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.

Relationships Matter

Building, Renewing, Establishing Relationships Are Key Benefits of The Field To Vase Tour

Our recent American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad marked our 20th dining experience since launching the national tour in 2015. It was the second largest dinner we’ve held, with 175 people in attendance and a portion of the proceeds donated to The Flower Fields Foundation. The foundation helps bring students from urban communities to experience life on a flower farm. A fitting tribute to a cause that is not too dissimilar from our aim with the dinner tour.

In fact, it’s the people part of the dinners we hold that continues to renew and encourage the continuation of the effort. Bringing consumers, designers, farmers and media to a dinner in the middle of a flower field does make a difference. Having our guests tour the farm with the flower farmer, learn from our featured floral designer and share the importance of what America’s flower farmers bring to their communities and the economy resonates.

The conversations are lively and the experience is one-of-a-kind, and it’s in that environment that relationships are established, renewed or enriched.

Relationships matter.

After each dinner, I look forward to receiving our album of photos and seeing the experiences of our guests through the lens of our photographers.

Not only does the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour bring people to some of the most beautiful flower farms in the country, it also highlights how important this flower-loving community of people who care and can advocate for American Grown Flowers really is. With the tour in its third year, I know for sure these experiences will have a tremendously positive impact on the relationships we’ve established for years to come.

Click to see more photos from Carlsbad.


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.

Send Me Your Jeans!

Nordstrom Is Offering Dirty Jeans For $425

Apparently dirty jeans are a thing!

Did you see this? Nordstrom is selling pairs of dirty jeans for $425.

Click here to see these jeans for yourself at Nordstrom.com.

Think about that for a second. People paying almost $500 for a pair of pants that look like … well, like you’ve been farming flowers all day long.

Here is how Nordstrom is selling these jeans:

Heavily distressed medium-blue denim jeans in a comfortable straight-leg fit embody rugged, Americana workwear that’s seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you’re not afraid to get down and dirty.

I bet you’re thinking what I was thinking, “Is this a joke? Come on … not even hipsters are going to head down this road.”

But we’d be wrong. Click on the image and see for yourself. This is an actual ad by Nordstrom for dirty designer jeans.

So, this is my idea.

Certified American Grown will work out an arrangement with Nordstrom to sell authentic “Certified” American Grown Flower farmer jeans!

Next, we’ll work with Nordstrom to sponsor our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, supply our guests with clean jeans and let them go out into the field and dirty them up for an authentic experience that these dirty designer jeans just can’t compete with. We’ll charge $800 for that, but throw in a ticket to the dinner.

So, send me your jeans! Jeans that have been made dirty by a real American flower farmer will really drive a premium.

#OriginMatters

Not all of our flower farmers wear jeans, so next we’ll be introducing dirty designer shorts for $375 a pair.

Let’s Caravan To Homer!

Tickets To Homer Dinner Are Running Out

I’m really looking forward to experiencing the beauty of Alaska in the summer. I’ve been to Fairbanks when it was minus 41 degrees, so returning in July for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies in Alaska is going to be a lot of fun … and warmer!

I’m also looking forward to the 4.5-hour drive from Anchorage to Homer once I get up there. Based on conversations with Beth VanSandt and others who have made the drive and have shared how beautiful it is, it will probably take me 6 hours.

I’m talking to some of our guests who also flying into Anchorage and driving and are interested in caravanning to Homer. Sounds like fun to me! Of course, there would be some work involved with organizing that, which is why I’m posting about the importance of planning for this magical Alaska experience.

It’s a long but beautiful drive from Anchorage to Homer. You can fly from Anchorage to Homer, too.

Out of all of the dinners we’ve ever held, I really hear about the desire people have to go to Alaska the most. For some people, they are definitely coming. Wouldn’t miss it. For others, it’s just the “want” in their voice that communicates the dream-come-true opportunity it would be.

Of course, out of all of the dinners we’ve ever held, this is going to be the trickiest to get to, so I want to take a moment to encourage those of you who have expressed your deep desire to join us to start booking your flights, hotels and seats at the dinner table now.

If everyone who has said they wanted to go booked today, we’d be oversold and have a waiting list. But I understand there are planes, cars, lodging, etc. that everyone is looking at. That’s why we put together the Alaskan F2V Travel Tips. Here you’ll receive some contacts, insights and inspiring ideas on where to stay and what to do while your make the journey to Homer.

Sign Up For Tips!

I hope to see you there and, of course, we’re happy to answer any questions you have.

