Senator Feinstein Champions 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.

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 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 has been a longtime champion of American flower and foliage farming families, sponsoring the resolution declaring July American Grown Flowers Month in 2017. The reinstatement of this important report on domestic production of cut flowers and greens was a top priority for the Senator 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.

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.

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.

ABC features American Grown Flowers for America’s Moms

Anchor David Muir Meets with Florists, Farmers Who Deliver Homegrown Blooms

ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir featured the growing trend for American Grown Flowers for Mother’s Day.

With Mother’s Day fast approaching and millions buying flowers this week, ABC World News Tonight Anchor David Muir spoke with some florists who are making sure their flowers and greens are grown right here in America.

Muir talked to designers who are dedicated to creating bouquets and arrangements with American Grown Flowers as well as featuring the farmers who grow the blooms.

David Muir of ABC’s World News Tonight speaks with floral designer Emily Thompson of The Guild regarding the growing trend for American Grown Flowers.

All pointed to what Muir called “a growing trend” – consumers seeking out homegrown blooms for the flowers they give as gifts or bring home.

The feature includes Certified American Grown’s own Green Valley Floral in Salinas, California, along with designers committed to promoting American Grown Flowers.

The ABC report highlights how Emily Thompson sources from all across the country to supply homegrown blooms to her customers.

We couldn’t be more excited that the American Grown Flowers trend is not only spreading, it’s capturing the attention of World News!

Crown Mom the Queen This Mother’s Day!

Still looking for that perfect gift for Mother’s Day. Relax, we’ve got you covered!

Celebrate the mothers in your life with an evening filled with flowers. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Pick up a few tickets to one of our American Grown Field to Vase Dinners.

 

 

And because we know all moms deserve a little extra,

we’ll craft a hand-tied floral crown for her…

 

 

 

 

 

 

and include a special pair of Corona Flex Dial clippers for the both of you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Mom will delight in a multi-course artisanal meal served among the beauty of American Grown Flowers.

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

She’ll dine at a table overflowing with American Grown Flowers designed by our featured designers.

 

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

And she’ll sip local wine and floral-themed cocktails.

 

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

All while chatting with a host of California flower farmers and like-minded floral fans.

 

Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

She will even go home with an arm full of gifts!

 

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

See. It’s the perfect solution to Mother’s Day gifting!

 

Reserve your tickets by Saturday to be included in this special offer by using promo code MOMSDAY.

 

 

 

Second Dinner Tour Stop Gets Rave Reviews

Guests Watched the Sun Set Over the Pacific as They Dined in a Sea of Ranunculus

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography

The glory of The Flower Fields never tires.

For the fourth year in a row, The Flower Fields of Carlsbad provided the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner tour with that quintessential experience that one might imagine when dreaming of dinner on a flower farm.

Surrounded by beautiful ranunculus.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Hundreds of millions of ranunculus carpet the hillside, tended to by Mellano & Company, where the tradition and history of flower farming in Southern California is made manifest and approximately 300,000 people are invited onto the farm each year to experience the incredible majesty.

Special event planner and floral designer Debi Lilly of Perfect Events was the featured floral designer for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad. Photography by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

However, just 160 people had the opportunity to spend an evening dining between the rows of these beautiful ranunculus to celebrate American Grown Flowers.

Guest Kimberly K. shared, “It is a visually stunning experience that leaves you in awe, breathtaking beauty that surrounds you for as far as the eye can see. It is very humbling to be among so much beauty. It sure does put a big smile on your face…for days!”

Designer Debi Lilly set the table with gorgeous blooms in gorgeous vases from sponsor Syndicate Sales. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography

 

 

Debi Lilly of A Perfect Event was this year’s featured designer, starting out the day hosting two floral design workshops on the flower farm in the Paul Ecke Jr. Family Barn.

 

Lilly walked attendees through current floral design trends and techniques, and highlighted the value and virtues of the growing movement for homegrown blooms, all while designing with Certified American Grown Flowers.

 

 

Debi Lilly (center) lead two floral design workshops prior to the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields of Carlsbad.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

“The beauty in these fields – it’s completely overwhelming,” shared Lilly. “You expect the yellow brick road and emerald city skyline to magically pop out – it’s pure movie set magic.”

 

 

Flower farmer Mike Mellano of Mellano & Co. provided guests with a warm welcome, thanking everyone for coming to the farm for dinner. Mellano acknowledged his team of growers, highlighting all that it takes to keep a flower farm blooming in California.

Flower farmer Mike Mellano of Mellano & Company, provided guests with a farm tour prior to the dinner. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

“Anymore, I don’t get to get my boots in the mud as much as I’d like,” shared Mike. “But at Mellano & Company, we have a great team of experienced people that help make this all happen.”

Guests enjoyed a very special menu, provided by Chef Teegan Smith of Crown Point Catering.

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

“The Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields has become a tradition unto itself,” shared Certified American Grown Flowers Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “Each flower farm we visit is uniquely beautiful, but watching the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean while dining in a sea of ranunculus is really something special.”

Guests went home with their arms full after a wonderful evening at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

…and beautiful ranunculus from Mellano & Company. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Three dinners remain on the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour.  Dinner on the lawn of the California State Capitol in Sacramento, California on June 13, Star Valley Flowers in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin, on Sept. 8  and Green Door Gourmet in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 5. Visit AmericanGrownFlowers.org/FieldToVase to learn more about the dinner tour.

A night to remember. Guests cheers to making memories in The Flower Fields of Carlsbad during the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on April 26.  The wine was provided by Geyser Peak Winery. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

[Video] Watch This! Fallbrook Was Magical

Inspiring Video Features Dinner at Resendiz Brothers Protea

We worked with Orange County wedding videographer Brian Kadar of Love Is Cinema to help capture the beauty and splendor our guests recently experienced at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers in Fallbrook, California.

Check out this quick-two minute feature of this mountaintop experience!

It will take your breath away!

When you recover, share your comments, below, and then share the video widely with your friends. They’ll thank you for it!

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!