When a Flower Farmer Goes to Washington, D.C.

Working "The Hill" in a Farmer's Own Words by Quinton Tschetter

A very interesting and productive trip took place February 25-29 when a delegation of flower farmers went to Washington, D.C. I was among them.

Carolyn and Quinton Tschetter were an integral part of the 2019 DC Fly-In, bringing the concerns of flower farmers to Capitol Hill. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

During our time at the nation’s capital, we met with various members of Congress or their representatives. I’m happy to report that, for the most part, our concerns were well-received. In fact, the response to the plights we shared often were: “I didn’t know that was the situation! What can we do to help?”

 

A very productive meeting was had with Cut Flower Caucus Co-Chair, Congresswoman Jamie Herrera-Beutler of Washington state. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

From my personal perspective, the best, most productive meetings I was involved in were with Congresswoman Jamie Herrera-Beutler of Washington state, a co-chair of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus; NASS, the statistics branch of the USDA; Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney; and representatives of the U.S. customs and border protection group.

 

Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney took time to meet with our farmers and showed great interest in their concerns. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

McKinney was very receptive and knowledgeable and our discussion with customs and border protection representatives was very deep and interesting discussion. I have to say, our meeting with these folks started out with a strong defense of their position and abilities, but seemed to come around to an understanding that they were not accomplishing what they thought was their mission of protecting the integrity of “country of origin” labels.

 

Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

It was so satisfying to see the success of our group in presenting the core concerns of American flower farmers over the several days we were there. The unity within the group was refreshing and our concerns were well-received at least 90 percent of the time.

 

Quinton helped create boutonnières for the Wine & Flowers Reception hosting representatives and their staff and inviting them to join the Cut Flower Caucus.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

The one issue that’s yet to be realized, even though it was well-presented, is whether we will be successful in getting the White House to commit to exclusively using American Grown Flowers for their events. I look forward to hearing the outcome of that very important ask.

 

Quinton and Carolyn Tschetter after a meeting with Senator Joni Ernst’s office.

 

Bottom line: Our efforts to Make American Flowers Great Again seemed to be successful. I encourage other flower farmers to join the team next February for the annual fly-in.

 

Co-Leads for First Lady’s Luncheon Excited to Bring Certified American Grown Magic!

Collaboration Among Designers, Farmers is Event’s Secret Sauce

For 107 years, the First Lady’s Luncheon has been a bipartisan tradition. And when the event takes place in May in Washington, D.C., floral designers Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet and Christi Lopez AIFD EMC of Bergerons Flowers will co-lead a design team that will create dozens of arrangements and other installations with over 15,000 stems of Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens.

Guests of the First Lady’s Luncheon will greeted by a room filled with American Grown Flowers and greens at this 107-year old tradition. All photos by Kirstin Smith Photography

Together with 20 other designers and a 10-person support team, they’ll create centerpieces, tablescapes, two flower walls for amazing photo opps and hundreds of boutonnières. It’s a proposition that would seem to be stress-inducing.

The flower wall is a favorite at the luncheon, with long lines forming to take a photo with this beautiful backdrop created by the design team.

Not so, say the co-leads. It’s a celebration of collaboration among some of America’s most talented floral designers and American flower farmers. And it’s an opportunity for designers and guests to see the amazing variety of flowers grown here in the U.S.

 

 

“I think seeing all the designers come together, both new and returning, and the variety of flowers that come in are the most exciting things about the event,” says Kinnane. “There’s so much talent helping you produce the designs, including some of the best wedding designers in the country, plus American flower farmers and event experts. There’s such a networking moment that goes on. You’re able to network and talk shop across the work table with people you admire on social media.”

 

 

 

 

 

There’s no denying the amount of hard work that goes into it, but that’s far outweighed by the good times, says Lopez.

“It’s a huge opportunity to work with like-minded florists and farmers toward a common goal,” Lopez shares. “The number of new friendships and contacts it provides is immeasurable and to be able to design for such a prestigious historic event is an honor. To do it with other floral designers and with the help of flower farmers makes it fun.”

 

 

 

Adding to the fun is the somewhat spur of the moment nature that comes into play for the designers. Sure there’s a theme and a color palette, but there are still some surprises when the thousands of donated stems from American flower farms show up.

It’s a bit like Christmas when the designers open box after box with anticipation to see what stunning gift of beauty lies inside.

“You have to be ready for the surprises in the boxes,” says Kinnane, who’s designed exclusively with American Grown Flowers since 2003. “It’s so exciting and actually less stressful than our own weddings; there’s so much talent helping you produce this event!”

