On Bees Wing Farm, a flower farmer is right at home

On 12 acres in Bluemont, Virginia, Graves and her husband are running Bee’s Wings Farm where they grow scores of flower varieties that they sell wholesale, by subscription, for weddings and at farmer’s markets.

Photography: @meganreiphotography
Bride: @grayems

Although she’s back where she started, Graves did not map out her life that way – to be back on her home turf being what she calls “a joyful and hopeful farmer.” She went off to college, earned a degree in horticulture and civic agriculture at Virginia Tech and worked on farms growing mostly vegetables and some flowers before circling back home.

During her eight-plus years of working on farms, she learned two important things: She really liked flower growing and working for other farmers was not a viable career path.

“I loved working for these other families, but I knew if I ever wanted to have my own family, I wasn’t going to be able to sustain myself and others on 10 bucks an hour,” she said. “Farming is hard on your body, and I felt like if I was going to break my back, I was going to do it for myself, not someone else.”

After starting and working for an urban farming cooperative in Roanoke, Virginia, she felt the time was right to strike out on her own and return home. Her parents invited her back to the old homestead where they continue to live in a farmhouse built in 1819. Graves and her husband, Chris, live in a newly built cabin on the property with their baby boy who was born in June 2020.

In 2014, Bee’s Wings Farm was born. In deciding to grow flowers, Graves could see that a lot of other people in the area were growing vegetables and that there was a good demand for flowers. All that time working for other people gave her a foundation for her own farm.

Bee’s Wing Farm Map

“I worked for farmers who were willing to take big risks and I worked for farmers who were very conservative, very careful with their money and resources,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been able to look at their experiences, and through trial and error, take a middle road. We haven’t expanded our business at an exponential rate but we’ve haven’t played it too small either.”

Graves had the growing part down but the business component was something new. She’s relied on word of mouth and some social media to bring in customers.

“My husband and I are both from the area and we are blessed with having a very supportive family and community,” she said. “And we’re really committed to growing and styling really high-quality products. I feel like oftentimes the flowers speak for themselves. And when we get them into the hands of some people, they really spread the good word.”

She has focused on doing weddings, selling at farmer’s markets, offering flower subscriptions, dropping bouquets at local shops and doing some wholesale. It’s all very time-consuming – growing, designing, selling. And with a new baby, she is looking at doing more wholesale, which would keep her closer to home. She’s excited about being part of a new co-op of 20 local flower growers who have banded together to sell their products wholesale.

“We’re trying to find ways of still making the same amount of money, but being able to be on the farm more, which means we can be with our son in a bigger way,” she said. And looking to the future, that means having time on weekends to attend Little League games or music recitals.

The timing, too, might be right, she said.

“I feel like we’re kind of in a transition phase,” she said. “And with the conversations that are going on around the floral wholesale market on a larger global scale, I think there’s an opportunity for us to jump in, in a bigger way.”

Stewardship of the land and organic practices are part of the fabric of the farm. In joining Certified American Grown, Graves sees those kinds of bigger issues she wants to support.

By supporting American growers, she’s also supporting land stewardship and social justice principles that aren’t necessarily followed in other countries whose imports dominate the flower trade in the U.S.

“I think American-grown has this awesome capacity to meet a lot of demand, and have some really big growth,” she said. “Obviously, we’re teeny tiny, and we aren’t going to be able to meet the demands of big accounts. But I still think it’s important that those big accounts are supporting American growers that are making the right choices for people and the environment. So, I’m excited to be a very teeny, little sliver of that conversation and part of that movement.”

In western Michigan, a farmer spreads the word about local flowers

At Creekside Growers & Flower Farm in a small town in western Michigan, owner Sue Dykstra is trying to kickstart a local flower movement.

She hopes that one day, local florists will seek flowers first from local growers rather than relying on distributors who fly flowers in from all over. Where she lives, it’s an uphill battle.

