Rene van Rems Wows at First 2018 Tour Stop

Floral Designer Shares the Inside Story on Prepping for a Field to Vase Dinner

You might think the job of a floral designer is singular – to surprise and delight by creating beautiful flower arrangements.

When the designer is Rene van Rems, you’d be wrong.

Van Rems was the floral designer for the recent American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Resendiz Brothers Protea in Fallbrook, California. But his efforts went far beyond arranging flowers. He started by visiting the site with flower farmer Mel Resendiz to help select the perfect location for the dinner.

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Since proteas are grown on steep hillsides, this was no small feat. But van Rems knew what he was looking for – a hilltop surrounded by other flower-adorned hills that would provide a sense of warmth and intimacy for dinner guests.

Beautiful farm fresh flowers adorned the tables, welcoming guests to a night of food, wine and flowers. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

Next up, van Rems determined a theme for the arrangements that would adorn the long banquet tables and selected containers from Field to Vase Dinner Tour sponsor Syndicate Sales.

He decided to create three variations of a floral design that featured pincushion proteas and he created them in reverse proportion. “We draped everything down while featuring the pincushions. This way, the flowers are looking at the diner and the diner is looking at the flowers. The flowers were the star and the materials we put with them were very botanical and were from the surrounding landscape. It was a real execution of ‘field to vase.’”

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

For the containers, van Rems selected brushed glass vases with similar designs and textures in colors that provided contrast with the flowers and surrounding landscape.

The amazing part – the 180 arrangements needed for the dinner were created by 15 students who were part of a workshop van Rems led in advance of the dinner. Not only did they learn floral design skills, participants got a hands-on experience in event execution.

“The event became a lesson plan,” van Rems explains. “The students learned what you can’t learn in a book or on YouTube; it was truly experiential.”

Floral designer Rene van Rems was responsible for the beautiful tablescape and floral design installations. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Beyond special events, van Rems regularly holds workshops at his state-of-the-art training center in Carlsbad, California. His two-, three- and five-day programs cover floral trends, advanced floral design techniques and business basics.

As for the reviews of the first stop for the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour – van Rems shares what guests told him: “Everyone loved the experience because it was beyond their expectations. People had no idea what to expect and they were blown away by a beautifully executed dinner. The No. 1 wow was the site and the flowers were a spoke in the wheel of an amazing experience.”

We couldn’t agree more.

 

 

Meet the American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest Judges

Distinguished Panel to Review Competitors Store Displays

April showers will bring July’s joy as America celebrates American Grown Flowers Month to recognize the economic and cultural impact of cut flower and greens farmers.

That’s why Certified American Grown is working with farmers and retailers nationwide to create colorful in-store promotion programs that help consumers identify and appreciate homegrown blooms throughout July.

More than 1,200 stores have signed up to participate in the campaign so far.

And that’s just the start of who is onboard with our national contest built around this month-long recognition. Meet our distinguished judges who will rate the in-store displays that promote American Grown Flowers Month:

 

Travis Rigby is publisher of Super Floral magazine, Florists’ Review and president of FlowerBox and PosterGarden.com, creative presentation sites he founded earlier this decade. A resident of Portland, Oregon, Rigby has a degree in communications from the University of Utah.

 

 

 

J Keith White, AIFD, is the creative director for American Floral Trends Forecast and AANDK Productions. A floral designer himself, he’s known in the industry for combining modern and traditional floristry into a diverse art form. Most Americans would recognize his work with extravagant floral designs for the official cars of the Rose Parade each New Year’s Day.

 

 

 

 

Tom Bowling, AIFD, PFCI, is another Rose Parade veteran, serving since 1996 as both a designer and eventually a judge for the spectacular floats. Today, the education director for Syndicate Sales (a sponsor of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour) in Fairfield, Ohio, Bowling has a 37-year history with the floral industry, including owning his own shop for 20 years and serving as a past president of AIFD.

 

Contest participants will be featured in Super Floral and Florists’ Review, with winners of the cash prizes enjoying the publications’ spotlights. Additionally, Certified American Grown will feature and promote all participants on social media, in a press release and on its blog and website.

Stores will be judged on the quality and beauty of their displays, their ability to increase flower sales in July and their efforts to promote the celebration overall, as well as the Certified American Grown brand.

It’s not too late to be involved with American Grown Flowers Month. Visit AmericanGrownFlowers.org/julycontest/ to learn more and register!

