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.

LA Times Features Farm Tours, Dinner

Field To Vase Dinner Tour Stops In Carpinteria

It’s hard to believe we’ve been hosting free flower farm tours for nine years now, but what started as a simple way to welcome the public onto our flower farms once a year has turned into an annual tradition that’s going on a decade.

This year’s Los Angeles Times article encourages the public to tour Carpinteria’s flower farms.

The tradition has had some culminating impacts that could not have been foreseen when the idea was first imagined. The tour now welcomes thousands of people, not hundreds. Nonprofits are involved to help raise funds for their causes and media coverage is garnered from major news sources like the LA Times.

The very first American Grown Field to Vase Dinner was held in a gerbera daisy greenhouse at the Kitayama Brothers flower farm in Watsonville in 2013 as a kickoff to that year’s Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House.

In fact, it was the farm tours in Carpinteria and Monterey that helped give life to the idea of holding the American Grown Field to Vase Dinners we’re hosting all across the country today.

Guests learn about the work and effort that go into producing flowers in California.

The lesson? Never discount what a small initial step might accomplish for the future. Nine years later, we can look back and see how these pieces have added up to create some incredible opportunities, value and awareness for the cause of encouraging consumers everywhere to “take pride in their flowers.”

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Not many seats remain, but if you’d like to join the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Carpinteria, make sure you visit FieldtoVaseDinner.com and reserve your seats.

The 9th Annual Carpinteria Greenhouse & Nursery Tour will be held on Saturday April 1. Visit carpinteriafarmtours.com for a map of this year’s participating farms.

So much to learn, so much to see during our annual farm tours. Here Alex Van Wingerden of Gallup & Stribling shares his passion for growing orchids.

The 8th Annual Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House will be held on June 17. Visit montereybayfarmtours.org for a map and more information on this year’s free farm tours.

 

 

 

‘The Columbian’ Features Benno’s Meeting With Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler

Local Newspaper Highlights American Grown Efforts In Washington, D.C.

CCFC’s Governmental Affairs Chair Benno Dobbe was recently featured in the Colombian for his meeting with Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler while in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

Woodland’s Holland America Flower Gardens owner Benno Dobbe, left, presented U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, with a scarf during his visit to Washington, D.C, as a member of the California Cut Flowers Commission’s Governmental Relations Committee.

Congresswoman Herrera Beutler is one of the co-chairs of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus that was established in 2014 to help raise the profile of and address issues facing America’s flower farmers. The congresswoman represents Washington State’s 3rd District in southwest Washington that includes Woodland, where Holland America Flowers grows its flowers.

CCFC Governmental Affairs Chair Benno Dobbe of Holland America Flowers.

Despite unusually high temperatures in Washington, D.C., at the beginning of March, Benno presented the congresswoman with a Certified American Grown Flowers scarf in appreciation of her commitment and leadership representing America’s flower farming families.

The Certified American Grown scarf reminds people to take pride in their flowers.

CCFC Governmental Affairs Chair Benno Dobbe of Holland America Flowers (left) with flower farmer Rene VanWingerden of Ocean Breeze Farms (right).

Uniting California Agriculture in 2017

United Ag Invites Panelist to Speak on "Advancing Together"

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in United Ag’s annual conference as a panelist to discuss the effort of uniting California agriculture to better address the challenges and misconceptions agriculture faces with legislators in Sacramento, and an increasing regulatory environment on farm management and production.

I joined Joel Nelsen of Citrus Mutual, George Radanovich of the California Fresh Fruit Association, Amy Wolfe of AgSafe, Mike Stoker of the Law Office of Mike Stoker and Emily Rooney of Agriculture Council of California.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross and I at the United Ag conference in Napa. Secretary Ross was the keynote speaker during lunch.

Each of us facilitated some small-group discussions regarding where farms feel things stand right now after a very difficult and discouraging legislative session in 2016 where the overtime exemption for farm employees was taken away, while farms faced a substantial jump to a $15 minimum wage in the next four years. Needless to say, the conversation was dynamic and people had a lot to say about the political environment California farmers face today.

The theme of United Ag’s Conference was “Advancing Together,” and our session was entitled, “A Unified Voice.” You might think that after a century of farming in California, we’d have promotion and advocacy down to a science farmers could count on. However, the reality is that it’s California’s rich diversity in production that is also its Achilles heel in getting organized. We are so big and represent so much value with over 400 crops in production, it’s really tough to get farmers to band together with such diverse needs, production styles and crop types.

So, how do you unite such diversity?

Agriculture Council of California CEO Emily Rooney and I shared the stage at United Ag’s annual conference in Napa on Thursday.

That’s the million dollar question, and it was great to hear so many farmers in the audience discuss their thoughts on the matter. Specifically, I shared how important I found the Ag President’s Council as a unifier. The California Cut Flower Commission has been a part of the Ag President’s Council for almost as long as it has been around. The value of the council is that it feeds off of the diversity of the stakeholders at the table. There’s recognition that there are different opinions and approaches on policy and even positions on those policies, but it becomes a very important table to discuss options and ideas, especially now when the approach that agriculture has been taking isn’t working and we need to better position California agriculture to not be so flat-footed when the Legislature and organized labor band together to attack farmers, spreading false claims and misleading the public on the merits of a debate.

We’ve got a lot of organizing still to do, but I appreciated being invited by United Ag to participate in its conference and discuss how we “advance together.”