Where Should We Go In 2020?

Send Us Your Suggestions For American Grown Field To Vase Dinner Tour Stops!

In 2020, the award-winning American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour will begin its sixth season. That’s six years of hosting guests on some of America’s most beautiful flower farms where they meet the farmer, take in breathtaking designs from a renowned floral designer and dine on a multi-course artisan meal paired with local wine and craft beers.  

Guests of every Field to Vase Dinner experience an evening filled with beautiful American Grown Flowers along with a multi-course artisan meal.  Photo by Danielle Honea Photography.

The dinner tour has become a spectacular tradition that introduces guests to the homegrown flowers available 365 days a year from American flower farms. And like any tradition, each year there’s a lot to live up to! 

That’s why we’re asking flower farmers, florists, wholesalers, sponsors and flower-lovers where we should stop in 2020. 

Get the feel of an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner like this one in Nashville,  TN. Then send us your suggestions for 2020 to stops! 

 

We want to announce next year’s stops in January, so we’re already canvassing the country, checking out locations and looking to shine the spotlight on America’s best flower farms, floral designers and communities that exemplify the growing support and movement for American Grown Flowers.

Got a suggestion for the perfect location? Email Andrea@AmericanGrownFlowers.org or fill out the application below and tell us why the American Grown Dinner Tour should stop in.

Perdue Makes Stop at Michigan Flower Farm on Listening Tour

U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue got a chance to stop and smell the flowers in Michigan last week as he toured the state to take the pulse of farmers and listen to their concerns.

Perdue’s tour included a stop at Summer Dreams Farms in Oxford, Michigan, where owner Michael Genovese showed him around and got a chance to offer a flower grower’s perspective on trade, the competition from imports and the importance of the American Grown Act and the Cut Flower Caucus. Summer Dreams Farms grows dahlias in Oxford, about an hour north of Detroit.

U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue talks with flower farmer Michael Genovese at Summer Dreams Farm.  Photos by Heather Saunders.

Perdue was in Michigan to hear from farmers at a time when tariffs and trade agreements are major concerns. Perdue also visited a sugar beet farm, a town hall meeting with farmers in Frankenmuth and Better Made Potato Chips.

At the town hall meeting, Perdue fielded questions about the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which would replace the North America Free Trade Agreement. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is still being debated in Congress. Opponents are concerned about enforcement and the prospect of losing American jobs.

“The world is watching,” Perdue told farmers. “If we cannot get an agreement with people on the north and south of us, how can we have an agreement with the world on trade?”

Perdue said he intended to take what he heard back to Washington and President Trump.

“Farmers are interesting, they like to look you in the eye,” said Perdue, according to a report on WWMT-TV. “They can send an email or write an email, but they respect when you come and respect them by looking at the ground, feel challenges they have here, feel the heartbeat of what they’re struggling with. That’s my job. That can make me a more effective advocate to the president and to the administration.

“He asks me when I get back, ‘how’s it going out there, Sonny?’ I have the opportunity to tell him. I told him a few weeks ago, ‘Mr. President, it’s tough and it’s getting tougher.’ He says well that’s negative and I say well you pay me to tell you the truth and that’s what we do.”

Amid all the serious concerns, Perdue’s visit to Summer Dreams Farms left an impression on him.

“Several of his staff came up to me and said they had not ever seen him so excited on a farm tour in a long time,” Genovese said. “I was also told he was talking about the flower farm the entire drive to and during the next stop on his tour.”

 

Award-Winning Cameron Mitchell Premier Events To Shine Last Dinner Tour Stop

If you’ve heard of Cameron Mitchell Premier Events before, it’s likely because this award-winning business has earned an amazing reputation in Columbus and Central Ohio.  

Think honors from ISES WOW! Awards and the Greater Columbus Arts Council, not to mention recognition for its various venues that include The Ivory Room at Miranova, a chic, modern event space located in the heart of Downtown Columbus; The Exchange, a contemporary open event space located in Dublin’s Bridge Park neighborhood; and The Terrace in the heart of The Short North Arts District.

