Here We Go! Check Out the Line Up of Farms For the 2019 Certified American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour

6 Breathtaking Destinations Announced!

The fifth season of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour has just been announced, and we want you check out the destinations, grab all of your flower-loving friends and join us on a flower farm for an award-winning experience you’ll never forget.

We couldn’t be more excited about the lineup of farms involved with this year’s floral-infused dinner tour. Known for stopping at America’s most beautiful flower farms, this year’s tour features amazing locations, including a peony farm in Alaska and a return visit to one of our most popular stops!

So grab your calendar and check out these destinations!

You ‘ll be surrounded by flowers with a view of the Pacific Ocean during our dinner at The Flower Fields of Carlsbad. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

We’re thrilled to be starting the 2019 tour at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California, on April 18. The American Grown Field To Vase Dinner Tour returns to this postcard of an experience each year. Guests at this dinner get exclusive access and enjoy dining among acres and acres of colorful ranunculus while looking out over the Pacific Ocean. This is a very popular tour stop that sells out faster and faster each year.

Click here to save your seats The Flower Fields!

We want to see your name on the guest list during this year’s tour. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Next, we’ll head to Bloomia USA in King George, Virginia, on June 1, where guests will dine in a greenhouse bursting with tulips and hear about the flower-growing process for these flowers that so many name as their favorite bloom.

Click here to save your seat to Bloomia!

Grab your friends and find yourself at one of our tables during this year’s tour. Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

On June 12, the tour heads back to California for a unique stop smack dab in the middle of a city This pop-up dinner destination will not only “pop up” a meal experience on the lawn of California’s State Capitol, we’ll be popping up a flower farm experience in the shadow of the Capitol building! We’ll be working with our farms to bring our American Grown Flowers story to the steps of California’s Capitol building, sharing our collective stories, the flowers we grow and the value our American flower farms bring to their communities and the economy. This dinner will bring flower farmers together with lawmakers to highlight just how important the consumer movement toward American Grown Flowers really is.

Click here to save your seats at the Capitol.

Picture you and that special someone on that Alaskan floral adventure you’ve been dreaming about. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

On Aug. 3, we head to Alaska! We couldn’t be more excited to return to Homer, this time for a stop at Joselyn Peonies, where guests will dine in a field of blooming peonies on a farm with views of Kachemak Bay. This destination also includes additional excursions such as fishing trips and a multi-farm tour. Be sure to check out all the reasons you should join us in Alaska and turn it into a true adventure!

Click here to save your seat at Josyln Peony Farm!

We can’t wait to dine in the middle of the stock fields of Ocean View Flowers! Photo courtesy of Ocean View Flowers.

In the fall, join us in Lompoc, California, at Ocean View Flowers on Sept. 7 where you’ll enjoy an artisan meal in fields of stock in a variety of hues. While there, you’ll learn about the unique coastal climate that helps Ocean View grow so many flower varieties on hundreds of acres.

Click here to save your seat to Ocean View Flowers!

You will find beautifully designed centerpieces by amazing floral designers at each one of our tour stops in 2019. Photo by Liraz Photography.

Our last stop will be at Red Twig Farms in New Albany, Ohio, on Oct. 5, where you’ll dine under a canopy of dogwood and willow branches. You don’t want to miss out on a visit to this nine-acre family-owned-and-operated cut flower and branch farm in central Ohio that grows oh so many specialty flowers and branches.

Click here to save your seat to Red Twig Farm!

We’ll be focused on the flowers, but the food and wine will not disappoint. Photos by Kelleghan Production.

There’s so much more we could share and explain, but for now, please visit the landing pages we’ve created for each one of these locations; find the complete list here. You’ll discover even more information and details about each stop, but make sure you book your tickets right away. Last year, we had dinners selling out months in advance!

The Certified American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour has served over 5,000 people in the last four seasons. Photo by Kelleghan Production.

Plus, early birds benefit from special “Tour Launch” pricing. For the next 30 days, we’ll be selling tickets to each of our dinners for $175, however the price for each ticket will increase after this introductory offer!

