There is only one Francoise Weeks and she joined us at Destiny Hill Farm as our featured designer. Photo by Farm Chick Photography.
I have a vivid memory of speaking with Francoise during our Field to Vase Dinner in Detroit in 2015 and hearing her passion for sourcing and designing with American Grown Flowers. She was committed to the idea of sourcing local long before it became “a thing.” Sourcing from what grew around her is who she is and she is one of those rare designers who doesn’t have a problem telling a bride “no,” when something they’re requesting isn’t in season.
An incredible talent, Francoise Weeks makes beautiful arrangements from plants that other people would consider weeds. Photo by Farm Chick Photography.
Our conversation in Detroit touched on her desire to teach from flower farms and it was there we began discussing how to one day have her be a part of a future American Grown Field to Vase Dinner.
That opportunity turned reality this past weekend at Destiny Hill Farm in Washington, Pennsylvania where Francoise brought her amazing design talent to our Field to Vase Dinner tablescape.
Photo by Farm Chick Photography.
Francoise’s woodland design style is unlike anything we’ve ever seen on the tour to date. In fact, it is so unique, I don’t expect we’ll see it again, which is why it was such a privilege and honor to have her join this year’s tour.
There were 19 woodland arrangements on the table, each unique, each of them representing hours of time and attention. We have a tradition of making sure our table arrangements go home with our guests and when there isn’t one for everyone, we have a fun way of giving the centerpieces away. This time though, our winners walked away with their prize as if they had just won an expensive piece of art.
Which it was…
Thank you Francoise for sharing your time and talent with us on this year’s Field to Vase Dinner Tour.
It was an honor to work with Francoise Weeks at our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Destiny Hill Farm. Photo by Farm Chick Photography.
Even I learned some lessons from Francoise while in Pennsylvania.
A Beautiful Evening On the Flower Farm In Western Pennsylvania
Photo by Farm Chick Photography.
Our Field to Vase Dinner at Destiny Hill Farm in Western Pennsylvania will go down as our miracle dinner.
Tornado warnings were sent to all of our phones.
Just twenty-four hours before our dinner began, Washington, Pennsylvania was under a tornado warning as a severe storm ripped through the area. We were all in a pre-dinner planning meeting when emergency alerts started ringing everyone’s phones. I was so impressed with receiving my first “tornado warning” alert on my iPhone that I took a screen grab of it.
The storm was intense. Lighting, booming thunder and sideways rain; it had everyone running for cover.
And just like that, it was over.
By Saturday morning the extreme rain and wind had died down and made way for a beautiful day as we prepared for our Field to Vase Dinner later that evening. While we fought a little wind during set up, by the time our guests sat down for dinner the weather could not have been more perfect for our celebration of American Grown Flowers.
The lavender fields of Destiny Hill Farms were a beautiful backdrop for our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner. Photo by Farm Chick Photography.
Now, Destiny Hill Farm is one of the most beautiful flower farms in the United States, but what makes this farm so special is the family behind the farm. The Cameron’s are a generous, fun-loving family that make everyone who visits feel like family. I also had a chance to work with an amazing team of employees and student interns who helped us make a magical evening come true for our dinner guests.
Our guests enjoyed a magical evening on the flower farm. Photo by Farm Chick Photography.
It was a privilege to finally meet Jim and Nancy Cameron, early adopters of the Certified American Grown Flowers program. Photo by Farm Chick Photography.
Jim and Nancy Cameron were early adopters of the Certified American Grown program and it was a privilege to finally meet them in person and host a beautiful American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on their flower farm. They not only rolled out the red carpet (or purple carpet, as the case may be) for our guests, but they get the award for the most organized set up.
Mimi York (left) did an amazing job as our event planner for our dinner at Destiny Hill. Niesha Blancas (right) helped us capture the magic via social media. Check out her facebook live interviews! Photo by Farm Chick Photography.
How so, you ask?
Meet Mimi York.
Mimi York, Destiny Hill’s resident event planner, had our table set on Thursday before the event. That was an F2V first! Mimi was a true pleasure to work with and it was her attention to detail that really helped ensure our guests had a memorable evening.
Of course any mention of our time at Destiny Hill would not be complete without mentioning Luther. In fact, Luther might have stole the show. Luther, the farm mascot is a miniature donkey that was rescued by the Camerons and basically roams freely on the farm. There is nothing quite like having a donkey greeting your guests to bring smiles and levity to any event.
Who doesn’t love a miniature donkey at a party? I could write a whole blog post on Luther. Photo by Farm Chick Photography.
You can find more beautiful images of our dinner at Destiny Hill Farm on our Flickr page. Thank you to MacKenzie Scheponik of Farm Chick Photography for such beautiful photos.
Click to see more photos from our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Destiny Hill Farm.
Festivalgoers gravitated to the all California Grown Flowers “Flowers On Your Head” tent during this weekend’s Arroyo Seco Weekend.
California Grown Flowers were a beautiful addition to this weekend’s festivities at Arroyo Seco Weekend. The CCFC collaborated with Mud Barron of Muir Ranch to provide fresh California Grown Flowers for his crowd favorite “Flowers On Your Head,” activation.
The crowd loved it.
A nice banner highlighting the celebration of California Grown Flowers in June hung proudly in Pasadena during Arroyo Seco Weekend.
And we loved being a part of Mud’s team of students who were on hand to help spread the #CAGrown news through an engaging display in the shadow of the Rose Bowl. CCFC Chair Diana Roy of Resendiz Brothers led the charge, ensuring our farms’ flowers arrived to Pasadena this weekend and helping with the activation.
Thank you to our farms for contributing their beautiful California Grown Flowers this weekend!
It was estimated that over 25,000 people attended the inaugural event.
Thank you to all of our farms that responded to Mud’s request for California Grown Flowers. He reported back with his deep appreciation for the flowers that were sent, highlighting it was all for a good cause. Mud is the man responsible for the student flower farm and design program at Muir Ranch. You can learn more about Muir Ranch by visiting their website.
The CCFC Is Unique Organization With A Unique Mission
This weekend, one of our farmers reached out to me asking me to send him, “one sentence to describe the mission of the CCFC.” He was preparing to give a presentation and wanted to be able to clearly articulate the purpose of the CCFC to his audience.
Helping to keep your organization focused on your mission, your message and the people you serve is why a mission statement is so important.
The good news is that the CCFC’s mission is only once sentence:
“To provide a unified effort by farmers to enhance the performance of the California cut flower and foliage industry.”
I quickly shared this with him, but also forwarded him a less formal, more conversational version that I often use when I’m asked what the CCFC is about.
“The CCFC is a state agency that serves as the lead advocacy and promotion organization for California’s flower farmers.”
I was inspired to share this story in light of how important a mission statement is during times of challenge and uncertainty. At both the federal and state level, California’s flower farmers continue to face some difficult issues.
California’s flower farmers recently rallied in Sacramento to advocate for their farms.
The availability of labor, transportation, unbalanced trade agreements, a $15 minimum wage, family estate and succession planning and regulatory overreach are all threats to the continuation of California’s hallowed flower-farming heritage and tradition.
At the same time, we’re seeing signs of opportunity and progress. Increasing production of flowers by farms in Southern California. An increasing number of new and beginning flower farmers throughout the country. Increasing promotion and consumer demand for California and American Grown Flowers. A groundswell of support from lawmakers and consumers for America’s flower farmers. More requests for all-American Grown Flowers at major events such as this year’s First Lady’s Luncheon. Origin-based campaigns by major retailers such as Safeway’s “Blue Bucket Campaign” featuring flowers labeled California Grown.
A mission statement is important not only because of what it says, but also what it doesn’t say.
The CCFC doesn’t represent lettuce, cucumbers or tomatoes. You’re not going to see the California Cut Flower Commission discuss or get involved in the promotion or advocacy of crops that do not reflect our mission.
Our mission statement also makes it clear who we serve. The CCFC was created for and is focused on California’s flower farmers. It is a “unified effort by farmers” for flower farmers. As we look at issues, develop strategy and identify opportunities, we have to keep asking the question, “How does the work we do better serve California’s flower farmers?”
June is California Grown Flowers month. Our flower farmers recently rallied in Sacramento to help raise the profile of flower farming in California and encourage lawmakers to support this year’s resolution to declare June as “California Grown Flowers Month.” This was a great example of farmers working together, staying focused and promoting what value they bring to their communities and the economy. To help us celebrate this special month, the CCFC featured a campaign that really symbolizes how coordinated efforts from the field to the store can produce successful mission-oriented results.
Just check out this fantastic “Blue Bucket Campaign” by Safeway. The entire Northern California division of Safeway has adopted the California Grown program and made it their own, increasing sales and getting the customer recognition they deserve for their efforts to source California Grown Flowers.
This is just one example of the kind of mission-driven initiatives that help our farms grow and succeed; the kind of effort that unites farmers and shows how working together on a common cause can make a difference.
Farmers join together in Pasadena to recognize float teams committed to California Grown Flowers.
Just before the Congressional Club’s First Lady’s Luncheon in Washington, D.C., on May 4, I had the opportunity to meet first lady Melania Trump at a reception. It was an opportunity I wanted to make the most of. After all, it’s not every day you meet the first lady of the United States; and her husband’s position on “buy American” initiatives meant this could be the chance of a lifetime to share the “origin matters” message on behalf of America’s flower farmers.
Once she had finished taking photos with prior guests, I approached the first lady, reached for her hand and introduced myself: “Hello, I’m Diana Roy, a flower farmer from California.” Still holding her hand, I also shared that all of the flowers at the reception and luncheon were American Grown and had been provided by my farm and several other flower farms from around the country.
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.
I added that this was the second year in a row we’ve partnered with the Congressional Club to provide the flowers and foliage for this important event.
In addition to meeting the first lady, I had a wonderful opportunity to meet second lady Karen Pence.
Hands still clasped, I continued by saying that America’s flower-farming families are proud of the beautiful flowers they grow, and that we have been reaching out to the White House for years, asking each presidential administration to feature all American Grown flowers throughout the White House, at state dinners and for special events.
Thank you to so many of our American flower farmers who sent their very best to this year’s First Lady’s Luncheon. Photo by Susan and Becky Photography.
I concluded by saying that it was my hope she would help us by embracing our cause and reaching our goal.
At this point, the first lady suggested that I write a letter to her requesting that the flowers in the White House be American Grown. I was thrilled by that recommendation! (The letter has been sent).
Our wonderful team of volunteer floral designers did an incredible job with all of the flowers our farms sent. Photo by Susan and Becky Photography.
I have to say, Mrs. Trump was pleasant and very approachable, willing to share her hand and her ear and happy to pose for photos with me and others. She seemed excited to be honored by the gathered crowd made up of members of Congress, their spouses, cabinet members and sponsors.
Left to Right; Jerry Hagstrom of the Hagstrom Report, Tim Dewey of Delaware Valley Wholesale, first lady Melania Trump, Kasey Cronquist, administrator for Certified American Grown, Beth Van Sandt of Scenic Place Peonies and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies.
As for me, I was excited to have the chance to share our message – that American flower farmers are ready, willing and able to fill 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with our blossoms and foliage. That consumers and retailers are on board with the movement to source flowers from local farmers who are using sustainable methods to grow the most glorious flowers in the world. That we can supply high-quality flowers in hundreds of varieties. That origin matters, America’s flower-farming families matter, and that bringing all American Grown Flowers to the White House seems like an easily accomplished task.
I am very hopeful that this opportunity – for America’s flower farmers and the White House – will become a reality.
Certified American Grown was so fortunate to have such an outstanding team of volunteers for this year’s First Lady’s Luncheon effort.
Over 2,100 people attended the First Lady’s Luncheon this year.
We're Seeking Applications for the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour
Over the past three years, the Certified American Grown campaign has been hosting sold-out dinner events on some of America’s most beautiful flower farms.
Let’s put your farm on the map!
Halfway through the third season, we’re beginning to look at the opportunities for next year’s tour. A number of farms have contacted us to see what it takes to be on the tour, to let us know they would like to be on next year’s tour or to say they have already applied online. I can already tell we’re going to have some amazing choices to make for 2018.
And the sooner the better.
Setting up at Kendall Farms in Fallbrook, California in 2015.
If we’ve learned anything about hosting “pop-up” dinner events on a flower farm, it’s that you can’t start soon enough. There’s a lot that goes into preparing for a dinner in the middle of a flower field. The farm likes to be ready, we like to get the word out and media likes to have a lot of time to write about it.
It’s “all hands on deck” when preparing for a Field to Vase Dinner event. A floral installation underway at Jello Mold Farm in Mount Vernon, Washington in 2015.
So, in the days ahead, I’ll be meeting with the Certified American Grown Council to report on the success of our current tour as well as our plans for 2018. If you would like to have your farm considered for the 2018 tour, please let me know by applying online. We have a very quick and easy questionnaire that simply helps us organize the interest, look at where farms are located and ensure that there’s some understanding of expectations.
Click to fill our your farm application today!
Check out more of our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour photos on Flickr.
Click to see more American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour photos.
New video captures Safeway’s “Blue Bucket Campaign” featuring California Grown Flowers.
To help celebrate California Grown Flower Month throughout June, we’re featuring photos, examples and stories from farmers, designers and retailers who are championing California Grown Flowers.
We’ll be looking for standout examples, people who are making the extra effort to highlight California Grown Flowers and programs that help people connect with why origin matters.
One such story and amazing example is Safeway.
NorCal Safeway Sales Manager Crystal Hedgpeth and her team have an amazing campaign underway that really helps consumers connect with the origin of their flowers, communicates clearly their support for California’s flower farmers and, just as importantly, helps increase Safeway’s sales.
We wanted to learn more about the campaign and what inspired Crystal and her team to take such extraordinary efforts to spotlight the California Grown Flowers in their floral departments. So, we interviewed her.
Her testimony speaks for itself and really confirms what a difference it makes for consumers to know that Safeway cares where their flowers come from. It also highlights what a difference marketing the origin of flowers makes when you give customers a choice, and it confirms the consumer research we’ve done that shows the majority of consumers are looking for homegrown blooms.
On behalf of California’s flower farmers, thank you to Crystal and her team at Safeway for promoting California Grown Flowers.
Celebrating California Grown Flowers Month with an official declaration by California’s state Legislature. Pictured with me are Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson and Sen. Mike McGuire.
Today, I had the privilege of representing California’s flower farmers on the floor of the state Senate while Sen. Mike McGuire shared his remarks of appreciation for an industry that brings so much beauty to the Golden State. Sen. McGuire sponsored SCR 58, declaring June as California Grown Flowers Month.
Senators from up and down the state joined in their support for SCR 58 that declared June as California Grown Flowers Month.
Sen. John Moorlach and Sen. Jackson also voiced their support for the resolution during remarks prior to the unanimous vote in favor of the resolution.
Sen. McGuire giving his remarks from the Senate floor.
On Thursday, California’s Senate and Assembly will announce June as California Grown Flowers Month.
The tradition of recognizing California Grown Flowers by the state’s lawmakers is in its third year, helping to highlight the value California’s flower farmers bring to their communities and the economy.
Congratulations to Rene VanWingerden of Ocean Breeze Farms
Rene VanWingerden of Ocean Breeze Farms wins this year’s Floral Design Challenge.
Congratulations to Rene Van Wingerden of Ocean Breeze Floral Farms on winning this year’s Floral Design Challenge. Hosted by the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC), the Floral Design Challenge was created to engage California lawmakers to help raise the profile of