American Grown Flowers Are Focus of National Geographic Coverage

Certified Farmer Andrea Gagnon Shares the Origin Matters Message, Wows With Her Flowers

The November issue of the National Geographic features Certified American Grown flower farmers Andrea Gagnon of Lynnvale Studios.

It’s not every day that National Geographic rings your phone. But that’s exactly what flower farmer Andrea Gagnon experienced when the renowned publication reached out to her to request an interview and photo shoot on her Gainesville, Virginia, farm.

The coverage – touting the American Grown Flower movement – can be found in the venerated magazine’s November 2017 issue.

“I grew up in a household where National Geographic was renowned and never thrown away,” Gagnon explains. “It was an incredible process. The photographer came out months before the article was written and we spent seven solid hours shooting.” Yep, seven hours.

Shooting what? Just-picked American Grown Flowers from Gagnon’s LynnVale Studios, a 10-acre flower farm and art studio owned and operated by Gagnon and husband, Lou.

In the course of the photo shoot, the Gagnons created bouquets and centerpieces, along with four versions of a “flower painting” on the barn floor and a stoop. It was one of the flower painting images that became the hero shot in the magazine.

Beautiful American Grown Flowers arranged by Andrea Gagnon were used to represent the bounty and renewed consumer interest in homegrown blooms.

“It was a thrill to observe and participate in the whole process,” Gagnon says. “It ranks among the top five of all of my professional experiences. I felt like I had been on a roller coaster thrill ride of design. I remember looking at Lou when it was over and I could barely stand up. It was so overwhelming and big.”

Also big – the opportunity to drive home the origin matters message, which Gagnon did with prowess in the article.

“The more awareness the American consumer has about where flowers come from, the better it is for all of  us,” she’s quoted as saying. “It’s just like asking, ‘Is this a local tomato for my BLT?’ Now people can ask, ‘Oh, is that a local dahlia?’”

How it happened

So how did the American Grown Flowers movement catch the eye of National Geographic?

Turns out that a writer for the magazine was one of the members of the media who were invited to attend the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour held at LynnVale Studios in 2015. Months later, Gagnon received a call from the writer and the odyssey of making it into print began.

The flower farm at Lynnvale Studios played host to one of ten American Grown Field to Vase dinners held in 2015. Photo by Linda Blue Photography

During the interview there were lots of questions about the American Grown Flower movement and why it’s important to have consumer awareness about flower origin.

Flower farmer and floral designer Andrea Gagnon of Lynnvale Studios. Andrea also serves as a member of the Certified American Grown Council. Photo by Linda Blue Photography

“I never imagined it would make the magazine. What are the odds? I didn’t know until last week that it actually made it in,” Gagnon explains.

But it did. And Gagnon is still on cloud nine. She can’t wait for her father, the longtime National Geographic subscriber, who now lives in an assisted living facility, to see the coverage.

“I’m just so pleased for flower farmers and for these efforts to be acknowledged,” Gagnon says.

More photos from the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Lynnvale Studios can be found on our Flickr page. Simply click the photo to see more beautiful images from the flower farm. Photo from Linda Blue Photography

Get In On the Hottest Design Trend at J Schwanke Workshop

Add the Workshop to Your Field to Vase Experience

One of the hottest trends in floral decor is all-foliage arrangements that incorporate a vast assortment of greens into gorgeous, textural and long-lasting designs.

Guests at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on Nov. 18 at FernTrust, Inc., in Seville, Florida, can become experts on all aspects of the trend when they add the foliage design workshop with J Schwanke to their experience. The workshop is also scheduled for Nov. 18, from 9-11 a.m.

Schwanke, creative consultant for FernTrust and a renowned floral designer, will teach participants how to braid palm leaves, weave Ti leaves and make aspidistra roses. They’ll also help make foliage alligators that will be part of the evening’s decor, decorate wine glasses to be used at dinner later that day and contribute to an all-foliage portrait of Bobbi Ecker-Blatchford, a celebrated floral designer and former FernTrust consultant.

Ecker-Blatchford’s portrait will be on display at the foliage crown table where dinner guests will each make a fresh foliage crown.

“These are easy little projects that are super impressive,” Schwanke describes. “It’s all about fabulous foliage and all the cool stuff you can do with it.”

Corona’s FlexDial pruner has received numerous accolades and each workshop attendee will receive a free pair.

 

This exclusive event is limited to 24 participants, so be sure to add it at checkout.

As a workshop attendee, you will be provided with a complimentary Corona FlexDial pruner. However, you are encouraged to also bring your own florist knife, scissors and bunch cutter.

Reserve your seat at the last stop on the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner and add the fabulous foliage workshop!

 

Design Star is Spreading the American Grown Flower Love Nationwide

Register for Portland Succulent Workshop With Christy Hulsey!

Christy Hulsey often promotes and tags American Grown Flowers in her posts promoting her design workshops and events. Click to register for workshop!

Earning the designation of “Design Star” is no small feat in a nationwide community of talented floral designers. And when Christy Hulsey, owner and creative director of Colonial House of Flowers in Statesboro, Georgia, earned the designation of 2017 Mayesh Design Star, she admits to being overwhelmed. And deeply honored.

As she puts it, it’s not every day that an “old-school” flower shop gets this kind of recognition.

