Martha Stewart Features the American Grown Field To Vase Dinner Tour

National Dinner Tour Highlighted on Marthastewart.com

Over the past couple year’s, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour has enjoyed some remarkable publicity. The Wall Street Journal highlighted it in the “Top 50” things for the summer of 2015. Food and Wine Magazine called it the “Ultimate Al Fresco Dinner Party” and Sunset Magazine has made a number of mentions of the tour, including co-hosting one of our dinners in Sonoma last year.

Now add this month’s mention by Martha Stewart to the list of examples of national media attention the tour is creating for our farms.

An excerpt from the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour feature on marthastewart.com.

After all, that’s what this tour is about. It’s about inspiring a conversation and a different way of thinking about the flowers we buy. Yes, it is beautiful. Yes, the flower farms are amazing. Yes, the food is wonderful. But what makes this tour special is what it stands for, the cause it represents and the efforts being made to raise the profile on why buying American Grown Flowers is important.

Depending on the farm, seating at our dinners is limited to somewhere between 100 and 150 people. This year, we’ll host seven dinners. So, at the most, we’re going to be hosting just over 1,000 people. That might not sound like a lot enough people for a national campaign.

But it is.

Each attendee becomes an ambassador for the cause. They all leave recognizing that this was more than a dinner, that there’s more that can be done, and they help us champion the message. Combine that with the earned media the dinners continue to generate and we then have hundreds of thousands of people learning about the tour, reading about what we’re doing and engaging with us on social media. We can see from the Martha Stewart example that there has already been 232 shares of the article on their website since it was published. We love that.

For all of these reasons, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour is invaluable and a tremendous way for our farms to share why origin matters and what a difference it makes when you buy flowers that are guaranteed to be American Grown.

Of course, I also recommend that you try and be one out of a thousand that experience the dinner for yourself.

And The Rain Just Keeps Coming

Last weekend, I took my son down to the Nimbus Dam to show him something I hope he remembers forever.

I wanted him to see the water roaring through the dam near our house. The water situation in Northern California has become pretty extreme, with the situation in Oroville making national news. So, to go to our nearby dam to see just how high the river has risen was pretty incredible. We were looking at a river that wasn’t just climbing its banks, but was climbing what were previously seen as sheer cliffs. The spot where people typically fished for salmon below the dam appeared to be 20 to 30 feet below surface now.

Of course, all of this water is good for California.

Chris Beytes of GrowerTalks published a piece highlighting how quickly things have turned around here in California, saying, “What a difference a year makes.”  It certainly has.

Check out these “before and after” drought monitoring maps.

The imagery is pretty self-explanatory. Red is bad, etc., etc. You can see here the year-over-year position of the state, and then what it looked like in November of last year. The change is dramatic.

Heavy rains and wind expected for Santa Barbara area.

And the rain just keeps coming. More rain is expected hit Northern California starting on Thursday, and then Friday for Southern California. In fact, there are weather warnings in the Santa Barbara area indicating heavy rain and high winds. Coincidentally, that’s right where that little spec of red remains on the map.

The cloudy and rainy weather has had some impact on cut flower production. However, the pros have certainly outweighed the costs. Some of our farms are benefiting from the free rain water coming through in these storms, and for those that have had production impacted, the silver lining will be less politicizing of the water situation in the Capitol during this year’s legislative session. Hopefully,  all of this water during the “wet years” refreshes conversations on how to better serve and solve California’s chronic water issues during the “dry years.”

Senator Murphy Calls On USDA To Support American Grown Flowers

Connecticut Senator Highlights the Disparity Between Imported Flowers Imported and Those Grown in the U.S.

In a press release issued the day before Valentine’s Day, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to “continue supporting the American floral and horticulture industry.”

 

Click to read the entire press release.

Citing that imports now make up the majority of cut flowers sold in the United States, Senator Murphy specifically requested that the 

Pottery Barn Features American Grown Succulents

Designer Christy Hulsey Seeks Out Certified Farm

Check out this wonderful post by Pottery Barn featuring Certified American Grown flower farm Dramm & Echter’s succulents!

Floral designer Christy Hulsey of The Colonial House of Flowers was tapped by Pottery Barn to help with a feature on succulents.

Designer Christy Hulsey, who was responsible for the Certified American Grown American Flag installation at the Wholesale Florist and Floral Supply Conference in Miami, was recently tapped by Pottery Barn to do a feature story on succulent design. Christy wanted to ensure the succulents were American Grown, and worked with a Certified farm, Dramm & Echter, to make that guarantee a reality and to provide peace of mind.

Based on posts on social media, it looked like it was a very fun project.

Click to read Pottery Barn’s blog post featuring Certified American Grown succulents.

Thank you again to Christy Hulsey for her commitment and support for Certified American Grown Flowers. It makes a difference!

Thanks and recognition was given to both Dramm & Echter and Certified American Grown Flowers at the end of the blog post.

Who Is Celebrating Peonies In February? Alaska!

Flower Farmers Beth and Rita Jo Wave the American Grown Flag During Annual Parade

Alaskan peony farmers Beth Van Sandt (left) and Rita Jo Shoultz showed their pride for American Grown Flowers during this year’s Homer Winter Carnival Parade.

Flower farmers Beth Van Sandt and Rita Jo Schoultz shared their pride in American Grown Flowers during this year’s annual Winter Carnival Parade in Homer, Alaska. Despite the cold and snow, the two made sure their community, known as the “City of Peonies,” had a flower-filled entry in the parade.

