These Women Are Making a Difference for America’s Flower Farmers

Take Inspiration From Them, Then Promote Women’s Day March 8!



Neighbors used to call Diana Roy “Flower Girl.”

“I never seemed to have quite enough flowers in my own yard, so I was always asking neighbors if I could cut some of theirs,” she says.

Diana Roy of Resendiz Brothers Protea speaking to Congressman Jimmy Panetta (right) during a reception in Washington, D.C.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

Now the business manager of Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers, Roy has all the blooms she could possibly want. She’s combined her passion for flowers with her background in public relations to help make the farm one of California’s largest suppliers of South African and Australian flowers—not to mention an international leader in protea farming.

“We mentor other protea farmers by bringing them to our farm and providing educational information about protea,” she says. “We made a trip to Africa to learn about their growing techniques and then were able to share those learnings with other protea farmers in California.”

As immediate-past chair of the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC), Roy is one of the many outstanding women who are championing American Grown Flowers, whether in their communities or in the world at large.

Lane DeVries of Sun Valley Floral Farms was recognized by the Society of American Florists in 2014 for his efforts to bring Women’s Day back to the United States as a celebrated holiday.

As our country celebrates Women’s Day on March 8 by honoring the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, these passionate leaders are working hard to ensure the nation’s floral industry continues to thrive.

Founded in New York City more than a century ago, Women’s Day has been most notably celebrated internationally through the giving of flowers, but has risen in popularity as a floral holiday here in the U.S. over the past several years, thanks to the efforts of Lane DeVries of Sun Valley Group who has made it his mission to bring the holiday to the forefront here in the U.S.  As more people choose to mark the occasion with flowers, the holiday has helped fuel additional flower buying after Valentine’s Day.

Celebrity florist and party planner Debi Lilly understands the importance of celebrating holidays like Women’s Day. After more than a decade working with “The Oprah Winfrey Show”—and with a client list that includes brands like Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Safeway and Lamborghini—she’s now on a mission to inspire her fans to elevate life’s special occasions.

By sharing her party planning tips and DIY designs, she aims to help people celebrate their triumphs with elegance and style. She has also become an advocate for the American Grown flower movement, serving as featured floral designer for an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner last year and will once again be showcasing her field to vase-inspired designs at the Field to Vase Dinner scheduled for April 26 at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad.

Debi Lilly had her hands full while designing with some amazing Certified American Grown orchids at Gallup & Stribling Orchids in Carpinteria, CA. Debi will be the featured designer on April 26th for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

With the help of advocates like Lilly, awareness of American Grown Flowers continues to blossom. A growing number of consumers are demanding homegrown blooms, and surveys show 58 percent would buy domestically grown flowers if given the choice.

Persuading consumers to buy American can often be as simple as letting them know they’re available. Crystal Hedgpeth, floral manager for Safeway’s Northern California Division, discovered this when customers gave the store poor marks for the availability of locally sourced products. Knowing more than half the blooms sold in her stores were California Grown, she launched a marketing campaign to put Golden State flowers front and center.

By grouping all of the locally grown flowers into one visual display and showcasing them in blue buckets to match the California Grown logo, she helped boost local flower sales by 14 percent across the supermarket chain’s 280 Northern California stores.

“In our minds, this should be part of our permanent thinking,” says Hedgpeth, who was named 2017 Flower Farm Champion by the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC). “We’ll continue to support California flower farmers and even incorporate the Certified American Grown Flower program. We want to continue to grow this.”

Crystal Hedgpeth, Floral Manager for Safeway’s NorCal division was recently recognized as the 2017 California Flower Farm Champion of the Year. Pictured here with California Cut Flower Commission Promotion Committee Chair Bruce Brady (left) and Nick Matteis, Executive Director of California Grown.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

With the contributions of innovative women like these, American flower farmers are enjoying a surge in demand for local blooms. As Women’s Day reminds us, women everywhere are working tirelessly to make a difference in the world—and the floral industry is no exception.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.