Guests Dine Under Tulip Chandeliers at Bloomia USA

Floral Designer Kelly Shore Returns to The F2V Tour With An Outstanding Floral Installation

Every American Grown Field to Vase Dinner is special, but the second stop of the 2019 tour at Bloomia USA in King George, Virginia, may have set a new standard for the floral chandelier!  

All photos by Manda Weaver Photography. Vases by Syndicate Sales.

Guests dined under a canopy of 36 color-blocked tulip chandeliers at tables featuring vases overflowing with tulips that mirrored the bloom colors overhead – we’re talking thousands of tulips!

Floral designer Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore was responsible for the incredible tablescape design and tulip chandelier installation at Bloomia.

The imaginative concept was created by floral designer Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore, this tour stop’s featured designer.

“Kelly Shore out did herself,” shared Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist and emcee of the national Field to Vase Dinner Tour. “Her design vision and passion for our American flower farming families was front, center and overhead at Bloomia. She’s a true champion for the cause.”

The teams from Evoke Events DC and Occasions Catering came together to help create a magical event at Bloomia.

And that was just one aspect of the flora-bundance. Guests arrived to archways and floral photo backdrops bursting with tulips. And the on-site boutonniere bar featured an assortment of Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens for guests to use to create wearable floral swag thanks to even more flowers sent from Certified flower farmers from around the country in support of the national dinner tour. Certified farms Fern Trust from Florida, Mellano & Company and Dramm & Echter from California and LynnVale Studios and Harmony Harvest from Virginia all sent their flowers to Bloomia for guests to experience and enjoy.

Jeannette Tavares of Evoke Events helped to elevate the guest experience through her outstanding event planning and design ideas.

One guest described their experience at Bloomia saying, “Saturday event was incredibly educational, empowering and inspiring. Not only did I enjoy the tour, good food, cocktail I also met like minded individuals and florist that I now call friends.”

Flower farmer Werner Jansen, general manager of Bloomia, provided guests with a tour of the sprawling tulip farm.

The meal by Occasions Caterers was as stunning and color coordinated as the flowers. Guests dined on appetizers that included roasted baby carrots, golden beets rolled around carrot matchsticks and goat cheese mousse, and lemon chicken wonton cones. The salad course featured cauliflower salad with opal basal vinaigrette and a roasted beet salad. The main course was a char-grilled beef loin served with toasted barley prepared risotto style. For dessert, guests enjoyed strawberry couronne with milk snow and basil cream.  

 

Guests from all over the United States enjoyed a wonderful meal by Occasions Catering at Bloomia in King George, VA.

All of this was paired with wine and a floral-themed cocktails. In fact, VIP guests were treated to a “cooler experience,” as they were invited to enjoy a “frozen cocktail” in one of the large coolers at Bloomia. Don’t worry though, each guest was given a beautiful Bloomia blanket to wear as they celebrated in the cold storage with the tulips.

The team at Cocktail Curations shared a special floral themed cocktail for VIP guests in the cold storage at Bloomia.

 

 

 

 

 

Special Bloomia blankets were given to guests while enjoying a “frozen cocktail” in the cold storage at Bloomia.

Another guest mentioned their appreciation for the very popular DIY boutonnière bar, sharing, “Loved the ‘make your own boutonniere’ station and the special cocktail.”

Guests were encouraged to harvest their own tulips as they left Bloomia.

As the night wound down, guests were encouraged to harvest their own tulips as they left the farm, picking tulips, complete with the bulb, as they walked through the Bloomia greenhouses on their way out.

The California Wine Institute sponsored the event’s wine for the evening.

If all of this talk about food and flowers has you thinking you’ve got to get to one of these dinners, you’re right!

Our next stop is June 12 in Sacramento, California, on the lawn of the State Capitol.

And we have three more stops this season. Now’s the time to find a dinner near you and save your seat!

 

Check out this video from last year’s dinner in Sacramento:

American Grown Act Would Require Homegrown Flowers, Greens In U.S. Government Facilities

It’s so obvious, and such a great idea, that it’s surprising it’s not already common practice.

