Wild Lark Farm: First Oklahoma Farm Certified American Grown

For Terri Barr, making the leap from civil engineering technician to flower grower was a natural move. She had farming in her blood, a lifelong love for gardening and a desire to work outdoors.

The result is Wild Lark Farm in Claremore, Oklahoma, which she started in 2018 and is building from the ground up. She’s growing specialty and heirloom flowers – mums, old-school lilacs and sunflowers among them – on about an acre of the 40-acre spread where she lives with her husband and their three children. It’s a former cattle pasture with clay-like soil that she’s slowly transforming into an organic, sustainable growing operation.

But her path to becoming a flower farmer, and earning Certified American Grown status, is decidedly indirect.

She grew up on a farm in Kansas where her family grew corn, wheat, milo and soybeans. She went to college in Oklahoma and graduated with a degree in interior design. But instead of designing rooms, she went to work as a technician in a civil engineering firm. She put her drafting skills to work in designing infrastructure – water lines, sewer lines, parking lots.

But despite working for a company she liked and with “fantastic” colleagues, she knew she wanted to be outdoors. The turning point came in 2017 when she attended a floral workshop in the Mount Vernon area of Washington. It was there that she found what she was looking for. She was with flower people from all over the United States and enjoyed hearing their stories. Everything about it was a good fit.

Photos provided by Wild Lark Farm.

“This is what I want to feel. This is perfect,” she recalls thinking at the time. “There was really nothing like that in Oklahoma. So when I came back here I just decided to give a go.”

As a daughter of farmers, she knew what she was getting into.

 

 

“I didn’t go and start this farm with the idea that this is going to be amazing and I’ll be dancing in flowers every day,” she said. “I knew it was going to be hard work. It’s hot and humid and when it rains, it rains too much or it doesn’t rain enough. So, I knew going in that this is hard.”

But it’s where she’s found fulfillment.

“Last year was the first year I really increased what I was growing and really put myself out there. I just wanted to gauge how much interest people had, if they were receptive or if they thought it was just the craziest idea that they’d ever heard. But people have loved it. That’s been really positive.”

 

She got her first customer by walking into a new florist shop in Claremore with some of her flowers in a bucket.

“I said, ‘These flowers are just for you to use. If you like them, great.’ And I gave them my card. They loved them and they posted them on Instagram.”

The response was almost immediate. Three florists in Tulsa who saw the Instagram post reached out to her to ask if she sold to other people. Her response: “Yeah, sure.”

 

 

Those florists have given her a foot in the door and something to build on. In the meantime, she’s building an organic, sustainable operation.

Although she could draw on her farming background, she knew she couldn’t farm like her parents. Practices had evolved and she was adamant about it being organic.

“For one, I have kids and I don’t want all the chemicals and the pesticides out there. I want people to be able to walk out there and be able to touch and can smell everything. So they know what they’re getting is the real deal.

“And since I’ve worked so hard to get my soil in good condition, I want to make sure that it’s sustainable.”

In addition, she feels an obligation to Oklahoma tradition to leave the land better than she found it.

 

“One of the slogans in Oklahoma is ‘Keep the land grand,’” she said. “People are really conscious that we humans aren’t here forever. You want to keep the land nice, you want to keep it sustainable for people who come after you. A lot of people here have that mindset of make it better than you found it. So, that’s what I try to do.”

Three to five years down the road, she would like to have a farm she can share with the public.

“What I would really love to do once I get things established is to open it up and make it accessible to people. Not necessarily a you-pick thing, but just so people can come out and physically enjoy it, to see how it works and see where flowers come from.”

She follows other farms on Facebook and Instagram and sees that many of them keep their operations closed to the public.

“I get that it’s hard to do what you have to do and have people around. At the same, I want to be able to share as much as I can. I don’t want my farm to be closed off. There’s so much out there, there’s so much beauty, that I just want to share as much as I can.”

 

 

Mellano & Company Achieves BloomCheck Certification

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.”

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

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.”

Meet Red Twig Farms

Varieties, events are ever-expanding on this flower farm

At Red Twig Farms in New Albany, Ohio, old-fashioned farming has met the Instagram age.

