to a night of food, wine and flowers. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

Next up, van Rems determined a theme for the arrangements that would adorn the long banquet tables and selected containers from Field to Vase Dinner Tour sponsor Syndicate Sales.

He decided to create three variations of a floral design that featured pincushion proteas and he created them in reverse proportion. “We draped everything down while featuring the pincushions. This way, the flowers are looking at the diner and the diner is looking at the flowers. The flowers were the star and the materials we put with them were very botanical and were from the surrounding landscape. It was a real execution of ‘field to vase.’”

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

For the containers, van Rems selected brushed glass vases with similar designs and textures in colors that provided contrast with the flowers and surrounding landscape.

The amazing part – the 180 arrangements needed for the dinner were created by 15 students who were part of a workshop van Rems led in advance of the dinner. Not only did they learn floral design skills, participants got a hands-on experience in event execution.

“The event became a lesson plan,” van Rems explains. “The students learned what you can’t learn in a book or on YouTube; it was truly experiential.”

Floral designer Rene van Rems was responsible for the beautiful tablescape and floral design installations. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Beyond special events, van Rems regularly holds workshops at his state-of-the-art training center in Carlsbad, California. His two-, three- and five-day programs cover floral trends, advanced floral design techniques and business basics.

As for the reviews of the first stop for the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour – van Rems shares what guests told him: “Everyone loved the experience because it was beyond their expectations. People had no idea what to expect and they were blown away by a beautifully executed dinner. The No. 1 wow was the site and the flowers were a spoke in the wheel of an amazing experience.”

We couldn’t agree more.

 

 

Meet the American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest Judges

Distinguished Panel to Review Competitors Store Displays

April showers will bring July’s joy as America celebrates American Grown Flowers Month to recognize the economic and cultural impact of cut flower and greens farmers.

That’s why Certified American Grown is working with farmers and retailers nationwide to create colorful in-store promotion programs that help consumers identify and appreciate homegrown blooms throughout July.

More than 1,200 stores have signed up to participate in the campaign so far.

And that’s just the start of who is onboard with our national contest built around this month-long recognition. Meet our distinguished judges who will rate the in-store displays that promote American Grown Flowers Month:

 

Travis Rigby is publisher of Super Floral magazine, Florists’ Review and president of FlowerBox and PosterGarden.com, creative presentation sites he founded earlier this decade. A resident of Portland, Oregon, Rigby has a degree in communications from the University of Utah.

 

 

 

J Keith White, AIFD, is the creative director for American Floral Trends Forecast and AANDK Productions. A floral designer himself, he’s known in the industry for combining modern and traditional floristry into a diverse art form. Most Americans would recognize his work with extravagant floral designs for the official cars of the Rose Parade each New Year’s Day.

 

 

 

 

Tom Bowling, AIFD, PFCI, is another Rose Parade veteran, serving since 1996 as both a designer and eventually a judge for the spectacular floats. Today, the education director for Syndicate Sales (a sponsor of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour) in Fairfield, Ohio, Bowling has a 37-year history with the floral industry, including owning his own shop for 20 years and serving as a past president of AIFD.

 

Contest participants will be featured in Super Floral and Florists’ Review, with winners of the cash prizes enjoying the publications’ spotlights. Additionally, Certified American Grown will feature and promote all participants on social media, in a press release and on its blog and website.

Stores will be judged on the quality and beauty of their displays, their ability to increase flower sales in July and their efforts to promote the celebration overall, as well as the Certified American Grown brand.

It’s not too late to be involved with American Grown Flowers Month. Visit AmericanGrownFlowers.org/julycontest/ to learn more and register!

A Mountain of Flowers And Fun

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers Field to Vase Dinner

 

The reveal of the dinner’s location was worth the drive up the mountain.

If the majority of Americans are unaware of where their flowers come from, it’s probably safe to say they can’t imagine what our farmers are willing to do to grow them. On April 7, the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour kicked off at Resendiz Brother’s Protea Growers in Fallbrook, California, where 154 guests were invited to experience an evening on Mel Resendiz’s flower farm.

