Congressman Salud Carbajal and Congressman Ted Yoho To Co-Chair Cut Flower Caucus

New co-chairs expand bipartisan leadership of important caucus

Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA 24th District) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL, 3rd District) have become co-chairs of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

The Congressional Cut Flower Caucus was launched by a bipartisan effort of Congresswoman Lois Capps and Congressman Duncan Hunter in 2014. Since its inception, the caucus has grown to include a total of six co-chairs and over 25 members of Congress.

The caucus is open to all members of Congress and is dedicated to promoting the domestic cut flower industry, including educating members of Congress and staff on the economic and cultural importance of America’s cut flower and greens farmers as well as the challenges the industry faces. The caucus also sponsors events to provide a greater understanding of the issues and opportunities facing America’s flower farmers, their families and their flowers.

Rep. Salud Carbajal meeting with California flower farmers during the Certified American Grown DC Fly-In in February 2019.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

Carbajal’s district includes the largest flower-growing region in the United States by volume. For the last two years, he has authored a resolution announcing July as American Grown Flowers Month in the house.

Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“It’s an honor to serve as co-chair on behalf of our cut flower farmers, who not only bring beauty into our homes, but provide tens of thousands of jobs across the country and billions in economic activity each year,” said Rep. Carbajal. “Representing the Central Coast, the highest-producing flower region in a state that produces three-quarters of all cut flowers grown in the United States, I know intimately the value of this industry as an economic engine. In this new role, I look forward to continuing to highlight the economic and cultural value of American’s cut flower industry, as well as raise awareness about the challenges our farmers and small businesses face in an increasingly globalized economy.”

Yoho’s district includes the largest greens-growing district in the U.S. For the past several years, he’s worked to have American Grown Flowers featured in the White House, including penning a letter to President Donald Trump to suggest the policy.

Rep. Ted Yoho also met with flower farmers from the DC Fly-In delegation last month. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“I’m honored to be a part of the leadership for the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus,” stated Congressman Ted Yoho. “It’s vital that America’s flower farmers have a voice at the table in this very competitive market and it’s our job as members of Congress to ensure that our farmers are able to continue to do the great job they do growing flowers and greens here in the United States of America.”

Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

The Congressional Cut Flower caucus continues to grow in size and influence.

“Our farms are fortunate to have these two great champions in Congress,” shared Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “Rep. Carbajal and Rep. Yoho know our issues, understand the value our farms bring to their communities and why time is of the essence to address the challenges they face. We look forward to working with them in their new leadership positions on the caucus.”

 

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About Certified American Grown Flowers. Launched on July 1, 2014, Certified American Grown Flowers 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 Flowers 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 Certified American Grown Flowers, visit www.americangrownflowers.com.

Certified American Grown Flowers Star at FTD World Cup 2019

Bart Hassam of Australia Named Champion!

The FTD World Cup 2019, considered the Olympics of floral design, was held last weekend in Philadelphia, marking the first time the competition has been held in the U.S. since 1985. But perhaps even more exciting than its return to the U.S. is the fact that global participants in the competition created some of their designs with over 14,000 Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens donated by American flower farmers!

Certified American Grown was a proud sponsor (as displayed on the big screen) of this year’s FTD World Cup competition in Philadelphia.

For the first time ever, domestically grown flowers starred on the biggest stage in the floral industry during a surprise challenge held on Saturday, March 2. The surprise package of flowers was the only origin-based design package offered during the competition.

The 2019 FTD World Cup was held in conjunction with the Philadelphia Flower Show and included massive floral displays and floral demonstrations.

The FTD World Cup included designers from 23 different countries who won their national competitions to gain entry into the contest. During the main competition last Friday and Saturday, the designers completed four tasks starting with three designs of their own creation (a table for two, a hand tied bouquet, an architecture-inspired piece) and ending with an on-the-fly design – the Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens task. From there, 10 semifinalists moved on to tackle a semifinal challenge Sunday morning.

The 2019 FTD World Cup Champion, Australia’s Bart Hassam, puts the finishing touches on his arrangement, which took first place. ( Photo by Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)

On Sunday evening, five finalists competed in one last surprise task and Bart Hassam of Australia was named the champion, earning a prize worth about $17,000.

