Guests Dine In Fields Of Waving Stock

Ocean View Flowers Attracts One Of Tour’s Largest Audiences

Two thousand acres of blooming flowers. Two hundred guests. One 200-foot dining table. Thousands of stems of stock, dahlias, delphinium, larkspur, Bells of Ireland and Queen Anne’s Lace. 

That’s just a hint of what guests at the Sept. 7 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Ocean View Flowers in Lompoc enjoyed. Perhaps celebrity florist Debi Lilly said it best as she stood in acres of blooming stock: “Our heart explodes technicolor rainbow confetti!” 

Exactly!

It was a joyous evening where guests dined in fields bursting with floral color at a table of 200 like-minded flower lovers.  Photo by Danielle Honea Photography.

Guests arrived to an expansive floral arch overflowing with pink, purple and white stock, and a view of an enormous community dining table. 

As guests walked past a wall of Queen Anne’s Lace, they came upon this hidden and stunning site.  Photo by Danielle Honea Photography.

They met flower farmer Frank Costa and dined on delicious creations by culinary artist Clark Staub of Full of Life Flatbread. And they sipped wine, beer and spirits from Calwise Spirits Co., Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards, Sweetzer Cellars, Montemar Wines, Foley Wines, Kessler-Haak Vineyard and Wines and Solvang Brewing Company.  

Guests were utterly in awe of the menu created by Chef Clark Staub of Full of Life Flatbread. Photo by Danielle Honea Photography

Chef Staub’s menu featured farm-fresh ingredients thanks to the California Milk Advisory Board, Las Flores Apiaries honey, Hibbits Ranch walnuts, Tutti Frutti and Babé Farms. And what a menu it was: chilled melon soup, nasturtium and marigold salad, end-of-summer sweet corn ribs, grilled grass-fed strip steak braised in stone fruits, Moroccan vegetarian b’stilla, heirloom tomatoes with grilled summer squash and herbs, and a roasted strawberry tart.

The entire evening came together thanks to the heroic efforts of event planner Cynthia Signorelli of Cynthia Signorelli Special Events who ensured guests had the experience of a lifetime on an American flower farm! 

 

 

Lilly, the floral designer for the event, nailed it again when she shared how the event made her (and guests) feel. “So much magic and love and passion for flowers and farmers it brings tears to our eyes.” 

Debi Lilly brought her passion for American Grown Flowers and those who farm them to the Lompoc Field to Vase Dinner.  Photo by Danielle Honea Photography

 

Sincere thanks to our additional sponsors and supporters: 

  • Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance 
  • The SOi Company 
  • River Bottom Boys 
  • Safeway
  • Vons
  • Albertsons
  • Local FFA students 

The evening was full of flowers, fun and smiles! Photos by Danielle Honea Photography.

To see more photos from this amazing event, you can go to our Flickr Album!

If an evening like this one appeals to you, stay tuned for our 2020 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour dates, coming in January!   Sign up here to be one of the first to know where the Dinner Tour will stop next year!

 

Floral Designer for Last 2019 F2V Dinner Announced

Mindy Staton To Bring Her Sumptuous Designs To Red Twig Farms

Farmer florist Mindy Staton exudes passion. And when she pairs that passion with big ideas, watch out!

In other words, guests at the sold out Oct. 5 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Red Twig Farms in New Albany, Ohio, are in for a treat.

After all, Staton is an owner of Two Little Buds Florist in Hamilton, Ohio, and a second location in Cincinnati. And she’s a co-owner with husband, Josh, of Morning Sun Flower Farm, a venture they started in 2016 based on Staton’s vision.

Mindy Staton, owner of Two Little Buds Florist will be the featured designer of the much-anticipated Field to Vase Dinner at Red Twig Farms in New Albany, Ohio.  Photo courtesy of Two Little Buds.

A wedding and events florist, Staton is known for her flower-heavy designs that are packed with color and texture.

It’s a look she’s excited to bring to the Field to Vase Dinner where she’s planning designs showcasing Red Twigs’ gorgeous dahlias and, of course, red twig branches.