Mary Kate and Christy both participated in the 2018 Design Team creating limitless beauty that awed the guests.

So Kinnane and Lopez will do what they do best. Unpack gorgeous American Grown Flowers and Greens, lead dozens of volunteers in creating breathtaking floral designs and then let the beautiful outcome impress a couple thousand guests!

We couldn’t be more grateful!

 

 

 

 

 

S & R Farms Earns Certified American Grown Status

 

If you’ve ever wondered why New Jersey is called the Garden State, S & R Farms will provide an answer.

All photos courtesy of S & R Farms

Located in central New Jersey in Allentown just off the New Jersey Turnpike, the 350-acre Certified American Grown flower farm lies in the shadow of some of the most urbanized landscapes on Earth. New York City is an hour north on I-95 and Philadelphia is a half-hour south.

But at S & R Farms, the view includes acres and acres of peonies and sunflowers.

“You would never know that New York City is just around the corner from here,” said Nick Ricci, owner and head flower farmer at S & R Farms.

That proximity to major East Coast population centers also translates to a whole lot of potential customers nearby. Its location makes marketing a low priority for S & R Farms. There’s no website and it has little presence on social media. But the demand for its flowers is strong.

“The demand is never ending,” Ricci said. “It’s just about trying to get the right price for it.”

S & R is a family operation involving Ricci, his wife, stepfather and father-in-law, with help from a crew of seasonal workers. Together they raise about 50 varieties of flowers on 350 acres. Sunflowers get the most space with about 60 acres followed by peonies on about 20 acres. There’s also coxcomb, dianthus, feverfew, marigolds and zinnias, to name a few.

S & R Farms is all in the family. Nick runs the farm with his wife, step-father and father-in-law.

 

S & R gets its flowers to market via a network of wholesalers and brokers that put together bouquets for supermarkets. It also relies on a group of independent sellers who supply flowers to small deli-type stores in New York City.

 

“It’s actually a pretty big business,” Ricci said. “It might not look like much – each store will have three or four buckets – but you times that by 50 or 60 stores across the city and it’s quite a bit of stuff every week.”

Despite all the nearby urban environments, farming has always a good fit for Ricci. He’s worked on farms his entire working life, starting with produce and moving to flowers.

“It’s always been farming for me,” he said. “I never really liked anything else.”

 

After working on a flower farm for 10 years, he struck out on his own with the help of his stepfather, who had grown up on a farm in Vineland, N.J.

At the time they started looking for property, Princeton Nurseries, a major grower in the area since 1913, was going out of business. They ended up buying three of Princeton’s contiguous farms. “It was perfect timing,” Ricci said.

S & R started with peonies and gradually added more varieties. “We’ve grown every year,” Ricci said.

S & R Farms grows a variety of flowers on 350 acres just outside the major metropolitan areas of New York and Philadelphia.

Future growth might include venturing into selling flowers directly to consumers at the farm. Many surrounding produce growers have embraced farm tourism to help boost the bottom line. Ricci also is considering selling peonies via the internet.

For now, becoming a Certified American Grown operation is one way to bolster business. Ricci said he pursued the certification at the request of a couple of wholesalers who wanted to promote their offerings as American-grown.

“It really opens up the gates to go other places,” he said. “People are starting to care where their flowers come from. They want to buy flowers from here, not China or Colombia or wherever they’re coming from. It separates you from everybody else.”

 

Kelly Shore Returns as Featured Designer for Virginia Field to Vase Dinner

Her Commitment to Designing With American Grown Flowers is Unparalleled

Renowned wedding and event floral designer Kelly Shore, owner of Petals by the Shore in Virginia, will be the featured designer at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Bloomia USA in King George, Virginia, on June 1.

At a recent wedding open house, Kelly created a beautiful installation using 300 of Bloomia’s tulips on the bulb. Photo by Brittany Drosos Photography

Shore is known for her lush, garden-style designs that feature high stem counts and tons of texture. Her clients appreciate her use of unique flower and foliage varieties, always paired with creative color play.

Shore’s connections to the Field to Vase Dinner Tour and Certified American Grown run deep. She’s long committed to designing with homegrown flowers 365 days a year and helping other designers do the same.

And she was the featured floral designer for the Field to Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska in 2017.

As the featured designer of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Homer, Alaska, Kelly created a stunning tablescape highlighting the beauty of the farm and its flowers .  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

 

She’s also led the design team for the First Lady’s Luncheon in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Certified American Grown and has participated in fly-ins to meet with national policymakers alongside American flower farmers.