Certified American Flowers and Greens were sent to Philadelphia from flower and greens farms from across the country to be featured as one of the surprise packages that all 23 designers were given to work with for the final stage of the first round.

A huge thank you goes out to the farms who sent their Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens to the competition, showcasing how America’s flower farming families can provide beautiful blooms 365 days a year:

  • Mellano & Co.
  • Holland America Flowers
  • Ferntrust
  • Star Valley Flowers
  • Myriad Flowers
  • California Pajarosa
  • Resendiz Brothers Protea
  • Camflor
  • Bloomia
  • Washington Bulb
  • Continental Floral Greens
  • Kitayama Brothers
  • Ocean Breeze Farms

Certified American Grown’s procurement specialist Anna Kalins and American Grown Flowers and Green champion and former Field to Vase designer Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore represented the Certified American Grown program throughout the week and at the FTD World Cup Gala.

Wild Lark Farm: First Oklahoma Farm Certified American Grown

For Terri Barr, making the leap from civil engineering technician to flower grower was a natural move. She had farming in her blood, a lifelong love for gardening and a desire to work outdoors.

The result is Wild Lark Farm in Claremore, Oklahoma, which she started in 2018 and is building from the ground up. She’s growing specialty and heirloom flowers – mums, old-school lilacs and sunflowers among them – on about an acre of the 40-acre spread where she lives with her husband and their three children. It’s a former cattle pasture with clay-like soil that she’s slowly transforming into an organic, sustainable growing operation.

But her path to becoming a flower farmer, and earning Certified American Grown status, is decidedly indirect.

She grew up on a farm in Kansas where her family grew corn, wheat, milo and soybeans. She went to college in Oklahoma and graduated with a degree in interior design. But instead of designing rooms, she went to work as a technician in a civil engineering firm. She put her drafting skills to work in designing infrastructure – water lines, sewer lines, parking lots.

But despite working for a company she liked and with “fantastic” colleagues, she knew she wanted to be outdoors. The turning point came in 2017 when she attended a floral workshop in the Mount Vernon area of Washington. It was there that she found what she was looking for. She was with flower people from all over the United States and enjoyed hearing their stories. Everything about it was a good fit.

Photos provided by Wild Lark Farm.

“This is what I want to feel. This is perfect,” she recalls thinking at the time. “There was really nothing like that in Oklahoma. So when I came back here I just decided to give a go.”

As a daughter of farmers, she knew what she was getting into.

 

 

“I didn’t go and start this farm with the idea that this is going to be amazing and I’ll be dancing in flowers every day,” she said. “I knew it was going to be hard work. It’s hot and humid and when it rains, it rains too much or it doesn’t rain enough. So, I knew going in that this is hard.”

But it’s where she’s found fulfillment.

“Last year was the first year I really increased what I was growing and really put myself out there. I just wanted to gauge how much interest people had, if they were receptive or if they thought it was just the craziest idea that they’d ever heard. But people have loved it. That’s been really positive.”

 

She got her first customer by walking into a new florist shop in Claremore with some of her flowers in a bucket.

“I said, ‘These flowers are just for you to use. If you like them, great.’ And I gave them my card. They loved them and they posted them on Instagram.”

The response was almost immediate. Three florists in Tulsa who saw the Instagram post reached out to her to ask if she sold to other people. Her response: “Yeah, sure.”

 

 

Those florists have given her a foot in the door and something to build on. In the meantime, she’s building an organic, sustainable operation.

Although she could draw on her farming background, she knew she couldn’t farm like her parents. Practices had evolved and she was adamant about it being organic.

“For one, I have kids and I don’t want all the chemicals and the pesticides out there. I want people to be able to walk out there and be able to touch and can smell everything. So they know what they’re getting is the real deal.

“And since I’ve worked so hard to get my soil in good condition, I want to make sure that it’s sustainable.”

In addition, she feels an obligation to Oklahoma tradition to leave the land better than she found it.

 

“One of the slogans in Oklahoma is ‘Keep the land grand,’” she said. “People are really conscious that we humans aren’t here forever. You want to keep the land nice, you want to keep it sustainable for people who come after you. A lot of people here have that mindset of make it better than you found it. So, that’s what I try to do.”

Three to five years down the road, she would like to have a farm she can share with the public.