A Mountain of Flowers And Fun

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers Field to Vase Dinner

 

The reveal of the dinner’s location was worth the drive up the mountain.

If the majority of Americans are unaware of where their flowers come from, it’s probably safe to say they can’t imagine what our farmers are willing to do to grow them. On April 7, the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour kicked off at Resendiz Brother’s Protea Growers in Fallbrook, California, where 154 guests were invited to experience an evening on Mel Resendiz’s flower farm.

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This isn’t your grandma’s flower garden.

In fact, flower farming in this region is really an extreme version of flower farming, harvesting high in the hills, in extremely steep terrain, always mindful of the many rattlesnakes that inhabit the hillsides. So, our guests (many traveling in from throughout the country) were in for a special treat, but they would all have to go the extra mile (or five) in order to experience this extraordinary dinner spot.

And it didn’t disappoint.

High atop the hills of Fallbrook, guests enjoyed expansive views from the flower fields at Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers.

After a 25-minute drive up the side of a mountain, guests were greeted with a glass of champagne as they took in the incredible views from atop the hills of Fallbrook and learned that they were standing in the middle of one of Mel’s flower fields. Bales of hay were used to help prevent guests from falling down the hill where Mel’s pincushions were growing. The concern wasn’t for the flowers, but the safety of the guests. Yet, these steep hillsides are the same fields that Resendiz Brothers produces its beautiful protea on.

Guests were invited to find their seat, make their own boutonnière and pet the baby goats.

Guests were in awe.

Beautiful farm fresh flowers adorned the tables, welcoming guests to a night of food, wine and flowers.

Floral designer Rene van Rems worked for two days with a team of people to prepare the arrangements and design installations for the event, pulling flowers right from the fields as needed. Rene’s vision went well beyond the tablescape, designing beautiful floral installations throughout the dinner site, including the decorating of “The Limo” that became a social media hit with guests who joyfully posed in front of  the old abandon Dodge truck that had been converted to an RV decades ago.

Floral designer Rene van Rems was responsible for the beautiful tablescape and floral design installations.

Flower farmer Mel welcomed guests, sharing that he was very moved by the experience of having so many people for dinner on his farm.

“I could not imagine this,” he said. “It is wonderful for me to have all of you here.”

Mel Resendiz welcomed guests to his farm.

A flower-focused event, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinners are helping translate people’s passion for sustainable, quality, homegrown food to the flowers we place at the center of the table. Connecting people with the flowers we grow, the farmers who grow them and the opportunity to see just what it takes to be an American flower farmer is what makes these events so unique and memorable for those who attend.

And everyone leaves with flowers.

Flowers, succulents and swag bags full of floral goodies were waiting for guests as they departed the dinner.

Winning!

Guests were invited to take the centerpieces designed by Rene and a special hand-tied bouquet from Resendiz Brothers. Walking away with armfuls of flowers, there was no doubt that our guests had enjoyed a Field to Vase experience they would never forget.

Testimonials from our guests…

It was a once in a lifetime enjoyable event. It was my first and I’m afraid nothing can top this one.” ~ Robyn D.

I was shocked to receive the wonderful swag bag, one bunch of proteas, a succulent, the table decorations, and all the fresh flowers and fillers that I could carry!~ Madeline C.

The entire afternoon and early evening event was a truly wonderful experience – lovely people, an incredibly unique setting, an abundance of beautiful Protea flowers, and sumptious food and drink. After traveling up a narrow, winding road to a remote area at the top of a hill, imagine our surprise at finding two huge tables surrounded by chaparral and Protea plants – each elegantly set with China and crystal, each with seating for at least 75 people and each crammed with bright vases full of brilliantly-colored Protea. Buckets of Protea, Protea bouquets and wreaths decorated the perimeter of the area. It was magical! The food was a delicious, multi-course treat – made even more amazing by the fact that appetizers and a wonderful meal could be provided seemingly effortlessly in such a remote setting!~ Kathleen P.

The attention to detail, impressed everyone. Rene van Rems made sure that even this old farm cart was decorated with flowers from the farm.

Over 1,200 Stores Planning To Celebrate American Grown Flowers Month

In 2017, Congress passed a resolution declaring July “American Grown Flowers Month” to recognize the economic and cultural impact of America’s cut flower and greens farmers.

A beautiful collection of Certified American Grown Flowers can really help draw consumers into learning more and celebrating the season.