Under the American Grown Act, flowers purchased by the federal government would be required to be American Grown.

If the federal government is going to buy and showcase cut flowers and greens at events, memorials, to be displayed at national cemeteries or even for the day-to-day arrangements featured in the White House, shouldn’t they be grown in the U.S.?

Alaska Congressman Don Young, a member of the Congressional Cut Flowers Caucus, recently introduced legislation that would require the U.S. federal government to purchase cut flowers and greens grown in the U.S. for use in its facilities. The legislation is deemed the American Grown Act.

Congressman Don Young reviews production and market share information on American Grown cut flowers and cut greens.

Consumer research commissioned by the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) found that 74% of consumers have no idea where flowers come from. Therefore, the average taxpayer likely assumes the flowers they see displayed at national cemeteries, federal buildings and government events would naturally be grown in the U.S. However, the fact is that imports, primarily from South America, now make up approximately 80% of the flowers sold in the U.S.

Without this mandate, imports are likely making up the bulk of the flowers purchased by the federal government.

In proposing the legislation, Young said requiring the federal government to use American Grown Flowers and Greens to decorate its facilities shows support for American flower and greens farmers and raises awareness of the beauty they grow.

“It seems like a no-brainer that the United States should be putting American farmers first by choosing not to import cut flowers,” Young said. “Unfortunately for the federal government, this is not the case. American farmers are hugely disadvantaged by the foreign growers that are subject to fewer environmental regulations and labor standards, and it is time Congress does something to help our country’s farmers compete. Putting our farmers first starts at the top, and I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation. I encourage my friends on both sides of the aisle to do right by the flower and greens farmers in their districts and sign on to this important effort.”

Alaskan Flower Farmer Rita Jo Shoultz with Congressman Don Young.

“Once again, Congressman Young’s support and leadership to raise awareness and advocate for our Alaskan flower farmers is greatly appreciated,” said Alaskan peony farmer Rita Jo Shoultz of Homer, Alaska, and a member of the Certified American Grown Council. “The American Grown Act is something that makes sense and is a wonderful way to acknowledge and support our hardworking flower-farming families across America.”

Benno Dobbe, a flower farmer in Washington state and California advocates on behalf of America’s flower farming families in Washington, D.C. each year.

“This is great news for U.S. cut flower farmers because the bill will bring special attention to the beautiful flowers and greens we grow,” said Benno Dobbe, a flower farmer with farms in Washington State and California. “It will definitely highlight our products and is an outstanding PR opportunity for flower farmers.”

We couldn’t agree more!

The bill has received support and endorsements on the Hill and around the country. Each of the six co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, including Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Rep. Salud Carbjal (D-CA), Rep. Ducan Hunter (R-CA), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Rep. Chillie Pingree (D-ME) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) are original co-sponsors of the bill. Additionally, the legislation has received quick organizational endorsements from Certified American Grown, the Alaskan Peonies Growers Association, AmericanHort, California Farm Bureau Federation, California State Floral Association and the CCFC.

More information on the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus can be found at carbajal.house.gov/district/congressional-cut-flower-caucus.htm

More information about the American Grown Act can be at bit.ly/HR3019

[Press Release] Proposed Legislation Requires American Grown Flowers, Greens In U.S. Government Facilities

Alaska Congressman Don Young, a member of the Congressional Cut Flowers Caucus, has introduced legislation requiring the federal government to purchase cut flowers and greens grown in the U.S. for use in its facilities. The legislation, referred to as the, “American Grown Act,” includes bill sponsor support from all six co-chairs of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Rep. Salud Carbjal (D-CA), Rep. Ducan Hunter (R-CA), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL).

Congressman Don Young (R-AK) speaks with Alaskan flower farmer David Russell in Washington, D.C.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

In proposing the legislation, Young said requiring the federal government to use American Grown Flowers and Greens to decorate its facilities shows support for American farmers and raises awareness of their beautiful products. Today imports, primarily from Colombia and Ecuador, make up approximately 80% of flowers sold in U.S.

