China’s Largest Floriculture Trade Show Did Not Disappoint

Over 30,000 People in Attendance

Hortiflorexpo is the largest floriculture trade show in China.

We were told it was going to be big, but the Hortiflorexpo in Shanghai was huge.

In fact, it was this show that anchored the schedule of our trip because it was a such a “must see,” and is only held every other year in Shanghai. But why is it held the week before Mother’s Day, you ask? I don’t think we ever had that clearly answered, but it didn’t seem to impact the attendance. According to show officials, they expected over 30,000 people to attend the show this year.

Our official delegation just outside of the show. Pictured (left to right) are Jason Kendall, Tyler Meskers, myself, Mike Mellano, Ashley Nally and Diana Roy.

Our delegation of flower farmers met with wholesalers and importers to discuss American Grown Flowers and any interest their might be in importing our farms’ flowers.

Our team meeting with an importer at the show.

We also walked the show and saw some familiar names and companies with booths at this year’s show. Australia, Holland and Colombia all had booths representing flowers that were being imported to China today.

Holland had a major presence at the show.

 

Jason Kendall checking out the banksia from Australia.

 

Asocoflores and Ball Horticulture appeared to share booth space at the show.

 

Oasis has a large presence at the show and throughout China. Oasis seemed to be at many of the wholesale flower market shops we visited as well.

We had about three hours after our meetings to walk the show. The floriculture portion was held in three huge buildings, but included bedding plants and landscaping-type exhibits as well. It was a big show and well attended.

Wine, Flowers and the Library of Congress

California Grown Flowers Adorn Annual Wine Institute Reception

This year’s annual Wine Institute Reception at the Library of Congress was another beautiful opportunity to collaborate with our friends at Wine Institute and showcase our beautiful American Grown Flowers.

Andrea Gagnon and I at this year’s Wine Institute Reception at the Library of Congress.

The annual reception at the Library of Congress is the most popular reception on Capitol Hill each year (at least I think so).

Once again, we worked with Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Studios, a Certified American Grown farm and floral designer to help with the floral design installation.

Three very tall and beautiful centerpieces adorned the reception’s appetizer tables. Smaller arrangements were also at every small table and hightop.

The design effort is no small feat. I have to imagine that designing flowers within the space and grandeur of the Library of Congress would be a bit intimidating for anyone, but you wouldn’t known it with Andrea. She and her team do an amazing job taking our flowers and making it all work beautifully.

I Fly With Flowers and Niesha Does, Too!

The 'Fly-With-Flowers' Challenge

Following our most recent American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Carlsbad, California, at The Flower Fields, I challenged our social media guru Niesha Blancas to fly with flowers. She’d read my blog posts on the topic, and somehow it came up as we were working together to prepare for our sold-out dinner crowd.

I said, “You should try it.”

She hesitated.

“Come on … trust me. Do it once and you’ll be addicted. It’s so fun. I challenge you to fly with flowers.”

So, she did!

Niesha with her lucky flight attendant.

The photos she texted me Friday morning confirmed she had accomplished the challenge.  I texted back, “How do you feel?”

She said, “My soul feels happy.”

Niesha’s experience was fun to see and was affirming as well. In the hustle and bustle of promoting and advocating on behalf of America’s flower farmers, watching the reaction you get from giving beautiful American Grown Flowers to someone “just because” is an encouraging reminder about what joy our farmers’ flowers bring to people everywhere.

The Fly With Flowers Challenge

So, I wanted to extend the challenge to anyone who wants to fly with flowers. It is a great way to spread good cheer and encourage those flight attendants who really do have a tough job dealing with all of us weary travelers. I would love to see a picture with you and your lucky flight attendant and then blog about your experience and any others that I receive photos from.

I flew home from Carlsbad with flowers too.

One Week Until Washington

Largest Flower Farmer Delegation Ever

A week from today, a delegation of American flower farmers will descend on Washington,D.C., for an action-packed, issue-filled couple of days.

As is our tradition, every farmer will don an American Grown boutonnière to help highlight our cause as we walk the halls of Congress next week.

This will be the largest delegation of flower farmers we’ve ever had for our annual fly-in. Of course, it isn’t just the number of farmers that makes this year’s trip so impressive, it’s the “who” is joining us. This year’s group canvases 10 states representing 21 different farms and reflects new and next-generation farmers, as well as some of the largest flower farms in the United States.

Designed by Certified American Grown Flower farmer and floral designer Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Studios, every farmer will wear an all American Grown boutonnière.

The timing couldn’t be better for heading to Washington. The pace at which this administration is making changes makes raising our hands and unifying the voice for America’s flower farmers so important.

We also share our tradition with members of Congress. Here Andrea Gagnon pins an American Grown boutonnière on Congressman Jared Huffman, a member of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

We can’t assume that this administration knows the U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes floriculture as one of the top five most profitable crops for small-acre farms.

We need this administration to understand how “free trade” isn’t “fair trade,” and how imports continue to negatively impact American flower farmers.

