The Dress That Spurred Floral Recognition

First Lady Jill Biden’s Floral Ensemble Gives a Nod to American Grown Flowers

On the evening of the presidential inauguration, First Lady Jill Biden, Ed.D., donned a dress and coordinating cashmere coat adorned with embroidered flowers representing every U.S. state. At heart level on the dress was the state flower of Delaware, her home state, representing that home really is where the heart resides. Flowers from every other state cascaded out from there.

 

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The dress, coat and a matching embroidered face mask, all created by designer Gabriela Hearst, were seen worldwide when the President Joe Biden and the First Lady appeared in the White House and on a balcony for the evening inauguration concert.

There was no missing the floral theme or the nod to the variety and beauty of flowers and foliage grown by American flower farmers in every state in the nation.

At Certified American Grown, we’re still beaming about the floral nod! And we’re excited about what it can mean for American cut flower and foliage farmers.

Which is why we’re convinced there’s no better time to ask President Biden to support American farmers with an executive order declaring that the White House will use only American Grown Flowers in its arrangements. And that the administration pass the American Grown Act, which requires all federal agencies to only procure cut flowers and greens grown in the United States for their facilities, events and ceremonies.

Imagine if the dress seen around the globe spurred real action to support American famers. Imagine how far the symbolism of using only American Grown flowers and greens could go in supporting domestic farmers. Imagine the economic impact passing the American Grown Act could have in supporting hardworking flower farmers and their families. After all, the president already recently signed an executive order supporting American manufacturing, so supporting domestic flowers and greens is a reasonable stretch.

Which leads us to the next step – and an easy, clear cut way you can help. Whether you’re a farmer, a florist, a wholesaler or a consumer, you can support American flower farmers by adding your signature to our list of supporters of the American Grown Act. It takes less than one minute, but that minute could be as valuable to the industry as the floral ensemble seen around the world!

And you can take it a step further and share our story on your own social media creating even greater awareness and support for the American Grown floral community. Don’t forget to tag!

@drbiden

@flotus

@gabrielahearst

@americangrownflowers

#americangrown

#originmatters

#americangrownact

Join us. Support American flower and foliage farmers, and what they mean to the U.S. economy and the heart of our nation!

Pyramid Flowers and B-Fresh Floral give a boost to Certified American Grown

For Fred Van Wingerden, the Certified American Grown organization has provided the strong voice that flower growers need in order to address the barrage of challenges they face.

From competition from foreign growers to government regulation, American flower growers need the organization to represent them, said Van Wingerden, president of Pyramid Flowers in Oxnard, California.

When California Growers voted out the California Cut Flower Commission this spring, we were very concerned about who would represent the domestic growers and thus started the process for an independent Certified American Grown organization.

“Unless we had another organization representing the cause of American growers, it would be, like they say, united we stand and divided we fall,” he said. “We needed to step up to the plate and make sure that the new organization received strong support. I’m a true believer in Certified American Grown because we need it to represent us as growers.”

Pyramid Flowers and its affiliated company, B-Fresh Floral (owned and operated by Fred, Rene, and Winfred Van Wingerden), all became supporters when Certified American Grown was reborn as an independent trade association representing flower and greens farmers nationwide. The companies made donations to the association’s Formation Fund to support its programs and help with operating expenses.

“It’s very important that the organization gets proper funding at the start so it’s strong right from the get-go,” he said.

In addition to representing growers, Van Wingerden said, it’s important that the association’s grown-in-America message continues to be conveyed to consumers. Imported flowers dominate the American marketplace, accounting for 80 percent of sales.

“That in itself is critical,” he said.  “We need to push that message into the marketplace even stronger. Studies have shown that when consumers are given a choice, they want to buy American. And unless we stand together and fund efforts like this, we cannot get that message out there.”

Van Wingerden has been in the flower business since 1979, and he comes from a long, long line of flower growers. Flower growing in his family extends back 15 generations to the 1600s in the Netherlands. In 1967, four Van Wingerden brothers, including Fred’s father, emigrated from the Netherlands to California to take advantage of the optimum flower growing environment along the coast between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

Pyramid Flowers was founded in 1991 grows eight types of flowers on 80 acres along the coast in Oxnard. It employs over 120 people.

Fred’s son, Marcos, now works alongside him and is part of the next generation of family flower growers. Having his son in the business has been invigorating, he said. “He brings new ideas and energy,” he said. “For me as a father, having a son in the business gives me more to work for as well. It’s like a shot of adrenaline.”

Van Wingerden is steadfast in his support of Certified American Grown, and while not on the association’s board, he intends to be involved.

Flower growers face many challenges and the association plays a vital role, he said.