Seating is limited and every dinner will sell out, so don’t wait to save your seat. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Please consider helping us share this year’s locations and special launch pricing with your flower-loving friends. If you’re planning to attend a dinner, invite them to join you. If you’ve gone before, help us share this magical experience with others on social networks like Instagram and Facebook.

We can’t wait to welcome you to the flower farm. Photo by Liraz Photography.

We look forward to seeing you on a flower farm in 2019!

All too exciting and not sure which dinner to attend? Click here to see the entire line up and descriptions of each farm at AmericanGrownFlowers.org/fieldtovase

 

[Press Release] Flower Fields Become Dining Rooms on Award-Winning American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour

Certified American Grown Flowers Announces 2019 Farm Destinations

 

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (Jan. 22, 2019) Certified American Grown Flowers today announced the destinations for its 2019 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, inviting guests nationwide to dine among the exquisite fields of America’s most stunning flower and foliage farms.

In its fifth season, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour is a cross-country series of elegant pop-up gatherings where seasonal, sustainable blooms dazzle on beautifully designed tablescapes that have been elegantly dressed by top U.S. floral designers, while gourmet meals are prepared by well-known farm-to-table chefs.

Every table at every dinner overflows with the glory of American Grown Flowers. Photo by Liraz Photography.

At each unique meal and through the accompanying farm tour and design demonstrations, guests will make a personal connection between flowers and agriculture as part of America’s floral landscape. They’ll experience the age-old art and science of flower farming while being served platters of delicious, seasonal and locally grown fare through multiple courses that are accompanied by wine, micro-brewed beers and floral-inspired cocktails.

Each dinner is a night to remember. Guests will delight in delicious food, flowing wine and stunning American Grown Flowers. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Guests, seated at long community tables, will share lively conversation in the company of diners equally passionate about preserving American Grown Flowers, farmland and our country’s floriculture heritage. While enjoying the seasonal meal, guests will be drawn to the botanical beauty of petals, branches, foliage, vines, buds and berries – all artistically arranged to bring multi-sensory pleasure to the dining experience. The attention is on the farmers, their flowers, their beautiful farms and the floral designs they inspire.

Beginning its fifth year, the award-winning American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour is presented annually by Certified American Grown Flowers, a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. flower farmers, including small and large farms located in flower-producing states around the country. Certified farms participate in an independent third-party supply-chain audit to verify origin and assembly of the flowers they grow. When it appears on bouquets, bunches and other packaging or store signage, the Certified American Grown logo gives consumers confidence in the source of their flowers and is an assurance that the flowers they’ve purchased were grown on a domestic American flower farm and assembled in the United States.

“The Field to Vase Dinner Tour showcases the beauty and heritage of America’s flower-farming families,” says Kasey Cronquist, administrator for Certified American Grown Flowers. “In our fifth year, we’ll stop at six of America’s most beautiful flower farms where guests will meet a flower farmer, create wearable flowers at a boutonniere bar and enjoy a farm-to-fork meal. Time and time again we hear how special these floral-focused evenings are and 2019 will be no exception!”

The first American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in 2019 takes place April 18 at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California. This is the fifth time the tour has stopped at The Flower Fields, where guests dine in a sea of brightly colored ranunculus while looking out over the Pacific Ocean.

Other summer and fall destinations across the country include:

  • Bloomia USA, King George, Virginia, on June 1, where guests will dine in a greenhouse bursting with tulips just outside our nation’s capitol.
  • The California State Capitol, Sacramento, California, on June 12, a special tour spot where we’ll bring the flower farm to California’s capital during California Grown Flowers Month. Watch as members of the state Legislature compete in a live design competition before dinner.
  • Joselyn Peonies in Homer, Alaska, on Aug. 3, where guests will dine on blooming peony farm with stunning views of Kachemak Bay.
  • Ocean View Flowers in Lompoc, California, on Sept. 7, among fields of stock and surrounded by acres and acres of incredible flowers in a unique coastal climate.
  • Red Twig Farms, in New Albany, Ohio, on Oct. 5, where guests will meet farmers Josh and Lindsey McCullough and see the incredible flower farm they’re growing just outside of Columbus.