 

To spread the word about American Grown Flowers Month, Certified American Grown is working with farmers and retailers nationwide on in-store promotion programs to help consumers identify and celebrate homegrown blooms throughout July.

Over 1,200 stores have signed up to celebrate so far!

 

 

 
The campaign includes a national contest, the American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest, that encourages retailers to leverage the Congressional declaration and promote homegrown blooms – and earn prize money for their efforts.

So far, the creative contest includes 1,200 stores from participating retailers.

Participants will be featured, and winners will be recognized, in Super Floral and Florists’ Review. Certified American Grown will feature and promote all participants on social media, in a press release and on its blog and website.

Retailers who participate in the contest will be judged on the quality and beauty of their in-store displays that promote American Grown Flowers Month, their ability to increase flower sales in July and their efforts to promote the celebratory month overall, as well as the Certified American Grown brand.

Store campaigns will be judged by Travis Rigby, publisher of Super Floral magazine and Florists’ Review; J Keith White, AIFD, creative director for American Floral Trends Forecast and AANDK Productions and Tom Bowling, AIFD, PFCI, Education Director for Syndicate Sales.

It’s not too late to be involved American Grown Flowers Month. Visit AmericanGrownFlowers.org/julycontest/ to learn more and register!

CamFlor Expanding Its Acreage, Flower Varieties

“It’s like holiday shipping all year round for us.” – Carlos Cardoza, sales manager, CamFlor

Carlos Cardoza has an enviable problem. He can hardly keep up with demand for the novelty flowers grown at CamFlor in Watsonville where he’s the sales manager.

A beautiful field of eucomus at CamFlor in Watsonville, CA.

 

Since 2012, CamFlor has been growing at a steady rate of 10 to 12 percent a year. Some months it’s closer to 30 percent.

Something had to give.

In addition to recently renewing a 50-acre lease for flower-growing land, CamFlor is adding another 60 acres. And it’s purchasing excess equipment and plants from nearby farms.

“It’s been a good move. Our sales are up 30 to 40 percent each month since November,” Cardoza shares.

 

 

The new 60 acres will be planted with Queen Anne’s lace, hybrid delphinium, rice flower, narcissus, belladonna and godetia – flowers that are popular with wholesalers, event planners and consumers craving something different.

While some varieties are all new to CamFlor, others are specialty flowers that were previously popular and are seeing a comeback; take Killian daisies, for example.

“Few do what we do, which is add five to eight new product varieties every year,” Cardoza says. “The seed people know that CamFlor has land near the ocean, middle inland and inland – that’s three different climates. They know that if they give us something, we’ll find the place to grow it.”

In his experience, the novelty flower market is in full growth mode as multiple audiences are on the lookout for something different.

CamFlor meets that need not only by continually adding novelty options, it also ships boxed assortments in addition to boxes packed with single flower varieties.

Yellow Yarrow growing tall and bright in the fields of CamFlor.

“The demand for American Grown Flowers has grown and the new generation of florists, designers and wedding companies are looking for different types of product every year.”

Cardoza’s happy to meet the need and to throw in a few surprises!

Certified American Grown Receives $200,000 Grant For Export Development

CAG Will Lead Trade Missions to China and Southeast Asia in 2018

Over the past year, Certified American Grown (CAG) has secured federal grant funds through the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to develop export markets for American Grown Flowers.

Last year’s delegation met with Chinese floral industry leaders last May.

In 2017, Certified American Grown conducted a comprehensive assessment in China, determining the Chinese market potential for increased sales of American Grown Flowers and greens. A five-member team of U.S.-based experts traveled to China to assess the market first-hand and contribute to the assessment.

As a result of the project, several U.S. cut flower farmers began shipping to China in the fall.

You can access the assessment here: Certified American Grown: China Assessment Report .

In 2018, Certified American Grown will continue to focus on market development activities in China and also explore opportunities in Southeast Asia.

2018 Activities Include:

June 23 – July 1, 2018: Outbound Trade Mission to China

  • Meet with targeted importers, wholesalers and retailers in Shanghai and Guangzhou to establish contacts and present business information.
  • Tour the largest Chinese cut flower growing region in Yunnan Province to gain an understanding of its market structure and distribution network.

Fall 2018: Conduct a Market Feasibility Assessment in Southeast Asia

  • Meet with targeted importers, wholesalers and retailers in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam to determine feasibility of increasing exports to the region.