“What I would really love to do once I get things established is to open it up and make it accessible to people. Not necessarily a you-pick thing, but just so people can come out and physically enjoy it, to see how it works and see where flowers come from.”

She follows other farms on Facebook and Instagram and sees that many of them keep their operations closed to the public.

“I get that it’s hard to do what you have to do and have people around. At the same, I want to be able to share as much as I can. I don’t want my farm to be closed off. There’s so much out there, there’s so much beauty, that I just want to share as much as I can.”

 

 

DVFlora Becomes Certified American Grown 

DVFlora Becomes First Floral Industry Wholesaler to Achieve Certification

 

 

 

 

 

Media Contact:                                                                                    For Immediate Release

Kasey Cronquist                                                                                      Feb. 20, 2019
Administrator
916-441-1701
kasey@americangrownflowers.org

 

DVFlora, one of the largest floral importers and distributors in the United States, has become the first wholesaler to earn Certified American Grown status. This latest certification of DVFlora by Certified American Grown marks a notable shift from the program’s focus on farm production to now include the floral industry’s supply chain process and related companies.

DVFlora is now the first Certified American Grown wholesaler.

 

“With over half of all domestic production now participating in Certified American Grown, the program is in a great position to bring valuable marketing opportunities to our wholesale partners like DVFlora,” explained Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist.

For 60 years, DVFlora has provided wholesale flowers, floral supplies and botanicals to professional retail florists and event designers nationwide. Headquartered in Sewell, New Jersey, the firm offers one of the largest “loose pick” operations in the U.S. DVFlora ships by ground or air from its New Jersey HQ, as well as from offices in Oxnard, California, and Miami, Florida.

 

Announcing their new certification, DVFlora.com will now provide their customers a dedicated and filtered directory that guarantees their purchases will be Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens.


DVFlora’s unique operation and systems allowed the company to meet the certification standards and pass the third-party onsite audit process required to achieve Certified American Grown status. DVFlora’s identity preservation system has been third-party audited and verified by Where Food Comes From to guarantee customers that DVFlora can accurately segment, track and maintain the brand identity of American Grown Flowers and Greens from farm to customer delivery.

“DVFlora is the first floral wholesaler in the country that provides its customers with a third-party guarantee that the flowers and greens they’re purchasing and marketing as Certified American Grown were grown and assembled in the United States,” explained Cronquist. “No other wholesaler can provide that guarantee today.”

 

With an iconic logo and representing over half of domestic production, Certified American Grown provides the only origin and assembly guarantee in the floral industry.


“We’re excited to be teaming up with the Certified American Grown program to bring this value-added benefit to our customers,” shared DVFlora’s Vice President Tim Dewey. “We see the increasing interest and demand for American Grown Flowers and Greens, and now our customers will notice a dedicated online directory to purchase Certified American Grown offerings.”

 

# # #

About Certified American Grown Flowers
Launched on July 1, 2014, Certified American Grown Flowers 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 Flowers 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 Certified American Grown Flowers, visit www.americangrownflowers.com.

 

About DVFlora
DVFlora, a division of Delaware Valley Floral Group, for 60 years has been providing professional florists with the finest in fresh cut flowers and greens, floral supplies and botanicals. The DVFlora market area includes the Mid-Atlantic and New England states, but the company also ships throughout the United States, as well as to Bermuda and the Caribbean. The company has the industry’s premier internet presence through its e-commerce website. www.dvflora.com

 

About Where Food Comes From, Inc.

Where Food Comes From, Inc. is America’s trusted resource for third-party verification of production practices and is the exclusive provider of Certified American Grown certifications to the floral industry. Through proprietary technology and patented business processes, the company supports more than 15,000 growers, farmers, ranchers, vineyards, wineries, processors, retailers, distributors, trade associations, consumer brands and restaurants with a wide variety of value-added services. Through its IMI Global, International Certification Services, Validus Verification Services, SureHarvest, A Bee Organic and Sterling Solutions units, Where Food Comes From solutions are used to verify food claims, optimize production practices and enable food supply chains with analytics and data driven insights. In addition, the company’s Where Food Comes From® retail and restaurant labeling program uses web-based customer education tools to connect consumers to the sources of the food they purchase, increasing meaningful consumer engagement for our clients. 

