Christi Lopez Announced as Floral Designer For Alaska’s American Grown Field to Vase Dinner

Lush, Audacious Tablescapes to Star at Alaska's Field to Vase Dinner

Floral designer Christi Lopez of Bergerons Flowers in Springfield, Virginia, will be the featured designer at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Joslyn Peonies in Homer, Alaska, Aug. 3.

Christi Lopez will be the featured designer at Joslyn Peonies in Homer, Alaska for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in August.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra

Guests can count on Lopez to bring her contemporary garden style to the tablescapes and other arrangements at the event, along with a love for peonies and a respect for the American flower farmers that grow them.

“I’m excited to return to Alaska where just last year I was able to experience the amazing peonies and meet the farmers as part of a field trip with other designers,” Lopez shares. “I fell in love with the peony farmers and with Alaska.”

Tours through the Alaskan peony fields will be a highlight of the weekend with Christi Lopez and Betty Joslyn.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra

And although she doesn’t know yet what peony colors she’ll be working with, she’s heard that a big harvest is expected this year – and that’s great news for dinner guests who can’t get enough of these glorious blooms!

Christi will be responsible for designing the tablescape for our guests to enjoy. Photo by Joshua Veldstra

“They’re big, fat, audacious blooms and they make it easy to create a garden-style look that’s a pleasing and popular part of today’s floral design trends,” Lopez says.

Save your seat to this experience of a lifetime in Alaska. Photo by Joshua Veldstra

Expect multiple vessels overflowing with just-picked peonies and natural elements from the environment to give an Alaskan feel, Lopez describes.

“It’s the colors and the heavy petal essence of the bloom that enamors people,” Lopez says.  “And the best part is that I’ll be designing with these blooms at a time of year when no one else around the world grows them. Having access to that is amazing!”

The popularity of peonies and Lopez’s design aesthetic means that the remaining 20 seats for this dinner will go fast!

Make sure you have a spot at the table in Alaska!

 

Make Mom’s Floral Dreams Come True!

Field to Vase Dinner Tour is the Ticket

Mother’s Day (May 12) is fast approaching, but there’s no need to fret about what to get Mom this year!

Make her floral dreams come true with tickets to an upcoming American Grown Field to Vase Dinner. Two tour stops provide just the right timing!

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner is a great mother and daughter opportunity.

 

Choose the June 1 dinner at Bloomia USA in King George, Virginia, and mom can dine among thousands of blooming tulips. Bloomia also grows hyacinth, peonies and muscari, but the rows and rows of tulips will steal the show at this stop.

Or, if you’re on the West Coast, choose the June 12 tour stop in Sacramento, California. Here, Mom will dine on the lawn of the state Capitol at tables adorned with the hundreds of flower varieties grown throughout the Golden State. She’ll experience and entire state’s worth of blooms at one event!

Consider making a memory with mom that she’ll never forget.

 

Both dinners include a multi-course artisan meal, wine and craft beer, a create-your-own wearable floral flair station and a swag bag full of flower-related goodies.

Choose your location to make Mom’s floral dreams come true! Seats are selling fast at both locations, so reserve now!

King George, Virginia

Sacramento, California

Bring mom to the flower farm!

 

Mom will love you for it!

Whole Foods Gearing Up for American Grown Flowers Month & Contest

Whole Foods Mid-Atlantic Division Is On Board for Second Year Due to Inaugural Success

 

July is American Grown Flowers Month as designated by Congress. But it’s also one of the slowest months of the year for flower sales. That is, until a remedy was put into place last year.

 

In 2018, nearly 1,200 retail locations participated in the first-ever American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest, promoting homegrown flowers in their stores with displays, signage, customer promotions and all sorts of other innovative hoopla.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Diana Westcott, regional floral buyer for Whole Foods Market for the Mid-Atlantic division, had nine stores in her region participate in last year’s contest. Thanks to the success of the promotion, she’s hopeful that number will increase this year.

The Whole Foods’ Allentown, PA store created beautiful signage that invited customers to celebrate American Grown Flowers Month with a purchase of homegrown flowers and greens.

And she’s already making plans.

She’s focusing on Certified American Grown Flowers in all her communications to stores as they plan for July. She’s helping stores with special messaging that calls out products in their store displays that are Certified American Grown. And she’s encouraging participation – and the related displays and promotional efforts – in this year’s contest.

The Philadelphia Whole Foods store announced American Grown Flowers Month by placing their inviting flyer front and center.

That nudge started last year when contest winners were presented their awards in front of all stores in her region.