But it didn’t start out that way at this Certified American Grown flower farm. In 2010, the McCullough family opened the farm as a place to grow willow and dogwood branches for the family’s landscaping business. But that was a one-season crop and there was unused acreage.

Josh andLindsey McCullough have grown Red Twig Farms using the modern tools of social media. Photo by Bob Stefko.

The next year, the family added peonies, which were a hot commodity at that time. When the peonies were mature in 2014, the family sold to florists and wholesalers as well as at local farmers markets. But the peonies didn’t fare well at farmers markets where the warm temperatures caused them to open up and rendered any leftover inventory unsellable.

That’s when the family decided to create a farm store on its property and try to get people to come to the peonies rather than taking peonies to the people. That way, the flowers could be kept in a controlled environment at optimal temperatures.

The missing part of the equation was how to get people to the farm. That’s where social media came in. And it was the second generation of the McCullough family running the farm – son Josh and his wife Lindsey – who spearheaded the push. Lindsey handles the farm’s marketing while Josh attends to the growing operation.

The farm kicked off the opening of its farm store in 2016 with an event to mark the opening of peony season. Lindsey, who has a degree in marketing and e-commerce, took to Facebook to promote the event. That first year, 168 people came out.

“We just kept marketing it through social media,” Lindsey said. “Josh did a couple articles locally and Midwest Living (magazine) found us through Instagram and they wanted to be a part of it. In 2017, that season opener we had more than 1,400 adults come through. And it all came through social media.”

The event has continued to grow. More than 2,000 people attended in 2018.

“We’ve started advertising for what we’re calling Peony Fest 2019 for the opening day and we’re nearing 14,000 people interested,” she said. “We’re obviously going to have to make it a couple-day event.”

The season opener was just the first of the farm’s successes that got an assist through social media.

In March, the farm started a subscription service where people could sign up for weekly deliveries of peonies during the season for two to five weeks. The goal, Lindsey said, was to get flowers to customers in nearby Columbus who had expressed via Facebook messages that they wanted peonies but didn’t have time to get to the farm. The service started with a goal of 50 customers; the farm had to stop taking new customers after 94 people signed up.

The farm’s VIP Peony Harvest Experience has also been a hit. The event, limited to 40 people, takes participants into the fields that are usually closed to the public, and Josh explains the ins and outs of growing peonies. Those on the tour are then allowed to harvest two dozen peonies themselves. The first year the event sold out in two hours.

“They do everything we do and they have a blast doing it,” Lindsey said.

Social media also has played in recruiting workers. When the farm needed staff for its farm store, the word when out via Facebook. It was customers who responded and were ultimately hired. For Lindsey, who better to sell the farm’s product than happy customers.

As much as modern marketing methods have played a role in its success, one of the farm’s goals is to remind people of the natural rhythms of agricultural life.

Red Twig Farm posted a great example of their pride in the program on their Instagram page.

“We just want to keep educating everybody and bring back some farming that people might have forgotten or are just so busy doing social media that you forget what it’s like to be out there,” Lindsey said. “We want to show people the other side of cut flowers. Yes, it’s the pretty pictures on Instagram but there’s also a lot of hard work that goes into it and long hours. There’s trial and error in everything you do. Just because it works this year doesn’t mean it’s going to grow next year. We want to showcase that, the real side to it.”

The farm, which has grown from harvesting 8,000 peonies in 2015 to 30,000 in 2018, aims to continue expanding its offerings. The goal is to build up the subscription service with new flowers, which would allow the service to operate in March and April in addition to the peony season in June. Daffodils, tulips and ranunculus are among the possibilities. Flowers will be planted this fall for early spring harvest.

“There’s a whole list of flowers that we’re looking at and saying to ourselves, ‘Can we do this?’” she said.

Of course they will! We can’t wait to see what Red Twig Farm will do next.

 

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers Earns Prestigious Marketer of the Year Award

Certified farm Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers received this year’s “Marketer of the Year” award from the Society of American Florists’ Floral Management magazine.

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers, a Certified American Grown Farm, has earned the 2018 Marketer of the Year Award from the Society of American Florists’ (SAF) Floral Management magazine for its successful efforts to bring protea to the national stage.

Flower farmer Mel Resendiz and Diana Roy, business manager for Resendiz Brothers and a past chair of the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC), accepted the award Sept. 14 at the SAF Annual Convention in Palm Springs, California.

The Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers team with Dwight Larimer of Design Master, the sponsor of the $5,000 prize money.

The prestigious award recognizes a unique, innovative and successful marketing effort that increased the overall sales volume of cut flowers. The award includes a $5,000 cash prize.

In presenting the award, Floral Management’s Editor in Chief Mary Westbrook noted that Resendiz Brothers’ myriad marketing efforts put protea on the national scene, creating real, growing demand for a product that was previously virtually unknown in the U.S.

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers will be featured on the front cover of Floral Management magazine.

How?

Resendiz and Roy took advantage of every marketing opportunity they could find, including hosting an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on their Fallbrook, California farm, participating in SAF’s Petal It Forward campaign, bringing protea to the floral designs at the annual First Lady’s Luncheon and donating protea to Rose Parade Floats.

They also used their passion, flower knowledge and thousands of incredible photos to share protea with wholesalers, designers and consumers garnering media coverage with an estimated value of $1.7 million.

 

Every effort, big and small, was designed to increase consumer awareness, influence floral trends and drive sales of the previously anonymous protea.

In accepting the award, Roy thanked Resendiz Brothers customers who have made protea part of their daily inventory as well as floral designers who are incorporating protea into their arrangements. She also announced that Resendiz Brothers is collaborating with farmers from around the world to bring new protea varieties to the U.S. market.

Mel Resendiz welcomes guests to his farm during the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in April.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

“So many of our marketing efforts are about the education process and making sure that people know these flowers are grown right here in California. We’re proud that many of our marketing tactics were tied to supporting the homegrown flowers message,” Roy said. “I see winning this award as a boost for California flower farmers and for floral designers who are meeting the requests of consumers who are now seeking out protea.”

Mel Resendiz with Harry VanWingerden of Myriad Flowers on the Miracle Gro float during the 2016 Rose Parade.

As the Marketer of the Year Award winner, Resendiz Brothers’ efforts to promote protea will be the cover story for the October 2018 issue of Floral Management.

Previous winners of the award, now in its 25th year, include the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner, an app that drives customer loyalty and engagement, a re-imagined florist’s business in Pennsylvania and a campaign by Lane DeVries of Sun Valley Floral Farms to engage and encourage the floral industry to celebrate Women’s Day.

WF&FSA Institute Attendees Visit Certified American Grown Farms

Participants in the Wholesale Florist & Florist Supplier Association’s (WF&FSA) Management Institute recently made stops at two Certified American Grown flower farms – Kendall Farms in Fallbrook, California and Mellano & Company’s farm at San Luis Rey. The stops were part of the institute’s third annual “road trip.”

At the San Luis Rey farm, institute participants (aka young and aspiring wholesale executives) were given a 90-minute walking tour by farmer Mike A. Mellano.

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

At Kendall Farms, guests were treated to a bus tour of the farm and a walking tour of the warehouse with farmer Jason Kendall. Conversations continued during a networking happy hour and a farm dinner served on wood tables and chairs made on-site in the Kendall Farms workshop. Each attendee left with a complimentary Kendall Farm grocery tote and farm poster.

“We love to build relationships with the industry the old-school way – sitting down and breaking bread,” shares Kendall Farms sales director Cathy McClintock.

Photo courtesy of Kendall Farms

WF&FSA board member Alan Tanouye, general manager of Americas at Floralife and a past president of WF&FSA, says that those who participate in the institute benefit greatly from seeing how others in the floral industry run their businesses. “It gets people jazzed to see how varied the floral industry is, how hard people work and how much passion they have,” Tanouye shared.

He noted that participants were impressed by the scale of the Mellano farm, the quality of the flowers and what they’re doing with water issues. “The Mellano team speaks so well about what they are doing and experiencing,” Tanouye says.

And he called Kendall Farms one of the most beautiful places in the world! “Everyone said we should be paying more for Kendall’s product. When you see how hard they work on those slopes to plant and harvest and care for the products, it’s really impressive – you can just see the passion there.”

It’s Here! Our Most Important Publication of the Year!