Think flowers spilling out of vintage trucks, in compotes along the community dinner table and overhead in the form of arches.

Flower heavy designs are Staton’s signature as a wedding and event florist.  Photo provided by Two Little Buds.

Her Instagram account gives you a glimpse into her lush aesthetic, and if you’re one of the lucky ones with a seat at the table, you’re going to be amazed by her inspiring designs.

This dinner tour stop is sold out, but don’t despair! We’ll announce tour stops for 2020 in January! When that happens, be sure to save your seat since nearly every dinner sells out early!

Sign up here for our newsletter to be the first to know next year’s dinner locations!

 

 

Carbajal Staffers Visit Ocean Breeze Farms

Tour, Discussions Put Focus on Key Issues, Industry Innovations

While flower farmers make a visit to Washington, D.C., each year to connect with policymakers, a recent meeting with staff from Congressman Salud Carbajal’s office brought policymakers to the flower farm.

Last week, Jeremy Tittle, chief of staff, and Erin Sandlin, agriculture legislative assistant, visited Ocean Breeze Farms in Carpinteria on behalf of Salud, a co-chair of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

While there, Tittle and Sandlin toured the farm and met with Rene and June Van Wingerden, owners of a Certified American Grown flower farm. They were joined by Dave Pruitt, interim administrator for Certified American Grown, and Jumana Misleh, federal affairs representative for the program.

Jeremy Tittle and Erin Sandlin of Congressman Carbajal’s office, discuss cut flower policy concerns with Ocean Breeze farmers Rene and June Van Wingerden.

During the meeting, the Van Wingerdens summarized the top three cut flower issues they believe Congressman Carbajal should focus on: enforcement of labeling laws on imported flowers, passing the American Grown Act and immigration reform.

Tittle and Sandlin responded by agreeing to follow up on the labeling issue and promising to review alternative ways to move the American Grown Act, including looking at modifying appropriations language. They also indicated that while discussions on immigration reform continue, the chances of action on the issue this year are slim.

Farmer Rene Van Wingerden discussing the growth process and innovative care practices of Gerbera daisies with Tittle and Sandlin.

The group then toured an Ocean Breeze Farms greenhouse, learning about the growing process of Gerbera daisies and hearing about the innovations implemented on the farm, including hydroponic growing and integrated pest management, which has made the operation chemical-free.

Also discussed during the tour were the slim margins flower farmers face, how farms are cutting costs with efforts like using plants for longer periods, and the importance of a consistent, skilled labor force.

Tittle and Sandlin left Ocean Breeze with a deeper understanding of flower farming and a pledge to continue to provide support for America’s flower farmers in Washington, D.C.

“Meetings like these continue to stress the importance of having a strong relationship with our state and federal representatives to educate and convey the issues that all flower farmers face,” notes CAG’s Pruitt. “We hope that through meetings like this, we continue to ensure a bright future for American flower farmers.”

Flower-Lovers’ Dreams Come True at Alaskan Field to Vase Dinner

Breathtaking doesn’t even begin to describe it!

They’re flowers with a cult following thanks to their limited growing season, enormous ruffled blooms and amazing scent. 

 

They’re peonies! 

A gorgeous setting awaited guests of the Homer Field to Vase Dinner complete with a table overflowing with peonies and a view of Kachemuk Bay.  Photo by Rachel Tweggs Photography.

 

And 175 guests at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Joslyn Peony & Wedding Farm in Homer, Alaska, on Aug. 3 dined at tables overflowing (literally) with these incredible peonies as they gazed at the Kachemuk Bay.

 

Featured designer Christ Lopez created a stunning cascade of peonies and foraged fern.  Photo by Rachel Tweggs Photography.

 

The tablescape, created by Christi Lopez, AIFD EMC of Bergerons Flowers and Events, featured a garland of over 2,000 peonies in shades of pink and white (Duchess, Sarah Bernhardt, Mon Jules and Festiva Maxima varieties) paired with foraged fern from farmer Betty Joslyn’s farm. The petal-heavy design cascaded off the end of the table in a sweeping floral waterfall! 