Photography: Kelly Lewis

“I think there’s a big disconnect,” she said. “When you talk to florists, they like the idea of buying local, they’re just not ready to commit. They are so used to working with flowers that can only be shipped. We’re trying to educate people that there is beautiful stuff right here that they haven’t been using, that can’t be shipped on an airplane. But in Michigan, it’s hard because they’ve never needed to.”

Dykstra has been in the plant business for more than three decades and has been growing cut flowers since 2016. She is in her 21st year of owning Creekside Growers and has a loyal customer base in the area of Middleville, Michigan, a town of about 3,400 people that’s part of the metropolitan area of Grand Rapids, which is 20 miles away. Those customers helped her weather the downturn of 2008 and the slowdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photography: Kelly Lewis

Dykstra started Creekside Growers after working for other growers for 10 years. She started as a wholesaler of perennials and annuals. She soon started adding structures and realized she needed more revenue to justify the additions. That’s when she opened her retail garden center.

Photography: Kelly Lewis

She now has two acres of greenhouses and another acre of outside space. She tends her operation with one full-time year-round employee and a seasonal workforce of up to 20 people. Creekside Growers has built its business on perennials and annuals but in 2016, Dykstra expanded into cut flowers; hydrangeas, lisianthus, zinnias, snapdragons and dahlias are among the many varieties she grows. Creekside Gardens also hosts potting parties, community events and offers bouquet subscriptions.

Photography: Kelly Lewis

In the process, she has embraced the slow flower movement and all it stands for – seasonal flowers that are grown locally, ethically and in ways sensitive to the environment. She has worked to learn all she can about the local flower movement and has taken online classes from local flower advocates Ellen Frost and Jennie Love. It’s that ethos that she’s trying to spread in her area.

“We’re a little behind other places with buying local,” she said. “It’s different here. We’re just not there yet.”

But Dykstra is doing her part. On her website above her bio are the words “cultivating a passion for growing a stronger community through local flowers.”

Creekside does its own bouquets, but Dykstra wants to build relationships with local florists. She has reached out to them by taking them samples, hosting a flower design event and inviting them to come see for themselves.

Photography: Kelly Lewis

“We want them to know that we can meet their goals and give them what they need. We might not be able to give them an exact flower because we’re not shipping it in. But we can definitely give them a beautiful flower. We keep sending them things and showing them all the different things that will work. And they’re starting to pick up on it and understand it. They say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could use that in a bouquet.’”

She said she wants florists to know “that we’re your friend, we’re your partner, we want to work with you.”

“We’re working to get them to understand why it’s a great idea to buy from your local flower grower, to buy American Grown and to really understand the whole idea of where flowers come from.”

Photography: Kelly Lewis

That’s one reason Dykstra recently became a Certified American Grown grower. She’s looking to become part of a network of like-thinking growers. She also wants to connect with growers who can provide flowers in the cold winter months of December through February so her customers have American Grown sources they can rely on.

She sees signs that her work promoting local flowers is paying off and is optimistic about the year ahead. She’s in it, she says, for the long haul.

“I’m just really excited for this year,” she said. “I feel this is a big, positive step for me. I’m expecting a lot of growth and positive things to come this year.”

Photography: Kelly Lewis

Flower Lovers, Experience The Flower Fields Live!

Save Your Seat by April 16th to Include Delivery of Farm Fresh Florals

Treat yourself to an evening of floral entertainment and education during the American Grown Field to Vase Virtual Experience live from The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California, on April 24, 2021 – all from the comfort of your home. During this magical evening, you’ll meet flower farmer Mike A. Mellano of Mellano & Company and learn about his family’s flower farming history, while enjoying a special farm tour that will take you through the 50-acre ranunculus rainbow!

 

 

As Mike explains the growing process and digs deeper into the science flower farming, he’ll touch on how Mellano and Company’s crops are grown using the most advanced scientific and environmentally responsible conditions. He’ll also share their strict post-harvest guidelines designed to ensure you always receive the highest quality, fresh flowers.

