Meeting the First Lady of the United States

America's Flower Farmers Meet Melania Trump at First Lady's Luncheon

For the second year in a row, Certified American Grown Flowers had the honor and privilege of providing America’s First Lady with an all-American Grown Flower affair during the Congressional Club’s annual First Lady Luncheon.

This year, our delegation of farmers, designers and special guests had the opportunity to meet the first lady.

Left to right: Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore, Diana Roy of Resendiz Brothers Protea, First Lady Melania Trump, Margaret Lloyd of Margaret Joan Florals, Christy Hulsey of The Colonial House and Travis Rigby of Florists’ Review.

Certified American Grown flower farmer Diana Roy took the opportunity to speak with the first lady about American Grown Flowers, the cause and our interest in working with her and the White House to help ensure that all of the flowers displayed in the White House be American Grown.

It was an incredible moment for our young program.

Left to right: Jerry Hagstrom of the Hagstrom Report, Tim Dewey of DVFlora, First Lady Melania Trump, Kasey Cronquist of Certified American Grown, Beth VanSandt of Scenic Place Peonies and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies.

The first lady was gracious and very receptive. We didn’t have a lot of time, but Diana Roy did a masterful job in speaking with the first lady about Certified American Grown and expressing what an honor it was to provide all of the flowers for the day’s event.

If that wasn’t enough, our message was repeated and affirmed by the chair of the Congressional Club’s First Lady Luncheon. During her remarks, Carolyn Yoho took a moment to encourage everyone, “including the White House,” to support American Grown Flowers.

It could not have been more perfect.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Congressional Club on this wonderful bipartisan event and following up with the first lady’s office to encourage the support for representing America’s flower farming families in the White House.

It Was Incredible!

Beautiful American Grown Flowers Adorn First Lady's Luncheon

We’ve worked on some big events and we’ve had some great opportunities for our American Grown Flower farmers and their flowers featured, but I believe this week’s work in Washington, D.C., stands out above all the rest in its scale, influence and effort to drive awareness to the American Grown Flower movement.

This year’s First Lady’s Luncheon, hosted annually by the Congressional Club, was an all American Grown Flower affair. Our farms shipped over 18,000 stems of beautiful American Grown Flowers to a team of over 20 volunteer professional floral designers led by Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore, Christy Hulsey of The Colonial House of Flowers and Margaret Lloyd of Margret Joan Florals.

An extremely talented and wonderful team of professional floral designers rallied for American Grown Flowers for this year’s First Lady’s Luncheon.

This year’s lead designers, (pictured left to right) Kelly Shore, Margaret Lloyd and Christy Hulsey.

The results were incredible.

The sponsorship opportunity led to a meet and greet opportunity with first lady Melania Trump where Diana Roy of Resendiz Brothers was able to speak with the first lady and encourage the White House to adopt an all American Grown Flower policy. The request was reiterated by the Congressional Club’s Chair of the First Lady’s Luncheon Committee who took a moment during her remarks to acknowledge all of the beautiful American Grown Flowers and asked that “everyone, including the White House, support American Grown Flowers.” The request from the podium was met with resounding applause.

 

The official Instagram post from @Flotus included a shot of the beautiful American Grown Flowers on the head table.

 

Incredible.

Half of the tables enjoyed these beautiful Certified American Grown centerpieces.

 

And half of the tables enjoyed these beautiful Certified American Grown centerpieces.

Diana Roy of Resendiz Brothers with second lady Karen Pence.

If that wasn’t enough, after the luncheon concluded, Diana Roy and I had an opportunity to speak to second lady Karen Pence who had made special note of the request we were making and encouraged us to write a letter to her requesting support for an all American Grown White House.

It was an honor to meet second lady Karen Pence.

 

First Lady Luncheon Committee Chair Carolyn Yoho and I after the luncheon.

Meeting the first lady and second lady on the same day, talking to both of them about our farms and flowers and requesting that the American Grown Flower movement be brought to the White House … it could not have gone better. The day felt as if we were all a part of history in the making, and it was an honor to be a part of this annual bipartisan tradition.

A record number of people attended this year’s First Lady’s Luncheon.

Thank you to the following farms for their generous contribution of flowers:

Golden State Bulb Growers
Calla Co.
Ocean View Flowers
Dramm & Echter
Westland Orchids
Gallup & Stribling
Oregon Flowers
FernTrust
Sun Valley Floral Farms
Holland America Flowers
Pyramid Flowers
Mellano & C0.
Top Star Floral
Resendiz Brothers
Kitayama Brothers
Myriad Flowers
Ocean Breeze
Joseph & Sons
Eufloria Flowers
Green Valley Floral
Lynnvale Studios

A big thank you goes to Tim Dewey and DV Flora for helping us organize our flower shipments to D.C. Thank you to David Armellini of Armellini Logistics for their sponsorship to move the flowers to the East Coast and to Potomac Floral Wholesale for helping us with the last mile delivery.