“We did see a lift in almost all stores that participated,” Westcott says. And while the increased sales percentage varied from week to week, one popular high-traffic participating store saw sales that were 85 percent higher than the previous year for the week of July 22.

Whole Foods Philadelphia, one of last year’s American Grown Flowers Month Contest winners, displays homegrown blooms making sure customers know where the flowers are grown.

For retailers considering participating in the 2019 contest, Westcott says the key is letting guests know which blooms are grown in the USA. “The most important thing is that call out,” she says.

As to the contest being a solution to slow sales? “It absolutely helped with the summer slump,” Westcott says.

Learn more at sign up to participate at americangrownflowers.org/julycontest.

Fun ‘N Sun 2019 Panel Discussion Will Cover How to Address the “Summer Slump”

Experts to Share How American Grown Flowers Month Provides the Solution

A panel discussion at the Fun ‘N Sun 2019 conference, July 24-27 in Santa Barbara, will cover the power American Grown Flowers Month has to address the “summer slump” of flower sales.

 

 

Floral designer Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore, John Burk of DVFlora and Crystal Hedgpeth of Safeway’s Northern California division, will discuss how American Grown Flowers Month and its related promotions have prompted consumers to purchase more homegrown flowers and greens during July.

 

Kelly Shore, John Burk and Crystal Hedgpeth make up the panel for this Fun ‘N Sun discussion about American Grown Flowers Month.

 

They’ll also share the importance and value of Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens and how they’re leveraging the consumer demand they’re experiencing to spread the #originmatters message and drive sales.

 

The panel represents the first time multiple members of the supply chain have combined forces to share their experiences and success with promoting the Certified American Grown brand and its innovative programs.

It’s not too late to register for the 2019 American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest! Visit americangrownflowers.org/julycontest/ to learn more.

Co-Leads for First Lady’s Luncheon Excited to Bring Certified American Grown Magic!

Collaboration Among Designers, Farmers is Event’s Secret Sauce

For 107 years, the First Lady’s Luncheon has been a bipartisan tradition. And when the event takes place in May in Washington, D.C., floral designers Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet and Christi Lopez AIFD EMC of Bergerons Flowers will co-lead a design team that will create dozens of arrangements and other installations with over 15,000 stems of Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens.

Guests of the First Lady’s Luncheon will greeted by a room filled with American Grown Flowers and greens at this 107-year old tradition. All photos by Kirstin Smith Photography

Together with 20 other designers and a 10-person support team, they’ll create centerpieces, tablescapes, two flower walls for amazing photo opps and hundreds of boutonnières. It’s a proposition that would seem to be stress-inducing.

The flower wall is a favorite at the luncheon, with long lines forming to take a photo with this beautiful backdrop created by the design team.

Not so, say the co-leads. It’s a celebration of collaboration among some of America’s most talented floral designers and American flower farmers. And it’s an opportunity for designers and guests to see the amazing variety of flowers grown here in the U.S.

 

 

“I think seeing all the designers come together, both new and returning, and the variety of flowers that come in are the most exciting things about the event,” says Kinnane. “There’s so much talent helping you produce the designs, including some of the best wedding designers in the country, plus American flower farmers and event experts. There’s such a networking moment that goes on. You’re able to network and talk shop across the work table with people you admire on social media.”

 

 

 

 

 

There’s no denying the amount of hard work that goes into it, but that’s far outweighed by the good times, says Lopez.

“It’s a huge opportunity to work with like-minded florists and farmers toward a common goal,” Lopez shares. “The number of new friendships and contacts it provides is immeasurable and to be able to design for such a prestigious historic event is an honor. To do it with other floral designers and with the help of flower farmers makes it fun.”

 

 

 

Adding to the fun is the somewhat spur of the moment nature that comes into play for the designers. Sure there’s a theme and a color palette, but there are still some surprises when the thousands of donated stems from American flower farms show up.

It’s a bit like Christmas when the designers open box after box with anticipation to see what stunning gift of beauty lies inside.

“You have to be ready for the surprises in the boxes,” says Kinnane, who’s designed exclusively with American Grown Flowers since 2003. “It’s so exciting and actually less stressful than our own weddings; there’s so much talent helping you produce this event!”

Mary Kate and Christy both participated in the 2018 Design Team creating limitless beauty that awed the guests.

So Kinnane and Lopez will do what they do best. Unpack gorgeous American Grown Flowers and Greens, lead dozens of volunteers in creating breathtaking floral designs and then let the beautiful outcome impress a couple thousand guests!

