During American Grown Flowers Month, You Can’t Miss Alaskan Peonies

There’s nothing like a field of peonies to positively impact your mood.  Even their names can brighten your day: Sequestered Sunshine, Blaze, Festiva Maxima.

Photo: Alaska Peony Cooperative

The peony’s beauty is certainly at the root of its popularity status with flower fans and brides. Available in every color but blue, the flower is popular in bridal bouquets (they are seen as a symbol of good luck) and are the superstars in summer arrangements and in bunches to bring home.

Photo: Jacqueline Patton Photo

Alaskan peonies just happen to be in all their glory in July – which is also American Grown Flowers Month! So we’re celebrating these gems, along with the thousands of other varieties grown right here in the U.S.

Photo: Arctic Alaska Peony

Here’s what you need to know about American-Grown peonies:

Alaska’s warm summers and perpetual daylight are the fuel peonies need to grow larger, bloom more vibrantly and enjoy a growing season that’s three weeks longer than in other locations. But it’s the state’s famous cold winters that are the secret ingredient: herbaceous peonies need a minimum of 400 hours of temperatures below 40 degrees and tree peonies need between 100 and 300 hours in that colder ground in order to flower.

Photo: Alaska Perfect Peony

The Alaska Peony Cooperative, formed in 2015 to help support the state’s burgeoning flower industry, has grown from a handful of farms with fewer than 1,000 stems to nearly a dozen growers expecting to sell a total of 40,000 stems this year.

“The secret is out: Our peonies are fantastic,” explains farmer Martha Lojewski.

Scenic Place Peonies’ delivery truck sports a new truck wrap showcasing the beauty of these stunning blooms, while proudly waving the flag for Certified American Grown.

Certified American Grown peony farms include Alaska Peony Cooperative, Alaska Perfect Peony, Arctic Alaska Peonies Co-op, Boreal Peonies, Cool Cache Farms, Giggly Roots Gardens, Joslyn Peonies, Scenic Place Peonies and Slimtree Farm.

Photo: Susie and Becky Photography

Look for Certified American Grown peonies throughout American Grown Flowers Month in July and into August. You’ll be glad you did!

 

 

The East Coast’s Largest Flower Farm Becomes Certified American Grown

Bloomia, the largest cut flower farm on the East Coast, has become the latest Certified American Grown Farm.

With a mission of spreading happiness via sustainably grown flowers, Bloomia is committed to providing consumers with top-quality flowers at affordable prices that are grown in conscious ways. Bloomia even has a Sustainably Manifesto to back its commitment.

Bloomia grows nearly 100 million flowers a year, including tulips (year-round), hyacinths, muscari and peonies (seasonally) in 46 acres of temperature-controlled greenhouses. Most of the flowers are grown hydroponically in greenhouses equipped with biological control systems and incorporating precise techniques to avoid chemical use.

In addition to sustainability and energy-efficiency efforts, Bloomia believes in giving back. With initiatives like Blooms for Hope, the Field of Tulips and The Bloomia Market, Bloomia and its customers have donated thousands of dollars to help communities in need through amazing partners charities like DC Central Kitchen that aims to break the cycle of hunger and poverty.

If the Bloomia brand sounds familiar, that’s because the farm’s flowers can be found at Wegmans, Whole Foods, Kroger, Woolworths, Kroger, Harris Teeter and Trader Joe’s.

“Bloomia is a global company with operations in four continents, with each having the same commitment and focus at the local level. Our passion drives us to deliver the best possible floral experience to the end consumer,” says Evan Kerkhoven, sales and purchase manager at Bloomia. “Becoming Certified American Grown is an honor. American Grown embodies the same goal and passion for flowers we thrive on every day.”

Bloomia joins 56 other farms that have become Certified American Grown, giving consumers confidence in the source of their flowers and assuring them that the flowers they purchase come from a domestic American flower farm.

“This is very exciting,” shared Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist, “Certified American Grown has become the most prolific origin-based brand in the floral industry. With Bloomia’s certification, the program now represents over half of all domestic production of cut flowers and greens.”

If you want to learn more about Bloomia, you can visit their website, blog or follow them on Instagram!

Why not join the #originmatters movement by becoming the next Certified American Grown farm? There’s no better time to get on board than during July – American Grown Flowers Month!

 

Dinner Guests Get a Hands-On Flower Experience

F2V Boutonnière Bar is a Guest Favorite!

At every American Grown Field to Vase Dinner, guests are invited to visit a boutonnière bar where they can design a custom floral “wearable” with flowers from the farm they’re visiting.

Beautiful blooms at the boutonnière bar await guests of the Sacramento Field to Vase Dinner. Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

This hands-on experience is one of the most popular aspects of the event!

Making their own boutonnière gives guests a chance to be creative and they absolutely love it.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

Guests love learning how to create a boutonnière (or corsage), adding in their own personal style and then getting to wear the floral swag they create for the rest of the event.

Smithers Oasis/Floralife is the celebrated sponsor of this guest favorite.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

At each stop, the available flowers and foliage at the bout bar, kindly sponsored by Smithers-Oasis/Floralife, change, reflecting the blossoms and greens grown at the farm we’re visiting.

Guests have designed with Florida ferns, California protea and Alaskan peonies, to name a few. And when they don they’re creations, we’ve noticed they have a bit more spring in their step or swag in their swagger.

Plus they’ve learned a new skill they can use again and again for other special events – always using Certified American Grown Flowers, of course.