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This isn’t your grandma’s flower garden.

In fact, flower farming in this region is really an extreme version of flower farming, harvesting high in the hills, in extremely steep terrain, always mindful of the many rattlesnakes that inhabit the hillsides. So, our guests (many traveling in from throughout the country) were in for a special treat, but they would all have to go the extra mile (or five) in order to experience this extraordinary dinner spot.

And it didn’t disappoint.

High atop the hills of Fallbrook, guests enjoyed expansive views from the flower fields at Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers.

After a 25-minute drive up the side of a mountain, guests were greeted with a glass of champagne as they took in the incredible views from atop the hills of Fallbrook and learned that they were standing in the middle of one of Mel’s flower fields. Bales of hay were used to help prevent guests from falling down the hill where Mel’s pincushions were growing. The concern wasn’t for the flowers, but the safety of the guests. Yet, these steep hillsides are the same fields that Resendiz Brothers produces its beautiful protea on.

Guests were invited to find their seat, make their own boutonnière and pet the baby goats.

Guests were in awe.

Beautiful farm fresh flowers adorned the tables, welcoming guests to a night of food, wine and flowers.

Floral designer Rene van Rems worked for two days with a team of people to prepare the arrangements and design installations for the event, pulling flowers right from the fields as needed. Rene’s vision went well beyond the tablescape, designing beautiful floral installations throughout the dinner site, including the decorating of “The Limo” that became a social media hit with guests who joyfully posed in front of  the old abandon Dodge truck that had been converted to an RV decades ago.

Floral designer Rene van Rems was responsible for the beautiful tablescape and floral design installations.

Flower farmer Mel welcomed guests, sharing that he was very moved by the experience of having so many people for dinner on his farm.

“I could not imagine this,” he said. “It is wonderful for me to have all of you here.”

Mel Resendiz welcomed guests to his farm.

A flower-focused event, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinners are helping translate people’s passion for sustainable, quality, homegrown food to the flowers we place at the center of the table. Connecting people with the flowers we grow, the farmers who grow them and the opportunity to see just what it takes to be an American flower farmer is what makes these events so unique and memorable for those who attend.

And everyone leaves with flowers.

Flowers, succulents and swag bags full of floral goodies were waiting for guests as they departed the dinner.

Winning!

Guests were invited to take the centerpieces designed by Rene and a special hand-tied bouquet from Resendiz Brothers. Walking away with armfuls of flowers, there was no doubt that our guests had enjoyed a Field to Vase experience they would never forget.

Testimonials from our guests…

It was a once in a lifetime enjoyable event. It was my first and I’m afraid nothing can top this one.” ~ Robyn D.

I was shocked to receive the wonderful swag bag, one bunch of proteas, a succulent, the table decorations, and all the fresh flowers and fillers that I could carry!~ Madeline C.

The entire afternoon and early evening event was a truly wonderful experience – lovely people, an incredibly unique setting, an abundance of beautiful Protea flowers, and sumptious food and drink. After traveling up a narrow, winding road to a remote area at the top of a hill, imagine our surprise at finding two huge tables surrounded by chaparral and Protea plants – each elegantly set with China and crystal, each with seating for at least 75 people and each crammed with bright vases full of brilliantly-colored Protea. Buckets of Protea, Protea bouquets and wreaths decorated the perimeter of the area. It was magical! The food was a delicious, multi-course treat – made even more amazing by the fact that appetizers and a wonderful meal could be provided seemingly effortlessly in such a remote setting!~ Kathleen P.

The attention to detail, impressed everyone. Rene van Rems made sure that even this old farm cart was decorated with flowers from the farm.

Over 1,200 Stores Planning To Celebrate American Grown Flowers Month

In 2017, Congress passed a resolution declaring July “American Grown Flowers Month” to recognize the economic and cultural impact of America’s cut flower and greens farmers.

