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I used Facebook Live in our American Grown Flowers Forum to quickly address this question that I get from time to time. If you’re not a part of the forum, simply request to join!
It’s hard to believe it was just last year when we watched as Hurricane Matthew blew through Florida, causing tremendous loss and billions of dollars in damage. In the floral industry, Florida is recognized as the fern and foliage capital of the United States, and the fern farms there were hit hard.
Hurricane Matthew left 60 to 90 percent of fern farms reporting damage, calling it the “most damaging hurricane in recent history.”
So, as Hurricane Irma bears down and Floridians prepare for the worst, our thoughts and prayers go out to our flower and fern farming community in Florida. With so many hours and dollars spent on the recovery and repair from Matthew, we are praying that Irma fades away into a tropical mist and spares these farms from another destructive weather event.
No matter what happens, America’s flower farmers continue to stand with our fellow flower and fern farmers in Florida.
The impact of Hurricane Irma is already being felt in Florida and throughout the floral industry. Yesterday afternoon, the Society of American Florists (SAF) announced the cancellation of its annual convention in Palm Beach, Florida.
It was to be the 133rd such convention.
It was also going to be the 50th Sylvia Cup, an event sponsored by Certified American Grown and featuring flowers from a number of our farms throughout the country.
The 133rd convention was to be the last convention for retiring SAF CEO Peter Moran. Peter had been with SAF 33 of those 133 years. I know many of us who have worked with Peter over the years were looking forward to thanking him in person for his commitment and loyalty to the floral industry. As long as I’ve worked in my position in California, I could always count on Peter’s style of steady leadership. Peter worked hard to keep a very fragmented industry organized and the association relevant to its stakeholders. No easy task for one year, let alone 33.
I know for the SAF staff the decision to cancel this year’s convention wasn’t easy. A year of planning, hundreds of hours in staff time spent, thousands and thousands of flowers sent to the hotel, scores of volunteers and hundreds of attendees’ travel plans all dashed.
However, with Irma representing “one of the strongest storms recorded in the Atlantic,” it was the right call to keep everyone safe and out of harms way.
If I’ve been a little quiet on my blog lately, it’s because we’ve been working on some big news behind the scenes.
Today, Certified American Grown announced that it had selected Where Food Comes From (WFCF) as the organization’s third-party certification company going forward.
From my perspective as the administrator of the program, I’m very excited to be working with the WFCF team and gleaning from their experience as the No. 1 certification and verification company in the food industry. I’ve already been learning a lot from them through the transition as they work on the redevelopment of the program’s certification process.
To introduce this dynamic team, we’ll host a “Relaunch Party” to help memorialize and usher in this new era of opportunity and growth. The program has enjoyed great success in its first three years, becoming the largest consumer-facing brand in the floral industry and certifying millions of stems of flowers each year. Now, with the energy and support of WFCF, the program will be shifting gears and looking forward to expanding the program’s reach, value and benefits to our farms and their customers.
Join us on September 14! RSVP to Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to introducing you to the new team!
Our most recent stop on the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour was Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska. This dinner marked our 22nd dinner in the past three years that we’ve been crisscrossing the country, inviting the the public to come and dine in the fields of America’s most beautiful flower farms.
As I was preparing to head up to the dinner we’d been planning for over a year, I was still getting comments from people who were asking me, “you’re going to Alaska?” Immediately followed by, “they grow flowers in Alaska?”
Yep. Peonies. And not just any ol’ peony. Big ones.
Which was exactly why it was so important for the dinner tour to head up to Alaska and shine the spotlight on this burgeoning group of flower farmers who are harvesting these massive peonies during the months of July and August, when historically there hasn’t been any available in the lower 48.
And while the opportunity to tell the story of these farms was too great and something we had to do, it would also be the most risky dinner we’d ever planned.
When you consider that the largest city in Alaska’s population is just under 300,000 people and that market is a 4.5 hour drive for our host farm, we knew we would have our marketing hands full. Would people from the lower 48 really fly up to Alaska and then drive or fly down to Homer?
Yep. They did.