For more information or to let us know you’re interested in participating in one of the upcoming trips, please visit:

americangrownflowers.org/exportmarketdevelopment/

Pick From One of Two Design Classes with Debi Lilly

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California, may be sold out, but all is not lost!

You now have TWO opportunities to design with renowned event planner and floral designer Debi Lilly.

Debi Lilly will not only be our featured designer for the dinner, but is hosting two workshop that same morning.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

We’re hosting two workshops on April 26, one from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and a second from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. Lilly will talk about spring design trends and containers, share her design secrets and let you try them out in the hands-on workshops.

Debi Lilly always inspires her workshop guests, sharing her design tips and the latest trends.  Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

 

Known as Oprah’s “Favorite Pro,” Lilly was part of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” for more than 10 years and has made it her mission to inspire, educate and share her 20 years of party planning expertise, stylist tips and DIY designs with fans worldwide. Did we mention Lady Gaga’s a fan?   To further jog your memory, you may have seen her designs and products at your local Safeway or Albertsons store.

 

You don’t have to have tickets to the Field to Vase Dinner later that day to design with Lilly, and you can bring your friends and design shoulder to shoulder!

 

Register now because at just $40, spots are going fast!

 

Just go to our event page and click the green “Tickets” button to select your workshop time.

 

 

[Press Release] New Contest, Campaign Puts Spotlight on American Grown Flowers Month in July

In 2017, Congress passed a resolution declaring July “American Grown Flowers Month” to recognize the economic and cultural impact of America’s cut flower and greens farmers. To spread the word about American Grown Flowers Month, Certified American Grown is working with farmers and retailers nationwide on in-store promotion programs to help consumers identify and celebrate homegrown blooms throughout July.

The campaign includes a national contest, the American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest, that encourages retailers to leverage the Congressional declaration and promote homegrown blooms – and earn prize money for their efforts.

Click on the photo above to learn more.

This contest is a first of its kind,” explains Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “And we hope to see this celebration grow into a fun and spirited tradition, celebrating the rich history, heritage and beauty of American Grown Flowers during this special month.”

Retailers who participate in the contest will be judged on the quality and beauty of their in-store displays that promote American Grown Flowers Month, their ability to increase flower sales in July and their efforts to promote the celebratory month overall, as well as the Certified American Grown brand.

Store campaigns will be judged by Travis Rigby, publisher of Super Floralmagazine and Florists’ Review; J Keith White, AIFD, creative director for American Floral Trends Forecast and AANDK Productions; and a third yet-to-be-determined judge.

A beautiful collection of Certified American Grown Flowers can really help draw consumers into learning more and celebrating the season.

 

First prize is a $500 American Express gift card, second prize is a $200 card and third prize is a $100 card.

Participants will be featured, and winners will be recognized, in Super Floral andFlorists’ Review. Certified American Grown will feature and promote all participants on social media, in a press release and on its blog and website.

Certified American Grown has quickly become the most prolific and widely recognized origin-based label in floral departments and retail coolers nationwide. More and more farms continue to adopt this third-party certification as a badge of pride, guaranteeing that the flowers found in a bouquet or bunch were grown and assembled in the U.S.

Working with Where Food Comes From, this certification is the only source-verification program of its kind in the floral industry.

 

# # #

 

About Certified American Grown

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 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 this contest, visit AmericanGrownFlowersMonth.org

America’s Flower Farmers Must Continue to Lobby Congress

By Kasey Cronquist, Administrator for Certified American Grown

A tenacious team of flower farmers descended onto Capitol Hill for 48 hours of lobbying and advocating.

It has become a tradition.

As soon as Valentine’s Day is behind them, a team of American flower and greens farmers set their sights on Washington, D.C. The annual effort of meeting with members of Congress and their staff early in the new year has become a priority tradition in order to raise the profile for America’s flower-farming families on Capitol Hill.

This year, our delegation included flower and greens farmers from seven states; Alaska, California, Iowa, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia and Washington state.

Wearing American Grown boutonnières has also become part of the tradition when farmers are visiting offices in Washington, D.C.

Washington Post reporter Damian Paletta joined America’s flower farmers for dinner and shared his experience developing his story for Valentine’s Day.