 

Cuts of Color Joins Certified American Grown

With her roots deep in the soil of Texas, it was perhaps inevitable that Rita Anders would end up a farmer.

After all, she grew up on a dairy farm in Weimar, Texas, where her grandfather started farming in 1937. Her family also grew peaches and pecans.

All photos courtesy of Cuts of Color.

What wasn’t so inevitable was that she would become a flower grower, a wedding flower designer and an advocate for locally grown produce. All that came from within her. The result is Cuts of Color, a thriving Certified American Grown flower farm 90 miles west of Houston that produces a wide range of flowers that are harvested year-round.

Anders took an indirect route to get where she is now. Out of high school, she went to work at a building supply store. It wasn’t what she wanted to do, but she learned an important lesson – she didn’t like working for someone else.

“There were all these stupid rules and I just knew I liked working for myself,” she said.

Her grandfather had started growing greenhouse tomatoes and he offered Anders the chance to take over the operation after he retired.

“He had one 4,800 square-foot greenhouse,” she said. “I said, ‘OK, what do I do the other four days of the week?’”

What she did was steadily expand the operation.

“I rented four more greenhouses, and while I rented those, I started building four more of my own. On some land we bought, we added six more. We did that for 26 years. We grew greenhouse tomatoes for the Houston market and we sold everything we had.”

 

It was not until the early 2000s that flowers were even in the picture. But a convergence of events brought Anders’ latent affinity for flowers to the forefront – she was weary of growing tomatoes and a spike in butane prices made her greenhouse operation far less profitable. On top of that, her children were leaving the nest.

 

“I got burned out on it after 26 years,” she said. “I was done with it. All my kids went off to school and college and I was like ‘I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to do something different.’ I always loved flowers, so I started mixing in my flowers with the vegetables. And then I went completely into flowers in ’04.”

It was the rise in butane prices that gave her the big push to trade tomatoes for flowers.

“I just didn’t want to be working for the butane company, so I decided I would just keep going and use these greenhouses we have for flowers,” she said. “With flowers, we just open everything up, and when winter comes we just close it up. It uses nowhere near the amount of gas or electricity. We just said we’ll use the greenhouses till they fall down, but one did fall down and we put two up in its place.”

But it was not an easy road. With children in college, she took on a full-time job in addition to her farming operation. And she had to teach herself about growing flowers.

“We don’t grow tomatoes here in the summer because it’s too hot,” she said. “So, every summer for two or three years I’d read everything there was about flowers. I just decided to read up on flowers and see what I could do with it. And then I joined the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. I learned so much from them about what to grow, when to grow it. I just learned from people. That’s how I did it.

“I took my chances. I made plenty of mistakes, don’t get me wrong.”

But Anders minimized the cost of those mistakes early on.

“I started with zinnias and sunflowers and celosia,” she said. “It was all seed crops. I did everything on my own. I didn’t order bulbs or plugs or anything. And that was the best thing because I made my mistakes on seed instead of planting a whole bunch of bulbs. That costs a lot of money.”

She first started selling her flowers in some of the same stores where she sold her tomatoes. She then branched out to a farmers market in Houston.

The first time, she “took 30 $10 bouquets to the market and we sold out in no time. I thought, ‘Oh, this is nice.’”

She also sold to florists and made deliveries. After customers suggested she start providing flowers for weddings, she taught herself how to do it. She read, watched YouTube videos and got some tips from one of her florist customers. She also drew on some long-ago lessons.

“My grandma used to make fake flowers,” she said. “She’d take wood fiber and make flowers for a whole wedding. She did tons of weddings like that. So, I guess I inherited some of that. With arranging things, some people have it and some people don’t.”

The wedding flower business eventually grew to the point where she had to start turning away customers.

In 2012, she landed a contract to supply flowers to Central Market in Houston, a place shedescribes as “a Whole Foods but on steroids.” That has proved to be a good fit – the market likes her locally grown bloomsand eco-friendly approach, and she likes the steady business. She delivers flowers there twice a week and the store now accounts for about two-thirds of her business.

“We produce a lot and they buy everything,” she said. “They support me whole-heartedly.”

In addition, she offers farm tours and design workshops. She also sells directly from the farm. Cut of Color’s Facebook page regularly offers $10 bouquets for pickup at the farm.