The dinner was a sold out crowd of 116 people, many who flew in to Anchorage and made that drive to Homer. We had a number of people from Fairbanks and Anchorage too.
Certified American Grown flower farmers Beth VanSandt and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies were amazing hosts. They had this incredible team of friends and family helping to prepare their farm for all of the guests who would arrive.
Kelly Shore of Petals By The Shore was our featured floral designers. You’ll remember Kelly from our work on the First Lady’s Luncheon earlier this year. Kelly was one of our lead designers for that event and did an amazing job. It as through that experience that she had met and gotten to know Beth and Kurt while working together in Washington, D.C. for the event. So, it was a fun reunion to have Kelly in Alaska designing for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on Beth and Kurt’s peony farm.
Kelly did an outstanding job. Working with Beth, she created a tablescape and design installations that honored the Alaskan fishing culture, the entrepreneurial spirit of Alaska’s peony farmers, while highlighting how all growing momentum for American Grown Flowers.
I have to also tip my hat to chef Dave. Dave Thorne of Delicious Dave’s did an outstanding job with the evening’s salmon dinner, especially the King Salmon… Which in full disclosure, I had caught the day before on the Kenai River (a 40-45pd King Salmon!).
Never before and probably never again will I be able to say that I caught dinner for one of our American Grown Field to Vase Dinners, but chalk this up as just another example of how incredible this dinner turned out to be.
Only in Alaska.
Were you there? Leave a comment, share your experience below.
Floral Daily recently announced that Flowers Canada (Ontario) has launched its own version of the Field to Vase Dinner Tour, calling it “Petals & Plates.”
The Petals & Plates dinner series will stop at three Canadian greenhouses during the months of September and October to help highlight, “Canadian flower growers and their importance in our agricultural landscape.”
While I’ve certainly received a few emails and calls since the launch of their campaign, my response is the same, “I think its genius and I hope it becomes a massive success.”
I am impressed that the Canadian government has helped to underwrite the dinner tour. The government’s support is acknowledged on the event’s “About” page.
Certified American Grown farms continue to help wave the flag and show their pride for being a part of the growing consumer demand for homegrown blooms. Certified farm Eufloria Flowers recently launched their beautifully
redesigned website featuring their roses and the pride in their membership with Certified American Grown. That pride extends to their sleeves where their Certified American Grown Flowers logo is displayed proudly alongside their company logo for consumers to see, appreciate and support.
Adoption of the brand by Certified American Grown flower farms has helped make Certified American Grown the most recognizable consumer-facing brand in the floral industry. Today, millions of stems of homegrown flowers are being Certified American Grown and more and more of our Certified farms are sharing their pride for the program by placing the brand on flower boxes, flower sleeves, websites, email signature blocks, etc. One farm painted the logo on the side of one of their barns!
Congress recently declared July as “American Grown Flowers Month,” helping to further the effort to increase the public’s awareness on why buying American Grown Flowers and supporting America’s flower farming families is so important. Origin matters. It does. And it is great to see more and more people finding that they can support our farms and find American Grown Flowers, thanks to the collaborative effort of farms who are using the Certified American Grown brand to help make that connection with flower lovers.
Check out all of these great examples of our farms doing their part to wave the flag for Certified American Grown Flowers.
These are just some of the examples you can find out there from our farms highlighting their pride and working together to help really drive consumer awareness for our homegrown blooms.
What other examples are you finding? Leave a comment or send me your cell phone photos.
Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday June 27, Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) introduced a bipartisan resolution designating July as “American Grown Flowers Month.” Co-sponsored by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA-50), Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Rep. Don Young (AK-1), Rep. Jared Huffman (CA02), and Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49), House Resolution 413 declares July as the month to celebrate the economic and cultural impact of America’s cut flower and greens farmers and demonstrate Congress’ commitment to support America’s flower farming families.
Congressman Carbajal spoke from the House Floor, introducing the legislation and encouraging fellow members of Congress to support American Grown Flowers Month.
“I have seen firsthand the value the cut flower industry adds to our economy and communities during my