Congressman Young reviewing production information and market share data on American Grown Flowers and Greens in the United States.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

Government subsidy programs such as USAID, combined with favorable federal trade policies established in the early ‘90s to stem drug trafficking and encourage cut flower production in these regions, have had a direct and negative impact on American flower-farming families.  

The bipartisan legislation has received quick organizational endorsements from Certified American Grown, the Alaskan Peonies Growers Association, AmericanHort, California Farm Bureau Federation, Santa Barbara County Flower and Nursery Growers’ Association, California State Floral Association and the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC).

“It seems like a no-brainer that the United States should be putting American farmers first by choosing not to import cut flowers,” Young said. “Unfortunately for the federal government, this is not the case. American farmers are hugely disadvantaged by the foreign growers that are subject to fewer environmental regulations and labor standards, and it is time Congress does something to help our country’s farmers compete. Putting our farmers first starts at the top, and I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation. I encourage my friends on both sides of the aisle to do right by the flower and greens farmers in their districts and sign on to this important effort.” 

Benno Dobbe, a flower farmer in Washington state and California advocates on behalf of America’s flower farming families in Washington, D.C. each year.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“This is great news for U.S. cut flower farmers because the bill will bring special attention to the beautiful flowers and greens we grow,” said Benno Dobbe, a flower farmer with farms in Washington State and California. “It will definitely highlight our products and is an outstanding PR opportunity for flower farmers.”

American flower farmers and Certified American Grown also weighed in:

“Once again, Congressman Young’s support and leadership to raise awareness and advocate for our Alaskan flower farmers is greatly appreciated,” said Alaskan peony farmer Rita Jo Shoultz of Homer, Alaska, and a member of the Certified American Grown Council. “The American Grown Act is something that makes sense and is a wonderful way to acknowledge and support our hard-working, flower-farming families across America.” 

Alaskan Flower Farmer Rita Jo Shoultz with Congressman Don Young.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.



“I’m sure I speak for flower farmers from all 50 states who are very excited to see this kind of support for America’s flower farmers coming from Washington, D.C., and I hope this bill helps to raise the awareness of the trade issues our farms continue to face,” said June VanWingerden, chair of the CCFC and a flower farmer in Carpinteria, California.

“Most American taxpayers probably assume that the flowers they see displayed at our national cemeteries, federal buildings and government events were grown here in the United States,” said Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “The American Grown Act will help ensure that flowers purchased by our federal government for events, occasions and day-to-day displayed are grown and harvested by hardworking Americans.”

More information on the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus can be found at carbajal.house.gov/district/congressional-cut-flower-caucus.htm

More information about the American Grown Act can be at bit.ly/HR3019

 

# # #

 

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.

 

 

Renowned Sacramento Chefs Share Their Show-Stopping Menu

Sacramento chef Aziz Bellarbi-Salah understands the joy amazing food brings to people’s lives. In fact at his area restaurants Brasserie Capitale and Café à Coté, the menus embrace “the charm of life” an evening of fine dining provides.

Guests at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner June 12 in Sacramento will get a taste of Chef Bellarbi-Salah and Chef Christophe Cornet’s talents as they dine on the lawn of the State Capitol at tables overflowing with flowers and greens from flower farms spanning the entire state of California.

Sacramento icon, Chef Aziz Bellarbi-Salah, has created a delightful menu for guests of the Sacramento Field to Vase Dinner using much-loved California Grown ingredients. Photo courtesy of Brasserie Capitale.

The variety of flora is going to be breathtaking, as are Bellarbi-Salah and Cornet’s dishes. After all, Bellarbi-Salah and his father, Reda Bellarbi, have been icons of the Sacramento restaurant scene for over 20 years. Reda opened the doors of the iconic Aïoli Bodega Española (1800 L Street in Midtown) in August 1994 and The Grand Wine Bar (1600 L Street) in February 2007.

