American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour Stops At SAF!

400 Experience the Award-Winning Dinner Tour

Over 400 Society of American Florists convention attendees got to experience an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner firsthand during SAF Palm Springs 2018 last month.

A beautiful evening in Palm Springs for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at this year’s SAF Convention.

SAF and Certified American Grown worked together closely to replicate the experience of the dinner series, which normally takes place on an American flower farm.

SAF’s design team lead by Brian Vetter (center) did an outstanding job designing an all American Grown tablescape for the dinner during the convention.

Despite the unique location and the large number of dinner guests, the tour’s signature touches were on full display, including tables adorned with American Grown Flowers, the opportunity to meet with farmers, a multi-course artisan meal, a DIY boutonniere bar and swag bags packed with flower-related goodies.

Over 400 guests attended the dinner on Friday evening in Palm Springs.

Thanks to an amazing turnout, dinner guests were able to chat with 20 farm ambassadors before, during and after the dinner, learning more about flowers, growing practices and issues related to sustainability — all info they were able to take home and share with customers and staff.

Bruce Brady of Mellano & Company welcomed guests and lead the invocation.

 

Syndicate Sales has been a national sponsor of the dinner tour since its inception four years ago, providing all of the vases used by the tour’s designers.

 

As a national sponsor, Ball Horticulture has helped the tour host thousands of people across the country during our pre-dinner receptions.

 

As a national sponsor, Smithers-Oasis has helped the Field to Vase Dinner Tour make the self-serve boutonnière bar one of the most popular experience of our events.

Star Valley Flowers Draws A Record-Breaking Crowd

Nashville is Last Stop on 2018 Tour!

 

 

Certified American Grown hosted a record-breaking crowd during the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Star Valley Flowers in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin on September 8.

A beautiful evening awaited guests at Star Valley Flowers in Wisconsin.

A beautiful tablescape designed by Erick New and Greg Campbell of the Garden District dazzled the 200 guests attending the dinner at Star Valley Flowers.

Originally set for 150, the table grew to 175 and then to 200, breaking the previous record of 183 in Detroit in 2015.

“It really isn’t about the number of people,” explained Kasey Cronquist, Certified American Grown Administrator and emcee of the award-winning national dinner tour. “We really focus on our guest experience and have always wanted to keep the experience intimate, but we had a lot of demand and a willing farmer embraced the idea of  ‘the more the merrier.’ So, it just kept growing and it all turned out beautifully.”

One guest commented, “even though there were 200 guests, it felt intimate. The setting could not have been lovelier and the weather was perfect.”

Of course, the floral-focused evening wouldn’t have been as magical without the incredible talent of Greg Campbell and Erick New of The Garden District. The dynamic duo created one of the most dramatic tablescapes we’ve ever seen, complete with beautiful pussy willow arches that covered the table and accented by the bittersweet berries that Star Valley Flowers is known for. Stunning fall-colored arrangements flowed down the entire length of the table.

Erick New (left) and Greg Campbell of the Garden District in Memphis, TN were responsible for the floral tablescape and install for the evening.

The team at Driftless Cafe, lead by Chef Luke, did an outstanding job with the menu for the evening. And the response from attendees was outstanding, with praise for every single course. The main course was organic beef tenderloin provided by Organic Valley, one of the evening’s sponsors, and headquartered just down the road from Star Valley Flowers. The menu was paired beautifully with the wine provided by Geyser Peak.

Chef Luke from the Driftless Cafe.

It was a beautiful evening on the farm. The weather held and the sunset was picturesque. Diners were able to meet an American flower farmer, hear from the floral designers about their aesthetic and what makes designing with homegrown flowers special and converse with other flower lovers throughout a multiple-course meal.

Flower farmer John Zeher speaks to dinner guests prior to giving an hour long farm tour.

Guest Laura M. shared, “The evening was so beautiful. I loved the chance to walk around the farm and hear some comments from John and Phil. We were so glad John allowed a few more people into the dinner. The lovely women I sat across from gave me a hug at the end of our evening. We sat down with strangers and left as friends.”

Guests left happy, arms full of flowers and enjoying the ever popular Field to Vase Dinner swag bag. It was a perfect early fall evening where 200 strangers became friends and the love of flowers sealed the deal.