 

The floral wall was a beautiful backdrop for guest photos. Photo by Rachel Tweggs Photography.

 

Throughout the evening, guests gathered at a circular floral wall “selfie station” featuring red Felix Supreme peonies to capture their experience and the beauty of homegrown peonies. 

 

Farmer Betty Joslyn and Sen. Lisa Murkowski.  Photo by Rachel Tweggs Photography.

 

 

Those attending the pre-dinner reception, sponsored by Ball Horticultural Company, enjoyed a full oyster bar hosted by Jakolof Bay Oysters, and heard from longtime Alaska flower supporter Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Rachel Tweggs Photography.

 

 

 

 

The artisan meal prepared by Chef Susie Von Willer Linford of Alaska Coastal Catering featured wild-caught Alaskan crab claws, organic greens with feta and local berries, Alaskan Copper River salmon, couscous with gorgonzola, carrots roasted in thyme and butter, and a dessert featuring two kinds of truffles and organic berries. 

 

 

 

The band Burnt Down House played for guests throughout the evening, and craft beer was provided by Homer Brewing Company and Broken Tooth Brewing.  

 

We love to see our guests smiling as they leave with armfuls of American Grown goodies.  Photo by Rachel Tweggs Photography.

 

Guests left with amazing memories, a new appreciation for homegrown blooms, armfuls of American Grown Flowers and a swag bag packed with floral goodies. 

To see more beautiful photos from the dinner at Joslyn Peonies, visit our Flickr page.

If an evening like this sounds like something you’d enjoy, join us Sept. 7 at Ocean View Flowers in Lompoc, California, for the next American Grown Field to Vase Dinner! 

 

 

Solving the Summer Slump Is Focus of Fun ‘N Sun Session

Experts Shared How Origin-Based Campaigns Can Drive Consumer Demand

It’s an industry-wide problem. Flower sales drop in the summer just as flower production is at its peak. 

What to do?

A panel of floral industry experts shared tips and resources to address the slump as part of a panel session at Fun ‘N Sun, held July 26 in Santa Barbara, California.

The session, “Solving the Summer Slump – A Plan to Drive Sales Beyond Mother’s Day,” featured Crystal Hedgpeth, floral sales manager for Safeway’s Northern California division, John Burk, digital marketing manager for Certified American Grown wholesaler DVFlora and Kelly Shore, owner and lead designer of Petals by the Shore in Maryland. The session was guided by the California Cut Flower Commission’s (CCFC) Anna Kalins. 

Left to right: Fun ‘N Sun panelist John Burk, CCFC’s Anna Kalins and Interim CEO Dave Pruitt, along with panelists Crystal Hedgpeth and Kelly Shore.

During the session, the panelists explained how they were growing sales and consumer awareness for homegrown flowers by featuring American Grown Flowers and Greens throughout July (declared American Grown Flowers Month by Congress). They also discussed the incredible success they’ve witnessed with marketing campaigns focused on American Grown flowers and from the American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest – think sales increases as large as 17.5%!  

Hedgpeth, Burk and Shore also shared the tactics they and their companies are leveraging to gain customers when “America is in season” and all year long. 

CCFC’s Anna Kalins moderated the panel discussion about how to drive sales beyond Mother’s Day.

Hedgpeth described Nor Cal Safeway’s wildly successful blue bucket campaign that promotes American Grown Flowers in dozens of stores. Burk shared DVFlora’s multi-pronged efforts, including free marketing materials for its customers, special pricing on American Grown Flowers, DV Crush boxes sent to high-profile florists and special website pages featuring American Grown product. Shore shared her story of committing to sourcing American Grown Flowers for her floral business all year long. She also talked about the many ways she’s spreading the word that origin matters, like farm tours, a 12-month project featuring American Grown bridal bouquets and volunteering to lead design efforts for Certified American Grown events.  

Attendees left with the knowledge of how to plug into future American Grown Flowers Month campaigns and contests, and a better understanding of why the origin matters message is resonating with consumers.

The big news – tips from the session will help everyone say “so long” to the summer slump! 

