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.

 

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.

 

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!

6 New Farms Earn American Grown Certification

Farms Large and Small See Value, Benefits to Certification

Six new flower farms have recently officially become Certified American Grown, joining a cadre of 45 certified farms nationwide. These farms vary in size and in the varieties of flowers they grow, from small urban flower farm to a large greenhouse farm that propagates 90 percent of the nation’s gerberas.

The newly certified farms are:

Earning recognition as Certified American Grown helps retailers, wholesalers and florists connect their customers with flowers grown right here in the United States and tells customers that the flowers they’re bringing home or giving as gifts were grown, bouqued or bunched by American flower farmers.

Flower farmer Felicia Alvarez of Menagerie Farm & Flower grows garden roses and specialty flowers, including tulips and dahlias. She sought out certification because she believes it’s important for people to know where their flowers are coming from and how they’re grown.

 

Alvarez finds today’s consumers are in tune with the origin-matters message and are telling floral designers they prefer local, seasonal flowers. And in her experience, they appreciate knowing there’s an American farmer behind the blooms.

She’s also a fan of the advocacy that Certified American Grown provides around trade, taxes and agriculture in general.

“These all affect me, so I benefit from the advocacy work and I appreciate that my involvement, even as a small farm, can help push the needle.”

Novelty flower grower Carlos Cardoza of CamFlor sought out certification at the urging of some of his top clients who felt it would be a complement to his California Grown status.

“As soon as I got the logo and artwork and was able to share with my customers that we are Certified American Grown they were very congratulatory and pleased to know they had a supplier that had earned the certification,” Cardoza says.

He notes that many of his clients’ customers are asking for domestically grown flowers, as well as unique flowers not typically provided by importers.

“It’s a good time to be an American flower farmer. There’s a trend toward more novelty flowers and the use of more American Grown product,” Cardoza says.

Farmer florist Kelly Wood of Grace Gardens, the only certified farm in Alabama, says becoming Certified American Grown is helping her introduce the locavore flower movement to new farmers and floral designers in her state.

After becoming certified, Wood made a personal commitment to help new small farmers and create a market for them to sell their flowers. She also shares the importance of buying American Grown Flowers with florists in the hope of creating a network of growers and sales outlets.

“The benefit of American Grown Certification is that it lends credibility to what I’m trying to accomplish,” Wood explains.

Ocean Breeze Farms co-owner June Van Wingerden saw the Certified American Grown branded flower sleeves, store displays and truck wraps and knew she wanted to be part of the movement.

“The program and the splash that comes with it make a positive statement and is consumer friendly,” Van Wingerden explains. “And wholesalers are looking for it to distinguish one product from another.”

Six new certified farms, dozens of reasons to get on board.

Certified American Grown is growing and looking for more farms to join the Certified family. Today the brand represents the largest consumer facing brand featuring the origin of flowers in the U.S. floral industry. It is a powerful statement of pride and beauty that has proven to connect with consumers everywhere.

Have you considered joining the Certified American Grown movement?

Here We Go!

5 Breathtaking Stops Announced for the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour

The fourth season of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour is underway, and we want you to grab all of your flower-loving friends and join us on the flower farm for an award-winning experience you’ll never forget.

Click the video above and imagine yourself at one of this year’s American Grown Field to Vase Dinners.

 

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 includes amazing destinations, and we’ve also made some notable tweaks to the program.

But first, the farms!

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers

Saturday, April 7th

 

Mel Resendiz looks over his valley of beautiful flowers at Resendiz Brothers Protea Brothers. You can join him on April 7!
Photo by Sunset Magazine Staff Photographer Tom Story

We’re thrilled to be starting at Resendiz Brothers Protea in Fallbrook, California. This beautiful flower farm produces unique and award-winning protea. Guests will meet flower farmer Mel Resendiz and business manager Diana Roy who will provide personal tours of the farm. Participants will enjoy incredible views of Rainbow Valley atop the mountainous ridgelines where these incredible flowers and plants grow.

The Flower Fields with Mellano & Co.

Thursday, April 26th

 

Guests are already flocking back to our Carlsbad Dinner at The Flower Fields. Reserve your tickets now! Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Next, we’ll head back to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California. 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.

California State Capitol – Sacramento

Wednesday, June 13th

 

Dine in the shadow of Capitol building during California Grown Flowers Month.

In June, the tour takes a turn and heads into the city. This pop-up dinner tour 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! On June 13, 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.

Star Valley Flowers

Saturday, September 8th

 

Star Valley Flowers in Soldier Grove, WI is 300 acres of amazing. You won’t want to miss this one!

In September, we head to Wisconsin! We’ve never been to Wisconsin and we couldn’t be more excited to be teaming up with Star Valley Flowers in Soldier Grove. This farm is beautiful and John Zehrer and and his team grow some amazing varieties of specialty cut flowers, woody ornamentals and special perennials. The team at Star Valley is excited to be a part of this year’s tour and is already planning big things for our guests who attend.

Green Door Gourmet

Friday, October 5th

 

Experience the hospitality of Green Door Gourmet in Nashville, Tennessee and meet Laura (on right), resident flower farmer and greenhouse manager and her assistant manager Ally!

In October, we head to Nashville! That’s right! Look out country music lovers, the flower tour is coming to town. We’re super excited to be partnering with local favorite Green Door Gourmet in Nashville. Well-known and well-established as an agritourism destination, this 350-acre farm grows a wide variety of flowers, food and herbs, helping us connect all of the dots that our flower-filled dinner tour was created to represent.

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 find 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, so this year we’re encouraging you to book early.

Plus, early birds benefit from special “Tour Launch” pricing. For the next 30 days, we’ll be selling tickets to each of our dinners for $175, however the price for each ticket will go up on Feb.17.

Last year, friends came to the table to celebrate American Grown Flowers and Greens surrounded by their beauty. Come enjoy a magical evening with us in 2018!

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 Facebook and Instagram.

 

We look forward to seeing you at one of these wonder-filled locations in 2018!