Certified American Grown Leadership Invited to White House Economic Summit

Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist with CAG Council member Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Studios.

Certified American Grown (CAG) was recently invited to participate in the White House Economic Summit on September 26. CAG was represented by Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist, Council members Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Studios, Ko Klaver of Botanical Trading Co. and Jumana Misleh, CCFC’s federal affairs representative.

“This was a great opportunity for our program to participate in the president’s presentation on the policies driving the current economy and his forecast for things yet to come,” explained Cronquist. “Since the inauguration, we’ve continued to work hard to make sure American Grown Flowers is on the radar of this administration.”

While Senate Judiciary Committee proceedings prevented President Trump from attending, the summit was emceed by Larry Kudlow, White House economic adviser and director of the National Economic Council. The summit included presentations from U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, White House Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney. Small Business Administration administrator Linda McMahon also participated as a panelist.

Certified American Grown Council member Ko Klaver at the White House Economic Summit.

Highlights presented included the significant rise in consumer confidence and the rate of economic growth since President Trump took office. Kudlow highlighted his recent remarks at the Economic Club of New York, saying, “So I would say this: the single biggest story of this year, 2018 … the single biggest news story – not fictionalized versions of what goes on in the White House and all the rest of it – the single biggest story is an economic boom that virtually everybody thought impossible. That is the story … We’re crushing it.”

Senior White House Advisor Ivanka Trump speaks about the Administration’s workforce development efforts.

A copy of the handout provided by the White House for the Economic Summit can be found here: http://bit.ly/2018_WH_EconSummit

 

 

American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour Stops At SAF!

400 Experience the Award-Winning Dinner Tour

Over 400 Society of American Florists convention attendees got to experience an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner firsthand during SAF Palm Springs 2018 last month.

A beautiful evening in Palm Springs for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at this year’s SAF Convention.

SAF and Certified American Grown worked together closely to replicate the experience of the dinner series, which normally takes place on an American flower farm.

SAF’s design team lead by Brian Vetter (center) did an outstanding job designing an all American Grown tablescape for the dinner during the convention.

Despite the unique location and the large number of dinner guests, the tour’s signature touches were on full display, including tables adorned with American Grown Flowers, the opportunity to meet with farmers, a multi-course artisan meal, a DIY boutonniere bar and swag bags packed with flower-related goodies.

Over 400 guests attended the dinner on Friday evening in Palm Springs.

Thanks to an amazing turnout, dinner guests were able to chat with 20 farm ambassadors before, during and after the dinner, learning more about flowers, growing practices and issues related to sustainability — all info they were able to take home and share with customers and staff.

Bruce Brady of Mellano & Company welcomed guests and lead the invocation.

 

Syndicate Sales has been a national sponsor of the dinner tour since its inception four years ago, providing all of the vases used by the tour’s designers.

 

As a national sponsor, Ball Horticulture has helped the tour host thousands of people across the country during our pre-dinner receptions.

 

As a national sponsor, Smithers-Oasis has helped the Field to Vase Dinner Tour make the self-serve boutonnière bar one of the most popular experience of our events.

Star Valley Flowers Draws A Record-Breaking Crowd

Nashville is Last Stop on 2018 Tour!

 

 

Certified American Grown hosted a record-breaking crowd during the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Star Valley Flowers in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin on September 8.

A beautiful evening awaited guests at Star Valley Flowers in Wisconsin.

A beautiful tablescape designed by Erick New and Greg Campbell of the Garden District dazzled the 200 guests attending the dinner at Star Valley Flowers.

Originally set for 150, the table grew to 175 and then to 200, breaking the previous record of 183 in Detroit in 2015.

“It really isn’t about the number of people,” explained Kasey Cronquist, Certified American Grown Administrator and emcee of the award-winning national dinner tour. “We really focus on our guest experience and have always wanted to keep the experience intimate, but we had a lot of demand and a willing farmer embraced the idea of  ‘the more the merrier.’ So, it just kept growing and it all turned out beautifully.”