I also want to thank Margaret Hofland of Accent Decor and Smithers-Oasis for their contribution and support again this year.

Certified American Grown had a wonderful group at our table during the luncheon. Pictured left to right is Margaret Lloyd, Kurt Weichhand, Beth VanSandt, Diana Roy, Rep. Ted Yoho, Christy Hulsey, Kelly Shore and Travis Rigby.

Relationships Matter

Building, Renewing, Establishing Relationships Are Key Benefits of The Field To Vase Tour

Our recent American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad marked our 20th dining experience since launching the national tour in 2015. It was the second largest dinner we’ve held, with 175 people in attendance and a portion of the proceeds donated to The Flower Fields Foundation. The foundation helps bring students from urban communities to experience life on a flower farm. A fitting tribute to a cause that is not too dissimilar from our aim with the dinner tour.

In fact, it’s the people part of the dinners we hold that continues to renew and encourage the continuation of the effort. Bringing consumers, designers, farmers and media to a dinner in the middle of a flower field does make a difference. Having our guests tour the farm with the flower farmer, learn from our featured floral designer and share the importance of what America’s flower farmers bring to their communities and the economy resonates.

The conversations are lively and the experience is one-of-a-kind, and it’s in that environment that relationships are established, renewed or enriched.

Relationships matter.

After each dinner, I look forward to receiving our album of photos and seeing the experiences of our guests through the lens of our photographers.

Not only does the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour bring people to some of the most beautiful flower farms in the country, it also highlights how important this flower-loving community of people who care and can advocate for American Grown Flowers really is. With the tour in its third year, I know for sure these experiences will have a tremendously positive impact on the relationships we’ve established for years to come.

Click to see more photos from Carlsbad.


We’ll Just Agree to Disagree

American Flower Farmers Lobby for Border Adjustment Tax, SAF Lobbies To Exempt Imported Flowers

You’ve probably heard someone use the phrase, “let’s just agree to disagree.”

It’s often used when you get to that point in a conversation with your spouse, friend or colleague where neither side is budging on their opinion or perspective regarding an issue and someone finally says, “well, let’s just agree to disagree.”

America’s flower farmers recently lobbied in support for a Republican proposal for a Border Adjustment Tax that would help level the playing field with imported flowers.

This phrase seems to sum up the relationship between the Society of American Florists (SAF) and America’s flower farmers regarding the Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) being proposed by House Republicans as a part of their “blueprint” on reforming the nation’s tax system.

During their annual Congressional Action Days in Washington, D.C.,  SAF members lobbied Congress to support the BAT, but requested an exemption for

On the Flower Farm With Debi Lilly

Debi Lilly Wows A Sold-Out Design Workshop and Dinner Audience

Debi Lilly provided guests with a beautiful tablescape to enjoy in Carpinteria.

Wow!

We’ve worked with a lot of designers over the last three years of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner, but this was the first dinner where we partnered with our designer to host a design workshop prior to our main dinner event. We could not have had a better person to test this concept with than Debi Lilly of A Perfect Event. Debi was outstanding, and she did a remarkable job of hosting a sold-out audience of 60 guests for a three-hour design workshop prior to the Field to Vase Dinner at Gallup & Stribling Orchids.

I really enjoyed meeting and working with Debi during last week’s tour stop in Carpinteria. She did a fantastic job acknowledging all of the farms that provided flowers to the design workshop, highlighting why buying American Grown Flowers is important and trending.

Despite her status as a nationally branded celebrity event planner who has worked with the likes of Oprah and Lady Gaga, and her role as the creator of “Debi Lilly Designs” featured in Safeway, Vons and Albertsons throughout the country, Debi was a very down-to-earth, hard-working, gracious co-host. She was a wonderful team player who wanted to be involved in all of the details, helping us set up, troubleshoot and ensure that things were set beautifully before guests started arriving.

Debi hosted a sold-out class of 60 people prior to the American Grown Field to Vase dinner on Thursday evening.

We had a number of farms send us their flowers for Debi to use in her designs. Debi did an awesome job creating the tablescape using Syndicate’s American Made vases. It turned out beautifully.

At the end of the evening, Debi shared her passion for supporting the American Grown Flowers movement.

We’re already looking forward to working with Debi again. She did such a great job and was such a great spokesperson for the momentum and movement toward American Grown Flowers among consumers.

Tours Matter

Carpinteria Flower Farms Host 9th Annual Farm Tour

California flower farmer Jerry Van Wingerden shares his passion for growing flowers with a group during this year’s annual farm tours in Carpinteria.

 

Awareness.

Approximately 80 percent of all cut flowers sold in the United States are imported from South America, primarily Colombia.

A national consumer research study found that 74 percent of people have no idea where flowers come from, yet 58 percent would prefer flowers that are homegrown.

