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.”

We’re Going Live in 2017!

Facebook Live Helps Share the American Grown Field to Vase Experience With Thousands

Last year, we experimented with Facebook Live during our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour. Broadcasting live from a flower farm has its challenges, but we found that providing that live connection with people who weren’t able to attended to be both valuable and important, even appreciated.

So, this year, we’re committed to going “live” at every dinner.

At our first dinner of the season at Len Busch Roses in Minnesota, Niesha Blancas, our social media guru, interviewed our flower farmer Patrick Busch and our floral designer (and event planner) Sandy Schroeck.

Patrick and Sandy did a great job sharing what it takes to host one of these special events and most importantly, explaining the “why.”

Of course anything can happen when we go live, which is also what makes the videos very authentic and provides a great account of how the American Grown Flower movement is continuing to grow and impact the floral industry.

There is great momentum for telling the story of why #OriginMatters.

Check out these three videos from our first dinner at Len Busch Roses. Let me know what you think and if you have any feedback, thoughts or suggestions on how we can continue to improve these live broadcasts from our dinners. Please let me know either in the comments section or send me an email.

#JustBecause I Fly With Flowers

Delta Flight Attendants Share Their Appreciation for American Grown Flowers

On my return flight from last weekend’s American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Len Busch Roses in Plymouth, Minnesota, I presented two huge Certified American Grown Flower bouquets to the first two flight attendants I saw as I boarded my flight home.

Delta flight attendants Christina and Kaitlyn were thankful for the “stunning flowers.”

They were thrilled.

In fact, when I landed in Salt Lake City to change planes, they handed me a very nice thank you note. The thank you note was a “I Fly With Flowers” first. Historically, flight attendants have given me a hug, come by my seat later in the flight to say thank you again, and even announced over the PA system on a Southwest flight that they appreciated the flowers they received from a passenger.

I received this very nice note from Delta flight attendants Christina and Kaitlyn.

You never know exactly what the response might be, but the giving of flowers is always guaranteed to be fun, and the reaction you get is always genuine appreciation.

Why do I fly with flowers? #JustBecause.

#JustBecause giving is fun.

I’d love to hear any other stories of #JustBecause flower giving. If you have a routine or time when you gave #JustBecause flowers to someone, I’d love to hear your story, too. Just leave a comment below or email me.

The Certified American Grown Flowers that I gave to Delta flight attendants Christina and Kaitlyn were from the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner held the night before.

A Wonderful Way To Start the Tour

Len Busch Roses, a Family Farm

One word continues to come to mind when I describe the experience we had at the first American Grown Field to Vase Dinner of 2017 at Len Busch Roses in Minnesota: family.

Minnesota flower farmer Patrick Busch greeted guests who came from all over to enjoy dinner on the family’s flower farm.

The entire experience, from set up to tear down, felt like we were working with family. It was all hands on deck to set the table in the middle of their recently renovated greenhouse and everyone I met, everyone involved with producing the event, was super friendly, happy to be there and nice.

Minnesota nice.

Patrick and I just prior to guests taking their seats.

I know, its probably cliche to say, but it was so true. And the niceness would continue with our guests. Everyone who attended was excited to be there and grateful for the opportunity to tour the farm and enjoy a wonderful farm-to-fork meal by Common Roots Catering together on the Busch family’s flower farm.

Founder Len Busch of Len Busch Roses with his wife, Marge, attended the dinner on Saturday. Len shared his pride in the legacy of the farm that has continued on with his son, Patrick, at the helm.

These dinners are magical in the way they connect people in the moment and connect the dots for our cause. Working to ensure that Americans understand where their flowers are coming from is an important opportunity for our farms. These dinners let flower farmers tell their stories. It’s a way for us to raise the awareness for the flower-farming families here in the United States. It is our way to share why #OriginMatters.

The sold out Field to Vase Dinner at Len Busch Roses was an awesome experience for all to see and enjoy.

Check out all of the great photos from our photographer, Christina Olson of Electric Lime Photography, on an awesome evening at Len Busch Roses on our Flickr page.

 

Senator Mike McGuire Tours Sun Valley Floral Farms

Senator Sponsored SCR 146 Declaring June California Grown Flower Month

Senator Mike McGuire and flower farmer Lane DeVries during a recent tour of Sun Valley Floral Farm in Arcata.

While our organization’s focus has been facing issues on the federal level, CCFC’s past-chair Lane DeVries recently hosted California State Senator Mike McGuire on a tour of his farm, Sun Valley Floral Farm. Senator McGuire was the lead sponsor in the Senate for a joint resolution

Senator Mike McGuire (right, red tie) with his colleagues in the Senate who supported his resolution to recognize June as California Grown Flower Month.

declaring June as California Grown Flower Month.

Last year was a very difficult legislative year for California agriculture. The Assembly and Senate made decisions that have been detrimental to California agriculture’s ability to compete, and remarks were made during debates that farmers won’t soon forget. It’s more important than ever for farmers to sow relationships with their representatives on every level, highlighting the value they bring to their communities and the impact they make on the economy.

Thank you to Senator McGuire for taking the time to visit one of our flower farmers and for your support for California agriculture, and kudos to Lane and Sun Valley for making the effort to host the visit. These relationship-building opportunities do make a difference.

2017 Farm & Flower Guide Is Underway

This Will Be Our Best Year Yet!

Each year, the CCFC works with our farms and the team at Florists Review to publish an annual farm and flower guide that’s distributed in the June issues of Florists Review and Super Floral Magazine.

The botanical look of our new online directory is based off of our annual Farm and Flower Guide.

This guide has been a tremendous resource for wholesalers, designers and floral educators who seek out and count on the updated information, design ideas and farm profiles. A survey of readers was recently done and the response was amazing. Respondents told us that they’d like to see the guide twice a year!

We won’t be going that far, but the enthusiasm and support for the publication is appreciated and highlights the value it brings to the readers and the industry.

The new directory will be both beautiful and functional for helping people find the farm and flowers they are looking for.

The added benefit of this year’s California Farm & Flower guide project will be the relationship it will have to our redesigned website at ccfc.org. A redesign of the Commission’s website is underway and the flowers directory we see in the annual California Farm & Flower Guide will be the same flowers we use in the online digital directory.

So, if you’d like to see your flowers featured on our newly designed website and in the 2017 Farm & Flower Guide, be sure to become a supporter by sponsoring the new guide. The team at Florists Review will be contacting each of our farms for support and sponsorship. June will be here before we know it, so make sure you’re in on this great opportunity to feature your farm and flowers.

Lisa Strydom and Teresa Salts with Florists Review will be contacting farms, but don’t wait! Be proactive and contact them directly today.

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!