Rene van Rems Wows at First 2018 Tour Stop

Floral Designer Shares the Inside Story on Prepping for a Field to Vase Dinner

You might think the job of a floral designer is singular – to surprise and delight by creating beautiful flower arrangements.

When the designer is Rene van Rems, you’d be wrong.

Van Rems was the floral designer for the recent American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Resendiz Brothers Protea in Fallbrook, California. But his efforts went far beyond arranging flowers. He started by visiting the site with flower farmer Mel Resendiz to help select the perfect location for the dinner.

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Since proteas are grown on steep hillsides, this was no small feat. But van Rems knew what he was looking for – a hilltop surrounded by other flower-adorned hills that would provide a sense of warmth and intimacy for dinner guests.

Beautiful farm fresh flowers adorned the tables, welcoming guests to a night of food, wine and flowers. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.


Next up, van Rems determined a theme for the arrangements that would adorn the long banquet tables and selected containers from Field to Vase Dinner Tour sponsor Syndicate Sales.

He decided to create three variations of a floral design that featured pincushion proteas and he created them in reverse proportion. “We draped everything down while featuring the pincushions. This way, the flowers are looking at the diner and the diner is looking at the flowers. The flowers were the star and the materials we put with them were very botanical and were from the surrounding landscape. It was a real execution of ‘field to vase.’”

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

For the containers, van Rems selected brushed glass vases with similar designs and textures in colors that provided contrast with the flowers and surrounding landscape.

The amazing part – the 180 arrangements needed for the dinner were created by 15 students who were part of a workshop van Rems led in advance of the dinner. Not only did they learn floral design skills, participants got a hands-on experience in event execution.

“The event became a lesson plan,” van Rems explains. “The students learned what you can’t learn in a book or on YouTube; it was truly experiential.”

Floral designer Rene van Rems was responsible for the beautiful tablescape and floral design installations. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Beyond special events, van Rems regularly holds workshops at his state-of-the-art training center in Carlsbad, California. His two-, three- and five-day programs cover floral trends, advanced floral design techniques and business basics.

As for the reviews of the first stop for the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour – van Rems shares what guests told him: “Everyone loved the experience because it was beyond their expectations. People had no idea what to expect and they were blown away by a beautifully executed dinner. The No. 1 wow was the site and the flowers were a spoke in the wheel of an amazing experience.”

We couldn’t agree more.



A Mountain of Flowers And Fun

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers Field to Vase Dinner


The reveal of the dinner’s location was worth the drive up the mountain.

If the majority of Americans are unaware of where their flowers come from, it’s probably safe to say they can’t imagine what our farmers are willing to do to grow them. On April 7, the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour kicked off at Resendiz Brother’s Protea Growers in Fallbrook, California, where 154 guests were invited to experience an evening on Mel Resendiz’s flower farm.

This isn’t your grandma’s flower garden.

In fact, flower farming in this region is really an extreme version of flower farming, harvesting high in the hills, in extremely steep terrain, always mindful of the many rattlesnakes that inhabit the hillsides. So, our guests (many traveling in from throughout the country) were in for a special treat, but they would all have to go the extra mile (or five) in order to experience this extraordinary dinner spot.

And it didn’t disappoint.

High atop the hills of Fallbrook, guests enjoyed expansive views from the flower fields at Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers.

After a 25-minute drive up the side of a mountain, guests were greeted with a glass of champagne as they took in the incredible views from atop the hills of Fallbrook and learned that they were standing in the middle of one of Mel’s flower fields. Bales of hay were used to help prevent guests from falling down the hill where Mel’s pincushions were growing. The concern wasn’t for the flowers, but the safety of the guests. Yet, these steep hillsides are the same fields that Resendiz Brothers produces its beautiful protea on.

Guests were invited to find their seat, make their own boutonnière and pet the baby goats.

Guests were in awe.

Beautiful farm fresh flowers adorned the tables, welcoming guests to a night of food, wine and flowers.

Floral designer Rene van Rems worked for two days with a team of people to prepare the arrangements and design installations for the event, pulling flowers right from the fields as needed. Rene’s vision went well beyond the tablescape, designing beautiful floral installations throughout the dinner site, including the decorating of “The Limo” that became a social media hit with guests who joyfully posed in front of  the old abandon Dodge truck that had been converted to an RV decades ago.