 

As part of the experience, you’ll make a virtual visit to The Flower Fields, which will be alive with blooms! The hillside where the farm is located overlooking the Pacific Ocean is one of the most spectacular and coordinated displays of natural color and beauty anywhere in the world. And its home to the Tecolote® giant ranunculus, also known as the Persian buttercup or Ranunculus asiaticus. Incredibly colorful and beautiful, the ranunculus flower is native to Asia Minor and is a member of the buttercup family.

 

Mellano & Company’s history makes this event even more intriguing to flower lovers like you! Started by Giovanni Mellano in 1925, today Mellano & Company farms more than 375 acres in San Luis Rey and Carlsbad. Year-round, they produce more than seven million bunches of flowers and foliage from these locations in the perfect, temperate climate of coastal Southern California. From these fields that have been producing Mellano & Company’s signature crops such as ranunculus and myrtle for over 30 years, to the newest crop plantings such as hybrid waxflower varieties, their pride comes from the exceptional quality of flowers and foliage they grow and a passion for flower farming.

Mike will also highlight the unique and very special relationship the Mellano family has with the Ecke family, owners of The Flower Fields, and how their partnership has worked to produce such a special farm for the public to experience and enjoy. Due to their continued benevolence and foresight, The Flower Fields continues to be a national jewel, an attraction that will be enjoyed for future generations – and you can experience it!

 

But you’ve got to save your seat to join this one-of-a-kind virtual event! And, if you’d like to include delivery of some of Mellano & Company’s renowned ranunculus in your experience, you’ve got to register by April 16!

SAVE YOUR SEAT!

 

Ticket sale proceeds go to Certified American Grown, a non-profit organization who promotes and advocates on behalf of American flower and foliage farming families across the United States.

 

We’re bringing Field to Vase right to your neighborhood!

Sitting on the sideline is so 2020.

Americans are putting a renewed effort into multi-sensory events this year, and Certified American Grown is excited to lead the way with our virtual Field to Vase flower farm experience on April 24. For this event, guests will be whisked away virtually to sunny Southern California onto the 50-acre Ranunculus farm at the iconic Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch.

It’s a totally new approach that opens these iconic evenings to every corner of the country. No plane tickets, no rental cars, no hotel costs. You can immerse yourself in the most spectacular moments nature has to offer in a matter of moments.

Guests will log on and participate in a live virtual program that includes a welcome reception with live music and a tour hosted by farmer Mike A. Mellano of the fully bloomed field, giving a behind-the-scenes tour of all things Ranunculus! Next, you’ll be treated to a fabulous design demonstration with Shawna Yamamoto of Shawna Yamamoto Event Design whose imagination will fill your need for beauty in your everyday life.  A sunset serenade will wind down the sure to be memorable evening.

Best of all, ticket proceeds go towards supporting Certified American Grown, a non-profit organization promoting and advocating for flower and foliage family farms across the United States.

It’s a sensory-rich evening, and Certified American Grown provides everything you need in this customizable adventure. We ship the appetizers: a cheese and charcuterie delight from Venissimo Cheese Shop in Del Mar, California, that contains three cheeses, three meats, Marcona almonds, dried fruit and local honey. And don’t forget the wine! Your package comes with 375 ml each of a red and white wine locally sourced from small boutique wineries in the Golden State. It’s enough to satisfy two to three people. We recommend grabbing friends, neighbors or family to enjoy as a group! Also, the perfect virtual date night!

You’ll also receive a farm fresh bouquet featuring ranunculus. We invite you to follow along with Shawna’s floral designer presentation and design your own fabulous arrangement using your favorite vase.