I loved seeing the creative use of branding on their “parade float,” and I’m sure it caught a lot of attention as they headed down the parade route.

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner arrives in the City of Peonies on July 29 this year. It also looks like that dinner may be the first dinner to sell out this year, and for good reason. If you’re planning to go to Alaska in the summer, reserve your seat at the table now. This is a dinner you won’t want to miss, and you certainly don’t want to miss it because you couldn’t catch a flight in.

The City of Peonies … it’s going to be beautiful and I hope to see you there on the farm.

Click to save your seat!

Meet CCFC Intern Charizma Mendoza

Cal Poly Pomona Student To Help With Marketing and Promotions

Charizma Mendoza, a student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, was recently selected to intern with the Commission during the spring semester. Charizma is an agribusiness and food industry management major and in her senior year. She was also a member of the 2016 Agriculture Leadership Class, where I first met her while the class was visiting Sacramento and learning about ag policy.

Charizma is a member of the 2016 Agriculture Leadership Class.

Charizma has been assigned two main projects this semester that will help the CCFC and Certified American Grown advance their respective missions. For the CCFC, she will be helping us prepare for next year’s Rose Parade. That may sound early, but the Cal Poly students are already making their decisions on next year’s float design, and the CCFC continues to advance its efforts to bring more CA Grown flowers to the Rose Parade. Charizma is excited about the task and the difference it will make in helping us achieve that goal.

Charizma will also be helping us coordinate a resource kit for our Certified American Grown flower farms. We have some great ideas and examples to share with our farms on how to further their promotions with Certified American Grown, and Charizma will be packaging these all up for delivery to our Certified farms.

Her enthusiasm is contagious, and we’re excited to have her on the team. She’ll be making calls, reaching out to farms and helping us accomplish these important projects. I hope you get to speak with her while she is with us.

Safeway Goes Blue Before Valentine’s Day

CA Grown Flowers Are Front and Center

Safeway floral departments throughout Northern California have turned blue just in time for Valentine’s Day.

A new Safeway floral department display in Northern California uses blue buckets to feature and help consumers identify flowers that are grown in the Golden State.

Blue?

Yes! The Northern California division stores are featuring all of their California Grown Flowers by displaying them in blue buckets. In addition to some point-of-purchase signage, the buckets help customers quickly identify which flowers are part of their CA Grown offerings.

The blue bucket display featuring California Grown Flowers will continue through next week’s Valentine’s Day holiday. This show of support (and supply) for California Grown Flowers in Safeway’s Northern California stores isn’t unusual. Representatives from the Nor Cal region report that their department is generally stocked with anywhere from 50 percent to 75 percent California Grown on any given day.

The blue bucket display, combined with the beautiful “CA Grown” posters, really do a great job of connecting the dots on the importance of the origin of flowers for consumers to consider before Valentine’s Day.

It probably helps sales, too!

Ag Alert Highlights Valentine’s Day Outlook

Kevin Hecteman Interviews a farmer, a wholesaler and me

This week California Farm Bureau’s Kevin Hecteman of AgAlert interviewed a couple of us in the floral industry to get some idea of how things are shaping up, highlighting how a “mid-week” holiday can really help improve sales.

Robert Kitayama of Kitayama Brothers in Watsonville, CA.

California flower farmer Robert Kitayama of Kitayama Brothers is interviewed in the article, highlighting how much the industry has changed.

“Once upon a time, we were the country’s largest rose grower,” Kitayama said. Cost, especially in the face of cheaper overseas competition, is the reason he and others got out of the rose business.”

Robert explains that he sees a younger generation of buyers who aren’t as constrained to the red rose buying tradition and that there will be a lot of gerbera daisies, tulips and orchids for people to enjoy this holiday.

During my interview with Kevin, I explained how the U.S. now produces less than 2 percent of the roses now sold in the United States.

You can read the entire article here.

What does Valentine’s Day look like for you?

Last Chance! Flower Farmers Unite!

Annual Flower Farmer Fly-in to Washington, D.C.

We’re obligated to send the hotel our reservation list tomorrow by COB. So, this is our last call for those who want to join their fellow flower farmers in Washington, D.C. Now, it may not be the last chance, but our packages will likely increase substantially after this between the airfare and the per-night cost of the hotel rooms.

I’m excited that we will be hosting our largest flower farm delegation we’ve ever had this year. We have farms coming from Florida, Michigan, California, Alaska, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. A tremendous group to represent America’s flower-farming families, but we’d love to still add more voices to this year’s trip.

With the change of the presidential administration and the new Congress, we want to make sure we have America’s flower farmer priorities known. We also want to grow the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, and thanks to our partnership with the Wine Institute, we’ll be hosting a joint reception to help brief members and their staff on American wine and flowers.

Questions? Feel free to leave a comment or email me directly.

This trip makes a difference. Join us in Washington, D.C.

Register Here

Debra Prinzing Launches Slow Flower Summit | July 2, 2017

Slow Flower Summit in Seattle During American Flowers Week

In her latest newsletter, Debra Prinzing announced she’s hosting the Slow Flower Summit on July 2 in Seattle, Washington. The summit will be held in conjunction with American Flowers Week and will take place a day into the annual AIFD Symposium, also being held in Seattle during the first week in July.

Debra is describing the summit as “a Ted Talk for flower lovers” and notes that it will feature Amy Stewart, author of Flower Confidential, as one of the event’s keynote speakers. James Baggett, editor in chief of Country Gardens Magazine, will serve as the summit’s master of ceremonies.