Floral designer Rene van Rems was responsible for the beautiful tablescape and floral design installations.

Flower farmer Mel welcomed guests, sharing that he was very moved by the experience of having so many people for dinner on his farm.

“I could not imagine this,” he said. “It is wonderful for me to have all of you here.”

Mel Resendiz welcomed guests to his farm.

A flower-focused event, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinners are helping translate people’s passion for sustainable, quality, homegrown food to the flowers we place at the center of the table. Connecting people with the flowers we grow, the farmers who grow them and the opportunity to see just what it takes to be an American flower farmer is what makes these events so unique and memorable for those who attend.

And everyone leaves with flowers.

Flowers, succulents and swag bags full of floral goodies were waiting for guests as they departed the dinner.


Guests were invited to take the centerpieces designed by Rene and a special hand-tied bouquet from Resendiz Brothers. Walking away with armfuls of flowers, there was no doubt that our guests had enjoyed a Field to Vase experience they would never forget.

Testimonials from our guests…

It was a once in a lifetime enjoyable event. It was my first and I’m afraid nothing can top this one.” ~ Robyn D.

I was shocked to receive the wonderful swag bag, one bunch of proteas, a succulent, the table decorations, and all the fresh flowers and fillers that I could carry!~ Madeline C.

The entire afternoon and early evening event was a truly wonderful experience – lovely people, an incredibly unique setting, an abundance of beautiful Protea flowers, and sumptious food and drink. After traveling up a narrow, winding road to a remote area at the top of a hill, imagine our surprise at finding two huge tables surrounded by chaparral and Protea plants – each elegantly set with China and crystal, each with seating for at least 75 people and each crammed with bright vases full of brilliantly-colored Protea. Buckets of Protea, Protea bouquets and wreaths decorated the perimeter of the area. It was magical! The food was a delicious, multi-course treat – made even more amazing by the fact that appetizers and a wonderful meal could be provided seemingly effortlessly in such a remote setting!~ Kathleen P.

The attention to detail, impressed everyone. Rene van Rems made sure that even this old farm cart was decorated with flowers from the farm.

Over 1,200 Stores Planning To Celebrate American Grown Flowers Month

In 2017, Congress passed a resolution declaring July “American Grown Flowers Month” to recognize the economic and cultural impact of America’s cut flower and greens farmers.

A beautiful collection of Certified American Grown Flowers can really help draw consumers into learning more and celebrating the season.


To spread the word about American Grown Flowers Month, Certified American Grown is working with farmers and retailers nationwide on in-store promotion programs to help consumers identify and celebrate homegrown blooms throughout July.

Over 1,200 stores have signed up to celebrate so far!



The campaign includes a national contest, the American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest, that encourages retailers to leverage the Congressional declaration and promote homegrown blooms – and earn prize money for their efforts.

So far, the creative contest includes 1,200 stores from participating retailers.

Participants will be featured, and winners will be recognized, in Super Floral and Florists’ Review. Certified American Grown will feature and promote all participants on social media, in a press release and on its blog and website.

Retailers who participate in the contest will be judged on the quality and beauty of their in-store displays that promote American Grown Flowers Month, their ability to increase flower sales in July and their efforts to promote the celebratory month overall, as well as the Certified American Grown brand.

Store campaigns will be judged by Travis Rigby, publisher of Super Floral magazine and Florists’ Review; J Keith White, AIFD, creative director for American Floral Trends Forecast and AANDK Productions and Tom Bowling, AIFD, PFCI, Education Director for Syndicate Sales.

It’s not too late to be involved American Grown Flowers Month. Visit to learn more and register!

CamFlor Expanding Its Acreage, Flower Varieties

“It’s like holiday shipping all year round for us.” – Carlos Cardoza, sales manager, CamFlor

A beautiful field of eucomus at CamFlor in Watsonville, CA.

Carlos Cardoza has an enviable problem. He can hardly keep up with demand for the novelty flowers grown at CamFlor in Watsonville where he’s the sales manager.

Since 2012, CamFlor has been growing at a steady rate of 10 to 12 percent a year. Some months it’s closer to 30 percent.

Something had to give.

In addition to recently renewing a 50-acre lease for flower-growing land, CamFlor is adding another 60 acres. And it’s purchasing excess equipment and plants from nearby farms.