This unique Field to Vase evening offers three packages to choose from:

 

Option 1: Full Floral Experience with Wine + Wine

  • Wine, cheese and floral shipped to home.
  • Collateral and supporting documents.
  • Includes welcome reception, farm tour, floral demo, and sunset closing remarks.
  • $225

 

Option 2:  Virtual Experience + Floral Delivery

  • Floral delivery shipped to home.
  • Collateral and supporting documents.
  • Includes welcome reception, farm tour, floral demo, and sunset closing remarks.
  • $100

 

Option 3: Field to Vase Virtual Experience Only

  • Digital of collateral and supporting documents.
  • Includes welcome reception, farm tour, floral demo, and sunset closing remarks.
  • $50

 

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to mingle with top professionals in the floral industry and have your questions answered directly. You are free to join and rejoin as you please throughout the duration of the program as well. It’s OK to create the experience that resonates with you!

To register, visit our event page HERE!

We look forward to hosting you from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. PST on April 24!

Fox Hollow Peonies Becomes a Certified American Grown Farm

Beauty Replaces Ashes at This Alaskan Farm

 

Fox Hollow Peonies, a Certified American Grown farm, has its roots in near total disaster.

In 2008, a forest fire threatened to destroy the home of Milt and Wanda Haken in Nenana, Alaska, a town of about 400 people in the interior of the state, 54 miles from Fairbanks.

Although the fire burned thousands of acres, the Hakens, along with neighbors and firefighters, were able to save their house. But they were left with a completely charred landscape.

The Hakens slowly cleared the burned property, and used the wood to heat their home. But what they were left with, Wanda says, was “a large, open field in need of a mission.”

What once was acreage burned by fire, is now fertile soil for 5,000 peony plants grown by Fox Hollow Peonies. Photos provided by Fox Hollow Peonies.

The Hakens discovered that mission in a roundabout way. Wanda, a school counselor, attended a class at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, on connecting students to the food they eat by bringing agriculture into the classroom. During the class, the head of state’s agriculture division was a guest speaker who gave an overview of state’s industry.

“She said, ‘If I had any land right now, I’d be putting in peonies,’” Wanda said. “She said, ‘Peonies are going to be Alaska’s next gold rush.’”

The class later went on a tour of North Pole Peonies, one of only three peony growers in the state’s interior at the time. It was there that Wanda learned about Alaska’s niche in the global peony business: The flowers bloomed in July and August, a time when no one else in the world had peonies for sale.

“I went home that day and told my husband, ‘I know what we’re putting in that field we cleared.’

“Of course, he’s mister macho man – he’s a retired police officer, a Teamster – and he says, ‘We’re putting in flowers – you’ve got to be kidding me.’”

The next weekend the university put on a seminar for people interested in growing peonies that was led by Patricia Holloway, the horticulturist who discovered that peonies could grow in Alaska. Wanda wasn’t able to attend, so she sent Milt.

“He came home and said, ‘Yep, that’s what we’re going to do,’” she said. “So, we ordered our first roots that fall.”

That was in 2010. Since then the Hakens have gradually expanded their operation, and they now have 5,000 peony plants and 21 varieties.

Growing peonies wasn’t a complete stretch for the couple. Both come from generations of farmers in the Midwest and they spent time on relatives’ farms growing up. Wanda has always had a garden and a greenhouse and had dabbled in selling some produce locally, such as tomatoes.

Still, getting Fox Hollow Peonies off the ground took some trial and error. Their first set of plants had a hard time breaking through the heavy soil. Before planting their next group of roots, they reached out to other growers who showed them how to amend the soil to create a better growing environment.

“We had real good success with them coming up the second year,” she said.

For the business side, the Hakens teamed up with other growers in the area to form a co-op – Arctic Alaska Peonies. The Hakens were a founding member of the co-op that now numbers 20 farms. They share marketing efforts, chillers for their flowers and negotiate for the best deals on shipping and supplies.

Wanda is a member of the co-op’s marketing committee and makes it a point to spread the word about Alaska peonies wherever she goes.