Leading the design team in 2017 and 2018, Kelly oversaw and inspired both teams of top designers from around the country and was responsible for creating beautiful arrangements for the First Lady’s Luncheon using all American Grown Flowers.  Photo by Kirstin Smith Photography

 

“It’s an incredible honor to be chosen to design for this dinner. The Certified American Grown family is a huge part of my life and designing with American Grown Flowers 365 days a year is a staple in my business,” Shore says.

Photo by Lauren Fair Photography

At Bloomia USA, Shore is planning high-style, out-of-the box designs that incorporate peonies, tulips and greenery for lots of softness and movement. The greenhouse location allows her to push the limits on scale and form, creating arrangements that are both event decor and art installations.

Shore’s work has been featured in national and local magazines and blogs such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Florists’ Review, Washingtonian Bride and Groom, Style Me Pretty, Weddings Unveiled, Cottage Hill, Ruffled, Once Wed and United with Love among many others.

 

 

Don’t miss the chance to see the incredible designs Shore has in mind for this dinner tour stop!

 

 

Albin Hagstrom & Son, Certified American Grown and Still Growing Four Generations Later

 

In the U.S. floral universe, Pierson, Florida, population 1,849, plays an outsized role. For any given bouquet of flowers, chances are pretty good that the greenery came from Pierson.

It’s a place that calls itself the fern capital of the world. Families have grown ferns for generations and kids grow up working at ferneries during the summer and after school. In Pierson, a network of supporting businesses – shippers and suppliers – has grown up around the ferneries.

Photos courtesy of Albin Hagstrom & Son Inc.

Albin Hagstrom & Son, a Certified American Grown Farm, has been growing ferns in Pierson since 1928 and is now one of the biggest growers of floral greenery in the country. The company cultivates nearly 500 acres of greenery, offers nearly 80 different varieties and ships 180 million stems a year to all 50 states and to far-flung destinations such as New Zealand and Singapore.

Erik Hagstrom, fourth generation farmer continuing the legacy of Albin Hagstrom & Son.

 

The company is now in the hands of the fourth generation of Hagstroms with another generation just starting to get involved. The company was founded by Albin Hagstrom and his son Raiford. Albin had moved to Florida from Pennsylvania as a boy with his family, which was lured by the prospect of abundant land. They started shipping plants to family and friends in Pennsylvania that couldn’t be grown up north.

“It didn’t start as if they had visions of a floral business,” said Erik Hagstrom, great-grandson of founder Albin and part of the fourth generation running the company.

 

 

Pierson was blessed with the soil and climate that are tailor-made for fern growing. Still, until the 1960s, fern-growing in Pierson was mostly a cottage industry. For many families, growing ferns was second or third source of income, Hagstrom said. Up until the 1960s, his own family grew only one type of fern – asparagus plumosus.

But improvements in transportation and communication changed everything. It went from a mail-order business that shipped by train to one where orders increasingly came by phone, and refrigerated trucking allowed faster and fresher shipments.

Leatherleaf ferns are a staple of the Albin Hagstrom farm.

All that coincided with growing consumer demand for flowers. And when leatherleaf fern became the go-to greenery for floral arrangements, the fern business in Pierson took off.

“Leatherleaf quickly became the leader of greenery sales and that still continues to this day,” Hagstrom said.

As the company continues to evolve and navigate new challenges, it has embraced the principles of  Certified American Grown. With foreign competition as strong as ever, Hagstrom sees the importance for American farms to differentiate themselves.

“In my short time in the industry, I’ve seen carnations out of Colorado come to an end,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of flower companies in California struggle, although there’s been a resurgence there.”

“We feel like we can’t sit idly by. We’ve got to get in there and become a part of this movement and do our part to educate and promote American-grown product.”

Given the option, Hagstrom said, U.S. consumers want to buy American-made products.

500 acres of American Grown greenery are cultivated at the Albin Hagstrom fernery.

 

“We wanted to kind of embrace that and to do what little we could do to spread the word. And hopefully, keep some of our hard-earned dollars here in this country.”

It’s also a way to help other growers and keep the industry healthy.

“One thing that I always have to remember is I’m in the greenery business and we’re kind of a secondary to the flowers. If someone gets an arrangement, they’re not looking at the leatherleaf, they’re looking at the focal flowers. We get that. But we want to be a good supporter of the floral business and the greenery farmers in different parts of the country. We want everybody to have the option to buy American.”