New Albany Field to Vase Dinner guests are in for a real treat!  Not only will they experience the much-loved beauty of the Red Twig Farm, but also the delightful culinary creations of chef Amanda Stuart of Cameron Mitchell Premier Events.  Photo by Daniel Kelleghan.

Guests at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on Oct. 5 at Red Twig Farms in New Albany, Ohio, will get to experience all Cameron Mitchell Premier Events has to offer when the firm takes on the both the culinary efforts and the event coordination. 

The menu points to an amazing evening on the flower farm, thanks to the culinary expertise of chef Amanda Stuart. For as long as she can remember, Stuart has always had a passion for the creativity and artistic aspects of cooking. At age 17, she began independently executing small catered parties and creating custom cakes for family and friends. It wasn’t until she began working at The Hills Market as the director of food services that she decided she wanted to pursue cooking professionally. 

Chef Amanda Stuart will be leading the catering team at the New Albany Field to Vase Dinner on October 5.  Photo courtesy of Cameron Mitchell Premier Events.

In 2012, Amanda joined Cameron Mitchell Premier Events as a catering supervisor and rose through the ranks, developing as a bakery supervisor and later a sous chef. 

Here’s what Stuart has planned for Field to Vase Dinner guests: an Arcadian greens salad and cracked wheat sourdough bread followed by salmon with tomato and olive relish, flat iron steak with chimichurri, roasted seasonal vegetables and herb-roasted red potatoes. Dessert will feature mini chocolate chip cookies, lemon-berry shooters and pistachio macarons. 

 

Steak House Pizza is just one of the delicious hors d’oeuvers served at our Ohio Field to Vase Dinner.  Photo courtesy of Cameron Mitchell Premier Events.

 


With a culinary experience like this, a tour of Red Twig Farms and floral designs by Mindy Staton of
Two Little Buds Florist, it’s no wonder this dinner is already sold out! 

If you missed out, stay tuned for our announcement of 2020 American Grown Field to Vase Tour locations! 

 

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Ag Funding Bill

Bill Language Supports Floriculture Report

The U.S. Senate Appropriations committee has approved a bill to fund the Agriculture Department and related agencies for fiscal year 2020. The bill provides discretionary funding of $23.1 billion, $58 million over the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $4.1 billion over the budget request. Mandatory funding in the bill totals $128.6 billion.

The bill also includes language that supports funding for the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) annual Floriculture Crops Report, the only report providing national stats on the cut flower sector.

The bill’s report language states: “The Committee recognizes the importance of the Floriculture Crops Report and recommends an increase of $500,000 for NASS to complete the report. The Committee directs NASS to include data from Alaska in compiling the report.”

Sen. Dianne Feintstein has met with flower farmers each year at Certified American Grown’s annual DC Fly-In.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

Certified American Grown and the California Cut Flower Commission worked closely with Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Lisa Murkowski to ensure that language supporting the annual Floriculture Report was included.

Senator Murkowski, shown here with flower farmers at the Homer, Alaska Field to Vase Dinner in July, has long been a friend and advocate of the American flower farmer. Photo by Rachel Tweggs Photography.

 

This year and in 2018, the California Cut Flower Commission submitted appropriations requests to both the House and Senate, and had numerous discussions with Members advocating about the importance of the report. The report was also a topic at the annual Washington, D.C. fly-in.

In 2018, during the Certified American Grown DC Fly-in, flower famers elevated the issue for reinstating the annual floriculture report directly to USDA NASS officials and worked with members of Congress to help secure the funding necessary for its reinstatement.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

As you may know, the report was quietly suspended in 2016, but as a result of Certified American Grown and CCFC’s advocacy for fiscal year 2019, the report was bought back and released in May 2019.  The Society of American Florists (SAF) also lobbied for the report.

The approval of the ag funding bill with language supporting the Floriculture Crops report is a huge win for America’s flower farmers!

Regarding the overall bill, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said, “This bill funds our nation’s agriculture and nutrition programs and directly influences the quality of life in rural America. It provides our farmers and ranchers the support they need. This is a good committee product, and I thank Senators Hoeven and Merkley for working together to craft this legislation. It deserves the backing of the full Senate.”