With her kids grown and her husband retired, she can see the next phase of her life on the horizon. What that holds, however, isn’t clear. Perhaps a family member will eventually take it over.

“I could go to more stores and get bigger but I don’t want to,” she said. “My husband is 65 and he’s retired. I’m 60, and I’m not at the point where I want to go bigger. I’m happy with what I have.”

Mellano & Company Achieves BloomCheck Certification

Mellano & Company, a prominent presence on the landscape of California flower farming for more than 90 years, has recently achieved their BloomCheck certification for their sustainable practices on their farm in northern San Diego County.

Mellano & Company recently received their BloomCheck Certification, recognizing their farm for their commitment to sustainable flower and green production.

For CEO Mike A. Mellano, being BloomCheck-certified helps make his business stronger both inside and out.

From the outside, it differentiates Mellano & Company’s flowers in the marketplace and certifies them as sustainably grown based on a set of domestic production standards.

From the inside, it strengthens the company by bringing its practices into sharp focus.

“Pursuing the BloomCheck certification required us to create targets and goals that helped us focus on improvement and be recognized for our commitment to environmental stewardship,” Mellano said. “BloomCheck puts us in a position to promote and communicate all the good things we’re doing as flower and greens farmers in California.”

Flower farmers that become BloomCheck certified have undergone a rigorous third-party audit to ensure they’re using best practices for sustainability when it comes to water, air and soil quality; wildlife protection; and social impacts on workers and the community. That means reducing energy use, recycling water, deploying biological pest management and following the law when it comes to state and federal employment rules and regulations.

Protected Harvest, an independent nonprofit organization that certifies the sustainability of agriculture operations, does the on-site auditing to ensure farms are meeting the standards.

Mike Mellano of Mellano & Company giving a tour of the company’s ranunculus production at The Flower Fields of Carlsbad.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

“BloomCheck is the gold standard of sustainability claims within the floral industry,” shared Kasey Cronquist, administrator of the BloomCheck program. “We’re proud to recognize and announce Mellano & Company’s certification and the high bar of commitment to best practices and environmental stewardship it represents.”

Mellano is the third generation to run the family farm. It covers 375 acres at two locations in Oceanside and Carlsbad and produces more than 30 different items. Its ranunculus operation in Carlsbad is also a popular agri-tourism site.

At Mellano & Company, preparing for the BloomCheck certification took about 60 days. It was time well spent, Mellano said.

“I think it sets a path for us so that we can continually improve on what we’re doing,” he said. “That came through during the application process and all the tests. It pointed out the things we do that we don’t really think about.

“All of a sudden you had to think about it, you had to write it down and it creates a path of thinking, ‘Well, what can I do to improve on that?’ It creates some very useful prioritization and focus.”

The BloomCheck process was also a chance for Mellano & Company to publicly demonstrate its commitment to sustainability.

“The engagement and communication with our employees and customers makes this an outward, publicly visible statement that we are committed and passionate about sustainability.”

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Designer Kelly Shore Unveils ‘A Year of American Grown Bouquets’

Passion Project Shows What Can Be Designed 365 Days a Year With Domestic Blooms 

Kelly Shore, recently featured in an ad in Florists Review, highlighting her commitment to Certified American Grown Flowers as a promise she can build her business on.

At the start of 2018, floral designer Kelly Shore challenged herself to spend the year designing with the highest percentage of American Grown Flowers possible. It was a personal effort on her part to see exactly what was achievable with flowers sourced exclusively from U.S. flower farms.

And her connections to Certified American Grown farms as a designer for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour and the First Lady’s Luncheon, along with her participation in the group’s annual fly-in to Washington, D.C., help paved the way for what would come next.

Kelly Shore with freshly cut flowers arranged on the farm at Plantmasters in Maryland. Photo by Susie & Becky.

Sure, her goal to use more Certified American Grown Flowers was public, but she was privately working on (and funding) another project that came to light at the start of 2018.

Each month, Shore, owner and lead designer at Petals by the Shore in Maryland, designed and photographed a bride’s bouquet created entirely with American Grown flowers and foliage. She describes the project as an experiential exercise to help her learn what grows 365 days a year in the U.S.

