You Can Help Design the First Lady’s Luncheon in D.C.!
Certified American Grown Flowers is seeking volunteer floral designers and support team members for the 2019 First Lady’s Luncheon, set for May 14 in Washington, D.C.
The First Lady’s Luncheon design team has the joy of creating a room full of beauty using American Grown Flowers, like this brilliant design from last year’s event. Photo by Kirstin Smith Photography.
As a volunteer, you’ll work side by side with some of America’s most talented floral designers to create hundreds of arrangements – all from American Grown Flowers and Greens – to wow guests at this historic bipartisan luncheon that’s been an annual tradition since 1912.
Be part of a team of talented designers from around the country for this unique opportunity to create stunning designs for the First Lady’s Luncheon. Photo by Kirstin Smith Photography.
This is your chance to give back and make a difference, all while honing your floral design chops for a prestigious audience!
This year, the Certified American Grown First Lady’s Luncheon Design Team is being co-led by Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet and Christi Lopez AIFD EMC of Bergerons Flowers.
Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet served as the Co-Lead Designer of last year’s Certified American Grown First Lady’s Luncheon Design Team. Photo by Kirstin Smith Photography.
Kinnane, who’s volunteering for the First Lady’s Luncheon for the third year, is the owner and lead designer at The Local Bouquet, based in Little Compton, Rhode Island. Founded in 2013, The Local Bouquet specializes in weddings and events using 100 percent local and American Grown Flowers.
She started her business with a love for design and a passion for providing a product that is seasonal, sustainable and American Grown. When she’s not designing weddings across Southern New England, she’s spreading her love of flowers by teaching floral design classes to the public, including the popular “The Farmer Florist Series.”This hands-on, in-depth experience connects the American flower farmer and the florist to the public while sharing the mission of the American Grown Flower movement.
Christi Lopez participated as a member of the design team last year and will work with Mary Kate Kinnane this year to help lead our amazing group of designers. Photo by Kirstin Smith Photography.
With over 30 years of experience in the floral industry, Lopez’s Bergerons Flowers specializes in weddings and event design for clients in the Northern Virginia/Washington DC area.
Big on giving back, Lopez also helps florists who are just starting out confidently unleash their design creativity and run a profitable business through professional coaching, floral design intensives and her Business of Flowers Facebook Group.
“My goal is to provide you the tools you need to learn about the floral industry from a creative design perspective and also equip you to succeed with business knowledge,” she explains at christilopez.com.
Check out these photos from last year’s effort on our Flickr page. Then let us know that you’d like to volunteer!
Mellano & Company, a prominent presence on the landscape of California flower farming for more than 90 years, has recently achieved their BloomCheck certification for their sustainable practices on their farm in northern San Diego County.
Mellano & Company recently received their BloomCheck Certification, recognizing their farm for their commitment to sustainable flower and green production.
For CEO Mike A. Mellano, being BloomCheck-certified helps make his business stronger both inside and out.
From the outside, it differentiates Mellano & Company’s flowers in the marketplace and certifies them as sustainably grown based on a set of domestic production standards.
From the inside, it strengthens the company by bringing its practices into sharp focus.
“Pursuing the BloomCheck certification required us to create targets and goals that helped us focus on improvement and be recognized for our commitment to environmental stewardship,” Mellano said. “BloomCheck puts us in a position to promote and communicate all the good things we’re doing as flower and greens farmers in California.”
Flower farmers that become BloomCheck certified have undergone a rigorous third-party audit to ensure they’re using best practices for sustainability when it comes to water, air and soil quality; wildlife protection; and social impacts on workers and the community. That means reducing energy use, recycling water, deploying biological pest management and following the law when it comes to state and federal employment rules and regulations.
Protected Harvest, an independent nonprofit organization that certifies the sustainability of agriculture operations, does the on-site auditing to ensure farms are meeting the standards.
Mike Mellano of Mellano & Company giving a tour of the company’s ranunculus production at The Flower Fields of Carlsbad. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.
“BloomCheck is the gold standard of sustainability claims within the floral industry,” shared Kasey Cronquist, administrator of the BloomCheck program. “We’re proud to recognize and announce Mellano & Company’s certification and the high bar of commitment to best practices and environmental stewardship it represents.”