Each year, we hold a mandatory dinner meeting that includes speakers and an “issues briefing” to help prepare our farms for their meetings on the Hill. This year, we invited Damian Paletta, the Washington Post reporter who was responsible for the front cover, above-the-fold article titled, “In Rose Beds, Money Blooms,” that was published in the Sunday edition prior to Valentine’s Day. It was fascinating to hear the backstory on why he wrote the story on roses and specifically about his travels to Colombia and Miami.

Craig Regelbrugge of AmericanHort also provided our farms with the latest on immigration reform. Certified American Grown is a executive committee member of the Agricluture Immigration Reform Coalition (AIRC). Regelbrugge manages AIRC and he walked us through all of the political and practical challenges of H.R. 4760, known as the “Securing America’s Future Act.”

The next 36 hours was filled with meetings, meetings, meetings.

Benno Dobbe of Holland America Flowers speak with Senator Cantwell of Washington state about his flower farm in Woodland.

Our delegation participated in over 30 meetings with members of Congress and their staff requesting support for America’s flower farmers, lobbying for comprehensive immigration reform, the reinstatement of the annual NASS floriculture report, addressing issues with current trade policy and encouraging this administration to adopt the tradition of featuring American Grown Flowers in the White House.

And for the second year, our farms attended a reception hosted by the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus and the Wine Caucus. Members of Congress and their staff attended a fun, flower-filled evening discussing the value of our domestic flowers and wine. This reception is a wonderful pairing, reflecting the beauty and bounty of American agriculture.

Congressman Jimmy Panetta, center right with farmers from California. Panetta is a co-chair of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

 

Alaska’s peony farmers meet with Senator Dan Sullivan.

Farms meeting with Congressman Collin Petersen, ranking member of the House Ag Committee.

Action Items

After a trip like this, we have a lot of follow up, new opportunities to pursue and relationships to build on. None of this is possible without the support and participation of our farms. Active and regular engagement in Washington is increasingly necessary as we continue to highlight the value America’s flower farmers bring to their community and the economy.

USDA NASS Administrator Hubert Hammer speaks to our farmers about their decision to suspend the Annual Floriculture Report.

One of our meetings was with USDA NASS. We had the opportunity to meet with NASS Administrator Hubert Hammer. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss NASS’s decision to suspend the Annual Floriculture Report. We learned a lot from this meeting and our delegation walked away with a deeper appreciation for what NASS does to account for agriculture. Our request was to have the Annual Floriculture Report reinstated and we reported to NASS that we were working with members of Congress to address the funding issues that have resulted in the suspension of our annual report.

We also discussed how important it is that our flower farmers participate and complete their Ag Census survey. That survey becomes a guiding document for USDA programs, funding and aligning priorities within the department (like when budgets get tight or cut). Therefore, it’s really important that our farms complete the Ag Census. If you didn’t get a number issued to you from NASS, you can register to receive one.

If you’re interested in learning more about our annual trip or would like to plan to join us next year, contact me. It would be great to have you join us on the Hill.

Kelly Shore (left) of Petals By the Shore with Certified American Grown’s Andrea Philpot. A big thank you to Andrea Philpot (right) for her efforts to make sure this year’s annual effort was a success.

 

Celebrate With Us And Drive Sales In July!

July Is American Grown Flowers Month!

Let’s face it.

The month of July is not breaking any records for floral sales.

Of course, people think “flowers” during the month of February for Valentine’s Day and in May for Mother’s Day, but it’s during July when “America’s in Season.”

A beautiful collection of Certified American Grown Flowers can really help draw consumers into learning more and celebrating the season.

That’s right! Flower and greens farmers throughout our country are all in full production mode, busy growing their beautiful, fresh, homegrown blooms during the month of July, making it the perfect month to celebrate American Grown Flowers Month.

In fact, in 2017 Congress declared July “American Grown Flowers Month.”

Therefore, to help celebrate and spread the news, Certified American Grown is sponsoring a national merchandising contest, encouraging retailers to leverage this Congressional declaration and promote our homegrown blooms.

“This contest is a first of its kind,” explains Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “And we hope to see this celebration grow into a fun and spirited tradition, celebrating the rich history, heritage and beauty of American Grown Flowers during this special month.”

Registration Is Open!

Over the course of the next several weeks, Certified American Grown will be accepting registrations from retailers who would like to participate in our first American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest.

Participating retailers will be judged on the quality and beauty of their display, increasing sales and efforts to educate consumers about American Grown Flowers Month and Certified American Grown.

Click here to register today!