Bottom line … don’t wait to save your seat!

We’ll Just Agree to Disagree

American Flower Farmers Lobby for Border Adjustment Tax, SAF Lobbies To Exempt Imported Flowers

You’ve probably heard someone use the phrase, “let’s just agree to disagree.”

It’s often used when you get to that point in a conversation with your spouse, friend or colleague where neither side is budging on their opinion or perspective regarding an issue and someone finally says, “well, let’s just agree to disagree.”

America’s flower farmers recently lobbied in support for a Republican proposal for a Border Adjustment Tax that would help level the playing field with imported flowers.

This phrase seems to sum up the relationship between the Society of American Florists (SAF) and America’s flower farmers regarding the Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) being proposed by House Republicans as a part of their “blueprint” on reforming the nation’s tax system.

During their annual Congressional Action Days in Washington, D.C.,  SAF members lobbied Congress to support the BAT, but requested an exemption for

David VanWingerden Highlights the Resourcefulness, Resilience of America’s Flower Farmers

Open House Interview Shows Off the Beauty, Encourages Consumer Support

Click to watch David VanWingerden share his passion and commitment for growing flowers in California.

David VanWingerden of Westland Orchids, a Certified American Grown flower farm, went on camera with Santa Barbara’s local KEYT during the 9th annual Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour and did a great

On the Flower Farm With Debi Lilly

Debi Lilly Wows A Sold-Out Design Workshop and Dinner Audience

Debi Lilly provided guests with a beautiful tablescape to enjoy in Carpinteria.

Wow!

We’ve worked with a lot of designers over the last three years of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner, but this was the first dinner where we partnered with our designer to host a design workshop prior to our main dinner event. We could not have had a better person to test this concept with than Debi Lilly of A Perfect Event. Debi was outstanding, and she did a remarkable job of hosting a sold-out audience of 60 guests for a three-hour design workshop prior to the Field to Vase Dinner at Gallup & Stribling Orchids.

I really enjoyed meeting and working with Debi during last week’s tour stop in Carpinteria. She did a fantastic job acknowledging all of the farms that provided flowers to the design workshop, highlighting why buying American Grown Flowers is important and trending.

Despite her status as a nationally branded celebrity event planner who has worked with the likes of Oprah and Lady Gaga, and her role as the creator of “Debi Lilly Designs” featured in Safeway, Vons and Albertsons throughout the country, Debi was a very down-to-earth, hard-working, gracious co-host. She was a wonderful team player who wanted to be involved in all of the details, helping us set up, troubleshoot and ensure that things were set beautifully before guests started arriving.

Debi hosted a sold-out class of 60 people prior to the American Grown Field to Vase dinner on Thursday evening.

We had a number of farms send us their flowers for Debi to use in her designs. Debi did an awesome job creating the tablescape using Syndicate’s American Made vases. It turned out beautifully.

At the end of the evening, Debi shared her passion for supporting the American Grown Flowers movement.

We’re already looking forward to working with Debi again. She did such a great job and was such a great spokesperson for the momentum and movement toward American Grown Flowers among consumers.

My Small Farm’s Commitment To Something Bigger

Guest Blog By Flower Farmer Michael Genevose of Summer Dreams Farm

Michael Genovese Summer Dream Farms Oxford, Michigan

As a farmer, it is easy to fall into the daily grind and get comfortable. When you’re trying to start seeds, till new ground or finish harvesting before the rains come the farm is all-consuming. In farming, quality family time is often time spent in the field with your kids and spouse working on the never-ending list of chores. You’re regularly making sacrifices. Attending a child’s soccer game is out of the question at the height of harvest season. It’s difficult enough keeping the ocean of responsibilities at bay, let alone taking on more.

And yet there is more we must consider taking on.

The unfortunate truth is, there are forces beyond our towns and farms that will impact us unless we get

Tours Matter

Carpinteria Flower Farms Host 9th Annual Farm Tour

California flower farmer Jerry Van Wingerden shares his passion for growing flowers with a group during this year’s annual farm tours in Carpinteria.

 

Awareness.

Approximately 80 percent of all cut flowers sold in the United States are imported from South America, primarily Colombia.

A national consumer research study found that 74 percent of people have no idea where flowers come from, yet 58 percent would prefer flowers that are homegrown.

Origin matters. Whether you’re focused on quality, longevity, sustainability, local jobs or the economy. Origin matters.

Look for the label when you buy your flowers. It makes a difference.