 

Celebrity Designer Debi Lilly Will Delight Lompoc Dinner Guests

You Can Design Alongside a Floral Luminary

Celebrity florist and party planner Debi Lilly will bring her amazing design skills to the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Ocean View Flowers in Lompoc, California, on September 7. 

Celebrity florist and party planner Debi Lilly will be our featured designer for the Lompoc Field to Vase Dinner. Photo courtesy of A Perfect Event.

If the name sounds familiar, that’s because you’ve seen Lilly on TV, in magazines, in stores nationwide, and you’ve likely even seen photos of her floral and event creations for designer brands.

Photo courtesy of A Perfect Event.

Known as Oprah’s “favorite pro,” Lilly was part of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” for more than 10 years and has made it her mission to inspire, educate and share her 20 years of party planning expertise, stylist tips and DIY designs with fans worldwide.

With her impressive client list that includes brands like Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Lamborghini, Lilly is a highly sought-after designer. Oh, and she’s also the creator of a unique American Grown bouquet available at Safeway stores, along with her Debi Lilly branded floral containers! 

 

Lilly has twice been a featured designer for stops on the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour. Each time, she delighted guests with her creations and the easy-to-follow design tips she provides during her F2V-related workshops.

Lilly brought her design expertise to the Carlsbad Field to Vase Dinner in 2018. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

That’s right, you can design alongside Lilly at a floral workshop, also on Sept. 7, at 8:30 a.m. Just add the $40 workshop when you save your seat for the dinner. 

Join Debi Lilly at her Sept. 7 workshop where she will share her tips for fall and holiday floral design and party planning. Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

 

During the workshop, Lilly will cover fall design trends, creative vessels for unique arrangements and perfect floral designs for the holidays.  

Debi Lilly loves to inspire and connect with her workshop guests and they in turn, love the personal interaction with her. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

Don’t miss you chance to see Lilly’s breathtaking tablescapes at the dinner and design alongside her at the workshop. After all, she’s floral royalty! 

 

 

Culinary Artist Will Wow at Alaskan Dinner Tour Stop

When you visit Alaska Coastal Catering’s website, the photos are both mouthwatering and breathtaking, making it easy to see why the chefs there refer to themselves as “culinary artists.”

Now for the big news: Guests at the Aug. 3 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Joslyn Peonies in Homer, Alaska, will get to experience multiple courses of Alaska Coastal Catering’s artistic creations. 

And the menu will feature the best Alaska has to offer. Think salmon, stripe shrimp, homegrown carrots, local oysters and sauces from Alaska blueberries. And the bounty of seafood to be served is being sponsored by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), ensuring incredible quality and freshness. 

Chef Susie Von Willer Linford has an impressive Alaska-inspired menu prepared for guests of the Homer Field to Vase Dinner.  Photo Courtesy of Alaska Coastal Catering, LLC.

Alaska Coastal Catering’s Corporate Chef and Managing Member Susie Von Willer Linford’s wealth of experience includes catering for the executive chefs of Disney Corporation, Warner Brothers, Prudential Commercial and Safeco in Southern California. Since coming to Alaska in 1993, she’s continued her culinary adventure by creating memorable events featuring the best seafood, meat, fruits and vegetables Alaska has to offer! 

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Coastal Catering, LLC.

It’s that approach that has earned her Best of Alaska recognition from Alaska Business Monthly Magazine from 2016-2018. And Linford was also a 2018 nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef” in the Northwest. 

And per Field to Vase Dinner tradition, Linford’s multi-course artisan meal will be paired with local wines and craft beers, and a floral-themed cocktail.

You can enjoy this delightful Alaskan meal while surrounded by gorgeous peonies and flower-loving friends when you reserve your seat at the table today. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography

Guests will also enjoy an oyster bar, and will leave with armfuls of flowers and a swag bag packed with floral-themed treats.

With food and goodies like this, seats are going fast. Save your seat today and taste all Alaska has to offer! 

 

[Press Release] Kasey Cronquist Stepping Down as Administrator of Certified American Grown

Kasey Cronquist is stepping down as administrator of Certified American Grown. His last day will be July 12.