Field to Vase dinners are generally from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., depending on location. Attendees will leave with fresh, seasonal American Grown Flowers, a swag bag packed with gifts from the tour’s generous sponsors and a greater understanding of why fresh American Grown Flowers in the home – and on the table – are important to health, well-being, local economies and good conversation.

These special floral-infused destination dinners sell out quickly. Seating and tickets are limited. For more about participating farms, floral designers and chefs – and for reservations, tickets and travel information – visit americangrownflowers.com/fieldtovase, and be sure to sign up for the e-newsletter. For up-to-the-minute news, follow the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour on Instagram and Facebook.

# # #

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.

 

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.

Albertsons Companies Welcomes BloomCheck Certification

BloomCheck Provides Domestic Farms With Path Forward

Debi Lilly florals are found throughout Albertsons companies floral departments.

Albertsons recently added the BloomCheck certification program to its list of approved sustainability certification programs used to certify the plants, flowers and greens sold through their Debi Lilly line of floral products. BloomCheck provides retailers and their customers with a third-party certification that assures that farms are not only following the high standards involved with agriculture production in the United States, but are also committed to continuous improvements in best practices involved with growing flowers and plants.

“We’re pleased to provide Albertsons and Albertsons customers with a sustainability certification program for our domestic producers,” shared Kasey Cronquist, administrator for BloomCheck. “BloomCheck certification is a rigorous set of standards designed to help set our farms apart and accurately credit them on what it takes to produce flowers sustainability here in the United States.”

Farms that complete the BloomCheck certification have undergone a complete review of their production practices with an “on-farm” auditor from Protected Harvest. Protected Harvest is a third-party nonprofit organization responsible for accrediting BloomCheck’s standards and providing the third-party auditors involved with the verification of our farms’ practices.

 

Top 10 Ways To Leverage Your Certification in 2019

Let's Go Big In 2019!

 

Happy New Year!

 

Thanks to all of our Certified farms, 2019 represented our best year yet!

With so much grown and success, 2019 is shaping up to be even better!

Certified American Grown is only as successful as the farms that are engaged, leveraging and promoting their affiliation with the campaign.

So, we compiled a list of the Top 10 ways you can leverage your certification for growth and success in this new year.

#1 Label Your Flowers and Greens

Certified American Grown is not a happy talk program.

Designed to drive sales and win back marketshare, Certified American Grown is the only guarantee in the floral industry that promises a 3rd party guarantee for consumers and your customers that the flowers they are purchasing were grown and assembled here in the United States.

Make sure your flowers, bouquets, bunches, buckets, are going out the door labeled.  Looking for American Made sleeves?  As our preferred provider, Noam and his team at Temkin are ready to help all of out farms with their sleeving needs.  #CertificationMatters

 

# 2 Promote the Celebration of American Grown Flowers Month!

Proven to drive sales!  Encourage your customers to avoid the “summer sales slump” by celebrating and promoting Certified American Grown Flowers all month long.  Have mass market customers?  Have them sign up for this year’s merchandising contest.

# 3 Advocate for Your Farm in Washington, D.C.

Join your fellow farmers for two days in our nation’s capitol, helping us to raise the profile of America’s flower farmers. This dedicated effort has proven to be effective in driving awareness and increasing opportunities and resources for our farms.  This year we’re going to the White House!

# 4 Wrap Your Truck!

In 2018, we saw some BIG branding efforts with some sweet truck wraps!  We have plug-and-play design ready to go for you.  Contact Mark Smith and get a quote from Signature Graphics, 615-569-4115.

#5 Participate in our Facebook Forum

Want to stay engaged each day?  Our Facebook Forum attracts designers, mass marketers and farmers who care about Certified American Grown.  Consider joining the daily conversation.  Already a member?  That’s great!  Share your experience and best practices with the program and engage with comments!

 

#6 Volunteer for the Rose Parade

We are always looking for farms to support our efforts in Pasadena. Primarily a CA Grown promotion effort (it is December…), but we had a number of you ask about supporting and help. Heck, we may even have another opportunity to certify an entry American Grown! Join us in 2019! Contact Anna Kalins to volunteer at Anna@AmericanGrownFlowers.org.

