Farmers Continue to Rally Online After Trip To Washington, D.C.

Passionate, Successful Flower Farmers Take To Social Media To Share Their Experience

Upon arrival in Washington, D.C., Michigan flower farmer Michael Genovese shared his enthusiasm for participating in this year’s annual flower farmer fly-in.

I have really appreciated seeing the extra effort by members of this year’s flower farmer delegation in Washington, D.C., who returned home and began to share their experiences with others via social media and newsletters. Most notably, Michael Genovese of Summer Dreams Farm in Michigan has spent the last several days sharing with his followers on Instagram and Facebook what it was like to go to Washington as a flower farmer and work with other flower farmers to advance the interests and opportunities for American Grown Flowers.

In the shadow of the Washington Monument, Michael and his fellow flower farmers pause for a selfie on Capitol Mall.

Frank and Pamela Arnosky of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers also shared their experience, emailing their friends, family and customers about their efforts in Washington and receiving an overwhelming positive response in return.

Frank and Pamela Arnosky shared their experience on Capitol Hill in their newsletter to friends, family and customers.

All of this sharing and posting helps highlight just how important this effort is. It also helps spread the important message that elected officials need to hear from America’s flower farmers: “origin matters.” Whether it is to support local jobs, retain the generational intelligence of our American flower farmers, share improved sustainability efforts or to simply ensure that farmers can compete fairly with imported flowers from South America, highlighting the benefits of American Grown Flowers makes a difference.

David Beahm of David Beahm Experiences and Thistle Dew Farm posted this great photo with Holly Chapple of Chapple Designs and Hope Flower farm and Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Studios during their meetings on Capitol Hill.

I’m beyond inspired by all of the extra efforts by our farms. I’ll continue to post about the trip, sharing photos and highlighting the issues we are working to address on behalf of America’s flower-farming families.

 

 

Congressman Panetta Joins Congressional Cut Flower Caucus as Co-Chair

Rep. Jimmy Panetta To Lead Cut Flower Caucus

Congressman Jimmy Panetta meeting with flower farmers after agreeing to be a co-chair of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

Changes in Congress mean changes in leadership. This includes the leadership of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus that was launched by a bipartisan effort of Congresswoman Lois Capps and Congressman Duncan Hunter in 2014. Since it’s inception, the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus has grown to include four co-chairs (two republicans and two democrats) and over 25 members of Congress. The purpose of the caucus is to help advocate and drive awareness for America’s flower-farming families and the value they bring the economy and their communities. After an amazing tenure of advocacy for America’s flower farmers, for which she was honored in December, caucus co-chair Lois Capps retired from Congress at the end of 2016.

A team of bipartisan co-chairs lead the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

Last week, freshman Congressman Jimmy Panetta announced that he had accepted the co-chair position for the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus and would be taking on the leadership position to help advance the mission of the caucus on behalf of the flower farmers in his district and the rest of the country. Congressman Panetta was elected to the 20th District of California, replacing Congressman Sam Farr who also retired at the end of 2016. The district includes flower farms in the Santa Cruz and Monterey region, once the largest producing region of cut flowers in the United States.

Congressman Jimmy Panetta (center) with me and Bobby Koch (right), CEO of the Wine Institute.

Congressman Panetta attended a reception co-hosted by the Wine Institute and Certified American Grown during last week’s annual flower farmer fly-in to Washington, D.C., showing his support for the future of America’s flower farmers and encouraging his fellow members of Congress to join the caucus.

I’m personally excited to have Congressman Panetta as part of the caucus and look forward to his leadership as an advocate for our farms. I also have great appreciation for the family legacy of support the Panetta’s have had for America’s flower farmers. Congressman Panetta’s father, Secretary Leon Panetta, also represented the district as a Congressman and worked hard to try and level the playing field through legislation for flower farmers during the implementation of the Andean Trade Preferences Act in the early ’90s.

We look forward to working with Congressman Panetta and the rest of the caucus leadership and members in the year ahead as we continue our advocacy efforts on behalf of our country’s flower farmers.

Working The Hill

America's Flower Farmers Unite For A Common Cause

Last week’s trip to Washington, D.C., was the most productive trip advocating for our farms that we’ve ever held. It reminded me of our trip in 2014 when we worked with just two members of Congress to launch the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus. That was a pinnacle moment, but this past week really showed how those earlier efforts were momentum builders for the great meetings we had last week.

Flower farmers standing together on the steps of the Capitol.

The atmosphere is Washington has changed. No matter what side of the aisle you’re on or how you feel about this administration, you can’t help but sense how different the environment is right now. Good or bad, it isn’t business as usual in Washington, D.C. In fact, we found ourselves in meetings talking with lawmakers about how to remedy the challenges our farms face that have never been

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.

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.

American Grown Flowers In the Cooler For Valentine’s Day

Florists Prepare For Valentine's Day

Jim Relles and I at his shop in Sacramento.

When I give flower farm tours at one of our farms, I always explain that, “If you’ve seen one flower farm, you’ve seen one flower farm.” No two farms are alike. What they grow, how they grow, who they are, it all makes a difference and makes each farm unique.

The same can be said for florists. I was reminded of this as I toured Jim Relles’ shop in Sacramento on Friday. Relles Florist is one of the largest floral shops I’ve ever toured. Work stations, hard goods, cold storage …  I was impressed, they have a lot of room for a downtown floral shop. They’ve also been doing this for over 70 years. That’s also very impressive.

It was great to hear Jim’s optimism about this year’s Valentine’s Day, and wonderful to see that he was stocked up on California Grown and American Grown Flowers. Jim shared that this Valentine’s Day, he’ll be offering CA Grown roses to his customers. Not all of the roses will be from California, but he was proud of the ones he was able to get to sell to his customers.

Of course, I liked seeing how he had left the sleeves on the flowers in the cooler, making it easy to identify which ones had CA Grown or the Certified American Grown logo on them.

Jim is part of the Real Local Florist organization and is a proud supporter of California’s flower farms. He and his wife have joined us at a couple of our Field to Vase Dinners and proudly display the CA Grown logo on their company’s website.

Sun Valley’s tulips proudly displayed both brands on their sleeves in the cooler at Relles.

I didn’t leave empty handed. Jim’s team created an all “CA Grown” bouquet to take home and enjoy.

Thank you Jim, and the team at Relles Florist, for your continued support and commitment to our flower farming families!