Just one more way guests, and our amazing sponsors like Smithers-Oasis, are getting involved in this amazing dinner tour that’s crisscrossing the country!

 

We’re headed to Star Valley Flowers in Soldier’s Grove, Wisconsin, on Sept. 8.

You don’t want to miss this next stop!

 

Senate Declares July ‘American Grown Flowers Month’

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) introduced a resolution on June 12 designating July as “American Grown Flower Month.”

The resolution notes that the U.S. Senate recognizes: that purchasing flowers grown in the United States supports the farmers, small businesses, jobs and the U.S. economy; that growing flowers and greens in the United States is a vital part of the U.S. ag industry;  and urges “all people of the United States to proactively showcase flowers and greens grown in the United States in order to show support for our flower farmers, processors, and distributors as well as agriculture in the United States overall.”

American consumers spend almost $27 billion per year on floral products each year. While the majority of consumers would prefer to buy homegrown flowers, only 20 percent of the flowers sold here were grown in the United States.

Flower farmers met with Senator Diane Feinstein in February in Washington, D.C. The Senator recently sponsored Senate Resolution 540 declaring July American Grown Flowers Month.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“California grows nearly 75 percent of American-grown cut flowers – including tulips, gerbera daisies, lilies, irises and gladiolas,” said Senator Feinstein. “Americans want to support local businesses and growers, but often are unaware the flowers they’re purchasing were grown outside of the United States. Our resolution will help raise awareness and encourage consumers to look for the ‘Certified American Grown’ label before buying flowers.”

Flower farmers met with Senator Dan Sullivan in February in Washington, D.C. The Senator recently sponsored Senate Resolution 540 declaring July American Grown Flowers Month.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“Alaska’s moderate weather and cool soil conditions allows for a growing season that brings beautiful American grown flowers to market throughout the summer,” said Senator Sullivan. “In Alaska, our local peony growers – family owned farms across our state – provide some of the most beautiful and saturated blooms to weddings and events around the country; well after the traditional growing season has passed in other states. American Grown Flower Month is only one small acknowledgment of the value and support we share for these local small business owners, but an important one.”

Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist noted the importance of the national designation recognizing America’s hardworking flower-farming families. “We’re honored to have earned this important recognition and we join flower farmers nationwide in celebrating this wonderful recognition,” said Cronquist. “Naming July American Grown Flowers Month also opens the door for florists and wholesalers to continue to discuss the virtues of homegrown flowers – a point that’s resonating with consumers who want the flowers in their homes to be as fresh and sustainable as the food on their plates.”

To learn more about American Grown Flowers Month, visit AmericanGrownFlowers.org/AGFM

 

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!

6 New Farms Earn American Grown Certification

Farms Large and Small See Value, Benefits to Certification

Six new flower farms have recently officially become Certified American Grown, joining a cadre of 45 certified farms nationwide. These farms vary in size and in the varieties of flowers they grow, from small urban flower farm to a large greenhouse farm that propagates 90 percent of the nation’s gerberas.

The newly certified farms are:

Earning recognition as Certified American Grown helps retailers, wholesalers and florists connect their customers with flowers grown right here in the United States and tells customers that the flowers they’re bringing home or giving as gifts were grown, bouqued or bunched by American flower farmers.

Flower farmer Felicia Alvarez of Menagerie Farm & Flower grows garden roses and specialty flowers, including tulips and dahlias. She sought out certification because she believes it’s important for people to know where their flowers are coming from and how they’re grown.

 

Alvarez finds today’s consumers are in tune with the origin-matters message and are telling floral designers they prefer local, seasonal flowers. And in her experience, they appreciate knowing there’s an American farmer behind the blooms.

She’s also a fan of the advocacy that Certified American Grown provides around trade, taxes and agriculture in general.

“These all affect me, so I benefit from the advocacy work and I appreciate that my involvement, even as a small farm, can help push the needle.”

Novelty flower grower Carlos Cardoza of CamFlor sought out certification at the urging of some of his top clients who felt it would be a complement to his California Grown status.

“As soon as I got the logo and artwork and was able to share with my customers that we are Certified American Grown they were very congratulatory and pleased to know they had a supplier that had earned the certification,” Cardoza says.

He notes that many of his clients’ customers are asking for domestically grown flowers, as well as unique flowers not typically provided by importers.

“It’s a good time to be an American flower farmer. There’s a trend toward more novelty flowers and the use of more American Grown product,” Cardoza says.

Farmer florist Kelly Wood of Grace Gardens, the only certified farm in Alabama, says becoming Certified American Grown is helping her introduce the locavore flower movement to new farmers and floral designers in her state.

After becoming certified, Wood made a personal commitment to help new small farmers and create a market for them to sell their flowers. She also shares the importance of buying American Grown Flowers with florists in the hope of creating a network of growers and sales outlets.

“The benefit of American Grown Certification is that it lends credibility to what I’m trying to accomplish,” Wood explains.

Ocean Breeze Farms co-owner June Van Wingerden saw the Certified American Grown branded flower sleeves, store displays and truck wraps and knew she wanted to be part of the movement.

“The program and the splash that comes with it make a positive statement and is consumer friendly,” Van Wingerden explains. “And wholesalers are looking for it to distinguish one product from another.”

Six new certified farms, dozens of reasons to get on board.

Certified American Grown is growing and looking for more farms to join the Certified family. Today the brand represents the largest consumer facing brand featuring the origin of flowers in the U.S. floral industry. It is a powerful statement of pride and beauty that has proven to connect with consumers everywhere.

Have you considered joining the Certified American Grown movement?