Origin matters. Whether you’re focused on quality, longevity, sustainability, local jobs or the economy. Origin matters.

Look for the label when you buy your flowers. It makes a difference.

Bloomin’ News Features Why I Fly With Flowers

Recent Blog Post Goes To Print

This month’s Bloomin’ News features my experience flying with flowers. Bloomin’s editor Peggi Ridgeway contacted me after I posted my most recent experience giving flowers away on Delta Airlines. She asked if they could publish the story in the spring edition of their publication.

Of course!

The article is featured on the cover and can be found on page 6 in the magazine.

So be sure to check out this month’s Bloomin’ News, a publication of the Original Los Angeles Flower Market of the American Florists’ Exchange.

You can also find the other posts I’ve done on my travels with flowers in the following posts:

Santa Barbara News Press Features Debi Lilly And American Grown Flowers

Great Coverage For American Grown Field To Vase Dinner Return To Carpinteria

It was great to see such a beautiful spread in this weekend’s Santa Barbara News Press featuring Debi Lilly’s support for and involvement with our next American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Carpinteria.

A celebrity event planner, Debi provided readers with tips on recent floral trends, while encouraging people to join her in person at the workshop she is hosting at Gallup & Stribling Orchids on March 30 in conjunction with our Field to Vase Dinner later that evening. Debi will also be our

NY Times Features Growing Trend For American Grown Flowers

The Floral Revolution That Is Upon Us

This certainly wasn’t breaking news by the New York Times, but it was definitely affirming to read its report on what many of us have been seeing for several years now, “this country is in the midst of a floral revolution.”

The article goes on to make some observations on the trend toward American Grown Flowers, highlighting that “flower arrangements have become wilder and stranger, incorporating all manner of seasonal flora plucked from the woods, the garden, the roadside and the vegetable patch.”

These types of floral elements, of course, aren’t conducive to the rigors involved with importing flowers, which the article’s author, Deborah Needleman, also addresses. Needlman doesn’t pull any punches when she goes on to share her feelings about flowers imported from Latin America by saying, “Most of our cut flowers are imported from Latin America, where labor is cheap, working conditions harsh, regulations lax and chemicals prevalent — and that’s just the growing part. Then, after being jacked up on fungicide, dunked in vats of preservatives and jostled and manhandled for about a week, these odorless, uniform, sturdy flowers with their enormous carbon footprint come to rest in our florist’s hands or in our homes. Nice.”

That’s a rather condemning judgment on the flowers that currently make up roughly 80 percent of what’s sold in the U.S. today.

We know that 74 percent of consumers have no idea where flowers come from. We also know that 58 percent of people would prefer to buy American Grown Flowers if given the choice. I guess the question is, will articles like this one help catapult the conversation on why buying American Grown Flowers matters into the mainstream? Will a majority of retailers and local florists begin seeking more home-grown blooms to sell their customers? Will this growing group of small-acre farmers be able to help compete against the 80 percent of imported product that exists today?

It is a trend that we are certainly rooting for …

Debi Lilly Will Design A Perfect Flower Farm Event

Celebrity Party Planner To Help Host Our Next American Grown Field To Vase Dinner

Our next stop on the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour will be at Gallup & Stribling Orchids in Carpinteria, California, on March 30. This stop is going to be a very special one as the tour returns to the place where the effort to host farm-to-fork meals on flower farms across the country began. The very first American Grown Field to Vase Dinner was held at Westland Orchids in 2015.

So, it only makes sense that we’d have a very special designer helping to host our return to the nation’s “flower basket.” Debi Lilly of A Perfect Event will be sharing her passion for American Grown Flowers and her design talents as we host a beautiful dinner inside the orchid greenhouse at Gallup & Stribling. Debi has an impressive resume of design experience and work. For more than 10 years, she was Oprah Winfrey’s “Favorite Party Planning Pro.” She has also been the featured designer within the floral departments of Vons and Safeway throughout the United States with her Debi Lilly Designs Collections.

The Certified American Grown Flowers blog has a great feature post on Debi this week, highlighting her work, “Meet Celebrity Floral Designer and ‘Oprah Winfrey Show’ Alum At Our Dinner In Carpinteria,” and I encourage you to check it out.

I’m looking forward to meeting Debi in person for the first time at next week’s dinner. I’ve been in the industry for almost 10 years and have known of Debi’s work for about as long, so I’m looking forward to finally meeting her and working with her to host an amazing Field to Vase Dinner.

Promotions for our Field to Vase Dinner Tour could be found in Vons and Albertsons stores throughout Southern California. Vons and Albertsons are sponsors of the Field to Vase Dinner in Carpinteria.

A big thank you to Vons and Albertsons for their support of American Grown Flowers and their sponsorship of the Field to Vase Dinner in Carpinteria.