“It unifies growers,” he said. “We learn from each other, we share with each other, and whatever problems come along, we can address them together. Each company by themselves would be very challenged to address all the things that an organization like Certified American Grown can.”

America’s Flower and Greens Farmers Have Just What You Need to Deck the Halls!

In a year (and holiday season) like no other, we’re all feeling a need to add a little extra holiday cheer to our homes. There’s simply no better way to make that happen than decking the halls with flowers and greens from America’s flower-farming families!

They’re making it easy with a host of specials and programs designed to help you affordably bring fresh fir and floral joy to your home. And florists, they’ve got offers for you, too!

You can use American Grown flowers and greens to create multiple small arrangements placed throughout the house, adorn your mantle, create textural garlands, or design swags and wreaths, notes Kelly Shore, owner and lead designer of Petals by the Shore and founder of The Floral Source.

Here’s a look at the special offers from a host of American flower farms:

Albin Hagstrom & Son is offering 24” wreaths in a number of designs for $30. Choose one for your home or to send as a gift at albin-hagstrom.com/shop.

Harmony Harvest is shipping holiday swags and holiday DIY boxes, and they go out via FedEx within two business days of ordering. Choose your favorites at hhfshop.com/collections/holiday-greens/products/the-swag-box and hhfshop.com/collections/holiday-greens/products/the-holiday-diy-box.

The Flower Peddler in New Jersey is taking online orders for fresh fir, berries, and seasonal flowers at the-flowerpeddler.square.site.

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers is selling a variety of protea wreaths that arrive fresh and can last for years in dried form. See all the designs at their Protea Store.

Florabundance, a floral wholesaler, has taken the extra step of helping florists and retailers find the best selection of seasonal blooms and greens from American farms by creating a Certified American Grown section on its website (bulkwholesaleflowers.com/flower-varieties/certified-american-grown/). Gift cards are also available at bulkwholesaleflowers.com/flowers/give-the-gift-of-flowers/.

Kelly Shore’s The Floral Source is offering an incredible curated winter greenery box from Fern Trust. The greenery essentials box includes: antler arbor vitae, gold tip cedar, princess pine, carolina sapphire, and pine cones on picks. Plus Shore will be live on Instagram throughout December providing tips on how to create with these long-lasting greens.

Place your orders today to bring winter abundance to your home, or send some of the American Grown blooms and foliage as gifts!

Florabundance becomes Certified American Grown Wholesaler

A lifetime of experience provides fertile ground for California wholesaler

To Joost Bongaerts, choosing to go into the flower business shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“I like to joke that once you’re in the flower business, you never leave,” he said.

That’s been the case for Bongaerts, who has been selling flowers in one form or another for 40 years. Since 2002, he has been a wholesaler via Florabundance, a Carpinteria, Calif., company that supplies florists and designers with flowers and greenery from 300 growers. Bongaerts started as a partner in the business and became the sole owner in 2008.

Florabundance was founded in 1994 as a grower-owned vehicle to sell to retailers. It aimed to reduce the amount of time from when a flower was cut to when it was in a retailer’s hands. Over the years, the company has grown through its strong internet presence, marketing efforts, and acquisitions.

Florabundance’s customers are professionals who can choose from a vast offering of flowers and greens, which can often be packaged in the same box and shipped nationwide.

“If you’re a flower expert, which I consider myself, it’s nice to get the best of the best from growers,” Bongaerts said. “We are not a wholesaler that fills up the cooler and hopes for people to come by and pick stuff up or push it out the door. That’s not our model. Our model is we buy premium quality flowers, sell them, pack them up, and ship them to customers.”

Florabundance also has a related website, Fabulousflorals.com, where consumers can buy flowers and greens.

“If you want a bunch of olive branches from California for your dinner table in New York, you can get it as long as you pay the shipping,” he said. “We’re the only ones in the country who can do that because we already have flowers coming in.”

Fabulousflorals.com also sells DIY packages of wedding flowers and offers instruction on making bouquets and arrangements.

Florabundance recently became a Certified American Grown business. Bongaerts sees it as one more way to support the industry.

“People like it. Made-in-America is very popular right now,” he said. “Certified American Grown has a lot of field crops, which is great. Some people claim that the flowers are better. They’ve traveled less, that’s for sure. And we like to promote our growers and help keep them alive.”

Bongaerts said 70% to 80% of Florabundance’s offerings have always come from California. The rest come from around the nation, with some imports that help bridge the winter production gap. Florabundance has been in the same location for 26 years, Bongaerts said. “We’re good-sized, but we’re not a mega-wholesaler,” he said.