Mellano is the third generation to run the family farm. It covers 375 acres at two locations in Oceanside and Carlsbad and produces more than 30 different items. Its ranunculus operation in Carlsbad is also a popular agri-tourism site.
At Mellano & Company, preparing for the BloomCheck certification took about 60 days. It was time well spent, Mellano said.
“I think it sets a path for us so that we can continually improve on what we’re doing,” he said. “That came through during the application process and all the tests. It pointed out the things we do that we don’t really think about.
“All of a sudden you had to think about it, you had to write it down and it creates a path of thinking, ‘Well, what can I do to improve on that?’ It creates some very useful prioritization and focus.”
The BloomCheck process was also a chance for Mellano & Company to publicly demonstrate its commitment to sustainability.
“The engagement and communication with our employees and customers makes this an outward, publicly visible statement that we are committed and passionate about sustainability.”
Passion Project Shows What Can Be Designed 365 Days a Year With Domestic Blooms
Kelly Shore, recently featured in an ad in Florists Review, highlighting her commitment to Certified American Grown Flowers as a promise she can build her business on.
At the start of 2018, floral designer Kelly Shore challenged herself to spend the year designing with the highest percentage of American Grown Flowers possible. It was a personal effort on her part to see exactly what was achievable with flowers sourced exclusively from U.S. flower farms.
Kelly Shore with freshly cut flowers arranged on the farm at Plantmasters in Maryland. Photo by Susie & Becky.
Sure, her goal to use more Certified American Grown Flowers was public, but she was privately working on (and funding) another project that came to light at the start of 2018.
Each month, Shore, owner and lead designer at Petals by the Shore in Maryland, designed and photographed a bride’s bouquet created entirely with American Grown flowers and foliage. She describes the project as an experiential exercise to help her learn what grows 365 days a year in the U.S.
“I’m an experiential learner and actively making change with a hands-on approach is the only way I knew I would learn how to confidently make the change I wanted to. So I began the project ‘A Year of American Grown bouquets.’ My work with Certified American Grown inspired the undertaking – meeting the farmers, hearing their stories, that meant everything. And having those people connections was important, and motivating. ”
Kelly Shore has traveled to Alaska to design with the peonies growing there. She was the featured floral designer at the 2017 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska. Photo by Joshua Veldstra.
Every month, Shore picked an unconventional color palette – think lavender and blue in December, orange and yellow in February – and sourced all floral materials from American flower farmers.
She worked closely with wholesaler DVFlora and also reached out personally to source flowers from U.S. farms that grow varieties bride’s crave.
With the flowers sourced and 100 percent American grown, Shore would design a bouquet and have it professionally photographed (by Sarah Collier of Taken by Sarah Photography) in the hands of a bridal model in a studio or outdoor floral-related setting.
The project is featured in the January 2019 issue of Florists Review, and Shore started blogging about the effort and posting on social media in early January.
She stresses that the project was not just art for art’s sake, but was instead a learning journey and “a real working project to change my business.” And, in the long run, to show other designers what’s possible with domestic flowers.
“In everything I do, I want to bring visibility to the flower farms and encourage other designers to want to do the same,” Shore explains. “People are so inspired by it and they feel like they can do it. Designers are reaching out and saying the bouquets are gorgeous, and I’ve had a lot of farms comment that they appreciate the project and the recognition.”
And the lesson in it for Shore?
“That’ there’s a reliability in what I can get that’s American Grown. I can ask for specific farms and products because now I know the quality. And I get excited when I know the farms I’m getting the flowers from and see the sleeve and the beautiful logos. I’m proud to know that I’m supporting American farmers and their families.”
Flowers labeled Certified American Grown allow designers to quickly identify the origin of their blooms and provides them a third-party guarantee that the source of their flowers have been verified.
Shore’s confident her project can serve as a road map for other floral designers who may be considering increasing their use of domestically grown flowers, or even who are just hoping to get to know nearby flower farmers and their products.
“I understand how, as designers, it’s can be easy find ourselves celebrating some of these exotic flowers from places like Holland or Japan, but through this experience, I was really amazed to see what’s growing year-round right here in the U.S. We’re not even scratching the surface of what we can create with as designers, and to me, that had to change.”
Kelly Shore on the farm at Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska. Photo by Joshua Veldstra.
We couldn’t be more excited about the lineup of farms involved with this year’s floral-infused dinner tour. Known for stopping at America’s most beautiful flower farms, this year’s tour features amazing locations, including a peony farm in Alaska and a return visit to one of our most popular stops!
