Meet Boreal Peonies!

Boreal Peonies Is Certified American Grown

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.”

Pssst … 2019 American Grown Dinner Tour Destinations Coming Soon!

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.

We’re Offering A ‘River to Table’ Experience in Alaska

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Help Make The Floriculture Survey A Success!

Participate In The Upcoming NASS Survey

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.

Join Us In Washington, D.C., For Annual Fly-In

This Year’s Visit Is Critical!

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 andrea@americangrownflowers.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.

Just one more way to be heard.

4 New Farms Earn American Grown Certification

Farms Large and Small See Value, Benefits to Certification

Four new flower farms have recently officially become Certified American Grown, joining a cadre of 60 certified farms nationwide. These farms vary in size and in the varieties of flowers they grow, from peony growers in Alaska to novelty flower farmers known for their agritourism.

The newly certified farms are: Cuts of Color, Weimar, Texas; Stone Circle Peonies, Homer, Alaska; Red Twig Farms, New Albany, Ohio; and Boreal Peonies, Fairbanks, Alaska.

Earning recognition as Certified American Grown helps retailers, wholesalers and florists connect their customers with flowers grown right here in the United States and guarantees their customers that the flowers they’re bringing home or giving as gifts were grown by an American flower farmer, all points not lost on the newly certified.

And flower farmers whose farms have earned certification say it lends credibility to their efforts, connects them to new wholesale and florist clients and makes a positive statement to consumers, more and more of whom are seeking out homegrown products.

Four new certified farms, dozens of reasons to get on board.

Have you considered joining the Certified American Grown movement?

Y’all Would Have Loved Green Door Gourmet

The American Grown Field to Vase Tour Ends Its 2018 Season in Nashville

American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour guests enjoyed a warm welcome at Green Door Gourmet in October.  Photography by Liraz Photography

Guests from all across the country descended on Nashville, Tennessee, to attend the last American Grown Field to Vase Dinner of the 2018 season at Green Door Gourmet.

And it was glorious.

The flowers, the table, the design, our guests – it all combines for a beautiful evening on the flower farm at Green Door Gourmet.  Photography by Liraz Photography

 

A sold-out crowd of 160 guests enjoyed a beautiful evening at Green Door Gourmet. Photography by Liraz Photography

At every turn, our guests enjoyed the Southern hospitality from the team at Green Door Gourmet who thought of everything in order to help make the evening something our guests would never forget.

A floral cocktail with a Tennessee twist, sponsored by Jack Daniels. Photography by Liraz Photography

From the farm tour to the boutonnière bar, the floral cocktails (sponsored by Jack Daniels) to the wine (sponsored by Geyser Peak); the chickens at check in to the amazing tablescape by floral designer Kelly Shore looking over the beautiful flower fields at Green Door Gourmet, the 2018 tour ended on a wonderful note in Music City.

Guests enjoyed creating their own flower flair at our boutonnière bar during the reception. Photography by Liraz Photography

Our swag bags have become a much sought-after item. Once the dinner is over, every guest takes home a fun bag filled with gifts from our sponsors. Photography by Liraz Photography

Floral designer Kelly Perry of Philosophy Flowers and Team Flowers created a beautiful all-American Grown tablescape with a group of volunteer designers from Team Flowers. The Team enjoyed the opportunity to work with the flowers harvested right there at Green Door Gourmet.

Floral designer Kelly Perry did an incredible job leading her team of Team Flower volunteers in development of the beautiful tablescape for our final dinner of the season. Photography by Liraz Photography

Green Door Gourmet’s owner Sylvia Ganier and flower farmer Laura Dison provided guests with a tour of the farm, highlighting their history in vegetable production and their commitment to growing Certified American Grown Flowers in Nashville.

Laura Dison (left) and Sylvia Ganier provided guests with an overview of the farm and Green Door’s mission in Nashville. Photography by Liraz Photography

 

Flower farmer Laura Dison. Photography by Liraz Photography

The evening was unusually warm for October, record-breaking actually, but that didn’t impact the experience of our guests. One guest described the evening’s experience this way, “Sitting at a table in a field with gorgeous vistas among beautiful flowers, eating delicious local food prepared with flowers and enjoying good wine with new friends made for an evening not soon forgotten. The Field to Vase Dinner allows anyone who loves flowers to immerse themselves in a floral fairyland.”

Another guest shared that the dinner was, “…the ultimate flower party. Loved the gorgeous tablescapes, enjoyed meeting others involved in the industry as well as simple floral fans such as myself. The wildflower bouquet we came home with was a lovely reminder for the next few days to appreciate moments of presence, awareness and beauty.”

Passed appetizers, local beer, delicious wine and a fun floral cocktail made the reception a festive affair. Photography by Liraz Photography

Chefs Deb Paquette and Richard Jones treated everyone to a wonderful menu, with ingredients procured from Green Door and other local farms.

A canopy of lights and the flicker of candlelight helped illuminate the table after the sunset at Green Door Gourmet. Photography by Liraz Photography

As the sun set over Green Door Gourmet and the 2018 season for our national American Grown Field to Vase Dinner, you couldn’t help but sense a feeling of gratitude. An appreciation for the meal, the flowers, our designer, our farmer and all the work that goes into hosting a pop-up dinner in the middle of a flower field.

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour is a great example of America’s “can do” attitude. Sylvia and her team shared their story, their example of how they are putting in the hard work and dedication to continue to meet the increasing demand for their American Grown Flowers.

Our national tour doesn’t end here.

Stay tuned for the debut of the 2019 schedule.

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour has hosted over 5,000 people at our floral-filled events over the last four seasons.  Photography by Liraz Photography

Farm to Fork Dinner Goes Floral

Designer Debi Lilly is ‘Floral Chef’ at Iconic Event

Debi Lilly served as this year’s Floral Chef for the Farm to Fork Dinner event on the bridge in Sacramento. Photo by Glenn Younger

The annual Tower Bridge Dinner is the grand finale for Sacramento, California’s annual Farm-to-Fork Celebration. This year the event took on a floral focus with the addition of an American Grown Flowers tablescape created by Debi Lilly A Perfect Event.

Lilly, an event planner, floral designer and two-time American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour designer, served as the “floral chef” for the popular event where 800 diners gather for a multi-course meal at table that covers the length of the Tower Bridge.

Debi Lilly with Crystal Hedgpeth, Floral Manager for NorCal Safeway.  Photo by Glenn Younger.

She used hundreds of flowers of plants from farmers throughout California to create a multi-level tablescape that emanated fall sunshine and happiness. Think 440 vases of sunflowers. 440 vases of gerbera. 990 feet of bay leaf garland. 440 jack ‘o little pumpkins, 440 loose sunflower blooms, 440 succulents.

American Grown Flowers took center table during this year’s Farm to Fork event in Sacramento.  Photo by Glenn Younger.

And in a nod to a popular feature at all American Grown Field to Vase Dinners, the event also include two boutonniere bars where guests crafted bouts and posy bouquets using California Grown Flowers.

“Everyone loved it and the bar was a dozen people deep the entire cocktail hour,” Lilly shared.

Throughout the Farm-to-Fork weekend, Lilly also hosted demonstrations on flower design trends and designed two trend tables that were fully dressed with linen, crystal, dishes, dozens of vases of American Grown Flowers and, of course, the Certified American Grown Debi Lilly bouquet.

Photo by Glenn Younger.

She also recognized the farms that had contributed flowers to the event, gave a shout out to the flower farmers in attendance and discussed the importance of origin when it comes to selecting fresh blooms.

“Where flowers come from is as important as where food comes from. The origin of our food has been a focus for years, and now it’s the big story for florals, too. A lot of consumers aren’t aware that many blooms are grown thousands of miles away in other countries, so helping share the American Grown Flower movement and the stories of the farm families is an incredible opportunity,” Lilly explains.

“The Tower Bridge Dinner continues to highlight the best of the best, and we couldn’t think of a more fitting addition to the evening than Debi Lilly to ensure the beautifully designed California Grown Flowers were also showstoppers,” said Visit Sacramento President & CEO Mike Testa. “We’re thrilled that she could join us this year to create such a memorable experience for our guests.”

“For the last four years, we’ve been taking our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour around the country to highlight that the homegrown movement isn’t just about food,” shares Kasey Cronquist, CEO and ambassador for Certified American Grown. It’s also about the flowers at the center of the table being as important as the food on your plate when it comes to sustainability, freshness and beauty. It was wonderful to see Safeway and Debi Lilly take that important floral message to this iconic food event in Sacrament, the nation’s Farm to Fork Capital.”

Winners of First-Ever American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest Announced

National Contest Included 12 Divisions Representing Over 1200 Stores

Eighteen stores that wowed consumers with their displays and promotional efforts for Certified American Grown Flowers were selected as winners of the first-ever American Grown Flowers Month merchandising competition held throughout the month of July.