Next, the bill will be placed on the legislative calendar for a vote.

Floral Designer for Last 2019 F2V Dinner Announced

Mindy Staton To Bring Her Sumptuous Designs To Red Twig Farms

Farmer florist Mindy Staton exudes passion. And when she pairs that passion with big ideas, watch out!

In other words, guests at the sold out Oct. 5 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Red Twig Farms in New Albany, Ohio, are in for a treat.

After all, Staton is an owner of Two Little Buds Florist in Hamilton, Ohio, and a second location in Cincinnati. And she’s a co-owner with husband, Josh, of Morning Sun Flower Farm, a venture they started in 2016 based on Staton’s vision.

Mindy Staton, owner of Two Little Buds Florist will be the featured designer of the much-anticipated Field to Vase Dinner at Red Twig Farms in New Albany, Ohio.  Photo courtesy of Two Little Buds.

A wedding and events florist, Staton is known for her flower-heavy designs that are packed with color and texture.

It’s a look she’s excited to bring to the Field to Vase Dinner where she’s planning designs showcasing Red Twigs’ gorgeous dahlias and, of course, red twig branches.

Think flowers spilling out of vintage trucks, in compotes along the community dinner table and overhead in the form of arches.

Flower heavy designs are Staton’s signature as a wedding and event florist.  Photo provided by Two Little Buds.

Her Instagram account gives you a glimpse into her lush aesthetic, and if you’re one of the lucky ones with a seat at the table, you’re going to be amazed by her inspiring designs.

This dinner tour stop is sold out, but don’t despair! We’ll announce tour stops for 2020 in January! When that happens, be sure to save your seat since nearly every dinner sells out early!

Sign up here for our newsletter to be the first to know next year’s dinner locations!

 

 

It’s American Grown Flowers Month!

We’re Celebrating All Month Long and So Can You!

For the third year in a row, Congress has designated July American Grown Flowers Month, recognizing the economic and cultural impact of America’s cut flower and greens farmers. It’s an amazing form of recognition right at the height of flower season! 

And there are so many ways you can participate in the celebration and help spread the word that origin matters! 

First place winner at King Soopers Store 112 in Bennett, CO. during our 2018 American Grown Flowers Month contest.

First, you can look for the amazing American Grown Flowers displays from retailers participating in the second annual American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest. You’ll find special presentations and supporting collateral in many Safeway, Albertsons, Vons, Bristol Farms, Lazy Acres, Big Y, Whole Foods, Reasor’s, Grocery Outlet and Ovallarta Supermarket stores. 

Look for the Certified American Grown label when you reach for a bouquet at your local store, this month and every month.

Grab some American Grown Flowers and Greens when you see them and encourage your family and friends to do the same. With 7 stores participating, it’s easy! 

Florists, you can also look to DVFlora for its celebration of American Grown Flowers Month that includes downloadable marketing materials and eight weeks of specials on flowers and greens from Certified American Grown farms throughout July and August.

Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore is one designer that is committed to using American Grown Flowers and supporting the farms that grow them.  Photo provided by Petals by the Shore.

And florists who are committed to spreading the #originmatters message and designing with homegrown flowers can use DVFlora’s dedicated online directory to quickly and conveniently purchase Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens. 

Finally, you can have a conversation about homegrown flowers with all of your connections. That might be in person, in an email or by sharing about American Grown Flowers Month on social media. 

Now’s the time to spread the word about the bounty and beauty of American Grown Flowers and Greens that are at their peak in July! 

 

[Press Release] Alaska Peony Farmer Rita Jo Shoultz Appointed First Chair of Certified American Grown Council

Flower Farmer Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony has been appointed the first-ever volunteer chair of the Certified American Grown Council.

Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony has been a staunch advocate for American flower farms, taking the lead on vital issues in Washington, D.C., during the annual fly-ins. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

Shoultz was previously the District 1 (Alaska) representative on the council.

The Certified American Grown brand is led by a council of American flower farmers and industry advisers. The members of the council are flower and greens farmers from throughout the United States who are committed to a unified promotional and advocacy effort that establishes an identifiable and iconic brand that communicates to the public the domestic origins as well as the high quality, freshness and consistency of American Grown Flowers.