So grab your calendar and check out these destinations!
You ‘ll be surrounded by flowers with a view of the Pacific Ocean during our dinner at The Flower Fields of Carlsbad. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.
We’re thrilled to be starting the 2019 tour at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California, on April 18. The American Grown Field To Vase Dinner Tour returns to this postcard of an experience each year. Guests at this dinner get exclusive access and enjoy dining among acres and acres of colorful ranunculus while looking out over the Pacific Ocean. This is a very popular tour stop that sells out faster and faster each year.
Click here to save your seats The Flower Fields!
We want to see your name on the guest list during this year’s tour. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.
Next, we’ll head to Bloomia USA in King George, Virginia, on June 1, where guests will dine in a greenhouse bursting with tulips and hear about the flower-growing process for these flowers that so many name as their favorite bloom.
Click here to save your seat to Bloomia!
Grab your friends and find yourself at one of our tables during this year’s tour. Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.
On June 12, the tour heads back to California for a unique stop smack dab in the middle of a city This pop-up dinner destination will not only “pop up” a meal experience on the lawn of California’s State Capitol, we’ll be popping up a flower farm experience in the shadow of the Capitol building! We’ll be working with our farms to bring our American Grown Flowers story to the steps of California’s Capitol building, sharing our collective stories, the flowers we grow and the value our American flower farms bring to their communities and the economy. This dinner will bring flower farmers together with lawmakers to highlight just how important the consumer movement toward American Grown Flowers really is.
Click here to save your seats at the Capitol.
Picture you and that special someone on that Alaskan floral adventure you’ve been dreaming about. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.
On Aug. 3, we head to Alaska! We couldn’t be more excited to return to Homer, this time for a stop at Joselyn Peonies, where guests will dine in a field of blooming peonies on a farm with views of Kachemak Bay. This destination also includes additional excursions such as fishing trips and a multi-farm tour. Be sure to check out all the reasons you should join us in Alaska and turn it into a true adventure!
Click here to save your seat at Josyln Peony Farm!
We can’t wait to dine in the middle of the stock fields of Ocean View Flowers! Photo courtesy of Ocean View Flowers.
In the fall, join us in Lompoc, California, at Ocean View Flowers on Sept. 7 where you’ll enjoy an artisan meal in fields of stock in a variety of hues. While there, you’ll learn about the unique coastal climate that helps Ocean View grow so many flower varieties on hundreds of acres.
Click here to save your seat to Ocean View Flowers!
You will find beautifully designed centerpieces by amazing floral designers at each one of our tour stops in 2019. Photo by Liraz Photography.
Our last stop will be at Red Twig Farms in New Albany, Ohio, on Oct. 5, where you’ll dine under a canopy of dogwood and willow branches. You don’t want to miss out on a visit to this nine-acre family-owned-and-operated cut flower and branch farm in central Ohio that grows oh so many specialty flowers and branches.
Click here to save your seat to Red Twig Farm!
We’ll be focused on the flowers, but the food and wine will not disappoint. Photos by Kelleghan Production.
There’s so much more we could share and explain, but for now, please visit the landing pages we’ve created for each one of these locations; find the complete list here. You’ll discover even more information and details about each stop, but make sure you book your tickets right away. Last year, we had dinners selling out months in advance!
The Certified American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour has served over 5,000 people in the last four seasons. Photo by Kelleghan Production.
Plus, early birds benefit from special “Tour Launch” pricing. For the first 30 days, we’ll be selling tickets to each of our dinners for $175, however the price for each ticket will increase after this introductory offer!
Seating is limited and every dinner will sell out, so don’t wait to save your seat. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.
Please consider helping us share this year’s locations and special launch pricing with your flower-loving friends. If you’re planning to attend a dinner, invite them to join you. If you’ve gone before, help us share this magical experience with others on social networks like Instagram and Facebook.
We can’t wait to welcome you to the flower farm. Photo by Liraz Photography.
We look forward to seeing you on a flower farm in 2019!
All too exciting and not sure which dinner to attend? Click here to see the entire line up and descriptions of each farm at AmericanGrownFlowers.org/fieldtovase
In its fifth season, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour is a cross-country series of elegant pop-up gatherings where seasonal, sustainable blooms dazzle on beautifully designed tablescapes that have been elegantly dressed by top U.S. floral designers, while gourmet meals are prepared by well-known farm-to-table chefs.