“I’m an experiential learner and actively making change with a hands-on approach is the only way I knew I would learn how to confidently make the change I wanted to. So I began the project ‘A Year of American Grown bouquets.’ My work with Certified American Grown inspired the undertaking – meeting the farmers, hearing their stories, that meant everything. And having those people connections was important, and motivating. ”

Kelly Shore has traveled to Alaska to design with the peonies growing there. She was the featured floral designer at the 2017 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska. Photo by Joshua Veldstra.

Every month, Shore picked an unconventional color palette – think lavender and blue in December, orange and yellow in February – and sourced all floral materials from American flower farmers.

She worked closely with wholesaler DVFlora and also reached out personally to source flowers from U.S. farms that grow varieties bride’s crave.

With the flowers sourced and 100 percent American grown, Shore would design a bouquet and have it professionally photographed (by Sarah Collier of Taken by Sarah Photography) in the hands of a bridal model in a studio or outdoor floral-related setting.

The project is featured in the January 2019 issue of Florists Review, and Shore started blogging about the effort and posting on social media in early January.

She stresses that the project was not just art for art’s sake, but was instead a learning journey and “a real working project to change my business.” And, in the long run, to show other designers what’s possible with domestic flowers.

“In everything I do, I want to bring visibility to the flower farms and encourage other designers to want to do the same,” Shore explains. “People are so inspired by it and they feel like they can do it. Designers are reaching out and saying the bouquets are gorgeous, and I’ve had a lot of farms comment that they appreciate the project and the recognition.”

And the lesson in it for Shore?

“That’ there’s a reliability in what I can get that’s American Grown. I can ask for specific farms and products because now I know the quality. And I get excited when I know the farms I’m getting the flowers from and see the sleeve and the beautiful logos. I’m proud to know that I’m supporting American farmers and their families.”

Flowers labeled Certified American Grown allow designers to quickly identify the origin of their blooms and provides them a third-party guarantee that the source of their flowers have been verified.

Shore’s confident her project can serve as a road map for other floral designers who may be considering increasing their use of domestically grown flowers, or even who are just hoping to get to know nearby flower farmers and their products.

“I understand how, as designers, it’s can be easy find ourselves celebrating some of these exotic flowers from places like Holland or Japan, but through this experience, I was really amazed to see what’s growing year-round right here in the U.S. We’re not even scratching the surface of what we can create with as designers, and to me, that had to change.”

Kelly Shore on the farm at Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska. Photo by Joshua Veldstra.

 

Here We Go! Check Out the Line Up of Farms For the 2019 Certified American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour

6 Breathtaking Destinations Announced!

The fifth season of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour has just been announced, and we want you check out the destinations, grab all of your flower-loving friends and join us on a flower farm for an award-winning experience you’ll never forget.

We couldn’t be more excited about the 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 features amazing locations, including a peony farm in Alaska and a return visit to one of our most popular stops!

So grab your calendar and check out these destinations!

You ‘ll be surrounded by flowers with a view of the Pacific Ocean during our dinner at The Flower Fields of Carlsbad. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

We’re thrilled to be starting the 2019 tour at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California, on April 18. The American Grown Field To Vase Dinner Tour returns to this postcard of an experience each year. Guests at this dinner get exclusive access and enjoy dining among acres and acres of colorful ranunculus while looking out over the Pacific Ocean. This is a very popular tour stop that sells out faster and faster each year.

Click here to save your seats The Flower Fields!

We want to see your name on the guest list during this year’s tour. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Next, we’ll head to Bloomia USA in King George, Virginia, on June 1, where guests will dine in a greenhouse bursting with tulips and hear about the flower-growing process for these flowers that so many name as their favorite bloom.

Click here to save your seat to Bloomia!

Grab your friends and find yourself at one of our tables during this year’s tour. Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

On June 12, the tour heads back to California for a unique stop smack dab in the middle of a city This pop-up dinner destination will not only “pop up” a meal experience on the lawn of California’s State Capitol, we’ll be popping up a flower farm experience in the shadow of the Capitol building! We’ll be working with our farms to bring our American Grown Flowers story to the steps of California’s Capitol building, sharing our collective stories, the flowers we grow and the value our American flower farms bring to their communities and the economy. This dinner will bring flower farmers together with lawmakers to highlight just how important the consumer movement toward American Grown Flowers really is.