Kasey Cronquist, Administrator of Certified American Grown, led the program to become the largest consumer-facing brand promoting origin in the industry. Photo by Ashley Noelle Edwards.

The Certified American Grown Council will be working closely with the board of the California Cut Flower Commission to help with the transition of the program’s leadership. It’s expected that an interim leader will be appointed to handle day-to-day operations as it begins a search for a new executive.

“Thanks to Kasey’s dedication, vision and enthusiasm, Certified American Grown is now the largest consumer-facing brand promoting the origin of flowers in the floral industry. America’s flower-farming families will miss Kasey and want him to know how grateful we all are for the many accomplishments our program has achieved as a result of his leadership which he so selflessly gave to us. We wish him and his family the very best,” said Rita Jo Shoultz, owner of Alaska Perfect Peonies and a member of the Certified American Grown Council.

“It has been an honor to have been a part of establishing the Certified American Grown campaign for America’s flower and greens farmers,” Cronquist said. “Now representing over half of all domestic cut flower and greens production, the program is positioned for tremendous growth and opportunity to encourage consumer preference and win back market share for our domestic flower farmers.”

Cronquist has been named president of the North American Blueberry Council (NABC) and U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC). In his new role, starting July 29, he’ll serve all blueberry industry members by providing oversight and insight on the USHBC’s robust national promotion, health research and education programs.

 

About Certified American Grown Flowers

Launched on July 1, 2014, Certified American Grown Flowers represents a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. flower farms, including small and large entities in multiple states across the country. Certified American grown flower farms participate in an independent, third-party supply-chain audit to verify both origin and assembly of the flowers they grow. When it appears on bouquets, bunches and other packaging or store signage, the Certified American Grown Flowers logo gives consumers confidence in the source of their flowers and assures them that the flowers they purchase come from a domestic American flower farm. For more information about Certified American Grown Flowers, visit www.americangrownflowers.com.

 

American Grown Act Would Require Homegrown Flowers, Greens In U.S. Government Facilities

It’s so obvious, and such a great idea, that it’s surprising it’s not already common practice.

Under the American Grown Act, flowers purchased by the federal government would be required to be American Grown.

If the federal government is going to buy and showcase cut flowers and greens at events, memorials, to be displayed at national cemeteries or even for the day-to-day arrangements featured in the White House, shouldn’t they be grown in the U.S.?

Alaska Congressman Don Young, a member of the Congressional Cut Flowers Caucus, recently introduced legislation that would require the U.S. federal government to purchase cut flowers and greens grown in the U.S. for use in its facilities. The legislation is deemed the American Grown Act.

Congressman Don Young reviews production and market share information on American Grown cut flowers and cut greens.

Consumer research commissioned by the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) found that 74% of consumers have no idea where flowers come from. Therefore, the average taxpayer likely assumes the flowers they see displayed at national cemeteries, federal buildings and government events would naturally be grown in the U.S. However, the fact is that imports, primarily from South America, now make up approximately 80% of the flowers sold in the U.S.

Without this mandate, imports are likely making up the bulk of the flowers purchased by the federal government.

In proposing the legislation, Young said requiring the federal government to use American Grown Flowers and Greens to decorate its facilities shows support for American flower and greens farmers and raises awareness of the beauty they grow.

“It seems like a no-brainer that the United States should be putting American farmers first by choosing not to import cut flowers,” Young said. “Unfortunately for the federal government, this is not the case. American farmers are hugely disadvantaged by the foreign growers that are subject to fewer environmental regulations and labor standards, and it is time Congress does something to help our country’s farmers compete. Putting our farmers first starts at the top, and I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation. I encourage my friends on both sides of the aisle to do right by the flower and greens farmers in their districts and sign on to this important effort.”

Alaskan Flower Farmer Rita Jo Shoultz with Congressman Don Young.