And they’ll be working with top-quality, farm fresh ingredients, many of which are coming directly from the California Cattlemen’s Association, the California Blueberry Commission, the California Olive Committee, the California Fig Advisory Board and the California Milk Advisory Board.

Guests at the VIP reception will enjoy a variety of appetizers, including avocado mousse canapes, beef tartare and brie and onion crostini.

Photo courtesy of Brasserie Capitale.

 

The multi-course dinner will feature a mixed green salad with watermelon, radish, ricotta, blueberries and chopped herbs; roasted salmon with tomato basil relish, eggplant with tomato-basil coulis; seared bavette steak with red wine reduction and potatoes gratin or a vegetarian option of ratatouille in puffed pastry; and cantaloupe with a fig and port reduction.

 

You won’t want to miss this unique opportunity to dine on the lawn of California’s capitol surrounded by the floral bounty of the state and enjoying the delightful menu created by Chef Aziz Bellarbi-Sala.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

An artisan meal; wine, craft brews and floral-inspired cocktails; and a tables abundantly dressed with American Grown Flowers and Greens. All in the shade of the trees of the State Capitol building. What’s not to love?

Just a few spots remain!

Congress Introduces Bipartisan Resolution Declaring July ‘American Grown Flowers Month’

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House and Senate have jointly introduced a bipartisan resolution to declare July “American Grown Flowers Month.” The resolution was put forth by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), along with Congressman Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.) and colleagues who are part of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

The resolution notes that the chambers recognize: that purchasing flowers grown in the United States supports the farmers, small businesses, jobs and the U.S. economy; that growing flowers and greens in the United States is a vital part of the U.S. ag industry; and urges “all people of the United States to proactively showcase flowers and greens grown in the United States in order to show support for our flower farmers, processors and distributors as well as agriculture in the United States overall.”

Alaska’s peony farmers meet with Senator Dan Sullivan, one of the original co-sponsors of the resolution. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

American consumers spend almost $27 billion on floral products each year. While the majority of consumers would prefer to buy homegrown flowers, only 20 percent of the flowers sold here were grown in the United States.

Senator Dianne Feinstein took time with flower farmers in February 2019 during the American Grown Flowers Fly-In.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“Buying American-grown flowers is one of the best ways to support local farmers,” said Sen. Feinstein. “California grows nearly 75 percent of American-grown cut flowers. Unfortunately, only one in five flowers sold in the United States today was grown here. Our resolution will encourage consumers to look for the ‘Certified American Grown’ label when buying flowers.”

Rep. Salud Carbajal, a stalwart advocate of America’s flower farms, is seen here meeting with farmers in February. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

Rep. Carbajal added: “I have seen firsthand the value the grown flower industry adds to our economy and communities during my visits with our Central Coast growers. I am committed to recognizing their contribution by designating July as American Grown Flower Month, in order to celebrate the beauty this industry brings to our homes and celebrations year-round.”

Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist noted the importance of the national designation recognizing the value and importance of homegrown flowers, and the hard work of America’s flower-farming families.

Retailers celebrate American Grown Flowers Month as a way to promote homegrown flowers with their customers.  Taken at Safeway on 19th Street in Sacramento.

“Officially designating July American Grown Flowers Month opens the door for florists, wholesalers and retailers to continue to discuss the virtues of promoting and marketing homegrown flowers – a point that’s resonating with consumers who understand that origin matters when it comes to the flowers they bring home.”

To learn more about American Grown Flowers Month, visit AmericanGrownFlowers.org/AGFM

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.

 

 

 

American Grown Flowers Star at 107th First Lady’s Luncheon

America’s flower farmers proudly contributed their blooms to the 107th Congressional Club’s First Lady’s Luncheon.  Photos by Kirsten Smith Photography.

Twelve hundred boutonnières. One hundred, forty-four table arrangements. Eighteen VIP room arrangements. Six cascading head table designs. Two enormous floral photo walls. And a 107 year tradition.