Click here to save your seats at the Capitol.

Picture you and that special someone on that Alaskan floral adventure you’ve been dreaming about. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

On Aug. 3, we head to Alaska! We couldn’t be more excited to return to Homer, this time for a stop at Joselyn Peonies, where guests will dine in a field of blooming peonies on a farm with views of Kachemak Bay. This destination also includes additional excursions such as fishing trips and a multi-farm tour. Be sure to check out all the reasons you should join us in Alaska and turn it into a true adventure!

Click here to save your seat at Josyln Peony Farm!

We can’t wait to dine in the middle of the stock fields of Ocean View Flowers! Photo courtesy of Ocean View Flowers.

In the fall, join us in Lompoc, California, at Ocean View Flowers on Sept. 7 where you’ll enjoy an artisan meal in fields of stock in a variety of hues. While there, you’ll learn about the unique coastal climate that helps Ocean View grow so many flower varieties on hundreds of acres.

Click here to save your seat to Ocean View Flowers!

You will find beautifully designed centerpieces by amazing floral designers at each one of our tour stops in 2019. Photo by Liraz Photography.

Our last stop will be at Red Twig Farms in New Albany, Ohio, on Oct. 5, where you’ll dine under a canopy of dogwood and willow branches. You don’t want to miss out on a visit to this nine-acre family-owned-and-operated cut flower and branch farm in central Ohio that grows oh so many specialty flowers and branches.

Click here to save your seat to Red Twig Farm!

We’ll be focused on the flowers, but the food and wine will not disappoint. Photos by Kelleghan Production.

There’s so much more we could share and explain, but for now, please visit the landing pages we’ve created for each one of these locations; find the complete list here. You’ll discover even more information and details about each stop, but make sure you book your tickets right away. Last year, we had dinners selling out months in advance!

The Certified American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour has served over 5,000 people in the last four seasons. Photo by Kelleghan Production.

Plus, early birds benefit from special “Tour Launch” pricing. For the first 30 days, we’ll be selling tickets to each of our dinners for $175, however the price for each ticket will increase after this introductory offer!

Seating is limited and every dinner will sell out, so don’t wait to save your seat. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Please consider helping us share this year’s locations and special launch pricing with your flower-loving friends. If you’re planning to attend a dinner, invite them to join you. If you’ve gone before, help us share this magical experience with others on social networks like Instagram and Facebook.

We can’t wait to welcome you to the flower farm. Photo by Liraz Photography.

We look forward to seeing you on a flower farm in 2019!

All too exciting and not sure which dinner to attend? Click here to see the entire line up and descriptions of each farm at AmericanGrownFlowers.org/fieldtovase

 

Meet Boreal Peonies!

Boreal Peonies Is Certified American Grown

Farming and science have always gone hand in hand. But when two biology professors took a summer teaching gig in Alaska, the last thing they expected was to become flower farmers.

“We’re geek farmers,” says Jill Russell, who owns Boreal Peonies, a Certified American Grown flower farm, along with her husband, David Russell. “It’s Mr. Magoo goes to the farm.”

Both professors at Miami University in Ohio, they’d spent their honeymoon in Alaska, and had always wanted to go back. So when Jill found out the University of Alaska Fairbanks needed professors to teach summer biology classes, she leapt at the opportunity.

“We loved it,” she says. “We absolutely fell in love with Alaska.”

While there, they discovered that researchers at the university had been studying peonies for years. It turns out peonies in Alaska bloom at a time of year when they aren’t available anywhere else in the world. Over the past decade or so, as the state explored new agricultural possibilities to potentially replace the oil industry, these popular wedding flowers emerged as a promising crop. Amateur farmers began planting them experimentally—and one of them was the occupant of the office next door.

The following year, upon returning to Fairbanks for the summer term, the Russells found out their office neighbor had presold her entire crop by February. She showed them her business plan and urged them to give it a try.

As scientists do, they started researching. Within a year, they were ready to take the plunge. They bought an old hay farm on 40 acres and planted their first crop in 2013. Boreal Peonies, they decided, would serve a dual purpose as both a production and research facility. Of their 5,700 plants, they would devote 1,600 to science.

