Grace Gardens of Birmingham, Alabama, is the winner of a free Certified American Grown Flowers certification as part of the recent relaunch of the brand and the announcement of new third-party certification partner Where Food Comes From (WFCF).
With the win, Grace Gardens’ farmer florist Kelly Wood becomes the first Certified American Grown flower farm in Alabama.
Wood operates a 3-acre flower farm on a series of non-contiguous lots in a wooded Birmingham neighborhood. One lot is also home to her design studio where she creates using the seasonal flowers she grows.
Her season starts in March with forced branches and early bulbs and runs through fall. Throughout the year, she grows lilies, sweet pea, larkspur and even peonies, along with heirloom roses from 150 bushes.
As a floral designer, she creates for weddings, holidays, personal deliveries and community events.
Wood said earning the certification lends legitimacy and respect to her local, sustainably grown approach. As the only flower grower in Alabama since her start in 2012, Wood says the certification will help her spread the word about the importance of locally sourced flowers to wholesalers, customers and the three new flower farms that got a start this year in the state.
“I want us to have a really strong local source of flowers. It’s common other places in the country, but if you go to a grocery store here and the flowers are marked ‘local,’ it’s a 400-mile radius around Alabama. This year has really been about getting everyone on the same page and getting wholesalers to realize there are farmers here and to look to us before ordering,” Wood said.
Other farms that entered the contest to win certification also pointed to “credibility,” “legitimacy” and “honor” that American Grown Certification conveys.
As one entrant put it: “Being certified will help brand my flowers and offer a degree of quality that will qualify the origin of my farm. I am proud to provide American Grown Flowers. It would be a privilege to have Certified American Grown and their qualifications to add to my farm.”
Certified American Grown is the largest consumer-facing brand in the floral industry communicating the importance of origin and buying American Grown Flowers. With WFCF in place, Certified American Grown has created a new online audit processing system that streamlines the procedure for farms seeking to earn this valuable certification for marketing and increasing sales.