All created using American Grown Flowers and Greens and taking center stage at the 107th First Lady’s Luncheon hosted by the Congressional Club on May 14 in Washington, D.C.

Co-lead by Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet and Christi Lopez of Bergerons Flowers, this was the fourth year that Certified American Grown provided the flowers for this bipartisan tradition.

American Grown Flowers and Greens were elegantly displayed on each of the one hundred, forty-four tables welcoming guests of the First Lady.

America’s flower famers proudly sent over 21,000 stems of flowers from farms across the country to the event. A team of 20 designers, backed by a 10-person support team, worked for three days to transform the Washington Hilton Ballroom into an amazing display of the beauty that is represented in our homegrown flowers.

The amazing design and support teams were made up of designers and farmers from all across the nation, giving their time and talent to this worthy and memorable cause.

Christi Lopez (left) and Mary Kate Kinnane (right) co-led the team that masterfully designed the floral arrangements and installations for the First Lady’s Luncheon.

“This has truly become a wonderful opportunity for our organization to be a part of this bipartisan tradition of honoring our country’s First Lady, while showcasing what our American flower and greens farms can do,” shared Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “From the flowers sent by our farms, the transportation provided by DVFlora, the vases from Accent Decor, the hardgoods and flower food from Smithers-Oasis, the amazing volunteer design team – everyone came together to make this happen.”

A sincere thanks goes out to this year’s lead designers Mary Kate Kinnane and Christi Lopez for their hard work, leadership and amazing design vision!

Thank you to the following flower farms for contributing flowers and greens to this year’s luncheon:

California

  • Camflor
  • Dramm & Echter
  • Eufloria
  • Gallup and Stribling
  • Green Valley
  • Kitayama Brothers
  • Mellano & Co
  • Menagerie Farm & Flower
  • Myriad
  • Ocean Breeze Farms
  • Ocean View Flowers
  • Pajarosa
  • Pyramid Flowers
  • Resendiz Brothers
  • Westland Orchids

Florida

  • FernTrust

Virginia

  • Bloomia
  • Harmony Harvest

Washington

  • Continental Floral Greens
  • Holland America Flowers

A big thank you to the following design team members:

  • Jessica Allder
  • Stephanie Auville
  • Maggie Bailey
  • Mickey Bailey
  • Jennifer Baker
  • Brittany Brady
  • Laura Cavanaugh
  • Julie Christina
  • Jennifer Figge
  • Pia Geraghty
  • Quan Gorbachevski
  • Hosanna Guttierez
  • Pamela Hale
  • Jessica Hall
  • Crystal Hedgpeth
  • Tonya Jones
  • Betty Joslyn
  • Franceska McCaughen
  • Sue McKenzie Tendall
  • Jennifer Michel
  • Courtney Rosenbalm
  • Tina Rosenbalm
  • Les Saltzman
  • Melissa Saltzman
  • Julia Marie Schmitt
  • Kelly Shore
  • Carrie Wilcox
  • Nancy Zimmerman
  • Wayne Zimmerman

Christi Lopez Announced as Floral Designer For Alaska’s American Grown Field to Vase Dinner

Lush, Audacious Tablescapes to Star at Alaska's Field to Vase Dinner

Floral designer Christi Lopez of Bergerons Flowers in Springfield, Virginia, will be the featured designer at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Joslyn Peonies in Homer, Alaska, Aug. 3.

Christi Lopez will be the featured designer at Joslyn Peonies in Homer, Alaska for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in August.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra

Guests can count on Lopez to bring her contemporary garden style to the tablescapes and other arrangements at the event, along with a love for peonies and a respect for the American flower farmers that grow them.

“I’m excited to return to Alaska where just last year I was able to experience the amazing peonies and meet the farmers as part of a field trip with other designers,” Lopez shares. “I fell in love with the peony farmers and with Alaska.”