One guest commented, “even though there were 200 guests, it felt intimate. The setting could not have been lovelier and the weather was perfect.”

Of course, the floral-focused evening wouldn’t have been as magical without the incredible talent of Greg Campbell and Erick New of The Garden District. The dynamic duo created one of the most dramatic tablescapes we’ve ever seen, complete with beautiful pussy willow arches that covered the table and accented by the bittersweet berries that Star Valley Flowers is known for. Stunning fall-colored arrangements flowed down the entire length of the table.

Erick New (left) and Greg Campbell of the Garden District in Memphis, TN were responsible for the floral tablescape and install for the evening.

The team at Driftless Cafe, lead by Chef Luke, did an outstanding job with the menu for the evening. And the response from attendees was outstanding, with praise for every single course. The main course was organic beef tenderloin provided by Organic Valley, one of the evening’s sponsors, and headquartered just down the road from Star Valley Flowers. The menu was paired beautifully with the wine provided by Geyser Peak.

Chef Luke from the Driftless Cafe.

It was a beautiful evening on the farm. The weather held and the sunset was picturesque. Diners were able to meet an American flower farmer, hear from the floral designers about their aesthetic and what makes designing with homegrown flowers special and converse with other flower lovers throughout a multiple-course meal.

Flower farmer John Zeher speaks to dinner guests prior to giving an hour long farm tour.

Guest Laura M. shared, “The evening was so beautiful. I loved the chance to walk around the farm and hear some comments from John and Phil. We were so glad John allowed a few more people into the dinner. The lovely women I sat across from gave me a hug at the end of our evening. We sat down with strangers and left as friends.”

Guests left happy, arms full of flowers and enjoying the ever popular Field to Vase Dinner swag bag. It was a perfect early fall evening where 200 strangers became friends and the love of flowers sealed the deal.

A beautiful long table was set for a record breaking 200 people.

Planning for 2019’s tour is underway. If you’d like to have your farm considered for the 2019 tour, please fill out the online application found here: http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07efnf3qeqjle3mv0a/start

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers Earns Prestigious Marketer of the Year Award

Certified farm Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers received this year’s “Marketer of the Year” award from the Society of American Florists’ Floral Management magazine.

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers, a Certified American Grown Farm, has earned the 2018 Marketer of the Year Award from the Society of American Florists’ (SAF) Floral Management magazine for its successful efforts to bring protea to the national stage.

Flower farmer Mel Resendiz and Diana Roy, business manager for Resendiz Brothers and a past chair of the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC), accepted the award Sept. 14 at the SAF Annual Convention in Palm Springs, California.

The Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers team with Dwight Larimer of Design Master, the sponsor of the $5,000 prize money.

The prestigious award recognizes a unique, innovative and successful marketing effort that increased the overall sales volume of cut flowers. The award includes a $5,000 cash prize.

In presenting the award, Floral Management’s Editor in Chief Mary Westbrook noted that Resendiz Brothers’ myriad marketing efforts put protea on the national scene, creating real, growing demand for a product that was previously virtually unknown in the U.S.

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers will be featured on the front cover of Floral Management magazine.

How?

Resendiz and Roy took advantage of every marketing opportunity they could find, including hosting an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on their Fallbrook, California farm, participating in SAF’s Petal It Forward campaign, bringing protea to the floral designs at the annual First Lady’s Luncheon and donating protea to Rose Parade Floats.

They also used their passion, flower knowledge and thousands of incredible photos to share protea with wholesalers, designers and consumers garnering media coverage with an estimated value of $1.7 million.

 

Every effort, big and small, was designed to increase consumer awareness, influence floral trends and drive sales of the previously anonymous protea.

In accepting the award, Roy thanked Resendiz Brothers customers who have made protea part of their daily inventory as well as floral designers who are incorporating protea into their arrangements. She also announced that Resendiz Brothers is collaborating with farmers from around the world to bring new protea varieties to the U.S. market.

Mel Resendiz welcomes guests to his farm during the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in April.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

“So many of our marketing efforts are about the education process and making sure that people know these flowers are grown right here in California. We’re proud that many of our marketing tactics were tied to supporting the homegrown flowers message,” Roy said. “I see winning this award as a boost for California flower farmers and for floral designers who are meeting the requests of consumers who are now seeking out protea.”

Mel Resendiz with Harry VanWingerden of Myriad Flowers on the Miracle Gro float during the 2016 Rose Parade.

As the Marketer of the Year Award winner, Resendiz Brothers’ efforts to promote protea will be the cover story for the October 2018 issue of Floral Management.

Previous winners of the award, now in its 25th year, include the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner, an app that drives customer loyalty and engagement, a re-imagined florist’s business in Pennsylvania and a campaign by Lane DeVries of Sun Valley Floral Farms to engage and encourage the floral industry to celebrate Women’s Day.

WF&FSA Institute Attendees Visit Certified American Grown Farms

Participants in the Wholesale Florist & Florist Supplier Association’s (WF&FSA) Management Institute recently made stops at two Certified American Grown flower farms – Kendall Farms in Fallbrook, California and Mellano & Company’s farm at San Luis Rey. The stops were part of the institute’s third annual “road trip.”

At the San Luis Rey farm, institute participants (aka young and aspiring wholesale executives) were given a 90-minute walking tour by farmer Mike A. Mellano.

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

At Kendall Farms, guests were treated to a bus tour of the farm and a walking tour of the warehouse with farmer Jason Kendall. Conversations continued during a networking happy hour and a farm dinner served on wood tables and chairs made on-site in the Kendall Farms workshop. Each attendee left with a complimentary Kendall Farm grocery tote and farm poster.

“We love to build relationships with the industry the old-school way – sitting down and breaking bread,” shares Kendall Farms sales director Cathy McClintock.

Photo courtesy of Kendall Farms

WF&FSA board member Alan Tanouye, general manager of Americas at Floralife and a past president of WF&FSA, says that those who participate in the institute benefit greatly from seeing how others in the floral industry run their businesses. “It gets people jazzed to see how varied the floral industry is, how hard people work and how much passion they have,” Tanouye shared.

He noted that participants were impressed by the scale of the Mellano farm, the quality of the flowers and what they’re doing with water issues. “The Mellano team speaks so well about what they are doing and experiencing,” Tanouye says.

And he called Kendall Farms one of the most beautiful places in the world! “Everyone said we should be paying more for Kendall’s product. When you see how hard they work on those slopes to plant and harvest and care for the products, it’s really impressive – you can just see the passion there.”

Star Valley Flowers Draws A Record-Breaking Crowd

200 Guests Enjoyed An Enchanting Evening On The Flower Farm

Photo by Kelleghan Productions Inc.

 

The table was set for 200. That’s quite a table!

Certified American Grown hosted a record-breaking crowd during this weekend’s American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Star Valley Flowers in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin.

Originally set for 150, the table grew to 175 and then to 200, breaking the previous record of 183 in Detroit in 2015.

“It really isn’t about the number of people,” explained Kasey Cronquist, Certified American Grown Administrator and emcee of the award-winning national dinner tour. “We really focus on our guest experience and have always wanted to keep the experience intimate, but we had a lot of demand and a willing farmer embraced the idea of  ‘the more the merrier.’ So, it just kept growing and it all turned out beautifully.”

One guest commented, “even though there were 200 guests, it felt intimate. The setting could not have been lovelier and the weather was perfect.”

Another first for the tour was bench seating. The beautiful wooden farm tables were accompanied by matching wooden benches. The benches complimented the family-style dining experience and tradition of the tour, and made for some beautiful photography.

