Grace Gardens Wins American Grown Certification in Relaunch Contest

Grace Gardens of Birmingham, Alabama, is the winner of a free Certified American Grown Flowers certification as part of the recent relaunch of the brand and the announcement of new third-party certification partner Where Food Comes From (WFCF).

With the win, Grace Gardens’ farmer florist Kelly Wood becomes the first Certified American Grown  flower farm in Alabama.

Wood operates a 3-acre flower farm on a series of non-contiguous lots in a wooded Birmingham neighborhood. One lot is also home to her design studio where she creates using the seasonal flowers she grows.

Her season starts in March with forced branches and early bulbs and runs through fall. Throughout the year, she grows lilies, sweet pea, larkspur and even peonies, along with heirloom roses from 150 bushes.

As a floral designer, she creates for weddings, holidays, personal deliveries and community events.

Wood said earning the certification lends legitimacy and respect to her local, sustainably grown approach. As the only flower grower in Alabama since her start in 2012, Wood says the certification will help her spread the word about the importance of locally sourced flowers to wholesalers, customers and the three new flower farms that got a start this year in the state.

“I want us to have a really strong local source of flowers. It’s common other places in the country, but if you go to a grocery store here and the flowers are marked ‘local,’ it’s a 400-mile radius around Alabama. This year has really been about getting everyone on the same page and getting wholesalers to realize there are farmers here and to look to us before ordering,” Wood said.

Other farms that entered the contest to win certification also pointed to “credibility,” “legitimacy” and “honor” that American Grown Certification conveys.

As one entrant put it: “Being certified will help brand my flowers and offer a degree of quality that will qualify the origin of my farm. I am proud to provide American Grown Flowers. It would be a privilege to have Certified American Grown and their qualifications to add to my farm.”

Certified American Grown is the largest consumer-facing brand in the floral industry communicating the importance of origin and buying American Grown Flowers. With WFCF in place, Certified American Grown has created a new online audit processing system that streamlines the procedure for farms seeking to earn this valuable certification for marketing and increasing sales.

American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour Earns Marketer of the Year Award

We’re beyond thrilled to share that the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour has earned the 2017 Marketer of the Year Award from the Society of American Florists’ (SAF) Floral Management magazine.

American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour earns front page attention in the June issue of Floral Management.

The prestigious award recognizes original, highly successful marketing campaigns that increase awareness and the overall sales of cut flowers.

What made for the winning entry? We’ve since heard that Marketer of the Year judges were impressed with the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner campaign on several fronts: its professional execution, its distinct branding and its impressive media pick up.

But what the judges really liked was the dinner tour’s smart and effective use of experiential marketing that immerses the consumer in a floral experience in such a unique way – they’re on the farm with the farmers and the designers, and then they’re surrounded by the beautifully designed flowers during the dinner, and then they leave with their own bouquet.

As one of the judges commented, “When a consumer experiences flowers in this way, it’s a win for the industry.”

For the uninitiated and the yet-to-attend, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour is a cross-country series of elegant, intimate pop-up gatherings located on flower and foliage farms from coast to coast. Seasonal, homegrown and sustainable blooming flowers dazzle on beautiful tablescapes elegantly dressed by top U.S. floral designers, while scrumptious meals are prepared by local farm-to-table chefs.

Photo by Linda Blue Photography

At each unique meal and through the accompanying farm tour and design demonstrations, guests make a personal connection between flowers and agriculture as part of America’s floral landscape. Along the way, they experience the age-old art and science of flower farming while being served platters of delicious, seasonal and locally grown fare through four courses, including specialty desserts accompanied by vintage wines, micro-brewed beers and floral-inspired cocktails.

Guests enjoyed a stunning tablescape at an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Jello Mold Farm in Mount Vernon, WA. Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

Each event includes a tour of the host farm by the resident farmer and a floral design demonstration with one of the nation’s premier floral designers.

As the Marketer of the Year Award winner, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour is the cover story on the September 2017 issue of Floral Management. [See the full story here.]

The recognition is truly an honor. And the attention it brings to America’s hard working flower farming families – now that’s the big news!

 

 

Resilient Fern Farmer Says The Show Must Go On Post-Hurricane

FernTrust ready to host pop-up dinner despite damage from Irma

 

Repairs are underway at FernTrust. David Register shares with us the impact on his farm and the region.

David Register is a stand-up guy. Despite significant damage to his farm from Hurricane Irma, he’s promising an amazing American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour at FernTrust in Seville, Florida, on Nov. 18. In fact, he thinks the hurricane presented the perfect opportunity to really educate guests about how fern and foliage farmers handle whatever Mother Nature deals them – and bounce back in record time.

Register, executive vice president at FernTrust, rebounded in a matter of

Where Should We Go In 2018?

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

If our map has a blank look on its face, it’s because we’re just getting started with identifying stops for the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

The Society of American Florists recently announced that the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour has been awarded the “2017 Marketer of the Year.”

As we ramp up for our fourth year of this wildly successful tour – bragging timeout: the tour just won Marketer of the Year from the Society of American Florists (SAF)! [“Field to Vase Dinner Tour Wins Marketer of the Year“] – we’re busy asking flower farmers, florists, wholesalers, flower designers and our sponsors where we should stop in 2018.

We’re 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 us at  info@AmericanGrownFlowers.org and tell us why the American Grown Dinner Tour should stop in.

Tickets To Holly’s Dinner Going Like Hotcakes!

Just 5 Tickets Remain

It’s our second-to-last stop in 2017 and it’s nearly sold out! Now’s the time to reserve your seat for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Hope Flower Farm in Waterford, Virginia, on Oct. 8.

 

You don’t want to miss the chance to experience Hope Flower Farm, meet flower farmer and floral designer Holly Chapple and dine among fields of flowers. But time is seriously running out!

If you reserve your seat and meet us on the farm, you’ll be transported by the historic charm of Hope Flower Farms’ grounds, located in the heart of Loudoun County’s breathtaking countryside. The farm is a tranquil retreat, design facility and destination (also a registered bed and breakfast) where American Grown Flowers and floral designers grow together.

Little-known fact: The site was once a working dairy farm and still boasts several impressive barns and a stone Quaker house dating back to 1820.

Holly will bring her signature lush and wistful floral design style to the dining table, and guests will enjoy a four-course artisanal meal that includes wine, craft beer and custom cocktail parings.

A reception, a farm tour and a floral design demonstration are all part of the experience.

The dinner is the perfect kickoff to Holly’s signature event, Flowerstock, scheduled for Oct. 9-10, also on the farm.

Now in its second year, Flowerstock features demonstrations and talks by renowned floral designers, flower play, live music, food trucks, barn dancing, campfires and glamping.

Don’t miss out on this one-two punch for flower fans. Reserve your seat and the Field to Vase Dinner and follow that once-in-a-lifetime experience up by attending Flowerstock.

Tickets are scarce!

[Press Release] American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour Earns Prestigious Marketer of the Year Award

National pop-up dinner tour on America’s most beautiful flower farms is recognized for innovation, wide appeal, promoting American Grown Flowers

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour has earned the 2017 Marketer of the Year Award from the Society of American Florists’ (SAF) Floral Management magazine.

 

The prestigious award recognizes original, highly successful marketing campaigns that increase awareness and the overall sales of cut flowers. The award includes a $5,000 cash prize sponsored by Design Master Color Tool Inc.

The official presentation of the award and prize, scheduled to take place at the SAF Annual Convention in Palm Beach, Florida, was instead made today via a Facebook Live event hosted by SAF due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma. SAF cancelled its convention earlier this week.

 

“Marketer of the Year judges were impressed with the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner campaign on several fronts. It was so professionally executed – the branding is beautiful and carried throughout all elements of the campaign so thoroughly. And the media pickup was impressive. But what the judges really liked was that it is a smart and effective use of experiential marketing,” described Kate Penn, SAF chief content and publishing officer. “The campaign immerses the consumer in a floral experience in such a unique way – they’re on the farm with the farmers and the designers, and then they’re surrounded by the beautifully designed flowers during the dinner, and then they leave with their own bouquet. As one of the judges commented, ‘when a consumer experiences flowers in this way, it’s a win for the industry.’”

“The Field to Vase Dinner Tour has certainly inspired a national conversation about the importance of buying American Grown Flowers, while providing an intriguing way for consumers to show their support,” said Kasey Cronquist, administrator for Certified American Grown. “Thanks to the vision and commitment of our flower farmers, the Certified American Grown logo is now the largest consumer-facing brand in the floral industry, spotlighting the homegrown origin of flowers.”

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, now in its third year, is a cross-country series of elegant, intimate pop-up gatherings located on flower and foliage farms from coast to coast. Seasonal, homegrown and sustainable blooming flowers dazzle on beautiful tablescapes elegantly dressed by top U.S. floral designers, while scrumptious meals are prepared by local farm-to-table chefs.

Click the image above to watch a video created in celebration of the Marketer of the Year Award

At each unique meal and through the accompanying farm tour and design demonstrations, guests, who attend from all areas of the country, make a personal connection between flowers and agriculture as part of America’s floral landscape. Along the way, they experience the age-old art and science of flower farming while being served platters of delicious, seasonal and locally grown fare through four courses, including specialty desserts accompanied by vintage wines, micro-brewed beers and floral-inspired cocktails.

Each event includes a tour of the host farm by the resident farmer and a floral design demonstration with one of the nation’s premier floral designers.

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour is annually presented by Certified American Grown Flowers, a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. flower farmers, including small and large farms located throughout the country. Certified farms participate in an independent, third-party supply chain audit to verify U.S. origin and assembly of the flowers they grow.

The dinner tour has been featured in Sunset Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Martha Stewart’s online blog and in local print and broadcast media in nearly every city it visits. The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner format was also recently adopted by a floral industry group in Canada that deemed its event “Petals to Plates.”

Previous winners of the Marketer of the Year award, now in its 24th year, include an app that drives customer loyalty and engagement, a re-imagined florist’s business in Pennsylvania and a campaign to celebrate Women’s Day in the U.S.

As the Marketer of the Year Award winner, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour will be the cover story on the September 2017 issue of Floral Management.  Read the Floral Management feature story here.

# # #

About Certified American Grown Flowers

Launched on July 1, 2014, Certified American Grown 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 brand and logo give 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.org or Facebook/AmericanGrownFlowers.

 

Certified American Grown Flowers Selects Where Food Comes From As Its Official Third-Party Certifier

New Partnership To Kick Off With Online Launch Party September 14

Certified American Grown Flowers has selected Where Food Comes From Inc. (WFCF) as its official exclusive third-party certifier.

The new partnership will be launched via video conference on September 14, introducing the team at WFCF and highlighting  program improvements as well as  the new benefits of the Certified program going forward.

WFCF is an agriculture-focused certification company that specializes in origin claims for food and products. Based in Castle Rock, Colorado, WFCF has over 20 years of experience with source verification programs and is recognized as the No. 1 provider of certification and verification services to the food industry.

“WFCF’s depth of experience, paired with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the great potential they see in further developing Certified American Grown, will really help take our program to another level,” said Kasey Cronquist, administrator for Certified American Grown.

Millions of stems of flowers are now Certified American Grown every year to help consumers quickly identify homegrown blooms at point of purchase.

Certified American Grown is the largest consumer-facing brand in the floral industry, communicating the importance of origin and buying American Grown Flowers.

With WFCF in place, Certified American Grown has created a new online audit processing system that streamlines the procedure  for farms seeking to earn this valuable certification for marketing and increasing sales.

Earning certification as an American Grown flower farm not only communicates the homegrown origin of a farm’s flowers and foliage, it also  helps consumers quickly make purchasing decisions based on their understanding of quality, sustainability, seasonality, freshness and consistency.

The American Grown Flowers brand symbolizes a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. flower farms representing small and large entities across the country. Together, the brand and its logo give consumers confidence in the homegrown source of their flowers and assure them that the bouquets and bunches they purchase come from an American flower-farming family.

“The Certified American Grown national marketing program that we’ve really does help drive our sales,” explains Rita Jo Shoultz, owner of Alaska Perfect Peonies. “It’s the only guarantee in the floral industry and our customers tell us they are seeing sales increase in their stores with the Certified American Grown logos.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to be selected as the exclusive certification company for Certified American Grown,” shared Leann Saunders, co-founder and COO of Where Food Comes From. “We see great potential for this program. Combined with our certification experience within the agricultural industry, we’re excited to see this program grow for America’s flower farmers.”

Rallying Around Alaska’s Peony Farmers

Celebrating American Grown Flowers In Alaska

A beautiful tablescape by floral designer Kelly Shore paid tribute to the culture and beauty of Alaska during the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska.

It could not have been a more fitting conclusion to American Grown Flowers Month.

Overlooking Kachemak Bay on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, the Homer Spit, with at least 5 different glaciers shimmering in the sunlight from across the bay, guests of our most recent American Grown Field to Vase Dinner enjoyed a floral filled evening of hope and grandeur.

The peony fields of Scenic Place Peonies overlooking Kachemak Bay.

Known for its towering mountain peaks, supersized salmon and incredible vistas, agriculture production doesn’t really hit the radar screen of industries Alaska’s known for. In fact, Alaska currently ranks #50 in U.S. agriculture production.

However, what we found in Alaska was a dedicated and hard working group of Alaskan peony farmers who are looking to change all of that and the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour’s stop in Homer, Alaska at Scenic Place Peonies provided a perfect opportunity to celebrate the work underway and tell their story.

Flower farmer Beth Van Sandt gives guests a personalized tour through her peony fields.

Our dinner guests enjoyed a tour through the peony fields with flower farmer Beth Van Sandt and her husband Kurt Weichhand. Beth and Kurt were gracious hosts, giving our dinner attendees full reign of their property to enjoy, explore and experience.

Beth VanSandt and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies.

 

Each guest was greeted at their seat with a huge Alaskan Grown peony to go along with a beautifully designed tablescape by Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore.

Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore did an outstanding job featuring not only the flowers grown on the farm, but developed her creative vision to ensure that her design paid tribute to what Alaska is known for; incorporating authentic fish nets, shells and glass fishing floats.

It was beautiful.

Kelly Shore of Petals By the Shore was the featured designer at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Homer, Alaska.

 

So many of our guests captured the excitement of the evening via social media.

The evening’s menu also stayed true to Alaska’s fishing and seafood heritage. Jakolof Oyster Company gave guests a real treat, providing a live shucking demonstration and what seemed to be an unlimited supply of fresh oysters for the evening’s reception. Chef Dave Thorne of Delicious Dave was responsible for the perfectly prepared King and Sockeye Salmon. The King Salmon was a late addition and a special treat added to the menu, caught the day before by Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. Cronquist quipped during his remarks that this Field to Vase Dinner was essentially, “river to table.” Chef Dave also treated everyone to a live fish filet demonstration prior to the beginning of dinner.

Dave Thorne of Delicious Dave’s with Certified American Grown Administrator and dinner emcee Kasey Cronquist.

This tour stop proved to be a true Alaskan adventure. The American Grown Field to Vase spotlight highlighted a vibrancy and a beauty in Alaska that really symbolizes the growing momentum, opportunity and movement for more American Grown Flowers.

Even in Alaska.

Check out more photos from the evening’s festivities found on our Flickr page.

If you attended our dinner in Alaska, please leave a comment and share your experience from the evening with our readers.

Cheers!

More photos can be found on our Flickr page. Click to view.

Heading to Holly’s

Join Us on a Floral Design Playground

While standing on the property that would eventually become Hope Flower Farm, floral designer and flower farmer Holly Chapple let her imagination run wild, imagining a flower festival held in the gently sloping fields and impressive barns.