“Once again, Congressman Young’s support and leadership to raise awareness and advocate for our Alaskan flower farmers is greatly appreciated,” said Alaskan peony farmer Rita Jo Shoultz of Homer, Alaska, and a member of the Certified American Grown Council. “The American Grown Act is something that makes sense and is a wonderful way to acknowledge and support our hardworking flower-farming families across America.”

Benno Dobbe, a flower farmer in Washington state and California advocates on behalf of America’s flower farming families in Washington, D.C. each year.

“This is great news for U.S. cut flower farmers because the bill will bring special attention to the beautiful flowers and greens we grow,” said Benno Dobbe, a flower farmer with farms in Washington State and California. “It will definitely highlight our products and is an outstanding PR opportunity for flower farmers.”

We couldn’t agree more!

The bill has received support and endorsements on the Hill and around the country. Each of the six co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, including Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Rep. Salud Carbjal (D-CA), Rep. Ducan Hunter (R-CA), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Rep. Chillie Pingree (D-ME) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) are original co-sponsors of the bill. Additionally, the legislation has received quick organizational endorsements from Certified American Grown, the Alaskan Peonies Growers Association, AmericanHort, California Farm Bureau Federation, California State Floral Association and the CCFC.

More information on the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus can be found at carbajal.house.gov/district/congressional-cut-flower-caucus.htm

More information about the American Grown Act can be at bit.ly/HR3019

A Dining Experience Bursting with Color

A Saturday dinner on the town is always fun but rarely a work of art. Meals that satisfy more than just your hunger simply aren’t a routine experience for most Americans.

But on Saturday, June 1, diners have a chance to make memories rather than mark time over a plate when the 2019 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour makes a stop at Bloomia USA in King George, Virginia.

Guests of the King George Field to Vase Dinner on June 1 will be amazed by the beautiful table and the incredible menu that awaits them.  Photo provided by Petals by the Shore.

 

The twists begin with hors d’oeuvres that include crazy carrot, Occasions Caterers’ take on traditional Mexican street corn, but with whole sumac roasted baby carrots drizzled with mayonnaise and dusted with a cotija and queso fresco blend. Or delight in golden beets rolled around carrot matchsticks and house-smoked goat cheese mousse and served over crumbled maple pistachio pralines. There’s also crispy wonton cones with lemon chicken and red endive with citrus-cured salmon to anticipate.

Executive Chef Sina Molavi of Occasions Catering will delight guests with the lavish menu he will prepare.

 

 

So it’s no wonder your taste buds are swooning for the main course, served family style among the stunning tulips in this unusual greenhouse setting.

 

 

 

 

 

Bring a healthy appetite because you want to enjoy every bite of char-grilled strip loin rubbed with a spring herb and green mustard mix; grilled branzino medallions served on a bed of fennel and tomato drizzled with lemon-infused olive oil; and carrot barlotto, toasted barley prepared risotto style after simmering with white wine and rich chicken stock and topped with butter, shredded parmesan cheese and fried carrot ribbons.

Save room, too, for the cauliflower salad with opal basal vinaigrette, roasted beet salad and lemon-black salt grissini breadsticks.

The menu for the evening is designed to compliment the rainbow of colors displayed in the tablescape, including this violet cauliflower in the salad.

 

It’s a flavor medley that won’t surrender to the ordinary. And that’s even before they serve the strawberry couronne with milk snow and basil cream along with a French press coffee service for dessert. When the final act involves chocolate mousse, strawberry streusel crunch and almond frangipane finished with red velvet chocolate, milk snow and basil cream, you know you’ve skipped over the rainbow.

Save your seat now for this dreamy evening at Bloomia USA, where the food and flowers will have you in awe.

 

But just in case you lose your way, the dinner’s renowned wedding floral designer, Kelly Shore, plans to create a cornucopia of color using the fresh tulips from the Bloomia farm across the table and serving each dish from the section of the table with its matching flowers.

Kelly Shore of Petals by Design is creating the colorful tablescape that has inspired this unique and delightful menu.

 

The experience begins at 5 p.m. This dinner will be a breath of fresh air in your dining life with a bounty of beauty and color for all your senses.

Tickets for the King George dinner are limited, so reserve your seat today!