“You can’t really have a farm without doing research,” Russell says. “We totally geek out on it.”

Every day they measured the height of their plants and tracked their development. They experimented with soil chemistry in search of the perfect fertilizer. They shared their findings with the local farming community to help their adopted state grow its fledgling peony industry.

“Being biologists has really helped,” she says. “Soil chemistry is so key to success of the growth of these peonies, and we’ve learned a lot that we didn’t know. We’re still working on our fertilizer formula.”

Now in their ninth summer teaching in Alaska—and their fifth year growing peonies—the Russells have become permanent residents there, spending the school year teaching in Ohio before returning to Two Rivers for the growing season. With 16,000 production plants and 1,500 research plants, they anticipate harvesting some 40,000 stems this year.

 

“The industry is going to explode this summer,” she says. “There are a lot of farms like us.”

The farming bug has proven infectious. Two of their kids, both grown, and one of their graduate students also spend summers working on the farm—and they spend the rest of the year looking forward to it.

Kelly Burger, graduate student, is spending her summer doing research in Alaska. Her work on boreal peonies focused on the effects of compost tea on peony growth.

“We wait all year to be in paradise,” Russell says.“Peony farming in Alaska is probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life. Nothing is more satisfying than having your hands in the dirt. You plant something, baby it and take care of it. Watching it bloom and grow, you feel connected to it.”

We’re Offering A ‘River to Table’ Experience in Alaska

Add Unique Fishing Expeditions To Your Field to Vase Experience -- Space is Limited!

Fishing is for everyone in Alaska.

Among the great outdoor opportunities that tempt visitors to Alaska, fishing lands at the top of many bucket lists. It’s easy enough to see yourself pitted against nature’s ruggedness – and coming out the victor.

This could be you! Imagine yourself reeling in a big King Salmon during your American Grown Field To Vase adventure in Alaska! This our dinner guest Val Mellano. She caught her king with Kenny on the Kenai River.

Certainly, this dream has caught the attention of guests reserving their seats at the Field to Vase Dinner Tour in Homer, Alaska, at Joslyn Peonies on Aug. 3, 2019. And the professional fishermen in that area are happy to take the bait.

Certified American Grown has reserved two special charters for dinner tour guests who are arriving early to revel in this state’s adventures. On Tuesday, July 30, join guide Kenny Bingaman and his team of expert fishing guides on one of their King Size Adventures to hook king salmon on the Kenai River. This 30-year veteran has a reputation for consistently producing fish for his clients during their eight-hour trips, some as large as 70 pounds.

Don’t fret. Kenny will provide the right rods, reels and even clean your catch back at the dock.

Seats are available for $300 per person, not including tip, and King Size Adventures will assign four persons per boat.

Only 16 seats are available, so reserve you spot quickly!

 

Reel in the catch of your life with North Country Charters while in Alaska for our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner.

On Thursday, August 1, North Country Charters invites you to board its 53-foot M/V Irish with her crew for eight fun hours of challenging halibut fishing. All of the fishing equipment, bait and filleting are provided, so all you need to do to cast off is bring warm clothing and your love for competitiveness. Lunch is available for $15, but you ‘re welcome to bring your own. The cost is $225 per person plus tax and $25 for a one-day fishing license available at the North Country Halibut Charters office or online at admin.adfg.state.ak.us/license.

Don’t hesitate – only 16 seats are available!

 

Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist reels in a 45 lb king salmon during the week of the 2017 Field To Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies.

 

And after you reel in the big catch? You’re welcome to donate it to be specially prepared and served at the Field and Vase Dinner itself. On the dinner tour’s last stop in Alaska, Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist did just that after catching a 45-pound salmon.

Because if there’s one thing better than attending one of our crown jewel events, it’s having a hand in creating it!

Chef Dave took Kasey’s king salmon and served it to our guests during the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies in 2017.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

 

 

 

 

But first, make sure you have a seat at the dinner table at Joslyn Peonies.  You won’t want to miss this uniquely Alaskan Field to Vase Dinner on August 3.  And fishing expeditions are a special offer for dinner guests only.

Join us at Josyln Peonies, in Homer, Alaska, located on the Kenai Peninsula and you’ll enjoy this stunning view of Kachemak Bay with your Field to Vase Dinner.