Erick New (left) and Greg Campbell of the Garden District in Memphis were responsible for the floral tablescape and install for the evening. Authors of Florists to the Field, Erick and Greg signed books for guests during the reception.  Photo by Kelleghan Productions Inc.

Of course, the floral-focused evening wouldn’t have been as magical without the incredible talent of Greg Campbell and Erick New of The Garden District. The dynamic duo created one of the most dramatic tablescapes we’ve ever seen, complete with beautiful pussy willow arches that covered the table and accented by the bittersweet berries that Star Valley Flowers is known for. Stunning fall-colored arrangements flowed down the entire length of the table.

“The decorations, including the flowers, were over the top; kudos to the floral designers who came in from Tennessee.” ~ Sharon C.

The team at Driftless Cafe, lead by Chef Luke, did an outstanding job with the menu for the evening. And the response from attendees was outstanding, with praise for every single course. The main course was organic beef tenderloin provided by Organic Valley, one of the evening’s sponsors, and headquartered just down the road from Star Valley Flowers.  The menu was paired beautifully with the wine provided by Geyser Peak.

Chef Luke from the Driftless Cafe.  Photo by Kelleghan Productions Inc.

It was a beautiful evening on the farm. The weather held and the sunset was picturesque. Diners were able to meet an American flower farmer, hear from the floral designers about their aesthetic and what makes designing with homegrown flowers special and converse with other flower lovers throughout a multiple-course meal.

Guest Laura M. shared, “The evening was so beautiful. I loved the chance to walk around the farm and hear some comments from John and Phil. We were so glad John allowed a few more people into the dinner. The lovely women I sat across from gave me a hug at the end of our evening. We sat down with strangers and left as friends.”

Guests left happy, arms full of flowers and enjoying the ever popular Field to Vase Dinner swag bag. It was a perfect early fall evening where 200 strangers became friends and the love of flowers sealed the deal.

Put Your Farm On The Map in 2019!

We're Looking For New Places To Take the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour

Click to apply!

It’s hard to believe that the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner is turning 5.

Launched in 2015, the national dinner tour concept was developed by the Certified American Grown program to help spread the news and shine a spotlight on the value and beauty America’s flower and foliage farmers bring to the economy, the floral industry and their communities.

The tour has exceeded all expectations.

Recognized by the Society of American Florists as an award-winning promotion and marketing effort, the dinner’s reputation as a cause-based agri-tourism experience now sells itself, with dinners selling out on flower farms all over the country.

Millions of impressions from great media coverage, social media posts by guests, blog posts and digital influencer support have combined to help us translate consumer fascination for the farm-to-fork movement to floral, and it keeps getting better.

So, now what?

We keep going.

There are so many more places for this tour to go, so many beautiful farms to share and stories to tell. More importantly, there are so many people that still don’t know where the flowers they buy come from, and for that reason, we’re really just getting started.

So where will we go in 2019 as we look to celebrate the fifth anniversary of this incredible flower-filled tour?

That’s what we’re working on now. We certainly have a list of farms that have raised their hand and volunteered to have the tour come by. We’ll certainly be considering those farms as possibilities, but we’re always looking for more locations, unique and special places and for farms in regions of the country that the tour hasn’t yet been to.

If you or someone you know would like their farm considered for the 2019 season, please consider filling out our farm application.

Farm Application

 

Certified American Grown Leader to Serve on PMA’s Floral Council

Cronquist will serve on PMA’s Floral Council.

Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist has been selected to serve on the Produce Marketing Association’s 2018-19 Floral Council.

Kasey Cronquist, Administrator of Certified American Grown and CEO and Ambassador of the California Cut Flower Commission.

Floral Council representatives provide input and guidance to help deliver year-round value to members of the association and to retain and recruit membership.

In addition to his new role with PMA, Cronquist was a speaker at the association’s 2017 Fresh Summit held last fall.