Florabundance supplies a wide variety of Certified American Grown products, including roses, lilies, snapdragons, and amaranthus.

Bongaerts was well acquainted with Florabundance before he came onboard. As the owner of a flower shop in New Canaan, Connecticut, he had been a customer of the company.

Since buying out his partners in 2008, Bongaerts has guided the business through some tough times: the Great Recession, fire and mudslides in 2017-18, and the coronavirus pandemic. There’s also been the rise of imported flowers and the decline of flower shops.

Bongaerts sees his acquisition of the company as a move that has helped the company thrive. His commitment and the move away from multiple owners made it easier for the company to navigate changes and stay on the cutting edge, he said. The company currently employs 17 people.

Bongaerts’ connection to plants goes back to his years growing up in the Netherlands, where his father managed agricultural landholdings, and he worked on the family farm during the summers. In college, he majored in plant science. He later thought he would be a veterinarian. During an exchange program at Michigan State University, he decided he wanted to live and work in the U.S.

Flowers provided the bridge for Bongaerts to establish himself in the United States. His first job was with the Dutch Flower Auctions & Exporters Organization as a marketer in the Netherlands and then in the U.S. In 1983, he started selling flower bulbs and perennial plants from Dutch companies to growers in the U.S. and Canada. He put 40,000 miles a year on his car as he traveled his territory in the Eastern U.S.

In 1991, he and his wife started Bon Fleur, their retail store in New Canaan. In addition to running the retail operation, Bongaerts imported flowers from the Netherlands and sold them online via First American Florist. Bongaerts sold his flower shop to its manager in 2002, and the shop is still in business today.

Over his 40-year career, Bongaerts has seen huge changes in the American flower business, increasing imports and a decline in retailers. With the Certified American Grown label, he sees a chance to promote the growers the company works with when only 20 percent of cut flowers and greens sold in the United States are domestic.

“A lot of our growers are already certified,” he said. “This is a chance to promote them as such.”

Retail florists and floral designers can now search by the Certified American Grown category.  The iconic heart logo further identifies certified flowers and greens. Visit Florabundance.com today for premium Certified American Grown wholesale flowers and greens and join the movement to support our American flower and greens farmers.

Certified American Grown Becomes An Independent Trade Association

Press Release

Certified American Grown, a diverse and unified coalition of small to large cut flower and greens farms across the United States, has transitioned from a marketing and governmental relations group under the auspices of the California Cut Flower Commission to an independent trade association representing cut flower and greens farmers nationwide. 

The reimagined organization is the only floral organization that certifies the origin of the flowers and greens the members grow, process, package, and market. Membership in the refreshed organization is building as farmers seek to connect with the past efforts of Certified American Grown to open markets, increase sales of domestic cut flowers and greens, and share the “origin matters” message with consumers. 

As a trade association, Certified American Grown will continue its efforts to lobby on behalf of cut flower and greens farmers in Washington, D.C., sponsor American Grown Flowers Month in July, host the annual American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, and give consumers confidence in the source of their flowers and greens by providing the only third-party guarantee in the floral industry validating bouquets and bunches purchased were actually homegrown.

“I’m flattered and humbled to have been elected the first chair of the new independent Certified American Grown organization. I’ve enjoyed working with members of the Certified American Grown Council in the past and was thrilled when council members agreed to be part of our new board,” said Rita Jo Shoultz, owner of Alaska Perfect Peony. “We’ve worked well together in the past, and I’m excited to be collaborating again to continue to promote the importance, value, and unmatched beauty of American Grown Flowers and Greens.”

“This will be an innovative group to watch and I look forward to an exciting future for our new, independent association,” added Dave Pruitt, administrator of Certified American Grown. “We’re excited to continue to connect people to the amazing flowers and greens grown right here in the U.S. and to grow consumers’ bond to a product that connects and brings joy to so many.” 

Cut flower and greens farmers, industry vendors and potential contributors for Certified American Grown’s initiatives can reach out to Anna Kalins at info@americangrownflowers.org for more information on the reimagined organization. 

Members of the Certified American Grown Formation Board are: 

  • Rita Jo Shoultz, Alaska Perfect Peony, Chair
  • Mike A. Mellano, Mellano & Company, Vice Chair
  • Ko Klaver, Botanical Trading Company, Secretary
  • Rene Van Wingerden, Ocean Breeze Farms, Treasurer
  • Benno Dobbe, Holland American Flowers
  • Diana Roy, Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers 
  • Lane DeVries, Sun Valley Floral Farms
  • FJ Trzuskowksi, Continental Floral Greens
  • Frank Arnosky, Texas Specialty Cut Flower
  • Michael Genovese, Summer Dream Farms
  • Andrea Gagnon, LynnVale Studios
  • David Register, Fern Trust
  • Erik Hagstrom, Albin Hagstrom & Son

By the end of the year, the new board will present its vision and goals, including a new 2021 schedule for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, a signature event from Certified American Grown. 