 

Congressman Salud Carbajal and Congressman Ted Yoho To Co-Chair Cut Flower Caucus

New co-chairs expand bipartisan leadership of important caucus

Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA 24th District) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL, 3rd District) have become co-chairs of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

The Congressional Cut Flower Caucus was launched by a bipartisan effort of Congresswoman Lois Capps and Congressman Duncan Hunter in 2014. Since its inception, the caucus has grown to include a total of six co-chairs and over 25 members of Congress.

The caucus is open to all members of Congress and is dedicated to promoting the domestic cut flower industry, including educating members of Congress and staff on the economic and cultural importance of America’s cut flower and greens farmers as well as the challenges the industry faces. The caucus also sponsors events to provide a greater understanding of the issues and opportunities facing America’s flower farmers, their families and their flowers.

Rep. Salud Carbajal meeting with California flower farmers during the Certified American Grown DC Fly-In in February 2019.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

Carbajal’s district includes the largest flower-growing region in the United States by volume. For the last two years, he has authored a resolution announcing July as American Grown Flowers Month in the house.

Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“It’s an honor to serve as co-chair on behalf of our cut flower farmers, who not only bring beauty into our homes, but provide tens of thousands of jobs across the country and billions in economic activity each year,” said Rep. Carbajal. “Representing the Central Coast, the highest-producing flower region in a state that produces three-quarters of all cut flowers grown in the United States, I know intimately the value of this industry as an economic engine. In this new role, I look forward to continuing to highlight the economic and cultural value of American’s cut flower industry, as well as raise awareness about the challenges our farmers and small businesses face in an increasingly globalized economy.”

Yoho’s district includes the largest greens-growing district in the U.S. For the past several years, he’s worked to have American Grown Flowers featured in the White House, including penning a letter to President Donald Trump to suggest the policy.

Rep. Ted Yoho also met with flower farmers from the DC Fly-In delegation last month. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“I’m honored to be a part of the leadership for the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus,” stated Congressman Ted Yoho. “It’s vital that America’s flower farmers have a voice at the table in this very competitive market and it’s our job as members of Congress to ensure that our farmers are able to continue to do the great job they do growing flowers and greens here in the United States of America.”

Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

The Congressional Cut Flower caucus continues to grow in size and influence.

“Our farms are fortunate to have these two great champions in Congress,” shared Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “Rep. Carbajal and Rep. Yoho know our issues, understand the value our farms bring to their communities and why time is of the essence to address the challenges they face. We look forward to working with them in their new leadership positions on the caucus.”

 

# # #

About Certified American Grown Flowers. Launched on July 1, 2014, Certified American Grown Flowers represents a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. flower farms, including small and large entities in multiple states across the country. Certified American grown flower farms participate in an independent, third-party supply-chain audit to verify both origin and assembly of the flowers they grow. When it appears on bouquets, bunches and other packaging or store signage, the Certified American Grown Flowers logo gives consumers confidence in the source of their flowers and assures them that the flowers they purchase come from a domestic American flower farm. For more information about Certified American Grown Flowers, visit www.americangrownflowers.com.

Alaska’s Stone Circle Becomes Certified American Grown

Michelle Morton is an Alaskan peony grower by way of Los Angeles, Australia and Scotland.

 

She was born in Scotland, grew up in Australia and landed in Los Angeles as a young adult where she studied music, percussion specifically, at the Musicians Institute in

Hollywood. It was, she found, “a very strange place.”

“Somebody said ‘You should try Alaska,’ and I said ‘Alaska?’ And I ended up coming up with just a backpack and I loved it. It’s so extremely different from anything that I’d known.”

 

 

She put down roots in the state and eventually bought five acres in Homer, which would eventually become the home of her business, Stone Circle Peonies, a Certified American Grown flower farm. The property was filled with dead trees, the victims of a beetle infestation. After she cleared the trees, she was left with land she didn’t know what to do with.

 

It called out, however, to her lifelong love of gardening. She started with a small vegetable garden. That eventually led to enrolling in the USDA’s high tunnel program, where the government reimburses growers for building the enclosed structures that allow produce to be grown in a protected environment.

It’s a four-year program, “where they’re basically teaching you how to farm,” she said.

It was also a time when peonies were exploding in Alaska.

“There were workshops on growing peonies,” she said. “I thought, ‘Wow, what’s a peony? I’ve never even heard of a peony.’”

Morton found herself a budding farmer in a suddenly fertile flower-growing environment.