Every table at every dinner overflows with the glory of American Grown Flowers. Photo by Liraz Photography.
At each unique meal and through the accompanying farm tour and design demonstrations, guests will make a personal connection between flowers and agriculture as part of America’s floral landscape. They’ll experience the age-old art and science of flower farming while being served platters of delicious, seasonal and locally grown fare through multiple courses that are accompanied by wine, micro-brewed beers and floral-inspired cocktails.
Each dinner is a night to remember. Guests will delight in delicious food, flowing wine and stunning American Grown Flowers. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.
Guests, seated at long community tables, will share lively conversation in the company of diners equally passionate about preserving American Grown Flowers, farmland and our country’s floriculture heritage. While enjoying the seasonal meal, guests will be drawn to the botanical beauty of petals, branches, foliage, vines, buds and berries – all artistically arranged to bring multi-sensory pleasure to the dining experience. The attention is on the farmers, their flowers, their beautiful farms and the floral designs they inspire.
Beginning its fifth year, the award-winning American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour is presented annually by Certified American Grown Flowers, a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. flower farmers, including small and large farms located in flower-producing states around the country. Certified farms participate in an independent third-party supply-chain audit to verify origin and assembly of the flowers they grow. When it appears on bouquets, bunches and other packaging or store signage, the Certified American Grown logo gives consumers confidence in the source of their flowers and is an assurance that the flowers they’ve purchased were grown on a domestic American flower farm and assembled in the United States.
“The Field to Vase Dinner Tour showcases the beauty and heritage of America’s flower-farming families,” says Kasey Cronquist, administrator for Certified American Grown Flowers. “In our fifth year, we’ll stop at six of America’s most beautiful flower farms where guests will meet a flower farmer, create wearable flowers at a boutonniere bar and enjoy a farm-to-fork meal. Time and time again we hear how special these floral-focused evenings are and 2019 will be no exception!”
The first American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in 2019 takes place April 18 at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California. This is the fifth time the tour has stopped at The Flower Fields, where guests dine in a sea of brightly colored ranunculus while looking out over the Pacific Ocean.
Other summer and fall destinations across the country include:
Bloomia USA, King George, Virginia, on June 1, where guests will dine in a greenhouse bursting with tulips just outside our nation’s capitol.
The California State Capitol, Sacramento, California, on June 12, a special tour spot where we’ll bring the flower farm to California’s capital during California Grown Flowers Month. Watch as members of the state Legislature compete in a live design competition before dinner.
Joselyn Peonies in Homer, Alaska, on Aug. 3, where guests will dine on blooming peony farm with stunning views of Kachemak Bay.
Ocean View Flowers in Lompoc, California, on Sept. 7, among fields of stock and surrounded by acres and acres of incredible flowers in a unique coastal climate.
Red Twig Farms, in New Albany, Ohio, on Oct. 5, where guests will meet farmers Josh and Lindsey McCullough and see the incredible flower farm they’re growing just outside of Columbus.
Field to Vase dinners are generally from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., depending on location. Attendees will leave with fresh, seasonal American Grown Flowers, a swag bag packed with gifts from the tour’s generous sponsors and a greater understanding of why fresh American Grown Flowers in the home – and on the table – are important to health, well-being, local economies and good conversation.
These special floral-infused destination dinners sell out quickly. Seating and tickets are limited. For more about participating farms, floral designers and chefs – and for reservations, tickets and travel information – visit americangrownflowers.com/fieldtovase, and be sure to sign up for the e-newsletter. For up-to-the-minute news, follow the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour on Instagram and Facebook.
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About Certified American Grown Flowers. Launched on July 1, 2014, Certified American Grown Flowers represents a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. flower farms, including small and large entities in multiple states across the country. Certified American grown flower farms participate in an independent, third-party supply-chain audit to verify both origin and assembly of the flowers they grow. When it appears on bouquets, bunches and other packaging or store signage, the Certified American Grown Flowers logo gives consumers confidence in the source of their flowers and assures them that the flowers they purchase come from a domestic American flower farm. For more information about Certified American Grown Flowers, visit www.americangrownflowers.com.
Farming and science have always gone hand in hand. But when two biology professors took a summer teaching gig in Alaska, the last thing they expected was to become flower farmers.