“Whenever I travel, I spend a day or two doing nothing but marketing,” she said. “I pack materials and go visit all the florists, all the garden centers and wholesalers wherever I am. There are still a lot of people out there who haven’t heard that Alaska has peonies in July, August and September.”

Wanda and her husband Milt have found an unexpected calling as peony growers.

Wanda has spent her career in education but in Fox Hollow Peonies she may have found her true calling. She recalls taking a career interest survey as senior in high school and it came back showing that she should explore the floral industry. So focused was she on becoming a teacher that she thought that idea was “ridiculous” and “crazy.”

Looking back now, she says the survey probably picked up on her affinity for gardening, her creative streak and the desire to work outside.

“I just enjoy working with plants,” she said. “I’ve started making bouquets for the farmer’s market here and I think that’s my favorite part of the whole thing.”

Whole Foods Gearing Up for American Grown Flowers Month & Contest

Whole Foods Mid-Atlantic Division Is On Board for Second Year Due to Inaugural Success

 

July is American Grown Flowers Month as designated by Congress. But it’s also one of the slowest months of the year for flower sales. That is, until a remedy was put into place last year.

 

In 2018, nearly 1,200 retail locations participated in the first-ever American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest, promoting homegrown flowers in their stores with displays, signage, customer promotions and all sorts of other innovative hoopla.

 

 

 

 

The average sales increase in the month of July for the top five stores from each participating company was more than 17.5 percent! Overall, participating stores reported an average increase in sales of 6.7 percent.

 

 

Diana Westcott, regional floral buyer for Whole Foods Market for the Mid-Atlantic division, had nine stores in her region participate in last year’s contest. Thanks to the success of the promotion, she’s hopeful that number will increase this year.

The Whole Foods’ Allentown, PA store created beautiful signage that invited customers to celebrate American Grown Flowers Month with a purchase of homegrown flowers and greens.

And she’s already making plans.

She’s focusing on Certified American Grown Flowers in all her communications to stores as they plan for July. She’s helping stores with special messaging that calls out products in their store displays that are Certified American Grown. And she’s encouraging participation – and the related displays and promotional efforts – in this year’s contest.

The Philadelphia Whole Foods store announced American Grown Flowers Month by placing their inviting flyer front and center.

That nudge started last year when contest winners were presented their awards in front of all stores in her region.

“We did see a lift in almost all stores that participated,” Westcott says. And while the increased sales percentage varied from week to week, one popular high-traffic participating store saw sales that were 85 percent higher than the previous year for the week of July 22.

Whole Foods Philadelphia, one of last year’s American Grown Flowers Month Contest winners, displays homegrown blooms making sure customers know where the flowers are grown.

For retailers considering participating in the 2019 contest, Westcott says the key is letting guests know which blooms are grown in the USA. “The most important thing is that call out,” she says.

As to the contest being a solution to slow sales? “It absolutely helped with the summer slump,” Westcott says.

Learn more at sign up to participate at americangrownflowers.org/julycontest.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Kelly Shore Returns as Featured Designer for Virginia Field to Vase Dinner

Her Commitment to Designing With American Grown Flowers is Unparalleled

Renowned wedding and event floral designer Kelly Shore, owner of Petals by the Shore in Virginia, will be the featured designer at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Bloomia USA in King George, Virginia, on June 1.

At a recent wedding open house, Kelly created a beautiful installation using 300 of Bloomia’s tulips on the bulb. Photo by Brittany Drosos Photography

Shore is known for her lush, garden-style designs that feature high stem counts and tons of texture. Her clients appreciate her use of unique flower and foliage varieties, always paired with creative color play.

Shore’s connections to the Field to Vase Dinner Tour and Certified American Grown run deep. She’s long committed to designing with homegrown flowers 365 days a year and helping other designers do the same.

And she was the featured floral designer for the Field to Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska in 2017.