“I’d grown vegetables for the farmers market. I just thought I’m going to grow peonies, they’re beautiful and there’s a demand for them, it’s a new industry and there’s a lot of hype about them.”

 

Peonies had taken off in Alaska after a government pilot project in the early 2000s found that the flowers thrived in the state’s long summer days and were ready for harvest in July and August, a time when the rest of the world’s annual supply of peonies had been picked, sold and used up. It also coincided with the peak of the wedding season, which the big, showy blooms seem tailor-made for. And the flowers were relatively light weight and perfect for export via air. Alaska went from zero peony farmers in 2004 to more than 200 by 2014.

 

Morton was part of that boom. She planted a quarter-acre in 2012, and nurtured her plot for the four years it takes to develop a commercially viable crop.

The learning curve, however, was steep. “Everest steep,” she said. She’s grateful for the kindness of Homer’s other peony growers.

“I have a lot of people who have taken me under their wings and have been teaching me,” she said. “And I’m not afraid to ask people for help. A lot of the old-timers in Alaska have been helping me with understanding the soil and what things need to be happy. People have been very kind in helping me understand the needs of the peonies.”

Three years ago, she harvested a thousand blooms. Last year it was 6,000; this year, she figures the number is 10,000, and she sold all of them.

 

She manages to keep the farm going with just the help of her two children, Fiona, 14 and Seamus, 12.

Fiona designed Stone Circle Peonies’ website and does much of the marketing via Instagram and other social media platforms. Both she and Seamus help out in the fields.

 

“We post photos that show the flowers in the Alaska setting” Morton said. “Our theme is ‘love Alaska, love peonies.’ We want to show people what a beautiful place Alaska is and how beautiful peonies are.”

Morton sells the flowers to florists, flower designers and directly to consumers in the lower 48 states, and has her eye on the international market.

 

“Growing flowers, what a great job,” she said. “We’re not destroying the earth, we’re working with Mother Nature and we’re trying to do it as naturally as we can. I do my own compost, I talk to my flowers. It’s a happy environment. I work from home and my kids can be a part of it.”

 

René van Rems Is Featured Designer at First Dinner Tour Stop

Extend Your Experience With Design Workshop!

With just over a month to go until our inaugural dinner on the 2019 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, we’re thrilled to announce that renowned floral designer, educator and author René van Rems will be the featured floral designer at our first stop at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California, on April 18.

Floral designer René van Rems created a stunning tablescape and mesmerizing floral design installations at our Fallbrook Dinner in 2018.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Van Rems is an acclaimed ambassador to the floral industry and a friend to Certified American Grown, having been the featured designer last year at our sold-out dinner at Resendiz Brothers Protea Brothers in Fallbrook, California.

His designs, featuring assorted protea, were nothing short of amazing!

Van Rems brought brilliant life and color to every detail of the Fallbrook Field to Vase Dinner.  He made sure that even this old farm cart was decorated with flowers from the farm.

A leading speaker, educator and floral design demonstrator, van Rems has led workshops and design shows in the U.S., Europe and Asia. He’s also frequently featured at art museum events, including “Art Alive” in San Diego.

 

 

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.

And he’s recognized for bringing a European influence to American floral designs. His breathtaking arrangements have been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, Sunset Magazine and on HGTV.

 

 

 

Van Rems will lead a hands-on floral design workshop April 17 and 18 at The Flower Fields. The workshop is open to dinner guests and the public, but just 25 seats are available!  This hands-on one-and-a-half day workshop will cover designing with ranunculus and other Certified American Grown botanicals and cut foliage.

Learn about tabletop vignettes, large display-style arrangements, floral chandeliers and more!

Register at paypal.me/renevanrems. Only 25 seats are available!

With superstars like René van Rems designing for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, tickets to all dinners are going quickly!

Save your seat at a future dinner today!

 

 

Dinner Tour Seats Going, Going, Almost Gone!

Two Dinners Sold Out, Others Selling Fast

The speed at which seats for this year’s American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour stops are selling is nothing short of amazing. With just over a month to go before the first dinner, we’re setting sales records!

Which is why we’re reminding you that if you’ve been pondering attending one of the upcoming stops, now’s the time to save your seat!

 

The Carlsbad Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields is always a full table and this year is no exception. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

Our first stop at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California, on April 18 is already sold out!

 

Josyln Peonies, in Homer, Alaska, is located on the Kenai Peninsula and has a beautiful view of Kachemak Bay. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

 

Due to popular demand for our nearly full dinner at Joslyn Peonies in Homer, Alaska on Aug. 3, we’re adding some seats! But it’s just a handful, and the opportunity to dine in a field of peonies is truly once-in-a-lifetime – so make your plans today!