In his role as administrator of Certified American Grown, Cronquist has worked closely with floral mass marketers on the award-winning American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour and recently helped to drive mass market sales through the American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising contest in July.

Cronquist’s term on the council begins in September.

 

Podcast Gets To The Heart Of Dinner Tour Excitement

Kelly Perry is a floral designer, teacher, content developer, business owner and a podcaster. She’s also the designer for the upcoming American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour Oct. 5 at Green Door Gourmet in Nashville.

Click on the image above to hear Kasey Cronquist talk to Kelly Perry about the Certified American Grown movement.

 

All of this is our way of saying that she’s a master of all things flower-related. And she’s got quite a reputation, thanks to being featured in publications like Southern Weddings and Martha Stewart Weddings.

Photo by Mark Boughton

 

 

With the Field to Vase Dinner just a few weeks away, Perry sat down with Green Door Gourmet’s owner and operator Sylvia Ganier as part of her Team Flower podcast. Ganier talks with Perry about the workings of the farm – from what’s grown to how it’s grown – and discusses what it looks like to grow organically, as well as providing helpful tips and resources for sustainable farming.

 

 

Photo by Linda Blue Photography

 

 

 

Check out the podcast (click on the photo to the right), and then meet Ganier in person at the upcoming Field to Vase Dinner!

 

 

 

 

 

Perry also recently talked to Certified American Grown’s very own Kasey Cronquist about the history of the organization, how it’s grown and why wholesalers and consumers are so thrilled about the movement to source homegrown flowers. Cronquist also shares insider details about the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour.  You can also meet Cronquist, and of course the amazing Kelly Perry, at the upcoming dinner.

 

 

 

But here’s the thing – due to the exciting Nashville location, the renowned designer, the top-notch chefs and the amazing farm, seats to this last dinner of the season are going fast.

We’ve only got a handful left! And prices go up to $200 tomorrow!

 

 

Celebrity Chef Deb Paquette Collaborates with Chef Richard Jones During Nashville Field to Vase Dinner

Move over, Grand Ole Opry House and The Bluebird Cafe. These icons certainly draw in country music fans of all ages, but Deb Paquette of Etc. and Etch is the reigning rock star of Nashville eats. She’s also the first woman in Tennessee to qualify as a certified executive chef  – which makes our announcement that she’ll be the chef at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Nashville on October 5 even more exciting!

Known for her bold flavors, Paquette is now introducing a swanky vibe into her 30-year culinary career in the country music capital.

“They’re right! I grew up in a creative family and was encouraged to express myself,” she told local reviewers. “I was allowed to paint the walls in my room how I wanted and to paint a scene in our bathroom of a kid flying a kite and a big tree. When you’re a creative person, you have to give yourself the opportunity to express yourself.”

Which is why everything that comes from Paquette’s kitchen – from tacos and burgers to banana soup, filet mignon with horseradish celery creamed potatoes and peach upside-down cake – is an exciting and playful experience.

Chef Richard Jones of Green Door Gourmet will collaborate with Chef Deb Paquette on the menu for our October 5 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner event in Nashville, TN.

Chef Paquette will be collaborating with Green Door Gourmet’s own Chef Richard Jones. Chef Jones joined the team at Green Door Gourmet in 2012 to help educate consumers on the value of community supported agriculture (CSA’s). Prior to Green Door, Chef Jones served as a personal chef for musical artists including Sugarland, the Zac Brown Band, U2 and Keith Urban. You can learn more about Chef Jones and his efforts to “change the face of true farm-to-fork dining,” here.

Together, the talented duo will be developing the multi-course menu for our guests to enjoy on the farm.

 

Imagine enjoying a beautiful and delicious menu surrounded by the vibrant beauty of American Grown Flowers.  Our Nashville dinner brings together the best of both at Green Door Gourmet.

This is a combination of culinary talent you do not want to miss. Few tickets remain, so be sure to book your seats for this special tour stop.