A beautiful collection of Certified American Grown Flowers can really help draw consumers into learning more and celebrating the season.

 

To spread the word about American Grown Flowers Month, Certified American Grown is working with farmers and retailers nationwide on in-store promotion programs to help consumers identify and celebrate homegrown blooms throughout July.

Over 1,200 stores have signed up to celebrate so far!

 

 

 
The campaign includes a national contest, the American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest, that encourages retailers to leverage the Congressional declaration and promote homegrown blooms – and earn prize money for their efforts.

So far, the creative contest includes 1,200 stores from participating retailers.

Participants will be featured, and winners will be recognized, in Super Floral and Florists’ Review. Certified American Grown will feature and promote all participants on social media, in a press release and on its blog and website.

Retailers who participate in the contest will be judged on the quality and beauty of their in-store displays that promote American Grown Flowers Month, their ability to increase flower sales in July and their efforts to promote the celebratory month overall, as well as the Certified American Grown brand.

Store campaigns will be judged by Travis Rigby, publisher of Super Floral magazine and Florists’ Review; J Keith White, AIFD, creative director for American Floral Trends Forecast and AANDK Productions and Tom Bowling, AIFD, PFCI, Education Director for Syndicate Sales.

It’s not too late to be involved American Grown Flowers Month. Visit AmericanGrownFlowers.org/julycontest/ to learn more and register!

CamFlor Expanding Its Acreage, Flower Varieties

“It’s like holiday shipping all year round for us.” – Carlos Cardoza, sales manager, CamFlor

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.

A beautiful field of eucomus at CamFlor in Watsonville, CA.

 

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 60 acres. And it’s purchasing excess equipment and plants from nearby farms.

“It’s been a good move. Our sales are up 30 to 40 percent each month since November,” Cardoza shares.

 

 

The new 60 acres will be planted with Queen Anne’s lace, hybrid delphinium, rice flower, narcissus, belladonna and godetia – flowers that are popular with wholesalers, event planners and consumers craving something different.

While some varieties are all new to CamFlor, others are specialty flowers that were previously popular and are seeing a comeback; take Killian daisies, for example.

“Few do what we do, which is add five to eight new product varieties every year,” Cardoza says. “The seed people know that CamFlor has land near the ocean, middle inland and inland – that’s three different climates. They know that if they give us something, we’ll find the place to grow it.”

In his experience, the novelty flower market is in full growth mode as multiple audiences are on the lookout for something different.

CamFlor meets that need not only by continually adding novelty options, it also ships boxed assortments in addition to boxes packed with single flower varieties.

Yellow Yarrow growing tall and bright in the fields of CamFlor.

“The demand for American Grown Flowers has grown and the new generation of florists, designers and wedding companies are looking for different types of product every year.”

Cardoza’s happy to meet the need and to throw in a few surprises!

Certified American Grown Receives $200,000 Grant For Export Development

CAG Will Lead Trade Missions to China and Southeast Asia in 2018

Over the past year, Certified American Grown (CAG) has secured federal grant funds through the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to develop export markets for American Grown Flowers.

Last year’s delegation met with Chinese floral industry leaders last May.

In 2017, Certified American Grown conducted a comprehensive assessment in China, determining 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 first-hand and contribute to the assessment.

As a result of the project, several U.S. cut flower farmers began shipping to China in the fall.

You can access the assessment here: Certified American Grown: China Assessment Report .

In 2018, Certified American Grown will continue to focus on market development activities in China and also explore opportunities in Southeast Asia.

2018 Activities Include:

June 23 – July 1, 2018: Outbound Trade Mission to China

  • Meet with targeted importers, wholesalers and retailers in Shanghai and Guangzhou to establish contacts and present business information.
  • Tour the largest Chinese cut flower growing region in Yunnan Province to gain an understanding of its market structure and distribution network.