But Hulsey’s not one to sit on her laurels. She’s making the most of the honor by wowing guests who participate in the Mayesh Design Star Flower Workshop Tour – with eight stops at Mayesh wholesale flower branches nationwide featuring hands-on workshops. And along with giving students a great opportunity to network, explore floral design, and brush up on social media and marketing tactics, Hulsey is sure to talk about a topic close to her heart. The origin of flowers and the importance of using Certified American Grown Flowers in designs.

“I believe origin matters. I know what various farms do really well and what I’m going to get, so when I’m creating a flower recipe, I need to know what I’m looking for and what farm can deliver it,” Hulsey explains.

It’s thinking wholesaler Mayesh also understands and supports. After all, Mayesh is a sponsor of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, the award-winning pop-up dinner series that’s been criss-crossing America for three years.

For Hulsey, choosing Certified American Grown Flowers is deeply personal. She recalls how Mel Resendiz of Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers took her entire family on a tour of his farm, showcasing the flowers he grows and sharing his family’s story. From that day forward, Hulsey felt it was important to incorporate flowers from Resendiz’s farm when her designs called for it. “It’s important that I use a flower from his farm and think of him. It’s meaningful.”

Christy and her family met Mel Resendiz of Resendiz Brothers Protea during their family’s trip to San Diego.

Hulsey will carry the message to her next stop on the Design Star Flower Workshop Tour on Oct. 17 in Portland, Oregon. In fact, she continually shares the origin matters message in her social media posts for the tour and her stops at Pottery Barn stores nationwide where she leads succulent workshops for consumers and uses Certified American Grown plants. She will be featuring succulents from Mellano & Company and Dramm & Echter, both Certified American Grown flower farms, during the workshop in Portland.

What does she want florists and consumers to know? Using and buying Certified American Grown Flowers isn’t hard. It is important. And it does make a difference. And yes, origin does matter.

Click on image to register.

 

2018 Dinner Tour to Include Longtime Favorites, Exciting Surprises  

Now Seeking Floral Designer, Chef Recommendations

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour will stop at seven flower farms in 2018 – each unique in location, flower varieties grown and farmer story.

Next year, we return to one of our favorite farms, introduce guests to new farms on our tour and even include a few surprise destinations.

 

One of our most popular stops each year is The Flower Fields in Carlsbad. We’ll be returning there on April 26, 2018! So, mark your calendars!

Each year, guests at our Carlsbad dinner get to enjoy this spectacular view.

What makes this a popular and recurring stop? The photos say it all – guests are literally dining amid 50 acres of extraordinary color on a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Breathtaking doesn’t begin to describe it, because the visual majesty is paired with a multi-course artisanal meal, local wine, craft beers and a signature cocktail.

Which brings us to the next step in tour planning. We’re now seeking recommendations for floral designers and chefs who can bring their A-game to the Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields.

Debi Lily stands in a sea of orchids during our Field to Vase Dinner at Gallup & Stribling in Carpinteria, CA. Debi was our featured designer in Carpinteria, hosting a sold out design workshop prior to the dinner.

Interested? Know someone who is?

Apply to be a featured designer and tell us all about your design vibe and skills. Or, apply to be a chef/caterer and let us know about your farm-to-fork experience and your cuisine expertise.

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour has worked with some amazing chefs and catering companies to help host our special flower filled dinner events. We are looking for more “farm to fork” partners in 2018.

Stay tuned for the unveiling of the entire 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour “map,” coming soon!

 

 

Grower Co-op Backs Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience

Next Stop is Fern Capital of the World

Being recognized as best-in-class is serious business.

FernTrust Inc. in Seville, Florida, doesn’t take that designation lightly. Established in 1986, FernTrust is a cooperative of quality oriented farmers who share a rich history in agribusiness.

It’s a partnership that’s unique to the industry – acting as a cooperative allows the farmer-members to do what they do best – grow the highest quality foliage available.

FernTrust growers include James Register, Bob Thompson, John Hoblick, Immo Redeker, Leon Braddock, Jimmy Register and Janna Register. Together these growers have decades of experience making FernTrust one of the most trusted foliage producers in the country.

Harvesting the lush green ferns at FernTrust, Inc.

And these growers are huge contributors to the moniker “Fern Capital of the World,” – the title bestowed on this area of Volusia County Florida.

All this recognition and focus on quality is proof positive of what these growers will bring to the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, coming to FernTrust on Nov. 18. These growers have partnered to bring their amazing fern and foliage to the world. Imagine what will happen when they host a pop-up dinner party!

Guests will dine among FertTrust’s 360 acres of fern and foliage, enjoying a multi-course artisanal meal, wine pairings and craft beer. Grower David Register will also host a VIP tour of the site for 20 guests. And renowned designer and television host J Schwanke will wow guests with tablescapes that exemplify the “all-foliage” trend.

David and Jana Register, together with J Schwanke (center)

Make your Field to Vase Dinner truly fantastic by adding a foliage design workshop with J, also on Nov. 18 from 9-11 a.m. J’s calling the workshop “Fabulous Foliage Techniques” and at this exclusive event guests will learn how to weave palm leaves into nautilus shells, create aspidistra roses and attach Milky Way foliage to wine and champagne glasses. Each participant will also make their own all foliage crown and foliage centerpiece.

Plus, you’ll get hands on in helping create the exclusive foliage photo backdrops that will be part of the dinner. This exclusive event is limited to 24 participants, so be sure to add it at checkout.

With this combination of growers paired with a farm tour, workshop and a fine dining experience, you don’t want to miss this last stop for the 2017 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour.

Save your seat!

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!