#7 Host a Field to Vase Dinner in 2020

Photo by Liraz Photography.

We are about to launch the 2019 tour, but now is the time to get yourself on the list for this award-winning marketing program in 2020. Applying is made simple on our website. The Field to Vase Dinner Tour is the most successful consumer-facing national promotion program in the floral industry. Bring this spotlight to your farm in 2020.

#8 Donate Your Flowers (or time) to the First Lady’s Luncheon

For the fourth year in a row, Certified American Grown will have the honor and privilege to provide our flowers to the 106th First Lady’s Luncheon. This is such a high-profile event and opportunity. We have an amazing team of volunteer designers that will be led by Mary Kate Kinnane of the Local Bouquet. If you can’t send flowers, but you’d like to work with our team of designers, let us know that too. Contact Anna to donate flowers. Contact Andrea to volunteer your time.

#9 Consider Participating in a Trade Mission

Certified American Grown is proud to lead international trade missions and explore economic development opportunities for our domestic farms.  In 2019, we will be going to SE Asia and South Korea.  If you’d like to learn more about these trips, contact Andrea at Andrea@AmericanGrownFlowers.org.

 

#10 Add Your Unique CAG Logo to Your Email, Website, Biz Cards, Etc.

Many of you already wave the flag everyday with each email you send, on your website and every business card you hand out.  These types of branding efforts really do go a long way in helping highlight that your farm is part of the bigger effort to help consumers find the flowers they really want…

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Meet Certified American Grown Lobbyist Jumana Madanat Misleh

She Shares Why Flower Farmer Participation in Upcoming Fly-In is Critical

When Jumana Madanat Misleh was hired in May to be the voice for Certified American Grown in Washington, D.C., it didn’t take her long to get up to speed on the issues facing America’s flower farmers.

Jumana Misleh (far left) attended this year’s First Lady’s Luncheon along with Certified American Grown representatives shown here with Second Lady Karen Pence (center). Also pictured from left to right: Kasey Cronquist, Benno Dobbe, Second Lady Karen Pence, Pamela Arnosky, Kelly Shore and Klazina Dobbe.

In her previous job at a Washington law firm she had handled the group’s legislative efforts in the capital. She came out of “early retirement” at the request of Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist.

“I don’t think I would have done it for anyone else,” she said. “I believe in their issues and I was happy to jump back in.”

 

Rene Van Wingerden of Ocean Breeze Farms with Jumana Misleh at the CCFC Annual Dinner in November 2018. Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

 

Her accomplishments for American flower farmers have come quickly.  Shortly after coming on board she:

  • Helped lead an effort to reinstate the USDA’s annual floriculture survey after it had been eliminated two years previous due to budget cuts. The survey provides American farmers with information about flower-growing trends and gauges the sector’s economic impact and for the first time will include Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Virginia and Wisconsin.
  • Secured an invitation for a Certified American Grown delegation to attend the White House Economic Summit in September. It was billed as a conversation with President Trump, but he was forced to cancel by the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Still, the event featured high-level administration officials including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, economic adviser Larry Kudlow and White House adviser Ivanka Trump. It was the first time Certified American Grown had been invited to such as event.
  • Reengaged an effort to bring about enforcement of an existing law that requires imported flowers to be identified by their country of origin on consumer packaging. Misleh has gained the support of a congressman who is pursuing enforcement of the law.
  • Increased support for the annual resolution by the U.S. House of Representatives declaring July as American Grown Flower Month. Sponsors of the resolution increased from seven representatives in 2017 to more than 57 in 2018. Misleh then convinced some sponsors of that resolution to become members of the Cut Flower Caucus, a bipartisan group of House members that support the interests of flower growers.
  • Helped grow the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, a bipartisan group that supports the interests of America’s flower farmers.
  • Renewed an effort to convince the White House to use only American Grown flowers at the White House. That has been a longtime goal of Certified American Grown. Misleh’s ultimate aim is for all federal agencies to be required to use American Grown flowers at their events.

Misleh has accomplished all this through her contacts cultivated through her years as an attorney in Washington, D.C., and a don’t-take-no-for-an-answer approach.