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About Certified American Grown. Certified American Grown represents a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. cut flower and greens farms, including small to large entities in all seven districts of the country. Certified American Grown flower and greens farms participate in an independent, third-party supply-chain audit to verify both origin and assembly of the flowers and greens they grow. When it appears on bouquets, bunches, and other packaging or store signage, the Certified American Grown logo gives consumers confidence in the source of their cut flowers and greens and assures them their purchases come from a domestic American flower or greens farm. For more information about Certified American Grown, visit americangrownflowers.org. 

 

Contact: 

Rita Jo Shoultz, Board of Directors Chair

(907) 299-0261

Additional Contact: David Pruitt, Anna Kalins

Ball Horticultural Supporting Certified American Grown as a Founding Member

When a company has an over 100-year history, you can bet it has seen (and withstood) just about everything. Market changes. Innovations. Recessions. Reinventions.

That’s why the fact Ball Horticultural Company has signed on as a founding member of the reimagined Certified American Grown makes all the difference.

As President and CEO Anna Ball puts it,

Cut flower growers need our help right now. I say let’s give it to them.

Ball, a third-generation leader at Ball Horticultural, notes that her grandfather was a cut flower grower for 40 to 50 years, making cut flowers part of the company’s DNA.

Launched in 1905 as a wholesale cut flower operation, Ball Horticultural has grown into a global family of companies that includes breeders, research and development teams, seed and vegetative producers, and distribution companies. Among those operations is Ball SB, known to cut flower growers as an innovative supplier of cut flower propagation material.

Ball Horticultural supplies cut flower growers in the U.S. and around the world with seeds, cuttings, plugs and tissue cultures for flowers, including snapdragons, lisianthus and delphinium – all the unique varieties that make a bouquet special – through its distribution companies like Ball Seed, which serves North America.

Today, the company is the only American-owned and family-owned global horticultural breeding company. And it’s a company that believes in giving back.

“We believe in organizations like Certified American Grown because we think it’s important to support the industry. If you can afford to give, you should. And I hope if we were ever in the position of needing help, people would give to an organization that could do so,” Ball says.

In addition to supporting the new Certified American Grown, Ball Horticultural has sponsored the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour since 2015. Ball says the event provides everything you want in life: “flowers, wonderful people and a unique environment.”

“And the dinners expose the cut flower industry to people who really don’t know where flowers come from,” she adds. That’s key to the future of the industry.

Ball Horticultural has also supported the cut flower industry through advocacy efforts. “During the first few months of the pandemic, some members of our team worked full-time, along with trade organizations, to have flowers deemed essential with various governors,” Ball says. “When things get rough, you depend on your trade organizations and that’s why we support them.”

This support takes place in tandem with innovations at Ball Horticultural Company that will also bolster the cut flower industry. The company is currently building an R&D advanced technology center in West Chicago, with an expected completion date in March 2021. As a central hub for horticulture research, it will also support the company’s partnerships with research, breeding and production locations worldwide.

“Our main investments are currently in R&D, that’s where we’re putting our resources right now,” Ball says. The focus is on creating more flower varieties and products that are even more interesting, easier to grow, and more disease resistant.

Proof, once again, of Ball Horticultural Company’s commitment to a healthy, resilient cut flower industry.

No Shortage of American Grown Roses 

Get Connected to the Domestic Farmers Who Can Fulfill Your Rose Dreams 

It’s a topic that comes up almost every year: a shortage of roses. Natural disasters, labor issues and, this year, COVID-19 and the related supply chain challenges, can disrupt the availability of roses in the U.S. 

Menagerie Farm & Flower

While there are fewer weddings happening this summer due to the pandemic, there’s still a lot of demand for roses from wholesalers, florists and consumers who appreciate the variety, fragrance and beauty of the rose. 

Not only are American flower farmers growing gorgeous, fragrant roses, there’s been a renaissance of craft rose growers in the U.S. who are providing specialty roses in a range of varieties and colors – particularly the popular garden rose. 

Getting your hands on them is a matter of relationship-building, and knowing the rose farms by name or the wholesalers that buy from those farms.  

Kelly Shore, a renowned wedding florist that serves Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland, encourages florists and rose aficionados to establish relationships with American rose growers right away. 

About 34 U.S. rose farms grow 28 million stems a year, with several new craft rose farms emerging. 