We couldn’t be more grateful!

 

 

 

 

 

S & R Farms Earns Certified American Grown Status

 

If you’ve ever wondered why New Jersey is called the Garden State, S & R Farms will provide an answer.

All photos courtesy of S & R Farms

Located in central New Jersey in Allentown just off the New Jersey Turnpike, the 350-acre Certified American Grown flower farm lies in the shadow of some of the most urbanized landscapes on Earth. New York City is an hour north on I-95 and Philadelphia is a half-hour south.

But at S & R Farms, the view includes acres and acres of peonies and sunflowers.

“You would never know that New York City is just around the corner from here,” said Nick Ricci, owner and head flower farmer at S & R Farms.

That proximity to major East Coast population centers also translates to a whole lot of potential customers nearby. Its location makes marketing a low priority for S & R Farms. There’s no website and it has little presence on social media. But the demand for its flowers is strong.

“The demand is never ending,” Ricci said. “It’s just about trying to get the right price for it.”

S & R is a family operation involving Ricci, his wife, stepfather and father-in-law, with help from a crew of seasonal workers. Together they raise about 50 varieties of flowers on 350 acres. Sunflowers get the most space with about 60 acres followed by peonies on about 20 acres. There’s also coxcomb, dianthus, feverfew, marigolds and zinnias, to name a few.

S & R Farms is all in the family. Nick runs the farm with his wife, step-father and father-in-law.

 

S & R gets its flowers to market via a network of wholesalers and brokers that put together bouquets for supermarkets. It also relies on a group of independent sellers who supply flowers to small deli-type stores in New York City.

 

“It’s actually a pretty big business,” Ricci said. “It might not look like much – each store will have three or four buckets – but you times that by 50 or 60 stores across the city and it’s quite a bit of stuff every week.”

Despite all the nearby urban environments, farming has always a good fit for Ricci. He’s worked on farms his entire working life, starting with produce and moving to flowers.

“It’s always been farming for me,” he said. “I never really liked anything else.”

 

After working on a flower farm for 10 years, he struck out on his own with the help of his stepfather, who had grown up on a farm in Vineland, N.J.

At the time they started looking for property, Princeton Nurseries, a major grower in the area since 1913, was going out of business. They ended up buying three of Princeton’s contiguous farms. “It was perfect timing,” Ricci said.

S & R started with peonies and gradually added more varieties. “We’ve grown every year,” Ricci said.

S & R Farms grows a variety of flowers on 350 acres just outside the major metropolitan areas of New York and Philadelphia.

Future growth might include venturing into selling flowers directly to consumers at the farm. Many surrounding produce growers have embraced farm tourism to help boost the bottom line. Ricci also is considering selling peonies via the internet.

For now, becoming a Certified American Grown operation is one way to bolster business. Ricci said he pursued the certification at the request of a couple of wholesalers who wanted to promote their offerings as American-grown.

“It really opens up the gates to go other places,” he said. “People are starting to care where their flowers come from. They want to buy flowers from here, not China or Colombia or wherever they’re coming from. It separates you from everybody else.”

 

Kelly Shore Returns as Featured Designer for Virginia Field to Vase Dinner

Her Commitment to Designing With American Grown Flowers is Unparalleled

Renowned wedding and event floral designer Kelly Shore, owner of Petals by the Shore in Virginia, will be the featured designer at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Bloomia USA in King George, Virginia, on June 1.

At a recent wedding open house, Kelly created a beautiful installation using 300 of Bloomia’s tulips on the bulb. Photo by Brittany Drosos Photography

Shore is known for her lush, garden-style designs that feature high stem counts and tons of texture. Her clients appreciate her use of unique flower and foliage varieties, always paired with creative color play.

Shore’s connections to the Field to Vase Dinner Tour and Certified American Grown run deep. She’s long committed to designing with homegrown flowers 365 days a year and helping other designers do the same.

And she was the featured floral designer for the Field to Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska in 2017.

As the featured designer of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Homer, Alaska, Kelly created a stunning tablescape highlighting the beauty of the farm and its flowers .  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

 

She’s also led the design team for the First Lady’s Luncheon in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Certified American Grown and has participated in fly-ins to meet with national policymakers alongside American flower farmers.

Leading the design team in 2017 and 2018, Kelly oversaw and inspired both teams of top designers from around the country and was responsible for creating beautiful arrangements for the First Lady’s Luncheon using all American Grown Flowers.  Photo by Kirstin Smith Photography

 

“It’s an incredible honor to be chosen to design for this dinner. The Certified American Grown family is a huge part of my life and designing with American Grown Flowers 365 days a year is a staple in my business,” Shore says.

Photo by Lauren Fair Photography

At Bloomia USA, Shore is planning high-style, out-of-the box designs that incorporate peonies, tulips and greenery for lots of softness and movement. The greenhouse location allows her to push the limits on scale and form, creating arrangements that are both event decor and art installations.

Shore’s work has been featured in national and local magazines and blogs such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Florists’ Review, Washingtonian Bride and Groom, Style Me Pretty, Weddings Unveiled, Cottage Hill, Ruffled, Once Wed and United with Love among many others.

 

 

Don’t miss the chance to see the incredible designs Shore has in mind for this dinner tour stop!

 

 

Albin Hagstrom & Son, Certified American Grown and Still Growing Four Generations Later

 

In the U.S. floral universe, Pierson, Florida, population 1,849, plays an outsized role. For any given bouquet of flowers, chances are pretty good that the greenery came from Pierson.

It’s a place that calls itself the fern capital of the world. Families have grown ferns for generations and kids grow up working at ferneries during the summer and after school. In Pierson, a network of supporting businesses – shippers and suppliers – has grown up around the ferneries.

Photos courtesy of Albin Hagstrom & Son Inc.

Albin Hagstrom & Son, a Certified American Grown Farm, has been growing ferns in Pierson since 1928 and is now one of the biggest growers of floral greenery in the country. The company cultivates nearly 500 acres of greenery, offers nearly 80 different varieties and ships 180 million stems a year to all 50 states and to far-flung destinations such as New Zealand and Singapore.

Erik Hagstrom, fourth generation farmer continuing the legacy of Albin Hagstrom & Son.

 

The company is now in the hands of the fourth generation of Hagstroms with another generation just starting to get involved. The company was founded by Albin Hagstrom and his son Raiford. Albin had moved to Florida from Pennsylvania as a boy with his family, which was lured by the prospect of abundant land. They started shipping plants to family and friends in Pennsylvania that couldn’t be grown up north.

“It didn’t start as if they had visions of a floral business,” said Erik Hagstrom, great-grandson of founder Albin and part of the fourth generation running the company.

 

 

Pierson was blessed with the soil and climate that are tailor-made for fern growing. Still, until the 1960s, fern-growing in Pierson was mostly a cottage industry. For many families, growing ferns was second or third source of income, Hagstrom said. Up until the 1960s, his own family grew only one type of fern – asparagus plumosus.

But improvements in transportation and communication changed everything. It went from a mail-order business that shipped by train to one where orders increasingly came by phone, and refrigerated trucking allowed faster and fresher shipments.

Leatherleaf ferns are a staple of the Albin Hagstrom farm.

All that coincided with growing consumer demand for flowers. And when leatherleaf fern became the go-to greenery for floral arrangements, the fern business in Pierson took off.

“Leatherleaf quickly became the leader of greenery sales and that still continues to this day,” Hagstrom said.

As the company continues to evolve and navigate new challenges, it has embraced the principles of  Certified American Grown. With foreign competition as strong as ever, Hagstrom sees the importance for American farms to differentiate themselves.

“In my short time in the industry, I’ve seen carnations out of Colorado come to an end,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of flower companies in California struggle, although there’s been a resurgence there.”

“We feel like we can’t sit idly by. We’ve got to get in there and become a part of this movement and do our part to educate and promote American-grown product.”

Given the option, Hagstrom said, U.S. consumers want to buy American-made products.

500 acres of American Grown greenery are cultivated at the Albin Hagstrom fernery.

 

“We wanted to kind of embrace that and to do what little we could do to spread the word. And hopefully, keep some of our hard-earned dollars here in this country.”

It’s also a way to help other growers and keep the industry healthy.

“One thing that I always have to remember is I’m in the greenery business and we’re kind of a secondary to the flowers. If someone gets an arrangement, they’re not looking at the leatherleaf, they’re looking at the focal flowers. We get that. But we want to be a good supporter of the floral business and the greenery farmers in different parts of the country. We want everybody to have the option to buy American.”

 

Congressman Salud Carbajal and Congressman Ted Yoho To Co-Chair Cut Flower Caucus

New co-chairs expand bipartisan leadership of important caucus

Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA 24th District) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL, 3rd District) have become co-chairs of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

The Congressional Cut Flower Caucus was launched by a bipartisan effort of Congresswoman Lois Capps and Congressman Duncan Hunter in 2014. Since its inception, the caucus has grown to include a total of six co-chairs and over 25 members of Congress.

The caucus is open to all members of Congress and is dedicated to promoting the domestic cut flower industry, including educating members of Congress and staff on the economic and cultural importance of America’s cut flower and greens farmers as well as the challenges the industry faces. The caucus also sponsors events to provide a greater understanding of the issues and opportunities facing America’s flower farmers, their families and their flowers.

Rep. Salud Carbajal meeting with California flower farmers during the Certified American Grown DC Fly-In in February 2019.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

Carbajal’s district includes the largest flower-growing region in the United States by volume. For the last two years, he has authored a resolution announcing July as American Grown Flowers Month in the house.

Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“It’s an honor to serve as co-chair on behalf of our cut flower farmers, who not only bring beauty into our homes, but provide tens of thousands of jobs across the country and billions in economic activity each year,” said Rep. Carbajal. “Representing the Central Coast, the highest-producing flower region in a state that produces three-quarters of all cut flowers grown in the United States, I know intimately the value of this industry as an economic engine. In this new role, I look forward to continuing to highlight the economic and cultural value of American’s cut flower industry, as well as raise awareness about the challenges our farmers and small businesses face in an increasingly globalized economy.”

Yoho’s district includes the largest greens-growing district in the U.S. For the past several years, he’s worked to have American Grown Flowers featured in the White House, including penning a letter to President Donald Trump to suggest the policy.

Rep. Ted Yoho also met with flower farmers from the DC Fly-In delegation last month. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“I’m honored to be a part of the leadership for the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus,” stated Congressman Ted Yoho. “It’s vital that America’s flower farmers have a voice at the table in this very competitive market and it’s our job as members of Congress to ensure that our farmers are able to continue to do the great job they do growing flowers and greens here in the United States of America.”

Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

The Congressional Cut Flower caucus continues to grow in size and influence.

“Our farms are fortunate to have these two great champions in Congress,” shared Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “Rep. Carbajal and Rep. Yoho know our issues, understand the value our farms bring to their communities and why time is of the essence to address the challenges they face. We look forward to working with them in their new leadership positions on the caucus.”

 

# # #

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.

Certified American Grown Flowers Star at FTD World Cup 2019

Bart Hassam of Australia Named Champion!

The FTD World Cup 2019, considered the Olympics of floral design, was held last weekend in Philadelphia, marking the first time the competition has been held in the U.S. since 1985. But perhaps even more exciting than its return to the U.S. is the fact that global participants in the competition created some of their designs with over 14,000 Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens donated by American flower farmers!

Certified American Grown was a proud sponsor (as displayed on the big screen) of this year’s FTD World Cup competition in Philadelphia.

For the first time ever, domestically grown flowers starred on the biggest stage in the floral industry during a surprise challenge held on Saturday, March 2. The surprise package of flowers was the only origin-based design package offered during the competition.

The 2019 FTD World Cup was held in conjunction with the Philadelphia Flower Show and included massive floral displays and floral demonstrations.

The FTD World Cup included designers from 23 different countries who won their national competitions to gain entry into the contest. During the main competition last Friday and Saturday, the designers completed four tasks starting with three designs of their own creation (a table for two, a hand tied bouquet, an architecture-inspired piece) and ending with an on-the-fly design – the Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens task. From there, 10 semifinalists moved on to tackle a semifinal challenge Sunday morning.

The 2019 FTD World Cup Champion, Australia’s Bart Hassam, puts the finishing touches on his arrangement, which took first place. ( Photo by Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)

On Sunday evening, five finalists competed in one last surprise task and Bart Hassam of Australia was named the champion, earning a prize worth about $17,000.

Certified American Flowers and Greens were sent to Philadelphia from flower and greens farms from across the country to be featured as one of the surprise packages that all 23 designers were given to work with for the final stage of the first round.

A huge thank you goes out to the farms who sent their Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens to the competition, showcasing how America’s flower farming families can provide beautiful blooms 365 days a year:

  • Mellano & Co.
  • Holland America Flowers
  • Ferntrust
  • Star Valley Flowers
  • Myriad Flowers
  • California Pajarosa
  • Resendiz Brothers Protea
  • Camflor
  • Bloomia
  • Washington Bulb
  • Continental Floral Greens
  • Kitayama Brothers
  • Ocean Breeze Farms

Certified American Grown’s procurement specialist Anna Kalins and American Grown Flowers and Green champion and former Field to Vase designer Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore represented the Certified American Grown program throughout the week and at the FTD World Cup Gala.