Tours through the Alaskan peony fields will be a highlight of the weekend with Christi Lopez and Betty Joslyn.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra

And although she doesn’t know yet what peony colors she’ll be working with, she’s heard that a big harvest is expected this year – and that’s great news for dinner guests who can’t get enough of these glorious blooms!

Christi will be responsible for designing the tablescape for our guests to enjoy. Photo by Joshua Veldstra

“They’re big, fat, audacious blooms and they make it easy to create a garden-style look that’s a pleasing and popular part of today’s floral design trends,” Lopez says.

Save your seat to this experience of a lifetime in Alaska. Photo by Joshua Veldstra

Expect multiple vessels overflowing with just-picked peonies and natural elements from the environment to give an Alaskan feel, Lopez describes.

“It’s the colors and the heavy petal essence of the bloom that enamors people,” Lopez says.  “And the best part is that I’ll be designing with these blooms at a time of year when no one else around the world grows them. Having access to that is amazing!”

The popularity of peonies and Lopez’s design aesthetic means that the remaining 20 seats for this dinner will go fast!

Make sure you have a spot at the table in Alaska!

 

Fun ‘N Sun 2019 Panel Discussion Will Cover How to Address the “Summer Slump”

Experts to Share How American Grown Flowers Month Provides the Solution

A panel discussion at the Fun ‘N Sun 2019 conference, July 24-27 in Santa Barbara, will cover the power American Grown Flowers Month has to address the “summer slump” of flower sales.

 

 

Floral designer Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore, John Burk of DVFlora and Crystal Hedgpeth of Safeway’s Northern California division, will discuss how American Grown Flowers Month and its related promotions have prompted consumers to purchase more homegrown flowers and greens during July.

 

Kelly Shore, John Burk and Crystal Hedgpeth make up the panel for this Fun ‘N Sun discussion about American Grown Flowers Month.

 

They’ll also share the importance and value of Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens and how they’re leveraging the consumer demand they’re experiencing to spread the #originmatters message and drive sales.

 

The panel represents the first time multiple members of the supply chain have combined forces to share their experiences and success with promoting the Certified American Grown brand and its innovative programs.

It’s not too late to register for the 2019 American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest! Visit americangrownflowers.org/julycontest/ to learn more.

Co-Leads for First Lady’s Luncheon Excited to Bring Certified American Grown Magic!

Collaboration Among Designers, Farmers is Event’s Secret Sauce

For 107 years, the First Lady’s Luncheon has been a bipartisan tradition. And when the event takes place in May in Washington, D.C., floral designers Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet and Christi Lopez AIFD EMC of Bergerons Flowers will co-lead a design team that will create dozens of arrangements and other installations with over 15,000 stems of Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens.

Guests of the First Lady’s Luncheon will greeted by a room filled with American Grown Flowers and greens at this 107-year old tradition. All photos by Kirstin Smith Photography

Together with 20 other designers and a 10-person support team, they’ll create centerpieces, tablescapes, two flower walls for amazing photo opps and hundreds of boutonnières. It’s a proposition that would seem to be stress-inducing.

The flower wall is a favorite at the luncheon, with long lines forming to take a photo with this beautiful backdrop created by the design team.

Not so, say the co-leads. It’s a celebration of collaboration among some of America’s most talented floral designers and American flower farmers. And it’s an opportunity for designers and guests to see the amazing variety of flowers grown here in the U.S.

 

 

“I think seeing all the designers come together, both new and returning, and the variety of flowers that come in are the most exciting things about the event,” says Kinnane. “There’s so much talent helping you produce the designs, including some of the best wedding designers in the country, plus American flower farmers and event experts. There’s such a networking moment that goes on. You’re able to network and talk shop across the work table with people you admire on social media.”

 

 

 

 

 

There’s no denying the amount of hard work that goes into it, but that’s far outweighed by the good times, says Lopez.

“It’s a huge opportunity to work with like-minded florists and farmers toward a common goal,” Lopez shares. “The number of new friendships and contacts it provides is immeasurable and to be able to design for such a prestigious historic event is an honor. To do it with other floral designers and with the help of flower farmers makes it fun.”