“It’s been a good move. Our sales are up 30 to 40 percent each month since November,” Cardoza shares.

The new 60 acres will be planted with Queen Anne’s lace, hybrid delphinium, rice flower, narcissus, belladonna and godetia – flowers that are popular with wholesalers, event planners and consumers craving something different.

While some varieties are all new to CamFlor, others are specialty flowers that were previously popular and are seeing a comeback; take Killian daisies, for example.

“Few do what we do, which is add five to eight new product varieties every year,” Cardoza says. “The seed people know that CamFlor has land near the ocean, middle inland and inland – that’s three different climates. They know that if they give us something, we’ll find the place to grow it.”

In his experience, the novelty flower market is in full growth mode as multiple audiences are on the lookout for something different.

CamFlor meets that need not only by continually adding novelty options, it also ships boxed assortments in addition to boxes packed with single flower varieties.

Yellow Yarrow growing tall and bright in the fields of CamFlor.

“The demand for American Grown Flowers has grown and the new generation of florists, designers and wedding companies are looking for different types of product every year.”

Cardoza’s happy to meet the need and to throw in a few surprises!

Certified American Grown Receives $200,000 Grant For Export Development

CAG Will Lead Trade Missions to China and Southeast Asia in 2018

Over the past year, Certified American Grown (CAG) has secured federal grant funds through the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to develop export markets for American Grown Flowers.

Last year’s delegation met with Chinese floral industry leaders last May.

In 2017, Certified American Grown conducted a comprehensive assessment in China, determining 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 first-hand and contribute to the assessment.

As a result of the project, several U.S. cut flower farmers began shipping to China in the fall.

You can access the assessment here: Certified American Grown: China Assessment Report .

In 2018, Certified American Grown will continue to focus on market development activities in China and also explore opportunities in Southeast Asia.

2018 Activities Include:

June 23 – July 1, 2018: Outbound Trade Mission to China

  • Meet with targeted importers, wholesalers and retailers in Shanghai and Guangzhou to establish contacts and present business information.
  • Tour the largest Chinese cut flower growing region in Yunnan Province to gain an understanding of its market structure and distribution network.

Fall 2018: Conduct a Market Feasibility Assessment in Southeast Asia

  • Meet with targeted importers, wholesalers and retailers in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam to determine feasibility of increasing exports to the region.

For more information or to let us know you’re interested in participating in one of the upcoming trips, please visit:

Pick From One of Two Design Classes with Debi Lilly

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California, may be sold out, but all is not lost!

You now have TWO opportunities to design with renowned event planner and floral designer Debi Lilly.

Debi Lilly will not only be our featured designer for the dinner, but is hosting two workshop that same morning.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

We’re hosting two workshops on April 26, one from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and a second from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. Lilly will talk about spring design trends and containers, share her design secrets and let you try them out in the hands-on workshops.

Debi Lilly always inspires her workshop guests, sharing her design tips and the latest trends.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.


Known as Oprah’s “Favorite Pro,” Lilly was part of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” for more than 10 years and has made it her mission to inspire, educate and share her 20 years of party planning expertise, stylist tips and DIY designs with fans worldwide. Did we mention Lady Gaga’s a fan?   To further jog your memory, you may have seen her designs and products at your local Safeway or Albertsons store.


You don’t have to have tickets to the Field to Vase Dinner later that day to design with Lilly, and you can bring your friends and design shoulder to shoulder!


Register now because at just $40, spots are going fast!


Just go to our event page and click the green “Tickets” button to select your workshop time.



Certified American Grown Heads to Sonoma Wine Country’s Premier Wine and Food Festival


Certified American Grown is supporting Sonoma wine country’s favorite festival – Passport to Dry Creek Valley – April 28-29 by providing American Grown Flowers and foliage for Geyser Peak Winery’s spring garden party that’s part of Passport weekend.

As a  national sponsor, Geyser Peak brings their amazing wines to the dinner table for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

Geyser Peak Winery is a national sponsor of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, now in its fourth year. During Passport to Deer Creek Valley, visitors to Geyser Peak Winery can make their own corsage or boutonniere from Certified American Grown Flowers and greens and enjoy 100 percent American Grown floral designs.

Throughout the weekend, guests can attend elaborate themed parties with exquisite food and wine pairings at 40+ participating wineries. They can also meet Sonoma County’s most renowned chefs, including Michelin-starred Chef Charlie Palmer, Diavola Chef/Owner Dino Bugica, Bistro 29 Chef/Owner Brian Anderson and other culinary stars while savoring their inspired culinary creations alongside newly released and limited-edition wines.

Wineries taking part range from the internationally acclaimed Ridge Vineyards and Ferrari-Carano to boutique wineries like Nalle and Talty that produce fewer than 2,000 cases per year.

Winery party themes range from the glamorous (think Old Hollywood red carpet) to the goofy (think Caddyshack), with unforgettable food and wine at each stop. Live entertainment and activities support the wineries’ unique themes. Music will include a Beatles cover band, bluegrass, jazz, Hawaiian music from Maile Swing, funk from The Jacktones and more.

Three not-to-miss wineries

Geyser Peak Winery

Geyser Peak will be celebrating spring with a festive garden party! Guests can build their own “floral flourish” (otherwise known as a boutonniere or corsage) thanks to blooms donated by Certified American Grown. Then, sample Geyser Peak’s new Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc releases and, on Saturday, get your groove on with special musical guests Junk in the Trunk.

Amphora Winery

Journey to Amphora to explore the kingdoms of their “Game of Rhônes,” from dark and brooding Syrah in the north, to the sunlit realm of Grenache in the south, with the  questionable prince Petite Sirah and the awesome alliance of GSM — all vying for the coveted throne.

Seghesio Family Vineyards

America’s heritage grape will be paired with America’s favorite pastime at Seghesio’s baseball-themed party. Guests can round the bases to taste distinctive Zinfandels and Executive Chef Peter Janiak’s twists on classic ball game fare, then step up to the mound to show off their pitching skills (for prizes of course)! Complete with a rock-n-roll band, this stop is sure to be a grand slam!

Round out your Passport weekend with a Prelude to Passport lunch on Friday, April 27 or the newest Friday night event, The Vintage Soiree, featuring exquisite Dry Creek Valley wines and beautifully paired cuisine from the best Sonoma County chefs.


Friday, April 27, 2018 – Prelude to Passport and The Vintage Soiree

Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29, 2018, from 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.



General admission price: $135.00 for a two-day passport or $90.00 for Sunday-only passport. $50.00 for

daily designated driver tickets. Tickets are on sale online at


Add-Ons :

$175 – Vintage Soiree: The new ticket in town. Our Friday night, exclusive party for our Passport guests.

$75 – Prelude to Passport: Lunch at A Rafanelli, Cast Wines, DaVero Farms or Wilson Winery.

$50 – Vineyard Designate Tour: Tours at Mauritson’s Rockpile vineyard – Pritchett Peaks or Old Vine territory at Saini Vineyards.

$25 – Vineyard Tour: Attend a vineyard tour the morning of Passport, offered Saturday at Peterson Winery’s diverse Bradford Mountain and Sunday at Frick Winery’s home-to-Rhônes, Owl Hill Vineyard.




6 New Farms Earn American Grown Certification

Farms Large and Small See Value, Benefits to Certification

Six new flower farms have recently officially become Certified American Grown, joining a cadre of 45 certified farms nationwide. These farms vary in size and in the varieties of flowers they grow, from small urban flower farm to a large greenhouse farm that propagates 90 percent of the nation’s gerberas.

The newly certified farms are:

Earning recognition as Certified American Grown helps retailers, wholesalers and florists connect their customers with flowers grown right here in the United States and tells customers that the flowers they’re bringing home or giving as gifts were grown, bouqued or bunched by American flower farmers.

Flower farmer Felicia Alvarez of Menagerie Farm & Flower grows garden roses and specialty flowers, including tulips and dahlias. She sought out certification because she believes it’s important for people to know where their flowers are coming from and how they’re grown.


Alvarez finds today’s consumers are in tune with the origin-matters message and are telling floral designers they prefer local, seasonal flowers. And in her experience, they appreciate knowing there’s an American farmer behind the blooms.

She’s also a fan of the advocacy that Certified American Grown provides around trade, taxes and agriculture in general.

