Hints of fall (or maybe even winter) were in the air as the doors to The Flower House opened on October 16th in Hamtramck, Michigan, just outside downtown Detroit. There was plenty of warmth inside the giant white tent, where 180 guests joined the festivities and gathered for an important cause: Promoting American Grown Flowers.
Our host, Lisa Waud, a floral designer and producer of The Flower House, is a soon-to-be flower farmer.
At the start of last Friday's dinner, master of ceremonies Kasey Cronquist, Administrator of the Certified American Grown program, introduced Lisa and asked her to describe the experience of creating The Flower House. She first had to wait for a spontaneous standing ovation to finish!
Lisa took the mic and spoke eloquently about her passion for local flowers. She described starting more than a year ago with the idea of inviting fellow florists from across the country to help her adorn, embellish and decorate 15 rooms of an abandoned Detroit residence with American grown flowers, foliage and live plants. And then she paused and gestured to the very ground where the tables and chairs where dinner guests were seated to announce her plans for Flower House Farm, an urban flower farm where she'll grow peonies and dahlias in the near future.
That connection with place and season was evident as speaker after speaker shared their passion for sourcing locally, be it Chef Blake Reetz of Eat Ann Arbor describing the delicious autumn-inspired menu he had prepared, or featured florist Susan McLeary of Passionflower sharing details of her tablescape that included just-harvested Michigan peppers, pea vines and purple hyacinth beans filling lavish vases on the tables.
Lisa’s vision is contagious. On that chilly night, her authentic voice and engaging smile warmed the hearts of 180 guests at the sold-out Field to Vase Dinner. We applaud Lisa's vision to grow and design with flowers that are local, seasonal and sustainable. And we celebrate her talents and gifts that inspire so many others about the source of flowers in their lives.
When you add up the numbers, The Flower House is a thoroughly impressive endeavor. On the Slow Flowers Podcast, host Debra Prinzing shared some of those numbers:
- 1 Elderly home, circa early 1900s
- 15 rooms, closets, hallways and porches
- 30-plus floral designers
- 3 days
- 2,000-plus visitors
- 25,000 to 40,000 individual stems of American-grown flowers and foliage; the count keeps climbing and changing!
- hundred of potted plants
- dozens of American flower farms and farmers
- 180 Field to Vase Dinner Guests
And now that the Flower House event is over? There will be one glorious Detroit flower farm called Flower House Farm.
These numbers represent the people behind the flowers. Owners of Certified American Grown flower farms whose labor is celebrated in every stem they grow and bring to market. Lovely photographs of flower-laden walls, ceilings, windowsills and floors inside The Flower House are nothing but breathtaking as an art piece. But beyond those petals and stems, the flowers speak of the vibrancy of American farms and farmers.
The 2015 Field to Vase Dinner Tour has its own set of numbers to celebrate, Detroit’s included.
Since our first dinner of the year at an orchid farm in Carpinteria, California, on March 5th, through last week’s Flower House event in Detroit, the Dinner Tour has traveled from California to Colorado, New York, Washington, D.C., Washington State, Oregon and Michigan.
More than 1,200 guests have dined on a farm-to-table meal prepared by artisan chefs, served family style. We believe that model stimulates conversation among companions old and new; we pass the platter, serve one another, break bread together and share a glass of wine while learning about the importance of preserving American flowers.
It has been a profound experience, one that sets the stage for a continuing series of dinners – taking place on more of America’s flower farms – in 2016.
Before the year’s over, we’ll be sharing many more behind-the-scenes stories about the highlights of the Field to Vase Dinner Tour, so be sure to visit this site again or sign up for our newsletter to receive announcements and details about the next series of farm dinners where the flowers on the table are as local and seasonal as the food on the plate.
Visit our Flickr page to see more photos from our American Grown Field to Vase dinner in Detroit.