 

 

 

Adding to the fun is the somewhat spur of the moment nature that comes into play for the designers. Sure there’s a theme and a color palette, but there are still some surprises when the thousands of donated stems from American flower farms show up.

It’s a bit like Christmas when the designers open box after box with anticipation to see what stunning gift of beauty lies inside.

“You have to be ready for the surprises in the boxes,” says Kinnane, who’s designed exclusively with American Grown Flowers since 2003. “It’s so exciting and actually less stressful than our own weddings; there’s so much talent helping you produce this event!”

Mary Kate and Christy both participated in the 2018 Design Team creating limitless beauty that awed the guests.

So Kinnane and Lopez will do what they do best. Unpack gorgeous American Grown Flowers and Greens, lead dozens of volunteers in creating breathtaking floral designs and then let the beautiful outcome impress a couple thousand guests!

We couldn’t be more grateful!

 

 

 

 

 

S & R Farms Earns Certified American Grown Status

 

If you’ve ever wondered why New Jersey is called the Garden State, S & R Farms will provide an answer.

All photos courtesy of S & R Farms

Located in central New Jersey in Allentown just off the New Jersey Turnpike, the 350-acre Certified American Grown flower farm lies in the shadow of some of the most urbanized landscapes on Earth. New York City is an hour north on I-95 and Philadelphia is a half-hour south.

But at S & R Farms, the view includes acres and acres of peonies and sunflowers.

“You would never know that New York City is just around the corner from here,” said Nick Ricci, owner and head flower farmer at S & R Farms.

That proximity to major East Coast population centers also translates to a whole lot of potential customers nearby. Its location makes marketing a low priority for S & R Farms. There’s no website and it has little presence on social media. But the demand for its flowers is strong.

“The demand is never ending,” Ricci said. “It’s just about trying to get the right price for it.”

S & R is a family operation involving Ricci, his wife, stepfather and father-in-law, with help from a crew of seasonal workers. Together they raise about 50 varieties of flowers on 350 acres. Sunflowers get the most space with about 60 acres followed by peonies on about 20 acres. There’s also coxcomb, dianthus, feverfew, marigolds and zinnias, to name a few.

S & R Farms is all in the family. Nick runs the farm with his wife, step-father and father-in-law.

 

S & R gets its flowers to market via a network of wholesalers and brokers that put together bouquets for supermarkets. It also relies on a group of independent sellers who supply flowers to small deli-type stores in New York City.

 

“It’s actually a pretty big business,” Ricci said. “It might not look like much – each store will have three or four buckets – but you times that by 50 or 60 stores across the city and it’s quite a bit of stuff every week.”

Despite all the nearby urban environments, farming has always a good fit for Ricci. He’s worked on farms his entire working life, starting with produce and moving to flowers.

“It’s always been farming for me,” he said. “I never really liked anything else.”

 

After working on a flower farm for 10 years, he struck out on his own with the help of his stepfather, who had grown up on a farm in Vineland, N.J.

At the time they started looking for property, Princeton Nurseries, a major grower in the area since 1913, was going out of business. They ended up buying three of Princeton’s contiguous farms. “It was perfect timing,” Ricci said.

S & R started with peonies and gradually added more varieties. “We’ve grown every year,” Ricci said.

S & R Farms grows a variety of flowers on 350 acres just outside the major metropolitan areas of New York and Philadelphia.

Future growth might include venturing into selling flowers directly to consumers at the farm. Many surrounding produce growers have embraced farm tourism to help boost the bottom line. Ricci also is considering selling peonies via the internet.

For now, becoming a Certified American Grown operation is one way to bolster business. Ricci said he pursued the certification at the request of a couple of wholesalers who wanted to promote their offerings as American-grown.

“It really opens up the gates to go other places,” he said. “People are starting to care where their flowers come from. They want to buy flowers from here, not China or Colombia or wherever they’re coming from. It separates you from everybody else.”