Welcome To the 2018 American Grown Farm & Flower Guide

It feels like Christmas morning here at Certified American Grown!

Why? We just received the 2018 American Grown Farm & Flower Guide, perhaps our most important publication of the year.

Our largest and most beautiful edition yet! You’ll want to make sure to get a copy for yourself.

The guide features profiles of America’s flower farms, a floral arrangement gallery, an illustrated glossary of ALL American Grown Flowers and a national directory of hundreds of flower farms from throughout the United States. It’s chock-full of flower photos, examples, descriptions and stories from America’s flower-farming families.

This resource is a must-have for wholesalers, florists and flower-lovers everywhere – and it’s never been more vibrant and informative.

Subscribers to Florists Review and SuperFloral magazines will receive the guide with their September issue, but if you just can’t wait or would like one now, just let us know! (Special thanks to our friends at Florists Review for helping us produce this beautiful guide!)

Email our very own Andrea Philpot at andrea@americangrownflowers.org to get one headed your way!

Breathtaking doesn’t begin to describe it …

Flower Farmer Beth Van Sandt Discusses the Doors That Opened Post-Dinner Tour

 

Beth Van Sandt of Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska, was in on the ground floor of the Certified American Grown Flowers movement. As Van Sandt puts it, she saw the value of the certification early on and knew there would be benefits from American flower farmers coming together under a single brand.

Beth Van Sandt and her husband, Kurt Weichhand on their peony farm in Homer, Alaska.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

In fact, Scenic Place was the first farm in Alaska to become Certified American Grown.

Left to Right; Jerry Hagstrom of the Hagstrom Report, Tim Dewey of Delaware Valley Wholesale, first lady Melania Trump, Kasey Cronquist, administrator for Certified American Grown, Beth Van Sandt of Scenic Place Peonies and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies.

But that was just the starting point for Van Sandt who has since leveraged nearly every aspect of the brand, including attending the First Lady’s Luncheon in Washington, D.C., that features all American Grown Flowers and hosting an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on her farm in 2017.

The tables were filled with flower-loving guests at the Scenic Place Peonies Field to Vase Dinner.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

And oh the connections and opportunities that came from that dinner!

“The exposure the Field to Vase Dinner gave our farm made us recognizable and gave us a seat at the table industrywide. People know who we are now,” Van Sandt explains. “Wholesalers who may not have looked at us in the past see us as a reputable farm today.”

 

While volunteering for the the First Lady’s Luncheon in 2017, VanSandt met floral designer Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore. The two hit it off, and later Shore agreed to be the designer for Field to Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies. “Sitting at the table and meeting the designers, that was a great opportunity and it helped us promote the dinner tour at the farm,” Van Sandt recalls.

(Photo: Beth Van Sandt and Kelly Shore, of Petals by the Shore, designing arrangements for the First Lady’s Luncheon)

 

And when the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour came to Homer, the real fun (and exposure) began!

Florists Review did a feature on the dinner and included lots of images from the farm.

While in Alaska, Shore did a photo shoot featuring Van Sandt’s peonies for the Slow Flowers section of Florists Review, helping to further the exposure of Alaskan peonies for the industry to see.

And, last but not least, thanks to an introduction to Cal Poly Pomona Plant Sciences Department Chair Valerie Mellano, wife of Mellano & Company’s Mike Mellano (both who attended the dinner at Scenic Place Peonies), Van Sandt was able to start an internship program with four Cal Poly students.

Cal Poly students are spending their summer interning at Scenic Place Peonies learning about flower farming as a result of the connections made during the Field to Vase Dinner at Beth’s farm.

But how does Van Sandt know hosting the dinner tour stop was worth it?

“My phone blows up continuously with requests and my email inbox is always full. That’s proof that it worked. And it correlates with more cuts and more shipments out the door,” Van Sandt says.

Since hosting the dinner last summer, Van Sandt has continued her efforts to raise the profile of her Certified American Grown peonies, including having her Certified American Grown-branded truck in the Homer Fourth of July parade, along with Cal Poly interns wearing flower crowns!

And she shares the unique benefits and opportunities that come from connection to the brand with all who will listen.