 

It’s a full table for our October 5 dinner at Red Twig Farms in Ohio.

 

And our Oct. 5 dinner at Red Twig Farms in New Albany, Ohio, is also at sold out! This last stop on the 2019 tour will be the crowning event of the dinner tour season.

Don’t miss out on our other locations! Check out the additional dinner tour stops, including flower farms in King George, Virginia and Lompoc, California, as well as a unique stop at the state Capitol in Sacramento, California. Then take our advice and reserve your spot!

These sites are also selling out quickly!

When Flower Farmers Go to Washington, D.C.

Progress Made on Many Fronts!

Last week, a delegation of flower farmers headed to Washington, D.C., to present the issues and concerns of American flower farmers to U.S. policymakers. These farmers left their farms, committed to the common cause, worked together, and shared their voices and insights on key topics, from immigration reform to ensuring the NASS floriculture report continues to requesting that the Trump administration feature American Grown Flowers in the White House.

Great accomplishments are made when farms come together for our D.C. Fly-In.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

This kind of trip isn’t possible without having a myriad of voices sharing their perspectives and passions in every meeting held. These flower farmers, along with floral designer Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore, brought their A-games!

“I feel we made great progress in Washington, D.C., this year,” explained Benno Dobbe of Holland America Flowers, a Certified American Grown Council member and chair of the California Cut Flower Commission’s Governmental Affairs Committee. “This was the very best trip we’ve put together. Very productive.”

Dianne Feinstein took time to meet with our delegation and hear the issues that mattered to our farms. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

Flower Farmers also went to the White House to discuss a key request: to have American Grown Flowers and Greens exclusively featured within the White House. This very special meeting went especially well, as the delegation explained why it was important that, like the wine and food served in the White House, President Donald Trump should take an “America First” approach to the flowers that are displayed in White House floral arrangements.

This year, farmers had a landmark opportunity to meet with White House staff.

“I’m very encouraged by the year-over-year progress we make in Washington, D.C.,” shared Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony and a Certified American Grown Council member. “This trip and these meetings have really helped elevate the value of our farm in the minds of our elected officials, their staff and members of this administration.”

Members of the delegation met with Senator Murkowski of Alaska.

All in all, it was the group’s general consensus that this year’s trip was our most successful D.C. fly-in on record! Voices were heard. We met with the right people and made new connections. We grew the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus. And we came back with a sense that we made good progress on key topics.

The delegation heads to the White House to lobby for American Grown Flowers and Greens.

Our thanks goes out to the following farmers, as well as Kelly Shore and federal affairs representative Jumana Misleh who did an outstanding job putting the schedule together and setting up meetings for our delegation:

  • California

    • Fred VanWingerden – Pyramid Flowers, Oxnard
    • Edith VanWingerden – Pyramid Flowers, Oxnard
    • Ivor VanWingerden – Ocean Breeze Flowers, Nipomo
    • Brooks VanWingerden – Ocean Breeze Flowers, Nipomo
    • Bruce Brady – Mellano & Company, San Luis Rey
  • Washington

    • Benno Dobbe, Holland America Flowers, Woodland
  • Maryland

    • Ko Klaver, Botanical Trading Co, Beltsville
    • Kelly Shore, Petals By The Shore,
  • Virginia

    • Werner Jansen – Bloomia, King George
  • Florida

    • David Register – FernTrust, Seville
  • Iowa

    • Quinton Tschetter – Tschetter Flowers, Oskaloosa
    • Carolyn Tschetter – Tschetter Flowers, Oskaloosa
  • Alaska

    • Rita Jo Shoultz – Alaska Perfect Peony, Homer
    • Betty Joslyn – Josyln Peonies, Homer

If you would like to be part of next year’s delegation, experience the process of advocating for your farm and being part of a team effort that makes a difference, email Andrea Philpot at Andrea@AmericanGrownFlowers.org to sign up. The trip will be held February 25-28, 2020.

Members of congressional hill staff showing their pride for American Grown Flowers and Greens during the annual flower and wine reception on Capitol Hill.

Certified American Grown Council member and chair of the California Cut Flower Commission’s Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Benno Dobbe of Holland America Flowers tips his new hat before heading to Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

 

Certified American Grown Council member Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony pins a Certified American Grown boutonnière on Congressman Don Young of Alaska.

 

Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) with California Cut Flower Commission CEO and Ambassador and Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist.