2017 Field To Vase Dinner Tour Ends With a Beautiful Sunset in Florida

The last stop on the 2017 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour was not only the perfect finale, it was among the tour’s most unique destinations.

Over 150 people attended the last American Grown Field to Vase Dinner of 2017 at FernTrust, Inc. in Seville, Florida. Photo by Wings of Glory Photography.

After all, how many people can say they’ve dined on a fern and foliage farm in the middle of the “Fern Capital of the World?” A sold-out crowd did just that Nov. 18 when the Field to Vase Dinner Tour came to FernTrust Inc. in Seville, Florida.

FernTrust, a farm cooperative, is one of the most trusted foliage producers in the country. Guests learned all about the 126 varieties of best-in-class foliage and ferns grown by FernTrust during a tour with farmer David Register. Jana Register provided a tour of FernTrust’s packing house where she shared FernTrust’s many product lines including their patented ColorFresh program that extends vase life of foliage and greens through a unique color sealing process.

Fern Farmer David Register gave guests a guided tour of FernTrust, sharing information about the wide variety of foliage grown on the property. Photo by Wings of Glory Photography.

Following the farm tour, guests then dined at tables adorned with hundreds of feet of lush fern garland and topiaries created by floral designer J Schwanke. Tour sponsor Syndicate Sales provided all of the hard goods and vases that were incorporated into J’s beautiful tablescape design. Nearby, an all-foliage American Flag added to the evening’s wow factor, as did old oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and vistas that provided views of the beautiful ferns and an incredible sunset over the lake.

Field to Vase Dinner guests enjoying a beautiful November evening on the fern farm in Florida. Photo by Wings of Glory Photography.

Chef Justin Timineri of Fresh From Florida created a wonderful Floridian themed menu and Joe Hearn and his team from Joe Hearn Events did an outstanding job managing all of the event’s special touches for this floral filled event.

“This Field to Vase dinner was such a fun event. Getting to meet the farmers and families that have worked the land and listen to the stories was a great experience,” shared former chef Dennis Littley of AskChefDennis.com. “The setting at the farm was picture perfect and the tables were magazine worthy, looking like something out of Martha Stewart.”

Guests enjoyed the bountiful wines of national sponsor, Geyser Peak Winery. Photo by Wings of Glory Photography.

Microbrewery Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co. shared its craft beers, Geyser Peak Winery served up wine varietals and Copper Bottom Craft Distillery provided signature citrus cocktails featuring names with a nod to local ferns.

Find out where the tour is going in 2018, and then plan to attend one of these one-in-a-lifetime dinners at americangrownflowers.com/fieldtovase

Discover a Hidden Florida When You Attend the Next Field to Vase Dinner

Make Your Trip To Florida's Fern Country An Adventure!

Many think of Florida as the premiere spot for sand, sun and some magic as the guest of a famous mouse.

But there’s more than palm trees swaying in the breeze in the Sunshine State, and the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner will highlight the very best of the state when it stops at FernTrust in Seville, Florida, on Saturday, November 18.

It’s your golden chance to explore the fern capital of the world with floral guru J Schwanke, and it’s your ticket to a world you didn’t know existed in central Florida.

Here are some ways to make the most of your time in Florida:

Everything old is new again

Volusia County’s motto, “old Florida, new vibe,” fits your getaway like an airline ticket in a carry-on bag.  Seville is all about an old-fashioned, undiscovered, lush Florida from the past.

Start with a change of pace for water lovers: the St. Johns River Blueway, one of only 14 American Heritage Rivers in the country, is an excellent place to grab a canoe, kayak or riverboat and get into the stream! Chances are good you’ll have a chance to watch turtles, gators, manatees and more than 200 species of birds while floating along. Or grab a fishing pole and bring home some crappie and bass to cook over a campfire.

State parks, too, invite you to experience nature in fresh ways. Blue Spring State Park is home in the fall and winter to herds of manatees, who flock to these 72-degree springs.

Deleon Springs State Park’s historic tour boat takes you for an up close and personal journey into the beauty of Florida’s interior. Here, you’ll find a spring that produces 19 million gallons of water a day, and in temperatures warm enough to swim, snorkel and even scuba dive in year round.

And don’t leave without stopping for a hearty meal at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant. They’ll hand you the homemade pancake mix of your choice and you cook your breakfast in the middle of the table!

Continue to follow the water to neighboring Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, where 22,000 acres of lakes, creeks and marshes are waiting for you to explore by canoe or kayak.

Crank up the adventure

Thrill rides? Sure, we have those too! Nothing beats a quintessential airboat trip to hunt for alligators (cameras are your only shots, of course), and we have several captains throughout the county ready to take you on the ride of your life along the dark waters of the St. Johns River.

And you’ll probably find more than gators in these swamps. Look for wild hogs along the shoreline as well.

If the gentleness of a manatee catches your attention, a guided kayak eco-tour is the right choice. Your guide will direct you to the paddle with these intriguing creatures up close and personal.

Speaking of catches, you haven’t lived until you try bow fishing, a year-round archery sport that pits your aim against your dinner. It’s a fast-paced way to fish, and you should get the hang of it within a few arrows.

Or, hire one of Florida’s former professional fishermen to take you out and guide you in catching trophy fish big enough to impress the folks back home. (Psst, we’re talking prize-winning bass!)

DeLand even offers a fish camp where you can hang out on the porch of your own cabin and pull your boat rental right into the slip a few feet away.

Main Street

Just a hop, skip and jump from the Field to Vase dinner, DeLand’s downtown scene is not your grandmother’s main street. Here, Old Florida meets a contemporary vibe for an eclectic mix of boutiques, galleries and nine museums. It’s a destination for dining and microbreweries you won’t find on every exit off the interstate. Just be sure to stop at the larger-than-life murals along your walk for some unique selfies to share. (#DelandWings is the most popular).

The Stetson Mansion in Deland is part of Florida’s First Luxury Estate and the grandest home ever built in Florida before the 20th century.

The city is the brainchild of Henry DeLand, who originally lured residents with promises they could grow oranges here and build a good life. He started schools, hotels and even a college in the 1880s, only to have a severe storm wipe out his fortune. That’s when his friend, John D. Stetson of the hat fame, stepped in to help save Stetson University. Today, Stetson Mansion, open to the public, offers a fascinating glimpse into the glamour of the state’s first luxury mansion. TripAdvisor named it  “Florida’s Most Popular Attraction” and one of the “Top 10 Places to Visit in Florida.”

Bonus: November 15 kicks off the spectacular holiday theme at Stetson Mansion, often called “Christmas on steroids.”

Fly Into the Fall In Florida 

Skydive Deland is one of the busiest “dropzones” in the world.

Join more than 100,000 people who will  shake things up with a skydive. Deland Skydive touts itself as one of the busiest drop zones in the world. (Yes, they offer tandem jumps for beginners!)

And don’t forget: Seville is less than an hour’s drive from Daytona Beach and 80 minutes from the amusement parks of Orlando, so you can have your Florida and make new memories, too.

But first, reserve your seat for our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at FernTrust, the main attraction in Florida this fall.

Field to Vase Dinner is Launch Pad For New Line of Floral Design Products

Longtime Dinner Tour Sponsor Syndicate Sales Unveils New Products on Chapple’s Farm

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour tends to make news in the communities where it stops. But at a recent stop at Hope Flower Farm in Waterford, Virginia, the dinner was the site of a very special announcement from longtime tour sponsor Syndicate Sales.

Guests of our recent Field to Vase Dinner in Waterford, Virginia, enjoyed both the beauty of Hope Flower Farm and the stunning designs created by Holly Chapple.  Photo: Taken by Sarah Photography.

The firm announced the “Holly Heider Chapple Exclusively for Syndicate” line of containers and mechanics to be released in January 2018. Of course, there was nowhere better to launch the line than right there on Chapple’s flower farm!

Anne Graves of Syndicate Sales made the exciting announcement of their partnership with Holly Chapple during the dinner.  Photo: Taken by Sarah Photography.

Syndicate Sales Public Relations Manager Anne Graves says the company partnered with Chapple to design a line of containers that’s fluid and romantic, much like Chapple’s decadent design style. The products will help designers achieve Chapple’s sprawling, airy look.

The new product line also includes the mechanics needed to achieve the Holly-like aesthetic.

The containers, available in clear glass and opaque black and white durable plastic, feature a footed compote design.

One of Holly Chapple’s gorgeous designs that captivated guests at our Field to Vase Dinner at Hope Flower Farm. Photo: Taken by Sarah Photography.

The upscale glass containers are perfect for “show-stopper” arrangements. The plastic compotes are made of light but durable plastic and are great for transporting Chapple’s unmistakable floral design look to venues.

The mechanics are what Chapple refers to as a “pillow and an egg” ­– grid-like tools to hold flowers in place in containers. These spectacular mechanics eliminate the hassles of fussing with chicken wire and other materials to create loose horizontal bouquets. The “egg” concept lets designers insert flower stems from all angles while keeping them in place during the design process.

The “pillow” follows the same principle, resting on the top of the vase rim and ensuring stems stay in one place and remain hydrated without getting crushed. Because the mechanic rests on top of the container, stems can be inserted around the rim, appearing to spill gracefully over the vase’s edge.

All products in the line are reusable and 100 percent recyclable.

Graves said the recent American Grown Field to Vase Dinner was the ultimate place to launch the line – after all, Syndicate is a quintessential family-owned American company based in Indiana.

Syndicate’s three-year sponsorship of the dinner tour is equally impressive. “There was no more fitting place than at a Field to Vase Dinner, where the crux of the event is about American Grown, to launch the line. And there’s nothing we like to celebrate more than the people, relationships and culture that keeps our industry going,” Graves explains. “It’s a natural fit.”

Naturally, Certified American Grown is extremely grateful for Syndicate’s ongoing support!

For details on the new container and mechanics collection and to sign up for exclusive updates regarding the January 2018 release, check out holly.syndicatesales.com.

Holly Tests Her Hope With Field To Vase Dinner

Field To Vase Dinner Is First Big Dinner Event on Hope Flower Farm

Certified American Grown flower farmer and floral designer Holly Chapple was recognized during dinner for her 25 years in business. Photo: Taken by Sarah Photography

On Sunday October 8, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour stopped in Waterford, Virginia, where 122 people enjoyed a magical evening at Hope Flower Farm. Certified American Grown flower farmer and floral designer Holly Chapple and her husband, Evan, purchased the farm in 2015 to be a floral designer’s paradise; a creative space for designers to come design, where people could host special events and where beautiful American Grown Flowers could grow.

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner was the farm’s first big dinner event.

Never before had a ticketed event been held on the farm. Never before had a dinner for over 100 people been set inside their barn.

And you would have never known.

All Certified American Grown Flowers were used to create the evening’s tablescape.
Photo: Taken by Sarah Photography

One guest shared their experiencing saying, “The beautiful countryside, the magnificent floral arrangements, the gorgeous tablescapes, the gracious hosts, the happy dinner guests, the vintage architecture of the buildings all combined for an evening of magic.”

Magical indeed.

The threat of rain forced the decision to move the dinner inside one of the two large barns at Hope Flower Farm. The other barn played host to the dinner’s reception. While the rain held off, the double-barn experience worked out wonderfully, giving guests the opportunity to see and explore both the inside and outside beauty of the old dairy farm.

The floral-inspired cocktail by Catoctin Creek was a hit among guests. Photo :Taken by Sarah Photography

During the reception, Holly and Evan provided a personal tour of the farm, highlighting its history and their vision for its future. Our guests also enjoyed a special floral inspired cocktail by Catoctin Creek Distillery, located just down the road from Hope Flower Farm. The evening’s wine was provided by our national sponsor Geyser Peak Winery and the beer was provided by Old Ox Brewery of Ashburn.

 

 

Guest were encouraged to join Holly and Evan on a personal tour of their farm. Photo: Taken by Sarah Photography

 

A wonderful meal prepared by Tuscarora Mill Restaurant (aka Tuskies) was served family style and displayed beautifully on custom wood platters.

A beautiful presentation of the grilled beef, pork, chicken with braised beans and polenta. Photo: Taken by Sarah Photography

Chef Thomas Harvey shared what inspired the evening’s menu, thanking the local produce farms for providing the fresh and seasonal ingredients used throughout the menu that evening.

All of our Field To Vase Dinner events are special, but our dinner at Hope took a turn, a very special and personal turn, to recognize our evening’s host, flower farmer, floral designer and event planner Holly Chapple, for her 25 years in business. As a complete surprise to Holly, we took the opportunity and occasion of our Field to Vase Dinner to help honor and acknowledge Holly for her 25th anniversary in business. Holly was presented with a special resolution from Congresswoman Barbara Comstock who read her letter to Holly and announced that the recognition would be written into the Congressional Record. All of our guests were invited to sign a special framed print of Holly and Evan (Holly’s favorite photo of her and Evan), which was presented to Holly along with a one-of-a-kind focaccia bread created by Tuskies, her first client 25 years ago.

Congresswoman Barbara Comstock reads her Congressional resolution to Holly, acknowledging Holly for her 25 years in business. Photo: Taken by Sarah Photography

Holly is presented with the framed print that was signed by all of our Field to Vase Dinner guests, congratulating her on her 25th Anniversary. Photo: Taken by Sarah Photography

Holly with her resolution and print. Photo: Taken by Sarah Photography

It was a wonderful conclusion to a magical evening on a beautiful American Grown Flower farm where photos by Taken by Sarah Photography helped to capture the occasion. Over 300 photos from the evening can be found on our Flickr page.

The glow from the evening’s festivities inside the barn. Photo: Taken by Sarah Photography

 

Guests love grabbing an all-American Grown Flower bouquet to go with their fun-filled swag bag. Photo: Taken By Sarah Photography

Some of our guests were able to take home an all-American Grown Flower arrangement from the table designed by Holly and her team.

American Grown Flowers Are Focus of National Geographic Coverage

Certified Farmer Andrea Gagnon Shares the Origin Matters Message, Wows With Her Flowers

The November issue of the National Geographic features Certified American Grown flower farmers Andrea Gagnon of Lynnvale Studios.

It’s not every day that National Geographic rings your phone. But that’s exactly what flower farmer Andrea Gagnon experienced when the renowned publication reached out to her to request an interview and photo shoot on her Gainesville, Virginia, farm.

The coverage – touting the American Grown Flower movement – can be found in the venerated magazine’s November 2017 issue.

“I grew up in a household where National Geographic was renowned and never thrown away,” Gagnon explains. “It was an incredible process. The photographer came out months before the article was written and we spent seven solid hours shooting.” Yep, seven hours.

Shooting what? Just-picked American Grown Flowers from Gagnon’s LynnVale Studios, a 10-acre flower farm and art studio owned and operated by Gagnon and husband, Lou.

In the course of the photo shoot, the Gagnons created bouquets and centerpieces, along with four versions of a “flower painting” on the barn floor and a stoop. It was one of the flower painting images that became the hero shot in the magazine.

Beautiful American Grown Flowers arranged by Andrea Gagnon were used to represent the bounty and renewed consumer interest in homegrown blooms.

“It was a thrill to observe and participate in the whole process,” Gagnon says. “It ranks among the top five of all of my professional experiences. I felt like I had been on a roller coaster thrill ride of design. I remember looking at Lou when it was over and I could barely stand up. It was so overwhelming and big.”

Also big – the opportunity to drive home the origin matters message, which Gagnon did with prowess in the article.

“The more awareness the American consumer has about where flowers come from, the better it is for all of  us,” she’s quoted as saying. “It’s just like asking, ‘Is this a local tomato for my BLT?’ Now people can ask, ‘Oh, is that a local dahlia?’”

How it happened

So how did the American Grown Flowers movement catch the eye of National Geographic?

Turns out that a writer for the magazine was one of the members of the media who were invited to attend the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour held at LynnVale Studios in 2015. Months later, Gagnon received a call from the writer and the odyssey of making it into print began.

The flower farm at Lynnvale Studios played host to one of ten American Grown Field to Vase dinners held in 2015. Photo by Linda Blue Photography

During the interview there were lots of questions about the American Grown Flower movement and why it’s important to have consumer awareness about flower origin.

Flower farmer and floral designer Andrea Gagnon of Lynnvale Studios. Andrea also serves as a member of the Certified American Grown Council. Photo by Linda Blue Photography

“I never imagined it would make the magazine. What are the odds? I didn’t know until last week that it actually made it in,” Gagnon explains.

But it did. And Gagnon is still on cloud nine. She can’t wait for her father, the longtime National Geographic subscriber, who now lives in an assisted living facility, to see the coverage.

“I’m just so pleased for flower farmers and for these efforts to be acknowledged,” Gagnon says.

More photos from the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Lynnvale Studios can be found on our Flickr page. Simply click the photo to see more beautiful images from the flower farm. Photo from Linda Blue Photography

Get In On the Hottest Design Trend at J Schwanke Workshop

Add the Workshop to Your Field to Vase Experience

One of the hottest trends in floral decor is all-foliage arrangements that incorporate a vast assortment of greens into gorgeous, textural and long-lasting designs.

Guests at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on Nov. 18 at FernTrust, Inc., in Seville, Florida, can become experts on all aspects of the trend when they add the foliage design workshop with J Schwanke to their experience. The workshop is also scheduled for Nov. 18, from 9-11 a.m.

Schwanke, creative consultant for FernTrust and a renowned floral designer, will teach participants how to braid palm leaves, weave Ti leaves and make aspidistra roses. They’ll also help make foliage alligators that will be part of the evening’s decor, decorate wine glasses to be used at dinner later that day and contribute to an all-foliage portrait of Bobbi Ecker-Blatchford, a celebrated floral designer and former FernTrust consultant.

Ecker-Blatchford’s portrait will be on display at the foliage crown table where dinner guests will each make a fresh foliage crown.

“These are easy little projects that are super impressive,” Schwanke describes. “It’s all about fabulous foliage and all the cool stuff you can do with it.”

Corona’s FlexDial pruner has received numerous accolades and each workshop attendee will receive a free pair.

 

This exclusive event is limited to 24 participants, so be sure to add it at checkout.

As a workshop attendee, you will be provided with a complimentary Corona FlexDial pruner. However, you are encouraged to also bring your own florist knife, scissors and bunch cutter.

Reserve your seat at the last stop on the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner and add the fabulous foliage workshop!

 

Design Star is Spreading the American Grown Flower Love Nationwide

Register for Portland Succulent Workshop With Christy Hulsey!

Christy Hulsey often promotes and tags American Grown Flowers in her posts promoting her design workshops and events. Click to register for workshop!

Earning the designation of “Design Star” is no small feat in a nationwide community of talented floral designers. And when Christy Hulsey, owner and creative director of Colonial House of Flowers in Statesboro, Georgia, earned the designation of 2017 Mayesh Design Star, she admits to being overwhelmed. And deeply honored.

As she puts it, it’s not every day that an “old-school” flower shop gets this kind of recognition.

But Hulsey’s not one to sit on her laurels. She’s making the most of the honor by wowing guests who participate in the Mayesh Design Star Flower Workshop Tour – with eight stops at Mayesh wholesale flower branches nationwide featuring hands-on workshops. And along with giving students a great opportunity to network, explore floral design, and brush up on social media and marketing tactics, Hulsey is sure to talk about a topic close to her heart. The origin of flowers and the importance of using Certified American Grown Flowers in designs.

“I believe origin matters. I know what various farms do really well and what I’m going to get, so when I’m creating a flower recipe, I need to know what I’m looking for and what farm can deliver it,” Hulsey explains.

It’s thinking wholesaler Mayesh also understands and supports. After all, Mayesh is a sponsor of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, the award-winning pop-up dinner series that’s been criss-crossing America for three years.

For Hulsey, choosing Certified American Grown Flowers is deeply personal. She recalls how Mel Resendiz of Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers took her entire family on a tour of his farm, showcasing the flowers he grows and sharing his family’s story. From that day forward, Hulsey felt it was important to incorporate flowers from Resendiz’s farm when her designs called for it. “It’s important that I use a flower from his farm and think of him. It’s meaningful.”

Christy and her family met Mel Resendiz of Resendiz Brothers Protea during their family’s trip to San Diego.

Hulsey will carry the message to her next stop on the Design Star Flower Workshop Tour on Oct. 17 in Portland, Oregon. In fact, she continually shares the origin matters message in her social media posts for the tour and her stops at Pottery Barn stores nationwide where she leads succulent workshops for consumers and uses Certified American Grown plants. She will be featuring succulents from Mellano & Company and Dramm & Echter, both Certified American Grown flower farms, during the workshop in Portland.

What does she want florists and consumers to know? Using and buying Certified American Grown Flowers isn’t hard. It is important. And it does make a difference. And yes, origin does matter.

Click on image to register.

 

2018 Dinner Tour to Include Longtime Favorites, Exciting Surprises  

Now Seeking Floral Designer, Chef Recommendations

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour will stop at seven flower farms in 2018 – each unique in location, flower varieties grown and farmer story.

Next year, we return to one of our favorite farms, introduce guests to new farms on our tour and even include a few surprise destinations.

 

One of our most popular stops each year is The Flower Fields in Carlsbad. We’ll be returning there on April 26, 2018! So, mark your calendars!

Each year, guests at our Carlsbad dinner get to enjoy this spectacular view.

What makes this a popular and recurring stop? The photos say it all – guests are literally dining amid 50 acres of extraordinary color on a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Breathtaking doesn’t begin to describe it, because the visual majesty is paired with a multi-course artisanal meal, local wine, craft beers and a signature cocktail.

Which brings us to the next step in tour planning. We’re now seeking recommendations for floral designers and chefs who can bring their A-game to the Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields.

Debi Lily stands in a sea of orchids during our Field to Vase Dinner at Gallup & Stribling in Carpinteria, CA. Debi was our featured designer in Carpinteria, hosting a sold out design workshop prior to the dinner.

Interested? Know someone who is?

Apply to be a featured designer and tell us all about your design vibe and skills. Or, apply to be a chef/caterer and let us know about your farm-to-fork experience and your cuisine expertise.

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour has worked with some amazing chefs and catering companies to help host our special flower filled dinner events. We are looking for more “farm to fork” partners in 2018.

Stay tuned for the unveiling of the entire 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour “map,” coming soon!

 

 

Grower Co-op Backs Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience

Next Stop is Fern Capital of the World

Being recognized as best-in-class is serious business.

FernTrust Inc. in Seville, Florida, doesn’t take that designation lightly. Established in 1986, FernTrust is a cooperative of quality oriented farmers who share a rich history in agribusiness.

It’s a partnership that’s unique to the industry – acting as a cooperative allows the farmer-members to do what they do best – grow the highest quality foliage available.

FernTrust growers include James Register, Bob Thompson, John Hoblick, Immo Redeker, Leon Braddock, Jimmy Register and Jana Register. Together these growers have decades of experience making FernTrust one of the most trusted foliage producers in the country.

Harvesting the lush green ferns at FernTrust, Inc.

And these growers are huge contributors to the moniker “Fern Capital of the World,” – the title bestowed on this area of Volusia County Florida.

All this recognition and focus on quality is proof positive of what these growers will bring to the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, coming to FernTrust on Nov. 18. These growers have partnered to bring their amazing fern and foliage to the world. Imagine what will happen when they host a pop-up dinner party!

Guests will dine among FertTrust’s 360 acres of fern and foliage, enjoying a multi-course artisanal meal, wine pairings and craft beer. Grower David Register will also host a VIP tour of the site for 20 guests. And renowned designer and television host J Schwanke will wow guests with tablescapes that exemplify the “all-foliage” trend.

David and Jana Register, together with J Schwanke (center)

Make your Field to Vase Dinner truly fantastic by adding a foliage design workshop with J, also on Nov. 18 from 9-11 a.m. J’s calling the workshop “Fabulous Foliage Techniques” and at this exclusive event guests will learn how to weave palm leaves into nautilus shells, create aspidistra roses and attach Milky Way foliage to wine and champagne glasses. Each participant will also make their own all foliage crown and foliage centerpiece.

Plus, you’ll get hands on in helping create the exclusive foliage photo backdrops that will be part of the dinner. This exclusive event is limited to 24 participants, so be sure to add it at checkout.

With this combination of growers paired with a farm tour, workshop and a fine dining experience, you don’t want to miss this last stop for the 2017 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

Save your seat!

Grace Gardens Wins American Grown Certification in Relaunch Contest

Grace Gardens of Birmingham, Alabama, is the winner of a free Certified American Grown Flowers certification as part of the recent relaunch of the brand and the announcement of new third-party certification partner Where Food Comes From (WFCF).

With the win, Grace Gardens’ farmer florist Kelly Wood becomes the first Certified American Grown  flower farm in Alabama.

Wood operates a 3-acre flower farm on a series of non-contiguous lots in a wooded Birmingham neighborhood. One lot is also home to her design studio where she creates using the seasonal flowers she grows.

Her season starts in March with forced branches and early bulbs and runs through fall. Throughout the year, she grows lilies, sweet pea, larkspur and even peonies, along with heirloom roses from 150 bushes.

As a floral designer, she creates for weddings, holidays, personal deliveries and community events.

Wood said earning the certification lends legitimacy and respect to her local, sustainably grown approach. As the only flower grower in Alabama since her start in 2012, Wood says the certification will help her spread the word about the importance of locally sourced flowers to wholesalers, customers and the three new flower farms that got a start this year in the state.

“I want us to have a really strong local source of flowers. It’s common other places in the country, but if you go to a grocery store here and the flowers are marked ‘local,’ it’s a 400-mile radius around Alabama. This year has really been about getting everyone on the same page and getting wholesalers to realize there are farmers here and to look to us before ordering,” Wood said.

Other farms that entered the contest to win certification also pointed to “credibility,” “legitimacy” and “honor” that American Grown Certification conveys.

As one entrant put it: “Being certified will help brand my flowers and offer a degree of quality that will qualify the origin of my farm. I am proud to provide American Grown Flowers. It would be a privilege to have Certified American Grown and their qualifications to add to my farm.”

Certified American Grown is the largest consumer-facing brand in the floral industry communicating the importance of origin and buying American Grown Flowers. With WFCF in place, Certified American Grown has created a new online audit processing system that streamlines the procedure for farms seeking to earn this valuable certification for marketing and increasing sales.