“We’re geek farmers,” says Jill Russell, who owns Boreal Peonies, a Certified American Grown flower farm, along with her husband, David Russell. “It’s Mr. Magoo goes to the farm.”
Both professors at Miami University in Ohio, they’d spent their honeymoon in Alaska, and had always wanted to go back. So when Jill found out the University of Alaska Fairbanks needed professors to teach summer biology classes, she leapt at the opportunity.
“We loved it,” she says. “We absolutely fell in love with Alaska.”
While there, they discovered that researchers at the university had been studying peonies for years. It turns out peonies in Alaska bloom at a time of year when they aren’t available anywhere else in the world. Over the past decade or so, as the state explored new agricultural possibilities to potentially replace the oil industry, these popular wedding flowers emerged as a promising crop. Amateur farmers began planting them experimentally—and one of them was the occupant of the office next door.
The following year, upon returning to Fairbanks for the summer term, the Russells found out their office neighbor had presold her entire crop by February. She showed them her business plan and urged them to give it a try.
As scientists do, they started researching. Within a year, they were ready to take the plunge. They bought an old hay farm on 40 acres and planted their first crop in 2013. Boreal Peonies, they decided, would serve a dual purpose as both a production and research facility. Of their 5,700 plants, they would devote 1,600 to science.
“You can’t really have a farm without doing research,” Russell says. “We totally geek out on it.”
Every day they measured the height of their plants and tracked their development. They experimented with soil chemistry in search of the perfect fertilizer. They shared their findings with the local farming community to help their adopted state grow its fledgling peony industry.
“Being biologists has really helped,” she says. “Soil chemistry is so key to success of the growth of these peonies, and we’ve learned a lot that we didn’t know. We’re still working on our fertilizer formula.”
Now in their ninth summer teaching in Alaska—and their fifth year growing peonies—the Russells have become permanent residents there, spending the school year teaching in Ohio before returning to Two Rivers for the growing season. With 16,000 production plants and 1,500 research plants, they anticipate harvesting some 40,000 stems this year.
“The industry is going to explode this summer,” she says. “There are a lot of farms like us.”
The farming bug has proven infectious. Two of their kids, both grown, and one of their graduate students also spend summers working on the farm—and they spend the rest of the year looking forward to it.
Kelly Burger, graduate student, is spending her summer doing research in Alaska. Her work on boreal peonies focused on the effects of compost tea on peony growth.
“We wait all year to be in paradise,” Russell says.“Peony farming in Alaska is probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life. Nothing is more satisfying than having your hands in the dirt. You plant something, baby it and take care of it. Watching it bloom and grow, you feel connected to it.”
We’re just about ready to announce the destinations for the 2019 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour and we can hardly control our excitement!
While we’re not yet able to share all of the stunning flower farms where we’ll be hosting dinners, we can share that we’ll have six stops in various regions of the country – including our Aug. 3 visit to Joselyn Peonies in Homer, Alaska.
A bucket-list experience, bring your friends for this unique Alaskan adventure you’ll never forget. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.
And while we’re giving hints, we can also share that we’ll be returning to some of our guests favorite prior destinations. Oh, and we’ll be working with some of the nation’s most talented floral designers and farm-to-fork chefs.
In the meantime,
to help you wet your appetite on what’s in store, check out all of the amazing places this award-winning Field to Vase Dinner Tour has been over the last four seasons …
And stay tuned as we announce the entire slate of stops for 2019 – coming Jan. 22!
Then, save your seat right away! This tour has earned national acclaim and seats sell out quickly.
Don’t miss your chance to dine in a sea of flowers on an American flower farm, meet a farmer, dine with other flower-lovers and leave with armloads of fresh flowers and a flower-themed swag bag!
And to watch more beautiful videos from our 2018 Field to Vase Dinner Tour, click on the images below!
Fallbrook Field to Vase Dinner at Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers.
Carlsbad Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields.
Sacramento Field to Vase Dinner at the California State Capitol.
Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin Field to Vase Dinner at Star Valley Flowers.
Nashville Field to Vase Dinner at Green Door Gourmet.
Add Unique Fishing Expeditions To Your Field to Vase Experience -- Space is Limited!
Fishing is for everyone in Alaska.