 

 

Holly’s dream expanded after she purchased the farm and witnessed the tranquility the location brought to the floral designers who traveled to spend time there learning and renewing their passion for their craft.

 

And as she created a playground for floral design and teaching, Holly’s vision was enhanced, opening the door to bringing the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour to Hope Flower Farm in Waterford, Virginia, on Oct. 8, just a day before “Flowerstock,” Holly’s visionary flower festival.

 

Click here to watch the Flowerstock video shared by Holly Chapple on Instagram.

Flower lovers won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to experience Hope Flower Farm, meet Holly and dine in the flower fields at this, the next stop on the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

Guests will be transported by the historic charm of the grounds located in the heart of Loudoun County’s breathtaking countryside. The farm is a tranquil retreat, design facility and destination (also a registered bed and breakfast) where American Grown Flowers and floral designers grow together.

The historic site was once a working dairy farm and has several impressive barns and a stone Quaker house dating back to 1820.

Holly will bring her signature lush and wistful floral design style to the dining table, and guests will enjoy a four-course artisanal meal that includes wine, craft beer and custom cocktail parings.

A reception, a farm tour and a floral design demonstration are part of the experience.

The dinner is the perfect kickoff to Flowerstock, scheduled for Oct. 9-10 on the farm.

Now in its second year, Flowerstock features demonstrations and talks by renowned floral designers, flower play, live music, food trucks, barn dancing, campfires and glamping.

Don’t miss out on this one-two punch for flower fans. Reserve your seat and the Field to Vase Dinner and follow that once-in-a-lifetime experience up by attending Flowerstock.

Design With A Florist on the Forefront of the American Grown Flower Movement

Add Kelly Shore’s Workshop to Your Alaskan Experience

Floral designer Kelly Shore was an early adopter of the locavore flower movement. In 2010, after moving to the Washington, D.C., area from the midwest, Kelly began working with nearby flower farms to include locally grown flowers in the wedding bouquets she was creating. She also got involved in farm-to-table dinners being held in the region.

Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore is the featured designer for our next Field to Vase Dinner in Homer, AK.

And just like that, she was hooked on American Grown Flowers.

Kelly developed a unique, lush garden style that includes myriad flower varieties and foliage – because she knows texture makes all the difference and bold color combinations bring the wow factor.

Always an innovator, Kelly embarked on a year-long project at one of her Maryland flower farms where she designed seasonal photo shoots to highlight how event designers might use 100 percent locally grown flowers, foliage and plants to create bouquets, centerpieces and wedding ceremony decor. The project highlighted how the quality and variety of flowers available locally was more important – and more beautiful – than creating cookie-cutter designs. The project was featured in industry magazines.

Kelly led the design team for the annual First Lady’s Luncheon in Washington, D.C. on May 4, 2017.

But Kelly wasn’t done being imaginative. In May 2017, she led a 20-person volunteer team to design the floral decor for the annual First Lady’s Luncheon in Washington, D.C., where 18,000 Certified American Grown stems were featured in every single floral design at the event.

Imagine being able to soak up Kelly’s expertise, design prowess and love for local flowers. Now you can!

As the featured designer for the Homer, Alaska Field to Vase dinner, Kelly will also host a design workshop at this stunning locale.

Guests at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour on July 29 in Homer, Alaska, can learn alongside Kelly at a design workshop Friday, July 28 from 9 a.m. to noon at Scenic Place Peonies. (Add the workshop when you reserve your dinner seat. Already attending? Add the workshop today!)

The workshop will include a light breakfast and hands-on training on how you can incorporate Alaska’s highly coveted peony blossoms into a show-stopping centerpiece.

Kelly will guide participants from beginning to end as she discusses how to choose blooms and the supporting flowers and foliage. You’ll also receive professional images of you designing and the finished product, and you’ll take home  your centerpiece made of all American Grown Flowers.

It’s not every day that you can design alongside one of the country’s premier designers who’s passionate about designing with American Grown Flowers.

Make the most of your entire Alaskan experience by adding Kelly’s workshop to your visit. Only a few spots remain!

Register now!