A beautiful long table was set for a record breaking 200 people.

Planning for 2019’s tour is underway. If you’d like to have your farm considered for the 2019 tour, please fill out the online application found here: http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07efnf3qeqjle3mv0a/start

Celebrity Chef Deb Paquette Collaborates with Chef Richard Jones During Nashville Field to Vase Dinner

Move over, Grand Ole Opry House and The Bluebird Cafe. These icons certainly draw in country music fans of all ages, but Deb Paquette of Etc. and Etch is the reigning rock star of Nashville eats. She’s also the first woman in Tennessee to qualify as a certified executive chef  – which makes our announcement that she’ll be the chef at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Nashville on October 5 even more exciting!

Known for her bold flavors, Paquette is now introducing a swanky vibe into her 30-year culinary career in the country music capital.

“They’re right! I grew up in a creative family and was encouraged to express myself,” she told local reviewers. “I was allowed to paint the walls in my room how I wanted and to paint a scene in our bathroom of a kid flying a kite and a big tree. When you’re a creative person, you have to give yourself the opportunity to express yourself.”

Which is why everything that comes from Paquette’s kitchen – from tacos and burgers to banana soup, filet mignon with horseradish celery creamed potatoes and peach upside-down cake – is an exciting and playful experience.

Chef Richard Jones of Green Door Gourmet will collaborate with Chef Deb Paquette on the menu for our October 5 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner event in Nashville, TN.

Chef Paquette will be collaborating with Green Door Gourmet’s own Chef Richard Jones. Chef Jones joined the team at Green Door Gourmet in 2012 to help educate consumers on the value of community supported agriculture (CSA’s). Prior to Green Door, Chef Jones served as a personal chef for musical artists including Sugarland, the Zac Brown Band, U2 and Keith Urban. You can learn more about Chef Jones and his efforts to “change the face of true farm-to-fork dining,” here.

Together, the talented duo will be developing the multi-course menu for our guests to enjoy on the farm.

 

Imagine enjoying a beautiful and delicious menu surrounded by the vibrant beauty of American Grown Flowers.  Our Nashville dinner brings together the best of both at Green Door Gourmet.

This is a combination of culinary talent you do not want to miss. Few tickets remain, so be sure to book your seats for this special tour stop.

 

We’re Returning to Alaska in 2019!

Save Your Seat for Dinner at Joslyn Peonies in Homer

The 2017 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Homer, Alaska was one for the memory books. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce (well in advance, because we can’t contain our excitement)  that we’ll be returning to Alaska in 2019!

Imagine yourself dining on a peony farm in Alaska.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour will head to Joslyn Peonies in Homer on Saturday August 3, 2019. There guests will dine in a park-like setting on this 24-acre farm that features a 3-acre lawn, incredible views of Kachemak Bay, the entrance to the Cook Inlet and the awe-inspiring views of Alaska’s majestic Kenai mountain range; all from your seat on the grass!

Homer, Alaska is home to a number of beautiful peony farms. Guests will enjoy a tour of Josyln Peony Farm and the opportunity to tour a number of others during an elective excursion the following day. Stay tuned for more on that!  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

Flower farmer Betty Joslyn grows 16 varieties of peonies in white, blush, pink and red – but mostly white for their ethereal quality and appeal to brides.

An incredible view awaits our guests at Joslyn Peonies. Photo by Linda Smogor Photography

 

Our American Grown Field To Vase Dinner brings focus to the beautiful peonies growing in Alaska. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

The farm includes two barns, his and hers, each with unique features that make the farm perfect for events.

You never know who might show up to a peony party in Alaska.

Betty can’t wait to share the farm and it’s 6,000 peony plants with American Grown Field to Vase Dinner guests. In fact, she’s already envisioning it and making plans.

Picture yourself surrounded by peonies – literally!  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

By announcing this 2019 tour date now, we’re giving everyone plenty of time to make travel plans and turn the trip into a full-on Alaskan adventure! In fact, with our previous experience, we’ll be helping you organize additional farm tours, fishing trips and helping to recommend accommodations during your stay.