As the featured designer of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Homer, Alaska, Kelly created a stunning tablescape highlighting the beauty of the farm and its flowers .  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

 

She’s also led the design team for the First Lady’s Luncheon in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Certified American Grown and has participated in fly-ins to meet with national policymakers alongside American flower farmers.

Leading the design team in 2017 and 2018, Kelly oversaw and inspired both teams of top designers from around the country and was responsible for creating beautiful arrangements for the First Lady’s Luncheon using all American Grown Flowers.  Photo by Kirstin Smith Photography

 

“It’s an incredible honor to be chosen to design for this dinner. The Certified American Grown family is a huge part of my life and designing with American Grown Flowers 365 days a year is a staple in my business,” Shore says.

Photo by Lauren Fair Photography

At Bloomia USA, Shore is planning high-style, out-of-the box designs that incorporate peonies, tulips and greenery for lots of softness and movement. The greenhouse location allows her to push the limits on scale and form, creating arrangements that are both event decor and art installations.

Shore’s work has been featured in national and local magazines and blogs such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Florists’ Review, Washingtonian Bride and Groom, Style Me Pretty, Weddings Unveiled, Cottage Hill, Ruffled, Once Wed and United with Love among many others.

 

 

Don’t miss the chance to see the incredible designs Shore has in mind for this dinner tour stop!

 

 

Congressman Salud Carbajal and Congressman Ted Yoho To Co-Chair Cut Flower Caucus

New co-chairs expand bipartisan leadership of important caucus

Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA 24th District) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL, 3rd District) have become co-chairs of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

The Congressional Cut Flower Caucus was launched by a bipartisan effort of Congresswoman Lois Capps and Congressman Duncan Hunter in 2014. Since its inception, the caucus has grown to include a total of six co-chairs and over 25 members of Congress.

The caucus is open to all members of Congress and is dedicated to promoting the domestic cut flower industry, including educating members of Congress and staff on the economic and cultural importance of America’s cut flower and greens farmers as well as the challenges the industry faces. The caucus also sponsors events to provide a greater understanding of the issues and opportunities facing America’s flower farmers, their families and their flowers.

Rep. Salud Carbajal meeting with California flower farmers during the Certified American Grown DC Fly-In in February 2019.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

Carbajal’s district includes the largest flower-growing region in the United States by volume. For the last two years, he has authored a resolution announcing July as American Grown Flowers Month in the house.

Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“It’s an honor to serve as co-chair on behalf of our cut flower farmers, who not only bring beauty into our homes, but provide tens of thousands of jobs across the country and billions in economic activity each year,” said Rep. Carbajal. “Representing the Central Coast, the highest-producing flower region in a state that produces three-quarters of all cut flowers grown in the United States, I know intimately the value of this industry as an economic engine. In this new role, I look forward to continuing to highlight the economic and cultural value of American’s cut flower industry, as well as raise awareness about the challenges our farmers and small businesses face in an increasingly globalized economy.”

Yoho’s district includes the largest greens-growing district in the U.S. For the past several years, he’s worked to have American Grown Flowers featured in the White House, including penning a letter to President Donald Trump to suggest the policy.

Rep. Ted Yoho also met with flower farmers from the DC Fly-In delegation last month. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“I’m honored to be a part of the leadership for the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus,” stated Congressman Ted Yoho. “It’s vital that America’s flower farmers have a voice at the table in this very competitive market and it’s our job as members of Congress to ensure that our farmers are able to continue to do the great job they do growing flowers and greens here in the United States of America.”

Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

The Congressional Cut Flower caucus continues to grow in size and influence.

“Our farms are fortunate to have these two great champions in Congress,” shared Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “Rep. Carbajal and Rep. Yoho know our issues, understand the value our farms bring to their communities and why time is of the essence to address the challenges they face. We look forward to working with them in their new leadership positions on the caucus.”