Jumana Misleh (center) leads a meeting between farmers and a congressional staffer.

 

“Really, it’s a lot of relationship-building and working with people who have an interest in our issues,” she said.

“When Kasey brought me on board, essentially my strategy was to do everything in my power to draw attention to their issues and to check those items off their to-do list.”

With Certified American Grown as her only client, Misleh said she is free from conflicts faced by lobbyists working for multiple agriculture interests who do a balancing act to ensure they are not alienating someone in pursuit of another client’s interests.

“I am putting all my eggs in one basket with Certified American Grown,” she said. “I’m not afraid to do what it takes, because my sole goal is to get things done for Certified American Grown.”

Misleh says she’s part of a new generation of Washington lobbyists.

“I’m willing to cold call. I’m willing to walk into the office of someone I don’t know for the sake of my client. The perspective of a lot of people is that you have to do things in an orderly fashion – ‘you can’t call that office, you have to call the guy in the office below him’ – out of respect for hierarchy.

“In this day and age of LinkedIn and everything being on the internet, you can go directly to the decision-makers and I’m not afraid to do that. That’s what I’ve been doing and that’s what I plan to keep doing.”

Misleh has worked to see where flower farmers’ interests have aligned with the Trump administration’s policies.

“We have a very receptive administration right now,” she said. “They want to help American businesses and American farmers, so I think we really need to capitalize on that. We show them we’re supportive of their policies, and we’d like them to be supportive of us as well. Hopefully, good things come from it.”

Her efforts to get the White House’s ear on flower-growing issues began in June when she made contact with an official there through a longtime mentor. The relationship blossomed at a time when much of American agriculture was opposed to Trump’s policies. But the administration’s efforts to level the playing field with foreign producers meshes with the interests of American flower farmers, Misleh said. That led the White House to request a statement of support for its trade policies that Misleh and Cronquist drafted.

The result has been an ongoing relationship with the White House.

“It’s nice to know that they know who we are,” she said. “I enjoy hearing from the White House and appreciate the attention they are giving us, whether it’s invitations to various events or to join on conference calls or briefings. So, we’re on their radar.”

Certified American Grown Council member Ko Klaver at the White House Economic Summit.

It was also that relationship that led to the invitation to the White House Economic Summit.

Andrea Gagnon, Certified American Grown Council member also joined Kasey Cronquist at the Economic Summit.

 

“It was a great opportunity to network,” she said. “And whether or not you agree with what this administration is doing, it’s always an honor to be invited to the White House.”

Misleh urges flower farmers to come to Washington for the annual fly-in in February (24-26). It will give them a chance to talk to members of Congress and have an impact on issues that affect them.

Jumana has had a history with our farms, attending meetings with flower farmers and members of Congress in Washington, DC as far back as 2012.

“It is critical that we have as many participants as possible from as many states as possible,” she said. “Members (of Congress) want to hear from their constituents. I can go in and meet with people every day and they’ll listen to me and we’ll have a successful meeting. But when they hear from their own constituents, it has much more of an impact.”

Misleh said last year’s big showing from America’s flower farmers was the single most important factor in getting the USDA floriculture survey reinstated.

Thanks to Jumana’s leadership, last year’s team of flower famers were able to elevate 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.

“Things like that only happen when farmers are involved, engaged and willing to come out here for a fly-in,” she said. “And it’s a great opportunity for them to see the type of impact they can have firsthand. … I’m looking at their issues with a fresh set of eyes. I have new contacts and I’m making new friends every day. We’re very energized this year.”

A big turnout in February also will help efforts to rebuild the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, which lost eight members in the recent midterm elections due to retirements and election losses.

“We actually have a huge task ahead of us,” she said. “We need to grow the caucus back to the level it was and we need to grow it ever further. We have a goal of having 75 members. It’s going to be tough because we’re going to be starting the year with 40 members.”

February’s fly-in will feature a briefing at the White House as well as meetings with the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus and USDA officials.

“I think we’re going to have a fantastic event this year. We already have a commitment from the White House to meet with our group and with a large turnout from our farms, hopefully we’ll have some more tangible successes that we can highlight during their time here.”

 

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.