Sharing the ‘Origin Matters’ Message With the First Lady

By Diana Roy, CCFC Chair

 

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.

Will the Tour Stop At Your Farm?

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.

Safeway’s Incredible Campaign For California Grown Flowers

Celebrating California Grown Flower Month

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.

It makes a difference.

California Legislature Declares June California Grown Flowers Month

SCR 58 Passes With Unanimous Support

 

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.

Let’s Celebrate California Grown Flowers All Month Long

June is California Grown Flowers Month

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.

Flower Farmer Wins the 2017 Floral Design Challenge

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

New CCFC Website is Live, UX Friendly

The California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) has launched and all new website (ccfc.org) that includes hundreds of glorious flower photos, a user-friendly structure and an easy way to search for the state’s blooms.

The site is also more industry and consumer focused than past iterations, with all CCFC member information housed in a section of its own.

At the new ccfc.org, you’ll find a flower directory enhanced with amazing photography, information on the state’s flower farmers and the robust

Winner Takes All! June is California Grown Flowers Month!

This week, flower farmers from up and down the state of California will be joining together in Sacramento to meet with lawmakers and help raise the profile of California’s cut flower farmers. In addition to meeting with legislators on the issues facing our farms, the California Cut Flowers Commission (CCFC) will be hosting a legislative reception to help kickoff June as California Grown Flower Month.

This year, SCR-58 sponsored by Sen. Mike McGuire will declare the entire month of June as “California Grown Flower Month.”

The resolution makes official the state’s recognition of the

Meeting the First Lady of the United States

America's Flower Farmers Meet Melania Trump at First Lady's Luncheon

For the second year in a row, Certified American Grown Flowers had the honor and privilege of providing America’s First Lady with an all-American Grown Flower affair during the Congressional Club’s annual First Lady Luncheon.

This year, our delegation of farmers, designers and special guests had the opportunity to meet the first lady.

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.

Certified American Grown flower farmer Diana Roy took the opportunity to speak with the first lady about American Grown Flowers, the cause and our interest in working with her and the White House to help ensure that all of the flowers displayed in the White House be American Grown.

It was an incredible moment for our young program.

Left to right: Jerry Hagstrom of the Hagstrom Report, Tim Dewey of DVFlora, First Lady Melania Trump, Kasey Cronquist of Certified American Grown, Beth VanSandt of Scenic Place Peonies and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies.

The first lady was gracious and very receptive. We didn’t have a lot of time, but Diana Roy did a masterful job in speaking with the first lady about Certified American Grown and expressing what an honor it was to provide all of the flowers for the day’s event.

If that wasn’t enough, our message was repeated and affirmed by the chair of the Congressional Club’s First Lady Luncheon. During her remarks, Carolyn Yoho took a moment to encourage everyone, “including the White House,” to support American Grown Flowers.

It could not have been more perfect.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Congressional Club on this wonderful bipartisan event and following up with the first lady’s office to encourage the support for representing America’s flower farming families in the White House.

Our Last Day in China

Trade Mission Proved To Be a Valuable Opportunity

On our last day in China, we traveled to a couple of wholesale flower marts. The first one was found in what appeared to be an abandoned shopping mall. Flower wholesalers have moved in and taken up residence in the the old shops.

Shanghai wholesale flower market in an abandoned mall.

For the most part, the flowers we found here were in pretty poor shape. Lots of lilies. Lots of roses and carnations. I saw a cart full of gerbera daisies stacked on each other. Care and handling or anything resembling post-harvest care or a cold chain was hard to come by.

They did have gerbera daisies in China. We didn’t see many, but this was largest amount I saw in one place.

We had a great meeting with one of the wholesale importers who was encouraged by what our farms produced. Ms. May had her own translator, Catherine, who also helped teach our farms about the importance of WeChat for the China Floral industry.

We met with Ms. May, an importer who was very interested in how she could import American Grown Flowers.

Our last wholesale market seemed to have better quality flowers than the first, but not by much.

Translating during our meetings did take some time, but pictures of our flowers really helped to inspire the discussions.

We visited a number of wholesale markets, retail markets and florists shops that were also doing e-commerce sales, but only one mass-market grocery store that sold flowers.

We wrapped up our trip with a nice dinner on the river in downtown Shanghai. It was a great way to end a very productive tour through the Chinese flower industry.

On our last night in China, we watched the sun go down while having dinner on the river. It was a fitting end to this exploratory trip to learn about the China flower market.