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.

Working The Hill

America's Flower Farmers Unite For A Common Cause

Last week’s trip to Washington, D.C., was the most productive trip advocating for our farms that we’ve ever held. It reminded me of our trip in 2014 when we worked with just two members of Congress to launch the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus. That was a pinnacle moment, but this past week really showed how those earlier efforts were momentum builders for the great meetings we had last week.

Flower farmers standing together on the steps of the Capitol.

The atmosphere is Washington has changed. No matter what side of the aisle you’re on or how you feel about this administration, you can’t help but sense how different the environment is right now. Good or bad, it isn’t business as usual in Washington, D.C. In fact, we found ourselves in meetings talking with lawmakers about how to remedy the challenges our farms face that have never been

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.

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.

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