If you’d like learn more about these additional opportunities and excursions as they develop, sign up here.

We want you to kick up your heels for a relaxing dinner on the flower farm.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

First things first though, before you do anything else, you’ll want to save your seats.

Granted, you have a year’s time to buy plane tickets, reserve accommodations and plan exciting excursions, but you do not want to check back here and find the seats have all been sold.

So, save your seat today and join us in planning for a trip you’ll never forget.

A bucket list experience, bring your friends for this unique Alaska adventure you’ll never forget. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography

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.

Kelly Perry to Lead Design at Nashville Tour Stop

Renowned Designer is Known for Her Entrepreneurial Spirit

Kelly Perry of Team Flower and Philosophy Flowers will bring her creative energy and breathtaking designs to the tablescapes at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 5.

Kelly Perry brings her passion for celebrating the moments of life with the beauty of flowers to the Field to Vase Dinner Tour on October 5, 2018. Photo by Heather Payne Photography.

Perry, who as a sixth grader convinced classmates to create silk flower corsages for a friendship banquet and then started a cake-decorating business in seventh grade, has built an incredible following of flower-lovers throughout the floral industry and beyond.

Perry will invite guests to take in the beauty of American Grown Flowers during our Nashville Field to Vase Dinner at Green Door Gourmet with stunning tablescapes like this one.
Photo by Heather Payne Photography.

Her passion and entrepreneurial spirit are mesmerizing.

At Team Flower, a global flower community that provides professional learning about floral design and growing flowers, Perry heads up all content development and classes.

Photo by Heather Payne Photography.

Perry also operates Philosophy Flowers in North Carolina, a boutique floral design business that specializes in weddings.

Her work has been featured with Southern Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings and nearly 60 other publications.

Perry is a believer in the transformative power of small exquisite moments. Once I really started noticing the beautiful little things, like poppies blooming along the side of the road, a life shift began to happen,” she told Flower magazine.

 

 

“For me, flowers are all about celebrating the present moment. That’s why I love working with American Grown Flowers, especially ones grown close to home. Seasonality is important to me. Designing with these types of ingredients connects us to the moment, something that’s easy to breeze through in our busy world. I’m looking forward to creating for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in partnership with American farmers and my Team Flower friends. May it be an invitation for us all to slow down, settle in and celebrate the day, ” Perry shares.

You don’t want to miss this opportunity to connect with one of the floral industry’s most vivacious and inventive designers and teachers!

 

Dinner Guests Get a Hands-On Flower Experience

F2V Boutonnière Bar is a Guest Favorite!

At every American Grown Field to Vase Dinner, guests are invited to visit a boutonnière bar where they can design a custom floral “wearable” with flowers from the farm they’re visiting.

Beautiful blooms at the boutonnière bar await guests of the Sacramento Field to Vase Dinner. Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

This hands-on experience is one of the most popular aspects of the event!

Making their own boutonnière gives guests a chance to be creative and they absolutely love it.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

Guests love learning how to create a boutonnière (or corsage), adding in their own personal style and then getting to wear the floral swag they create for the rest of the event.

Smithers Oasis/Floralife is the celebrated sponsor of this guest favorite.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

At each stop, the available flowers and foliage at the bout bar, kindly sponsored by Smithers-Oasis/Floralife, change, reflecting the blossoms and greens grown at the farm we’re visiting.

Guests have designed with Florida ferns, California protea and Alaskan peonies, to name a few. And when they don they’re creations, we’ve noticed they have a bit more spring in their step or swag in their swagger.

Plus they’ve learned a new skill they can use again and again for other special events – always using Certified American Grown Flowers, of course.

Just one more way guests, and our amazing sponsors like Smithers-Oasis, are getting involved in this amazing dinner tour that’s crisscrossing the country!

 

We’re headed to Star Valley Flowers in Soldier’s Grove, Wisconsin, on Sept. 8.

You don’t want to miss this next stop!

 

First-Ever Book Signing at our Soldiers Grove Dinner!

Get Your Signed Edition of Florists to the Field

Guests at the Sept. 8 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Star Valley Flowers in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin, will be part of a first-ever book signing on our dinner tour. They’ll be able to purchase a signed edition of the spectacular new book Florists to the Field from floral designers Greg Campbell and Erick New, also our designers for the dinner.

The book takes readers on a floral excursion from the Deep South to the West Coast, through the Midwest and across the ocean to Holland, sharing the flower fields where Campbell and New find inspiration.

Plus you’ll get a glimpse into what drives these designers’ avant-garde aesthetic and their knack for large-scale installations.

You can see that aesthetic in person when Campbell and New, also owners of Garden District in Memphis, Tennessee, bring their over-the-top design skills to this stop on the dinner tour.

At Garden District, Campbell and New have created a business based on floral abundance and artistry. The shop provides seasonal flowers, unique gifts and home accents, and their floral installations weave flowers and greenery into breathtaking textural structures.

Their showroom in the heart of Memphis is a soaring showcase of the latest in flowers, containers and antiques.

To meet Campbell and New, and purchase a signed copy of the book, save your seat at the Sept. 8 dinner and add the book purchase at checkout.

Chef for Dinner Tour Stop in Sacramento Named

Meet Executive Chef Dan Watterson

With the third stop on the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour fast approaching, we’re excited to announce the chef for our June 13 stop in Sacramento!

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Meet Dan Watterson, executive chef for Statehouse at the Capitol.

Chef Dan Watterson is creating a delicious menu that will delight the guests of our Sacramento Field to Vase Dinner.

Watterson leads a top-notch culinary team at Statehouse, a brand that includes Statehouse Eatery, Statehouse Café, Statehouse Coffee and Statehouse Catering.

 

 

 

 

He has over 15 years of culinary experience and recently relocated from Washington, D.C., where he was the chef de cuisine for Stephen Starr’s famed French bistro Le Diplomate. Prior to joining Le Diplomate, he was an executive chef for Matchbox Food Group. His resume also includes positions at Hamptons Restaurant in South Carolina and The Ashby Inn in Virginia.

Watterson is planning a multi-course farm-to-table meal that will be paired with Geyser Peak’s amazing wines.

Join the table! You will delight in a delectable meal prepared by Chef Dan Watterson while surrounded by the beauty of American Grown Flowers. Photo by Taken by Sarah Photography

With the announcement of the chef and floral designer Liezet Arnold of Bloem Décor in place, tickets for the Sacramento dinner are going fast!

 

Add a Capitol Tour to Your F2V Experience

At each American Grown Field to Vase Dinner, we love to offer guests the chance to tour a flower farm and chat with a real farmer about the blooms and greenery grown on the farm, sustainability efforts and overall operation.

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When the dinner tour comes to the gardens of California’s Capitol on June 13, we’ll offer a similar – but oh so unique – experience!

A view of the Capitol from the surrounding gardens.
Photo courtesy of The Sacramento Bee.

Guests can sign up for a special tour of the Capitol grounds and building with George Soares, an ag expert and partner in Kahn, Soares and Conway. Soares is a tour guide extraordinaire and plans to show guests all sorts of special locations and artwork as he shares about the Capitol’s history and the ag issues won and lost there.

California’s State Capitol Park, featuring the World Peace Rose Garden. Photo courtesy of worldpeacerosegardens.com.

Join Soares to learn about some of the statues on the grounds, see the site where Queen Elizabeth arrived, where President Gerald Ford was nearly assassinated and where a semi-truck drove into the Capitol building a few years back.

Inside the Capitol, you’ll get a glimpse of a statue of President Ronald Reagan that now resides in the basement, the entrance to the governor’s office – complete with a giant bear Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger found while on a ski trip – and portraits of the last seven California governors.

Guests will also see the beautiful Capitol Rotunda from inside.
Photo courtesy of CapitolWeekly.net.

Along the way, Soares will get you caught up on quite a bit of history, share insider stories and fill you in on ag decisions made in these hallowed halls.

And if the stars align, guests will also get a glimpse of the Assembly and Senate floors or galleries.

State legislators were greeted by bouquets of fresh California Grown Flowers in the Senate Chamber on the day they voted to declare June is CA Grown Flowers Month.

This tour is unprecedented in scope and uniqueness.  Sign up for the tour when you purchase your ticket to dine on the Capitol lawn.