 

# # #

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.

When Flower Farmers Go to Washington, D.C.

Progress Made on Many Fronts!

Last week, a delegation of flower farmers headed to Washington, D.C., to present the issues and concerns of American flower farmers to U.S. policymakers. These farmers left their farms, committed to the common cause, worked together, and shared their voices and insights on key topics, from immigration reform to ensuring the NASS floriculture report continues to requesting that the Trump administration feature American Grown Flowers in the White House.

Great accomplishments are made when farms come together for our D.C. Fly-In.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

This kind of trip isn’t possible without having a myriad of voices sharing their perspectives and passions in every meeting held. These flower farmers, along with floral designer Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore, brought their A-games!

“I feel we made great progress in Washington, D.C., this year,” explained Benno Dobbe of Holland America Flowers, a Certified American Grown Council member and chair of the California Cut Flower Commission’s Governmental Affairs Committee. “This was the very best trip we’ve put together. Very productive.”

Dianne Feinstein took time to meet with our delegation and hear the issues that mattered to our farms. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

Flower Farmers also went to the White House to discuss a key request: to have American Grown Flowers and Greens exclusively featured within the White House. This very special meeting went especially well, as the delegation explained why it was important that, like the wine and food served in the White House, President Donald Trump should take an “America First” approach to the flowers that are displayed in White House floral arrangements.

This year, farmers had a landmark opportunity to meet with White House staff.

“I’m very encouraged by the year-over-year progress we make in Washington, D.C.,” shared Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony and a Certified American Grown Council member. “This trip and these meetings have really helped elevate the value of our farm in the minds of our elected officials, their staff and members of this administration.”

Members of the delegation met with Senator Murkowski of Alaska.

All in all, it was the group’s general consensus that this year’s trip was our most successful D.C. fly-in on record! Voices were heard. We met with the right people and made new connections. We grew the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus. And we came back with a sense that we made good progress on key topics.

The delegation heads to the White House to lobby for American Grown Flowers and Greens.

Our thanks goes out to the following farmers, as well as Kelly Shore and federal affairs representative Jumana Misleh who did an outstanding job putting the schedule together and setting up meetings for our delegation:

  • California

    • Fred VanWingerden – Pyramid Flowers, Oxnard
    • Edith VanWingerden – Pyramid Flowers, Oxnard
    • Ivor VanWingerden – Ocean Breeze Flowers, Nipomo
    • Brooks VanWingerden – Ocean Breeze Flowers, Nipomo
    • Bruce Brady – Mellano & Company, San Luis Rey
  • Washington

    • Benno Dobbe, Holland America Flowers, Woodland
  • Maryland

    • Ko Klaver, Botanical Trading Co, Beltsville
    • Kelly Shore, Petals By The Shore,
  • Virginia

    • Werner Jansen – Bloomia, King George
  • Florida

    • David Register – FernTrust, Seville
  • Iowa

    • Quinton Tschetter – Tschetter Flowers, Oskaloosa
    • Carolyn Tschetter – Tschetter Flowers, Oskaloosa
  • Alaska

    • Rita Jo Shoultz – Alaska Perfect Peony, Homer
    • Betty Joslyn – Josyln Peonies, Homer

If you would like to be part of next year’s delegation, experience the process of advocating for your farm and being part of a team effort that makes a difference, email Andrea Philpot at Andrea@AmericanGrownFlowers.org to sign up. The trip will be held February 25-28, 2020.

Members of congressional hill staff showing their pride for American Grown Flowers and Greens during the annual flower and wine reception on Capitol Hill.

Certified American Grown Council member and chair of the California Cut Flower Commission’s Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Benno Dobbe of Holland America Flowers tips his new hat before heading to Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

 

Certified American Grown Council member Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony pins a Certified American Grown boutonnière on Congressman Don Young of Alaska.

 

Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) with California Cut Flower Commission CEO and Ambassador and Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist.