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.”

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.

 

Live Television Helps Drive Awareness For Certified American Grown Flowers

American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Featured on KARE, WCCO

Click to watch a segment with Sandy Schroek on CBS WCCO.

Floral and event designer Sandy Schroeck made two live television appearances in advance of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner held last week at Len Busch Roses in Minnesota. Sandy’s WCCO appearance was the second live floral demonstration she did in the Minneapolis market to invite the public to the unique event where guests dine among the flowers on a local farm. Sandy did a great job, and we saw a great response from television audiences who watched the segment and quickly saved their seats to attend the dinner.

During the KARE channel 11 segment on Feb. 11, the chef from Common Roots Catering walked through his recipe for Tart Cherry-Thyme Pork Loin, a dish that was served on the flower farm.

Click to watch segment on NBC KARE.

 

It’s great to see the interest and opportunities that come together as we promote the dinner tour and the cause behind it. Watching Sandy explain the importance of buying American Grown Flowers is not only critical to encourage people to attend our Field to Vase Dinner events, it also raises awareness about issues of origin and drives home the fact that not all flowers are grown domestically. Just one more way we’re reminding people that if you’re looking to support flower farmers in the United States and buy locally, it’s important to look at the label for flowers, too.

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.

Farmers Continue to Rally Online After Trip To Washington, D.C.

Passionate, Successful Flower Farmers Take To Social Media To Share Their Experience

Upon arrival in Washington, D.C., Michigan flower farmer Michael Genovese shared his enthusiasm for participating in this year’s annual flower farmer fly-in.

I have really appreciated seeing the extra effort by members of this year’s flower farmer delegation in Washington, D.C., who returned home and began to share their experiences with others via social media and newsletters. Most notably, Michael Genovese of Summer Dreams Farm in Michigan has spent the last several days sharing with his followers on Instagram and Facebook what it was like to go to Washington as a flower farmer and work with other flower farmers to advance the interests and opportunities for American Grown Flowers.

In the shadow of the Washington Monument, Michael and his fellow flower farmers pause for a selfie on Capitol Mall.

Frank and Pamela Arnosky of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers also shared their experience, emailing their friends, family and customers about their efforts in Washington and receiving an overwhelming positive response in return.

Frank and Pamela Arnosky shared their experience on Capitol Hill in their newsletter to friends, family and customers.

All of this sharing and posting helps highlight just how important this effort is. It also helps spread the important message that elected officials need to hear from America’s flower farmers: “origin matters.” Whether it is to support local jobs, retain the generational intelligence of our American flower farmers, share improved sustainability efforts or to simply ensure that farmers can compete fairly with imported flowers from South America, highlighting the benefits of American Grown Flowers makes a difference.

David Beahm of David Beahm Experiences and Thistle Dew Farm posted this great photo with Holly Chapple of Chapple Designs and Hope Flower farm and Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Studios during their meetings on Capitol Hill.

I’m beyond inspired by all of the extra efforts by our farms. I’ll continue to post about the trip, sharing photos and highlighting the issues we are working to address on behalf of America’s flower-farming families.

 

 

Congressman Panetta Joins Congressional Cut Flower Caucus as Co-Chair

Rep. Jimmy Panetta To Lead Cut Flower Caucus

Congressman Jimmy Panetta meeting with flower farmers after agreeing to be a co-chair of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

Changes in Congress mean changes in leadership. This includes the leadership of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus that was launched by a bipartisan effort of Congresswoman Lois Capps and Congressman Duncan Hunter in 2014. Since it’s inception, the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus has grown to include four co-chairs (two republicans and two democrats) and over 25 members of Congress. The purpose of the caucus is to help advocate and drive awareness for America’s flower-farming families and the value they bring the economy and their communities. After an amazing tenure of advocacy for America’s flower farmers, for which she was honored in December, caucus co-chair Lois Capps retired from Congress at the end of 2016.

A team of bipartisan co-chairs lead the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

Last week, freshman Congressman Jimmy Panetta announced that he had accepted the co-chair position for the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus and would be taking on the leadership position to help advance the mission of the caucus on behalf of the flower farmers in his district and the rest of the country. Congressman Panetta was elected to the 20th District of California, replacing Congressman Sam Farr who also retired at the end of 2016. The district includes flower farms in the Santa Cruz and Monterey region, once the largest producing region of cut flowers in the United States.

Congressman Jimmy Panetta (center) with me and Bobby Koch (right), CEO of the Wine Institute.

Congressman Panetta attended a reception co-hosted by the Wine Institute and Certified American Grown during last week’s annual flower farmer fly-in to Washington, D.C., showing his support for the future of America’s flower farmers and encouraging his fellow members of Congress to join the caucus.

I’m personally excited to have Congressman Panetta as part of the caucus and look forward to his leadership as an advocate for our farms. I also have great appreciation for the family legacy of support the Panetta’s have had for America’s flower farmers. Congressman Panetta’s father, Secretary Leon Panetta, also represented the district as a Congressman and worked hard to try and level the playing field through legislation for flower farmers during the implementation of the Andean Trade Preferences Act in the early ’90s.

We look forward to working with Congressman Panetta and the rest of the caucus leadership and members in the year ahead as we continue our advocacy efforts on behalf of our country’s flower farmers.