“These all affect me, so I benefit from the advocacy work and I appreciate that my involvement, even as a small farm, can help push the needle.”

Novelty flower grower Carlos Cardoza of CamFlor sought out certification at the urging of some of his top clients who felt it would be a complement to his California Grown status.

“As soon as I got the logo and artwork and was able to share with my customers that we are Certified American Grown they were very congratulatory and pleased to know they had a supplier that had earned the certification,” Cardoza says.

He notes that many of his clients’ customers are asking for domestically grown flowers, as well as unique flowers not typically provided by importers.

“It’s a good time to be an American flower farmer. There’s a trend toward more novelty flowers and the use of more American Grown product,” Cardoza says.

Farmer florist Kelly Wood of Grace Gardens, the only certified farm in Alabama, says becoming Certified American Grown is helping her introduce the locavore flower movement to new farmers and floral designers in her state.

After becoming certified, Wood made a personal commitment to help new small farmers and create a market for them to sell their flowers. She also shares the importance of buying American Grown Flowers with florists in the hope of creating a network of growers and sales outlets.

“The benefit of American Grown Certification is that it lends credibility to what I’m trying to accomplish,” Wood explains.

Ocean Breeze Farms co-owner June Van Wingerden saw the Certified American Grown branded flower sleeves, store displays and truck wraps and knew she wanted to be part of the movement.

“The program and the splash that comes with it make a positive statement and is consumer friendly,” Van Wingerden explains. “And wholesalers are looking for it to distinguish one product from another.”

Six new certified farms, dozens of reasons to get on board.

Certified American Grown is growing and looking for more farms to join the Certified family. Today the brand represents the largest consumer facing brand featuring the origin of flowers in the U.S. floral industry. It is a powerful statement of pride and beauty that has proven to connect with consumers everywhere.

Have you considered joining the Certified American Grown movement?

Win a Breathtaking Protea Wreath!

Spring has officially sprung, despite wild weather on both coasts, and we’re celebrating its arrival with a fun spring flowers giveaway.


In a nod to the first stop on the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour on April 7 at Resendiz Brothers Protea, and because we just can’t resist sharing our bounty, we’re giving away one of their breathtaking protea wreaths.


Win a beautiful wreath from Resendiz Brothers, like the one featured in Sunset Magazine!



Submit your entry and you could win a protea wreath to adorn your door (like the one featured in Sunset Magazine!) – and because proteas are long lasting, it will look lovely all spring long!

Can’t get enough of the amazing protea? Check out these beautiful images from @resendizbrothers on Instagram!

Check out @ResendizBrothers on Instagram! Can you believe this beautiful farm is our first stop in the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour?!

Design with Renowned Event Planner, Floral Designer Debi Lilly

Workshop Added to April 26 Stop at The Flower Fields

You know her name, you’ll likely recognize her face, and now you can design alongside renowned event planner and floral designer Debi Lilly!

Debi Lily stands in a sea of orchids during our 2017 Field to Vase Dinner at Gallup & Stribling in Carpinteria, CA.

Lilly will host a hands-on workshop prior to the April 26 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California. She’ll talk about spring design trends and containers, and share her design secrets during the workshop –  also on April 26, offered at two times, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at The Flower Fields.

Lilly hosted a sold-out workshop in Carpinteria, California, during the 2017 tour, and our guests couldn’t say enough about the tips she offered, her amazing design ideas and her down-to-earth nature. After all, Debi’s a big deal!

Debi Lilly held an oversold floral design class prior to the Field to Vase Dinner at Gallup & Stribling Orchids.

Known as Oprah’s “Favorite Pro,” Lilly was part of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” for more than 10 years and has made it her mission to inspire, educate and share her 20 years of party planning expertise, stylist tips and DIY designs with fans worldwide. Did we mention Lady Gaga’s a fan?

With her impressive client list that includes brands like Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Safeway and Lamborghini, Lilly is a highly sought-after designer.

But you can connect with her, design with her and be wowed by her ideas (just like Oprah) by registering for the two-hour workshop! Attending the dinner is not necessary or a prerequisite for the workshop.

Guests love the personal interaction and learning DIY designs from Debi herself.

Plus, you can invite friends to join you, even if they are missing out on the dinner, because the workshop is open to the public.

Save your seat today – choose the Debi Lilly workshop at checkout!