Fall 2018: Conduct a Market Feasibility Assessment in Southeast Asia

  • Meet with targeted importers, wholesalers and retailers in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam to determine feasibility of increasing exports to the region.

For more information or to let us know you’re interested in participating in one of the upcoming trips, please visit:

americangrownflowers.org/exportmarketdevelopment/

Pick From One of Two Design Classes with Debi Lilly

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California, may be sold out, but all is not lost!

You now have TWO opportunities to design with renowned event planner and floral designer Debi Lilly.

Debi Lilly will not only be our featured designer for the dinner, but is hosting two workshop that same morning.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

We’re hosting two workshops on April 26, one from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and a second from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. Lilly will talk about spring design trends and containers, share her design secrets and let you try them out in the hands-on workshops.

Debi Lilly always inspires her workshop guests, sharing her design tips and the latest trends.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

 

Known as Oprah’s “Favorite Pro,” Lilly was part of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” for more than 10 years and has made it her mission to inspire, educate and share her 20 years of party planning expertise, stylist tips and DIY designs with fans worldwide. Did we mention Lady Gaga’s a fan?   To further jog your memory, you may have seen her designs and products at your local Safeway or Albertsons store.

 

You don’t have to have tickets to the Field to Vase Dinner later that day to design with Lilly, and you can bring your friends and design shoulder to shoulder!

 

Register now because at just $40, spots are going fast!

 

Just go to our event page and click the green “Tickets” button to select your workshop time.

 

 

[Press Release] New Contest, Campaign Puts Spotlight on American Grown Flowers Month in July

In 2017, Congress passed a resolution declaring July “American Grown Flowers Month” to recognize the economic and cultural impact of America’s cut flower and greens farmers. To spread the word about American Grown Flowers Month, Certified American Grown is working with farmers and retailers nationwide on in-store promotion programs to help consumers identify and celebrate homegrown blooms throughout July.

The campaign includes a national contest, the American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest, that encourages retailers to leverage the Congressional declaration and promote homegrown blooms – and earn prize money for their efforts.

Click on the photo above to learn more.

This contest is a first of its kind,” explains Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “And we hope to see this celebration grow into a fun and spirited tradition, celebrating the rich history, heritage and beauty of American Grown Flowers during this special month.”

Retailers who participate in the contest will be judged on the quality and beauty of their in-store displays that promote American Grown Flowers Month, their ability to increase flower sales in July and their efforts to promote the celebratory month overall, as well as the Certified American Grown brand.

Store campaigns will be judged by Travis Rigby, publisher of Super Floralmagazine and Florists’ Review; J Keith White, AIFD, creative director for American Floral Trends Forecast and AANDK Productions; and a third yet-to-be-determined judge.

A beautiful collection of Certified American Grown Flowers can really help draw consumers into learning more and celebrating the season.

 

First prize is a $500 American Express gift card, second prize is a $200 card and third prize is a $100 card.

Participants will be featured, and winners will be recognized, in Super Floral andFlorists’ Review. Certified American Grown will feature and promote all participants on social media, in a press release and on its blog and website.

Certified American Grown has quickly become the most prolific and widely recognized origin-based label in floral departments and retail coolers nationwide. More and more farms continue to adopt this third-party certification as a badge of pride, guaranteeing that the flowers found in a bouquet or bunch were grown and assembled in the U.S.

Working with Where Food Comes From, this certification is the only source-verification program of its kind in the floral industry.

 

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About Certified American Grown

Launched on July 1, 2014, Certified American Grown represents a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. flower farms, including small and large entities in multiple states across the country. Certified American Grown flower farms participate in an independent, third-party supply-chain audit to verify both origin and assembly of the flowers they grow. When it appears on bouquets, bunches and other packaging or store signage, the Certified American Grown Brand and logo gives consumers confidence in the source of their flowers and assures them that the flowers they purchase come from a domestic American flower farm. For more information about this contest, visit AmericanGrownFlowersMonth.org