“As wedding, event and retail designers, we must educate ourselves on where our flowers come from. We can’t wait until the last minute when supply chain disruptions happen and go into a tailspin about where to confidently source roses,” Shore notes. “We have an abundance of flowers that grow 365 days a year in the U.S., roses being one of them. Garden roses, spray roses and hybrid tea roses are grown domestically in a variety of popular and in vogue color palettes.”  

You can use our list of Certified American Grown rose growers to connect with farms that can deliver exactly what you have in mind year-round, something that will be particularly important when weddings and other in-person celebrations return. 

Shore’s advice: Don’t wait. Get connected to U.S. rose growers. Be an advocate for American Grown roses and look for distributors that support domestic producers. 

Menagerie Farm & Flower

The Flower Fields tour stop in Carlsbad, California, originally scheduled for April 16, has been postponed.

The safety of our guests, farmers, chefs and staff is our highest priority. We want everyone coming to an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on one of our flower farms to do so without worry. 

Therefore, based on the current recommendations of the CDC, we’ve decided to delay the start of our Field to Vase Dinner series until June, with the first dinner taking place at Ocean Breeze Farms in Arroyo Grande, California on June 20.

The Flower Fields tour stop in Carlsbad, California, originally scheduled for April 16, has been postponed. We’ll reach out as soon as a new date is determined. Your ticket will be honored for our future date, and if you’re unable to attend the rescheduled event, we’ll issue a credit that can be used toward another Field to Vase Dinner. This includes changing your tickets to nearest location to Carlsbad, the dinner in Arroyo Grande, CA on June 20.   

The events surrounding the recent COVID-19 pandemic have caused fear, panic and uncertainty, but now, more than ever, we need to rally as a community to take care of each other and spread kindness and joy. 

A Rutgers University study conducted a few years ago indicated that flowers have long-term positive effect on mood. Flowers assuage troubled minds and bring peace to hearts and souls in times of anxiety and fear. So next time you’re picking up essentials, be sure to grab some flowers as well. 

Thank you for your continued support of our American farmers, designers and chefs.

See you soon on a flower farm near you!

We want you to feel confident about your ticket purchase.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is ever-changing, we’ll continue to monitor information and keep you informed. If an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner must be postponed due to circumstances beyond our control, we’ll reschedule and all ticket purchases will be honored for a future date. If a guest is unable to attend the rescheduled dinner, we’ll issue a credit for the original purchase amount to be used toward another Field to Vase Dinner of their choice.

The ULTIMATE Valentine’s Day “Date-Night of a Lifetime” Giveaway

We’re giving away the date-night of a lifetime… admission for 2 at a romantic 2020 ‘Field to Vase Dinner tour’ evening of your choosing!

Our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, presented by the California Cut Flower Commission, is in full swing… and we are inviting YOU and a date to dine among the exquisite fields of America’s most stunning flower and foliage farms as our guests.

In our sixth season, this cross-country series of elegant pop-up gatherings features seasonal, sustainable blooms on beautifully designed tablescapes elegantly dressed by top U.S. floral designers, while multi-course artisan meals are prepared by well-known farm-to-table chefs. 

At each unique meal and through the accompanying farm tours and design demonstrations, you’ll experience the age-old art and science of flower farming while being served seasonal and locally grown fare accompanied by wine, craft beers and floral-inspired cocktails.

THE RULES:

  1. Share a Valentine’s Day pic of you or a loved one (or both together), showcasing Certified American Grown flowers on social media.
  2. Tag us on Instagram (@americangrownflowers) or share it to our Facebook page.
  3. We’ll randomly choose a one very lucky winner.
  4. All photos must be shared by midnight on Sunday (2/16 for consideration).

For more info on our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, presented by the California Cut Flower Commission, visit fieldtovasedinner.com.

*Field to Vase Dinner Events based on availability.

Passionate Floral Pros Hear the Origin Matters Message

Over 300 floral designers gathered for the Team Flower Conference the first week of January in Southern California to learn, grow and build bridges between the various sectors of the floral industry. 

The event, the third of its kind, included a presentation by Certified American Grown’s own Anna Kalins. She took to the stage to share the hundreds of varieties of domestically grown flowers and foliage available 365 days a year from American flower farmers. She also shared the #originmatters message, explaining how florists, wholesalers and others connected to the flower industry can meet consumer demand – and spread the word – about the freshness, diversity and value of buying American Grown flowers. 

 

During the multiple-day event, several educational topics in the areas of design, business and flower farming were also spotlighted by speakers, including floral installations, centerpiece and bouquet design, marketing and testimonials, and growing dahlias and roses.

The annual event is scheduled for March 3-5, 2021 in Albany, New York.