Shoultz was a 2014 nominee for Champions of Change for the Future of Agriculture and was named a winner of the 2018 Small Business Championship by SCORE, a network of volunteer expert business mentors.

Photo Courtesy of The Homer News

She also worked to have Homer, Alaska, declared the “City of Peonies,” and started Main Street Homer, a task force working to revitalize downtown Homer through economic and cultural development, historic preservation and advancement of the arts.

In another change to the Certified American Grown Council, Diana Roy, business manager for Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers, has been appointed to represent District 2 (California). Roy was selected to replace Bruce Brady who recently left the floral industry to pursue other efforts.

Diana Roy of Resendiz Brothers Protea speaking to Congressman Jimmy Panetta (right) during a reception in Washington, D.C., has been a consistent voice for American flower farms. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

Roy has combined her passion for flowers with her background in public relations to help make Resendiz Brothers one of California’s largest suppliers of South African and Australian flowers – not to mention an international leader in protea farming. She has worked tirelessly to increase consumer awareness and influence floral trends to drive sales of protea flowers and foliage.

Photo courtesy of Resendiz Brothers Protea Flowers

Roy is a past chair of the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) and a frequent educator on protea growing worldwide.

# # #

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.

Join Us in Supporting America’s Flower Farmers

Hardworking American flower farmers who grow some of the highest quality and most beautiful flowers and foliage need your support.  Pssst … helping takes just a few seconds!

 

The American Grown Act, a new act introduced in Congress, would require that all flowers and greens purchased by the federal government for events, memorials, displays at national cemeteries and day-to-day flowers at the White House come from American flower farms.

Makes sense, right?

That’s why we’re asking all floral designers, wholesalers and retailers (and taxpayers!) to add their names to our growing list of supporters of H.R. 3019 American Grown Act.

Alaska peony farmer and Certified American Grown Council member Rita Jo Shoultz with Congressman Don Young in Washington, D.C., last February.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

The act, introduced by Alaska Congressman Don Young, also a member of the Congressional Cut Flowers Caucus, enforces something we think the entire floral community can get behind – requiring the federal government buy American Grown Flowers for use in its facilities.

Bottom line: It’s the right thing to do.

If you agree, we’d appreciate you adding your name to our growing list of supporters.

Just sign on and start spreading the word to your colleagues and friends!

America’s flower and foliage farmers matter. Origin matters. Your voice matters.

Help us ensure that the flowers at the center of our government’s events are as American as the dollars that fund them. Photo by Susie & Becky Photography.

René van Rems Brings His Magic To The Flower Fields of Carlsbad

The Flower Fields of Carlsbad attract nearly 300,000 visitors a year who come to bask in the breathtaking beauty of rows and rows of blooming flowers. Visiting the fields is a 26-year agri-tourism tradition. But another tradition for flower lovers, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, celebrated its fifth year at The Flower Fields on April 18.

Guests toast to another evening to remember at the 2019 Carlsbad Field to Vase Dinner.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

It was a sold-out event at the site where, since 1993, Mellano & Company, a Certified American Grown farm, has grown 800 million stems of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus.

René van Rems created a stunning dining room in the middle of The Flower Fields, complete with floral chandeliers.

Floral designer and educator René van Rems was this year’s feature designer. He also led a one-and-a-half day workshop April 17-18 where participants learned about tabletop vignettes, large display-style arrangements and floral chandeliers, and helped create the designs for the dinner’s tablescapes and other installations.

Mike A. Mellano shares both the history of Mellano & Company as well as the science behind growing beautiful flowers and greens.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Flower farmer Mike A. Mellano, Ph.D., CEO of Mellano & Company, provided guests with a tour of the farm and flower production prior to dinner and welcomed everyone who came to the event. Mellano acknowledged his team of growers, highlighting the team effort and hard work that it takes to keep a flower farm blooming in California.

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Guests then dined on a multi-course artisan meal at tables overflowing with ranunculus, created wearable floral flair at the tour’s famous boutonnière bar, learned about the American tradition of flower farming and left with armfuls of homegrown blooms.