During American Grown Flowers Month, You Can’t Miss Alaskan Peonies

There’s nothing like a field of peonies to positively impact your mood.  Even their names can brighten your day: Sequestered Sunshine, Blaze, Festiva Maxima.

Photo: Alaska Peony Cooperative

The peony’s beauty is certainly at the root of its popularity status with flower fans and brides. Available in every color but blue, the flower is popular in bridal bouquets (they are seen as a symbol of good luck) and are the superstars in summer arrangements and in bunches to bring home.

Photo: Jacqueline Patton Photo

Alaskan peonies just happen to be in all their glory in July – which is also American Grown Flowers Month! So we’re celebrating these gems, along with the thousands of other varieties grown right here in the U.S.

Photo: Arctic Alaska Peony

Here’s what you need to know about American-Grown peonies:

Alaska’s warm summers and perpetual daylight are the fuel peonies need to grow larger, bloom more vibrantly and enjoy a growing season that’s three weeks longer than in other locations. But it’s the state’s famous cold winters that are the secret ingredient: herbaceous peonies need a minimum of 400 hours of temperatures below 40 degrees and tree peonies need between 100 and 300 hours in that colder ground in order to flower.

Photo: Alaska Perfect Peony

The Alaska Peony Cooperative, formed in 2015 to help support the state’s burgeoning flower industry, has grown from a handful of farms with fewer than 1,000 stems to nearly a dozen growers expecting to sell a total of 40,000 stems this year.

“The secret is out: Our peonies are fantastic,” explains farmer Martha Lojewski.

Scenic Place Peonies’ delivery truck sports a new truck wrap showcasing the beauty of these stunning blooms, while proudly waving the flag for Certified American Grown.

Certified American Grown peony farms include Alaska Peony Cooperative, Alaska Perfect Peony, Arctic Alaska Peonies Co-op, Boreal Peonies, Cool Cache Farms, Giggly Roots Gardens, Joslyn Peonies, Scenic Place Peonies and Slimtree Farm.

Look for Certified American Grown peonies throughout American Grown Flowers Month in July and into August. You’ll be glad you did!

 

 

American Flower Farmers, Designer Head to China on Trade Mission

Christy Hulsey of the Colonial House of Flowers will join Certified American Grown for a trade mission in China.

 

A delegation of American flower farmers, accompanied by Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist and renowned floral designer Christy Hulsey of Colonial House of Flowers, is headed to China on a trade mission focused on market development activities.

 

 

During the trip, the group will meet with targeted importers, wholesalers and retailers in Beijing, Shanghai and Kunming to establish contacts and present business information. They will also tour the largest Chinese cut flower growing region in Yunnan Province to gain an understanding of production, its market structure and distribution network.

Last year, a delegation from Certified American Grown met with industry representatives in China.

 

The delegation headed to China this year includes:

  • Kasey Cronquist, Certified American Grown
  • Lane DeVries, Sun Valley Floral Group
  • Christy Hulsey, Colonial House of Flowers
  • Robert Kitayama, Kitayama Brothers
  • Cathy McClintock, Kendall Farms
  • Jim Omoto, Kendall Farms
  • Mel Resendiz, Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers
  • Diana Roy, Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers
  • FJ Trzuskowski, Continental Floral Greens

The trip is a result of months of work by Certified American Grown to secure federal grant funds through the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to develop export markets for American Grown Flowers.

In 2017, Certified American Grown conducted a comprehensive assessment in China to determine the Chinese market potential for increased sales of American Grown Flowers and greens. A five-member team of U.S.-based experts traveled to China to assess the market. As a result, several U.S. flower farmers began shipping to China.

Standing in front of the floral American flag she designed, Christy Hulsey declares her pride in American Grown Flowers.

As part of this trip, designer Hulsey, a longtime friend of Certified American Grown and last year’s Mayesh Design Star. Hulsey was responsible for creating the beautiful all-American Grown American flag installation at WFFSA in 2016 and served as a lead designer for Certified American Grown at the First Lady’s Luncheon in 2017. She will be bringing her design prowess to events being held with flower buyers in Beijing and Shanghai.

As a lead designer for the event, Christy Hulsey brought her talents and love of American Grown Flowers to the First Lady’s Luncheon in 2017.