And we must advocate for reliable access to labor that allows our farms to competitively harvest their flowers.

Our farms will meet with members of the new Congress, encouraging every representative to join the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus. The caucus continues to be a great resource for educating members of Congress and their staff on the issues, challenges and opportunities facing our flower farmers.

One week from today…

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.

Floral Marketing: 2017 Outlook Report

"Could Trump Administration Help U.S.-Grown Flowers?"

Each year, I’m asked by Floral Marketing’s editor Richard Lutes to provide an outlook report and forecast for our domestic farms.

Click to read complete article.

Decisions by California’s Legislature and the governor will have some long-term consequences for our country’s largest farms. A $15 minimum wage will cause wages across the board to rise within companies, and the elimination of agriculture’s overtime exemption will decrease productivity and increase costs for flower farmers, putting them at an even further competitive disadvantage with flowers being imported from South America.

However, there is

Transitioning To Trump; Let’s Go To Washington!

Now Is the Time For Farmers To Rally In Washington, D.C.

It’s time to take our issues to Washington, D.C.

We’ve held many successful farmer fly-ins over the past seven years, but this year might just be the most important fly-in we will have ever organized.

America’s flower farmers will be descending on Washington, D.C. for our annual fly-in 

Thank You Rose Parade Ambassadors

Farmers Speak to Thousands During 'Deco Week'

Every year, I seem to forget what a powerful opportunity the Tournament of Roses Parade is for driving awareness for California Grown flowers, until I’m back in Pasadena watching our farmers working the crowd and talking about flowers.

It’s amazing, and we simply couldn’t do this without the volunteer commitment of our farmers.

We’re not talking to hundreds of people, we’re talking to thousands. Sharing California’s passion for flower farming in the Golden State.

We handed out so many CA Grown stickers to people who had questions, comments and appreciation for what California farmers do to bring flowers to market. Our farms donated over 54,000 stems of flowers for Cal Poly’s float, and it turned out beautifully.

Thank you to all of our farmer ambassadors who came out to talk about California Grown flowers and their passion for flower farming. It made a difference. Hundreds and hundreds of people from Pennsylvania (Penn State University is in the Rose Bowl) learned a lot about where America’s flowers come from this past week because of this effort to educate.

A big thank you to Ashley Nally of CallaCo and Linda G. with Mobi’s for their leadership in organizing the volunteers. Thank you Anna Kalins and Andrea Philpot for helping make sure we kept the wheels on the bus this year between our promotion efforts and our California Grown certification ceremonies. Everything came together wonderfully.

CallaCo’s Ashley Nally, a CCFC Promotion Committee member.

Today is the Rose Parade. I’m confident that we have some California Grown award winners. Cheers to a promising 2017.

A proudly displayed CA Grown license plate was affixed to the back of Cal Poly’s float this year. Photo by Keith Humphrey, VP of Cal Poly Student Affairs.

My No. 1 Blog Post in 2016 …

It surprised me, too!

Well, as Google would have it, my most widely read blog post for Field Position in 2016 was written in 2013.

Why I Fly with Flowers & You Should, Too,” takes the top spot for the most unique page visits.

i-fly-with-flowers

Why is this post the most popular post three years after it was written?

That’s a great question. But I’m not exactly sure what the answer is.

However, recognizing that people are still reading posts I wrote three years ago, I have recommitted time and made it a priority to blog more often in 2017. Blogging is a great resource for people to access information about the Cut Flower Commission, Certified American Grown Flowers, all of our efforts and what we represent as an organization.

P.S. – “They Grow Flowers in Alaska?” was No. 3!

Which “Field to Vase” Dinner Will You Attend?

“Farm to Fork.” It continues to be the rage.

Events are created for it, restaurants are themed around it, even the White House has their own kitchen garden that communicates the merits of freshness, quality and just knowing where your food comes from.

…but what about the flowers?

F2V_web_logo

From the White House to the average house, how do we help communicate to consumers those same values and virtues they find in buying and featuring locally grown food, can also be found in the flowers they buy.

How do we translate this momentum for “farm to fork” in such a way that helps people ensure that the flowers at the center of the table are as fresh, local and sustainable as the food on their plates?

Enter, the 2015 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

Working with the Certified American Grown flowers campaign, the California Cut Flower Commission is helping to sponsor a series of 10 dinners in 2015 to help translate the “farm to fork” message to support locally grown flowers. This “field to vase” concept provides a perfect translation to help connect the dots with caring consumers who want to know where the flowers they buy are coming from.

But will people come?

Yes! In fact, our first dinner in Carpinteria at Westland Orchids is oversold. We have more people wanting to come than we have seats. This, of course, is a great problem to have.

Over 100 people will be dining on locally grown fare while we celebrate American Grown flowers as the centerpiece of every conversation.

The good news is that the tour is coming to a city near you. From San Diego to Brooklyn to Washington DC, please visit the schedule and see which dinner you’d like to attend and “Save Your Seat” today.

These seats will go fast.

Which dinner would you like to attend?