The winners represent first, second and third place honorees from among four large grocery retailers nationwide. Twelve mass market divisions representing over 1200 stores participated in the competition – an amazing number for a first-time event, and one that will propel the competition into the future.

First place winners were: Big Y store #103 in Norwell, Massachusetts; Dave’s Marketplace store #08 in North Kingstown, Rhode Island; Safeway NorCal store #3031 in Daly City, California; King Soopers store #112 in Bennett, Colorado; Fry’s Store #64 in Gilbert, Arizona; and Whole Foods Market store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

First Place Winner Safeway NorCal store #3031 in Daly City, California

Second place winners are: Big Y store #86 in Wilbraham, Massachusetts; Dave’s Marketplace store #04 in Warwick, Rhode Island; Safeway NorCal store #1648 in Lodi, California; King Sooper store #98 in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Fry’s Store #675 in Buckeye, Arizona; and Whole Foods Market store in Cincinnati, Ohio.

First Place Winner Whole Foods Market store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Third place winners are: Big Y store #90 in Shelton, Connecticut; Dave’s Marketplace store #01 in Warwick, Rhode Island; Safeway NorCal store #691 in Berkeley, California; King Sooper store #102 in Longmont, Colorado; Fry’s store # 60 in Glendale, Arizona; and Whole Foods Market store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

First Place Winner Big Y store #103 in Norwell, Massachusetts

Participating retailers were judged on the quality and beauty of their in-store displays promoting American Grown Flowers Month, their ability to increase flower sales in July and their efforts to promote the celebratory month overall, as well as promoting the Certified American Grown brand.

First Place Winner Dave’s Marketplace store #08 in North Kingstown, Rhode Island

Participating retailers were judged on the quality and beauty of their in-store displays promoting American Grown Flowers Month, their ability to increase flower sales in July and their efforts to promote the celebratory month overall, as well as promoting the Certified American Grown brand.

First place winner at Fry’s store #64 in Gilbert, AZ.

The average sales increase for the top five stores from each company was more than 17.5 percent. Overall, participating stores reported an average increase in sales of 6.7 percent throughout the month of July.

First place winner at King Soopers Store 112 in Bennett, CO.

All we can say is “wow.”

The contest was launched after Congress declared July American Grown Flowers Month, which happens to be a high-production month for flowers but a traditionally slow time for retail flower sales. Until now.

Store campaigns were judged by Travis Rigby, publisher of Super Floral magazine and Florists’ Review; Keith White, AIFD, creative director for American Floral Trends Forecast and AANDK Productions; and Tom Bowling, AIFD, PFCI, education director for Syndicate Sales.

Participating stores that earned the highest marks had large attractive displays that were saturated with American Grown messaging. In fact, the more ways stores communicated the message visually and with verbal support from staff, the higher their sales.

And retailers got very creative in their efforts to attract attention to American Grown Flowers, using balloons, buttons worn by employees, the American Grown logo on signage and even red, white and blue pinwheel hats!

Look for information about next year’s contest starting in June 2019. With sales increases like we saw in the inaugural year of the contest, we’re expecting more retailers to get on board.

After all, consumers appreciate knowing the origin of their flowers, and as nearly 1,200 retailers found out this summer, make buying decisions based on that knowledge.

Rey Rodriguez Wins 50th Annual Sylvia Cup Competition

Certified American Grown is a Proud Sponsor

Rey Rodriguez, AAF, AIFD, TMFA, of The Gypsy Florist in Austin, Texas, was named the winner of the Society of American Florists’ 50th Annual Sylvia Cup Design Competition held during SAF Palm Springs 2018.

The win earned Rodriguez the coveted Sylvia Cup trophy and a $3,000 prize.

Lee Burcher, AIFD, CCF, PFCI, of Fleur de Lys in San Pedro, California, received second runner-up honors and $250. Burcher won Sylvia Cup top honors in 2004.

Certified American Grown sponsored all of the cut flowers and greens for the live competition.

The Sylvia Cup is the country’s longest running live floral design competition. It began in 1967 and is named for Sylvia Valencia, a prominent designer and long-time SAF supporter.

Rey Rodriguez’s winning designs.

This year’s competition — the contest’s 50th anniversary — paid homage to “The Wizard of Oz.” The event was sponsored by Certified American Grown and Smither-Oasis and coordinated by Professional Floral Communicators-International.

Among the 19 floral designers competing were 12 members of the American Institute of Floral Designers, eight past Sylvia Cup contestants and three contestants sponsored by state floral associations.