Among the great outdoor opportunities that tempt visitors to Alaska, fishing lands at the top of many bucket lists. It’s easy enough to see yourself pitted against nature’s ruggedness – and coming out the victor.
This could be you! Imagine yourself reeling in a big King Salmon during your American Grown Field To Vase adventure in Alaska! This our dinner guest Val Mellano. She caught her king with Kenny on the Kenai River.
Certainly, this dream has caught the attention of guests reserving their seats at the Field to Vase Dinner Tour in Homer, Alaska, at Joslyn Peonies on Aug. 3, 2019. And the professional fishermen in that area are happy to take the bait.
Certified American Grown has reserved two special charters for dinner tour guests who are arriving early to revel in this state’s adventures. On Tuesday, July 30, join guide Kenny Bingaman and his team of expert fishing guides on one of their King Size Adventures to hook king salmon on the Kenai River. This 30-year veteran has a reputation for consistently producing fish for his clients during their eight-hour trips, some as large as 70 pounds.
Don’t fret. Kenny will provide the right rods, reels and even clean your catch back at the dock.
Seats are available for $300 per person, not including tip, and King Size Adventures will assign four persons per boat.
Only 16 seats are available, so reserve you spot quickly!
Reel in the catch of your life with North Country Charters while in Alaska for our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner.
On Thursday, August 1, North Country Charters invites you to board its 53-foot M/V Irish with her crew for eight fun hours of challenging halibut fishing. All of the fishing equipment, bait and filleting are provided, so all you need to do to cast off is bring warm clothing and your love for competitiveness. Lunch is available for $15, but you ‘re welcome to bring your own. The cost is $225 per person plus tax and $25 for a one-day fishing license available at the North Country Halibut Charters office or online at admin.adfg.state.ak.us/license.
Don’t hesitate – only 16 seats are available!
Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist reels in a 45 lb king salmon during the week of the 2017 Field To Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies.
And after you reel in the big catch? You’re welcome to donate it to be specially prepared and served at the Field and Vase Dinner itself. On the dinner tour’s last stop in Alaska, Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist did just that after catching a 45-pound salmon.
Because if there’s one thing better than attending one of our crown jewel events, it’s having a hand in creating it!
Chef Dave took Kasey’s king salmon and served it to our guests during the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies in 2017. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.
But first, make sure you have a seat at the dinner table at Joslyn Peonies. You won’t want to miss this uniquely Alaskan Field to Vase Dinner on August 3. And fishing expeditions are a special offer for dinner guests only.
Join us at Josyln Peonies, in Homer, Alaska, located on the Kenai Peninsula and you’ll enjoy this stunning view of Kachemak Bay with your Field to Vase Dinner.
The national USDA survey of flower farms that provides the industry with vital information about production and trends, and gauges its economic impact, will be conducted again this year beginning in December.
The survey was not conducted for the last two years due to budgetary constraints at USDA’s NASS program. Leaders from the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) and a team of farmers from Certified American Grown program flew to Washington, D.C., and met with USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Administrator Hubert Hammer [article link: http://www.americangrownflowers.org/americas-flower-farmers-must-continue-to-lobby-congress/] and members of the U.S. Senate earlier this year to encourage the administration and Congress to reinstate this important annual report.
In February, Farmers met with USDA NASS Administrator Hubert Hammer about their decision to suspend the Annual Floriculture Report. Photo by Nony Pak of Ken Park Photography.
“This report provides our farms and our industry with a baseline of data that highlights just how valuable our farms and flowers are to their state and the economy,” explained Kasey Cronquist, CEO & ambassador of CCFC and administrator of Certified American Grown. “The successful effort to reinstate this report highlights just how important our efforts are in Washington, D.C., and that we can and do make a difference when farmers come together. Now we need everyone to stay engaged and most importantly, participate in the survey.”
Farmers met with Senator Diane Feinstein to discuss the need to reinstate the funding for the annual floriculture report. The Senator made it one of her top ag priorities in 2018.
CCFC and Certified American Grown also worked in coalition with American Hort and the Society of American Florists to help raise the awareness of this issue on Capitol Hill.
The survey is a census of about 10,000 commercial floriculture operations that annually produce and sell at least $10,000 worth of fresh cut flowers, potted flowering plants, foliage plants, annual bedding and garden plants, herbaceous perennials, cut cultivated florist greens, propagative floriculture material and unfinished plants. Annual sales include retail and wholesale sales.
Last year’s delegation of Alaska’s flower farmers made a big impression on the team at USDA. So much so, Alaska’s flowers will now be counted as a part of the annual floriculture report.
The survey provides the number of farmers, area of production, quantity sold, percent of sales at wholesale, wholesale prices, wholesale value of production for floriculture commodities and average number of agricultural workers per farm or ranch.
USDA NASS Administrator Hubert Hammer speaking to America’s flower farmers during last year’s fly-in in February.
The USDA first started collecting data on the nation’s floriculture industry in 1956. The report, called the Commercial Floriculture Survey, has grown to cover six floriculture categories in the 17 main flower-producing states and more than 50 separate crops.
NASS says the survey provides an important snapshot of the industry and helps growers plan for the future.
Certified farmers Benno Dobbe of Holland America Flowers in Washington State and Erin Caird of Glad-A-Way Gardens in California sporting their new USDA NASS hats following the meeting with NASS officials. Dobbe is the chair of the CCFC’s governmental affairs committee and a member of the Certified American Grown Council.
“Technology has changed production practices and tissue culture propagation has accelerated production,” NASS says on its website. “New products are being developed every year. To keep abreast of the rapidly changing industry, growers and suppliers need data. Individual growers can compare their own operation to other operations to help identify state and national trends as they plan the future of their business. These estimates are also used to support industry claims in cases involving unfair trade practices and in trade negotiations.”
Last year’s team of flower famers who were responsible for elevating the issue for reinstating the annual floriculture report directly to USDA NASS officials and worked with members of Congress to help secure the funding necessary for its reinstatement.
The federal government uses the data to gauge the industry’s economic impact. Sales of floriculture crops have exceeded $5 billion annually, which NASS calls “a significant contribution to farm income and the gross domestic product.”
NASS will collect data from growers by mail, phone, online and through personal interviews. The Commercial Floriculture Survey will be mailed to farms on Dec. 14. Enumerators from NASS will be visiting farms and calling farmers to help complete the survey from Dec. 31 through Feb. 8.
Consider joining your fellow flower farmers in Washington, D.C. in 2019. Join this powerful delegation of voices who are making a difference for America’s flower farmers.
The reference period is the preceding year. The data will be published in the Floriculture Crops report on May 8, 2019.
The information provided by growers will be used for statistical purposes only and no identifying details of respondents will be disclosed.
In the last survey, which covered 2015, the nation’s total floriculture crop value was estimated at $4.37 billion, up from $4.20 billion for 2014. California was the leading producer with 685 operations producing crops valued at $1.08 billion, followed by Florida at $1.03 billion. Those two states accounted for 49 percent of the nation’s floriculture crop value. Rounding out the top five states were Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio.
Year after year, we’re reminded of the importance of the face-to-face meetings we have during the annual flower farmer fly-in to Washington, D.C.
Our past efforts have netted the reinstatement of the national USDA survey of flower farms, inroads on bringing American Grown Flowers to the White House, expansion of the Cut Flower Caucus and strong relationships with policymakers.
These things happen because we’re there. Flower farmers are seen and heard. They share their stories. They give policymakers a name and face to remember.
It’s serious business. And it works.
Which is why we’re asking flower farmers to join us February 26-28, 2019, for our upcoming fly-in.
This is your opportunity to advocate for the work you do and its impact on the economy. It’s your chance to explain how policies from D.C. affect real farmers and their families. And it’s your opening to help make something big happen for flower farmers – like it did with the reinstatement of the farm survey.
The Commercial Floriculture survey, arriving in your mailbox very soon, had not been conducted for the past two years due to budgetary constraints at USDA’s NASS program. But after leaders from Certified American Grown program flew to Washington, D.C., and met with USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Administrator Hubert Hammer and members of the U.S. Senate, the report was reinstated.
We were heard. And there are other big issues we need to lend our collective voices to.
Let us know you’d like to join the delegation by emailing Andrea Philpot at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And be sure to participate in the Commercial Floriculture Survey, being mailed to farms on Dec. 14.
NASS will be collecting data from growers by mail, phone, online and through personal interviews. Enumerators from NASS will be visiting farms and calling farmers to help complete the survey from Dec. 31 through Feb. 8.
Your participation provides our farms and the larger industry with data that shows just how valuable our farms and flowers are to communities and to the economy.