A gorgeous boutonniere bar invited our guests to the enjoyment of making their own.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

One guest shared their experience saying, “There’s no way to truly share how incredible it was to sit between vibrant rows of orange ranunculus on both sides of the tables. The table was covered with orange, and the centerpieces were lined down the center of the tables in mass. Lights hung above us and the conversation was stimulating, meeting other flower lovers across the table. The location is stunning with the ocean as a backdrop.”

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour heads to Virginia next, stopping at Bloomia on June 1.

Don’t miss out on the 2019 tour!

Denali Peonies Earns Certified American Grown Status

Farm Thives in Alaska’s Peony-Friendly Environment

Steve and Dawn Brefczynski got an unexpected dividend from their son’s college education: the family’s own peony farm.

Brandon was attending the University of Alaska when he learned about the state’s burgeoning peony growing business through a roommate’s thesis on the topic. He suggested to his parents that they start growing peonies on the five acres where they live outside Fairbanks, Alaska.

“He said, ‘Hey, we should grow those,’” Steve said. “I said, ‘OK, we can put in a hundred or so.’ He said, ‘Oh no Dad, go big or go home.’”

They took their son’s advice in 2012 and went big. Or at least as big as two people can handle. They now have 3,000 peony plants around their home and on an adjacent five acres they recently bought. They started with about 1,000 plants and then added another 2,000 after clearing the property next door.

They call their Certified American Grown farm Denali Peonies. Their first harvest in 2016 yielded 1,250 stems, followed by 2,500 the next and 4,500 last year. This year, they’re expecting to harvest 8,000 stems.

The Brefczynski’s family peony farm began as a suggestion from son Brandon, while he was attending the University of Alaska. Photos courtesy of Denali Peonies.

 

It’s their first venture in commercial agriculture. Their only growing experience was the vegetable gardens they’ve tended in Alaska and in their home state of Wisconsin, from where they moved 25 years ago. They’ve also done it while working other jobs: Steve does carpentry and tile work and has a saw-sharpening business; Dawn is an ICU nurse at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

They’re now firmly a part of the burgeoning Alaskan peony business that their son’s roommate was writing about.

Here’s a thumbnail version: In the early 2000s, a pilot project by University of Alaska horticulturist Patricia Holloway found that the flowers thrived in the state’s long summer days. What made Alaska peonies a viable cash crop was that they are ready for harvest in July and August, a time when the rest of the world’s annual supply of peonies had been picked and sold.

It also coincided with the summer wedding season, which the big, showy blooms seem tailor-made for. And the flowers are relatively lightweight and perfect for export via air. Alaskan peonies have been an amazing success story: The state went from a handful of growers in 2004 to more than a hundred today.

The Brefczynskis learned how to grow peonies through classes offered by the Alaska Peony Growers Association. They attended the group’s conferences and took part in farm tours. They’ve also gotten help from Carolyn Chapin, the owner of Polar Peonies and one the state’s first peony growers, who has offered valuable advice.

Denali Peonies is a growing farm which began in 2012 and now includes 3,000 peony plants around their home and an adjacent five acres with an expected yield of 8,000 stems this year.

 

The other part of the Brefczynskis’ successful equation is hard work.

“You don’t realize how labor intensive it is to get started,” Steve said. “Every plant has to have hole drilled for it into the ground. And everything has to be mounded, so you have to figure out how you’re going to make these mounds that are a hundred feet long. And after the plants are in, you have to put in the irrigation.”

And then there’s selling the flowers.

“To be honest, the growing and the picking are the easy part,” Dawn said. “Marketing and the business end are the hardest part.”

They plan to step up their internet marketing this season and do more of their own shipping. They just launched a new website in April (denalipeoniesak.com).

But Denali Peonies isn’t all business. There’s a family component, too.

“We enjoy our peony farm as it has brought our family closer together to do activities,” the Brefczynskis say on their website. “Our three children, eight grandchildren and sisters have all helped with the peony farm, whether it’s weeding, picking or preparing the flowers for shipping.  It’s been a joy to have them all help to get our farm up and going.”