Donald Yim Wins 51st Annual Sylvia Cup Competition

Certified American Grown is a Proud Sponsor

Donald Yim, AIFD,PFCI, was named the winner of the Society of American Florists’ (SAF) 51st Annual Sylvia Cup Design Competition held during the Society of American Florists 135th Annual Convention on Amelia Island, Florida, last week. 

Donald Yim, AIFD, PFCI, winner of the Society of American Florists’ (SAF) 51st Annual Sylvia Cup Design Competition, accepts his award from Dave Pruitt, interim administrator of Certified American Grown, as Jacque Sir Louis of Smithers-Oasis looks on.

The win earned Yim the coveted Sylvia Cup trophy and a $3,000 prize.

Bob Tucker, AIFD, FSMD, received first runner-up honors and $500. The second runner-up was Alejandro Figeuira Fernandes, AIFD, who received $250. 

Donald Yim, first runner-up Bob Tucker and second runner-up Alejandro Figeuira Fernandes are applauded by the audience and Dave Pruitt, interim administrator for Certified American Grown.

The Sylvia Cup is the country’s longest running live floral design competition. It began in 1967 and is named for Sylvia Valencia, a prominent designer and long-time SAF supporter.

Donald Yim poses with his award-winning designs.

This year’s competition had a pirate theme in a nod to Amelia Island and its maritime history. 

The event was sponsored by Certified American Grown and Oasis Floral Products, and coordinated by Professional Floral Communicators International.  

Participants and supporters from the 51st Annual Sylvia Cup Design Competition that featured a pirate theme and maritime-based design challenges.

The 13 competing floral designers were challenged to create a floral crown for Princess Amelia, daughter of King George II and the island’s namesake; an American floral art piece inspired by nature; and an easel piece for a funeral using green and white flowers inspired by the sails of a ship. 

Sylvia Cup competitors work on their designs, all created with Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens, while SAF attendees look on.

Contestants designed all of their arrangements with Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens donated by the following generous farms: 

Bloomia USA 

California Pajarosa Floral 

CamFlor Inc.  

Continental Floral Greens 

Dramm Echter Farms

Eufloria Flowers

Fern Trust, Inc.

Glad-A-Way Gardens 

Holland America Flowers 

Kitayama Brothers

Kendall Farms 

Mellano & Company 

Mobi’s 

Ocean View Flowers 

Pyramid Flowers 

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers 

Star Valley Flowers 

Sun Valley Flower Farms

Sutton Ferneries

Westland Orchids

Certified American Grown Goes To SAF!

Representatives from Certified American Grown participated in the expo held at the Society of American Florists (SAF) 135th Annual Convention on Amelia Island, Florida, last week. 

Certified American Grown hosted a table at the Society of American Florists (SAF) 135th Annual Convention held on Amelia Island, Florida, last week.

Interim CEO Dave Pruitt, along with Certified American Grown staff members Andrea Philpot and Anna Kalins manned a table at the expo and talked with wholesalers, farms and florists in attendance about all things Certified American Grown.

There’s a lot to share! 

Certified American Grown Interim CEO Dave Pruitt along with Andrea Philpot and Anna Kalins answered questions and provided a wide range of information to expo attendees.

Think general information about the program and our certified farms, details of the annual American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, the launch of Certified American Grown-branded floral food packets from Floralife and the American Grown Act. 

The SAF expo provided a great opportunity to discuss all that’s important to Certified American Grown with fellow flower lovers, industry leaders and designers.

The event also provided the opportunity for some selfies with friends and supporters of Certified American Grown! 

Bottom line: In just a few hours at the expo, we made a lot of connections, shared many exciting events and programs, and explained how Certified American Grown is advocating for America’s flower farmers.

It was a great day at an important industry event! 

The Certified American Grown information table at the SAF convention expo.

 

 

Guests Dine In Fields Of Waving Stock

Ocean View Flowers Attracts One Of Tour’s Largest Audiences

Five hundred acres of blooming flowers. Two hundred guests. One 200-foot dining table. Thousands of stems of stock, dahlias, delphinium, larkspur, Bells of Ireland and Queen Anne’s Lace. 

That’s just a hint of what guests at the Sept. 7 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Ocean View Flowers in Lompoc enjoyed. Perhaps celebrity florist Debi Lilly said it best as she stood in acres of blooming stock: “Our heart explodes technicolor rainbow confetti!” 

Exactly!

It was a joyous evening where guests dined in fields bursting with floral color at a table of 200 like-minded flower lovers.  Photo by Danielle Honea Photography.

Guests arrived to an expansive floral arch overflowing with pink, purple and white stock, and a view of an enormous community dining table. 

As guests walked past a wall of Queen Anne’s Lace, they came upon this hidden and stunning site.  Photo by Danielle Honea Photography.

They met flower farmer Frank Costa and dined on delicious creations by culinary artist Clark Staub of Full of Life Flatbread. And they sipped wine, beer and spirits from Calwise Spirits Co., Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards, Sweetzer Cellars, Montemar Wines, Foley Wines, Kessler-Haak Vineyard and Wines and Solvang Brewing Company.  

Guests were utterly in awe of the menu created by Chef Clark Staub of Full of Life Flatbread. Photo by Danielle Honea Photography

Chef Staub’s menu featured farm-fresh ingredients thanks to the California Milk Advisory Board, Las Flores Apiaries honey, Hibbits Ranch walnuts, Tutti Frutti and Babé Farms. And what a menu it was: chilled melon soup, nasturtium and marigold salad, end-of-summer sweet corn ribs, grilled grass-fed strip steak braised in stone fruits, Moroccan vegetarian b’stilla, heirloom tomatoes with grilled summer squash and herbs, and a roasted strawberry tart.

The entire evening came together thanks to the heroic efforts of event planner Cynthia Signorelli of Cynthia Signorelli Special Events who ensured guests had the experience of a lifetime on an American flower farm! 

 

 

Lilly, the floral designer for the event, nailed it again when she shared how the event made her (and guests) feel. “So much magic and love and passion for flowers and farmers it brings tears to our eyes.” 

Debi Lilly brought her passion for American Grown Flowers and those who farm them to the Lompoc Field to Vase Dinner.  Photo by Danielle Honea Photography

 

Sincere thanks to our additional sponsors and supporters: 

  • Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance 
  • The SOi Company 
  • River Bottom Boys 
  • Safeway
  • Vons
  • Albertsons
  • Local FFA students 

The evening was full of flowers, fun and smiles! Photos by Danielle Honea Photography.

To see more photos from this amazing event, you can go to our Flickr Album!

If an evening like this one appeals to you, stay tuned for our 2020 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour dates, coming in January!   Sign up here to be one of the first to know where the Dinner Tour will stop next year!

 

Carbajal Staffers Visit Ocean Breeze Farms

Tour, Discussions Put Focus on Key Issues, Industry Innovations

While flower farmers make a visit to Washington, D.C., each year to connect with policymakers, a recent meeting with staff from Congressman Salud Carbajal’s office brought policymakers to the flower farm.

Last week, Jeremy Tittle, chief of staff, and Erin Sandlin, agriculture legislative assistant, visited Ocean Breeze Farms in Carpinteria on behalf of Salud, a co-chair of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

While there, Tittle and Sandlin toured the farm and met with Rene and June Van Wingerden, owners of a Certified American Grown flower farm. They were joined by Dave Pruitt, interim administrator for Certified American Grown, and Jumana Misleh, federal affairs representative for the program.

Jeremy Tittle and Erin Sandlin of Congressman Carbajal’s office, discuss cut flower policy concerns with Ocean Breeze farmers Rene and June Van Wingerden.

During the meeting, the Van Wingerdens summarized the top three cut flower issues they believe Congressman Carbajal should focus on: enforcement of labeling laws on imported flowers, passing the American Grown Act and immigration reform.

Tittle and Sandlin responded by agreeing to follow up on the labeling issue and promising to review alternative ways to move the American Grown Act, including looking at modifying appropriations language. They also indicated that while discussions on immigration reform continue, the chances of action on the issue this year are slim.

Farmer Rene Van Wingerden discussing the growth process and innovative care practices of Gerbera daisies with Tittle and Sandlin.

The group then toured an Ocean Breeze Farms greenhouse, learning about the growing process of Gerbera daisies and hearing about the innovations implemented on the farm, including hydroponic growing and integrated pest management, which has made the operation chemical-free.

Also discussed during the tour were the slim margins flower farmers face, how farms are cutting costs with efforts like using plants for longer periods, and the importance of a consistent, skilled labor force.

Tittle and Sandlin left Ocean Breeze with a deeper understanding of flower farming and a pledge to continue to provide support for America’s flower farmers in Washington, D.C.

“Meetings like these continue to stress the importance of having a strong relationship with our state and federal representatives to educate and convey the issues that all flower farmers face,” notes CAG’s Pruitt. “We hope that through meetings like this, we continue to ensure a bright future for American flower farmers.”

Culinary Artist is Chef for Field to Vase Dinner at Ocean View Flowers

He’s been called a culinary “artist” and his passion for sourcing fresh ingredients from small farms and ranches is widely known. Also well known is his popular restaurant, Full of Life Flatbread, in Los Alamos. 

Introducing Clark Staub, chef for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour stop at Ocean View Flowers on September 7 in Lompoc, California.

Chef Clark Staub in front of his hearth at Full of Life Flatbread. Photo by Steve Collins.

Staub has distinguished himself as an expert at destination dinners, having been the chef for more than a dozen events by organizations like Outstanding in the Field. 

Under Staub’s leadership, Full of Life Flatbread has earned a reputation for its farm-to-table approach and outside kiln pizza oven. 

For over 16 years, the Staub and his team have handcrafted seasonal flatbreads, baked fast in a scorching hot oak-fired stone oven, and served to the throngs of locals and in-the-know out-of-town foodies who line up for supper at the restaurant. 

Staub also creates and sells thousands of certified organic frozen pizzas nationwide at grocery stores nationwide, including Whole Foods. 

Which is all to say that guests at the upcoming American Grown Field to Vase Dinner should prepare to be wowed – and arrive hungry!  

One look at the menu should seal the deal.

Staub plans to serve chilled melon soup, end-of-summer sweet corn ribs, nasturtium and marigold salad, grilled grass-fed strip steak braised in stonefruits, Moroccan vegetarian b’stilla, heirloom tomatoes with grilled summer squash and herbs, and a roasted strawberry tart – all created with ingredients from local growers including Rancho San Julian, Tutti Frutti Farms and Babe Farms.

Local wines and craft beer will complement the artisan menu, including selections from Foley Wines, Montemar Wines, Alma Rose Wines, Kessler Hawk Wines, Sweetzer Cellars and Solvang Brewery.

 

Guests at the Lompoc Field to Vase Dinner, will experience a culinary delight as they take in the beauty of American Grown Flowers and enjoy the company of those who love them.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.Want to enjoy this mouthwatering menu, dine in a field of blooming stock and sip wine, craft brews and floral-inspired cocktails?

Then save your seat for this upcoming dinner!

Every guest goes home with an armful of beautiful blooms and a Field to Vase swag bag.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

You’ll leave with a swag bag chock-full of floral-themed goodies and armfuls of homegrown blooms from Ocean View Flowers!

This dinner is close to sold out, so reserve your seat soon. 

 

 

 

Flower-Lovers’ Dreams Come True at Alaskan Field to Vase Dinner

Breathtaking doesn’t even begin to describe it!

They’re flowers with a cult following thanks to their limited growing season, enormous ruffled blooms and amazing scent. 

 

They’re peonies! 

A gorgeous setting awaited guests of the Homer Field to Vase Dinner complete with a table overflowing with peonies and a view of Kachemuk Bay.  Photo by Rachel Tweggs Photography.

 

And 175 guests at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Joslyn Peony & Wedding Farm in Homer, Alaska, on Aug. 3 dined at tables overflowing (literally) with these incredible peonies as they gazed at the Kachemuk Bay.

 

Featured designer Christ Lopez created a stunning cascade of peonies and foraged fern.  Photo by Rachel Tweggs Photography.

 

The tablescape, created by Christi Lopez, AIFD EMC of Bergerons Flowers and Events, featured a garland of over 2,000 peonies in shades of pink and white (Duchess, Sarah Bernhardt, Mon Jules and Festiva Maxima varieties) paired with foraged fern from farmer Betty Joslyn’s farm. The petal-heavy design cascaded off the end of the table in a sweeping floral waterfall! 

 

The floral wall was a beautiful backdrop for guest photos. Photo by Rachel Tweggs Photography.

 

Throughout the evening, guests gathered at a circular floral wall “selfie station” featuring red Felix Supreme peonies to capture their experience and the beauty of homegrown peonies. 

 

Farmer Betty Joslyn and Sen. Lisa Murkowski.  Photo by Rachel Tweggs Photography.

 

 

Those attending the pre-dinner reception, sponsored by Ball Horticultural Company, enjoyed a full oyster bar hosted by Jakolof Bay Oysters, and heard from longtime Alaska flower supporter Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Rachel Tweggs Photography.

 

 

 

 

The artisan meal prepared by Chef Susie Von Willer Linford of Alaska Coastal Catering featured wild-caught Alaskan crab claws, organic greens with feta and local berries, Alaskan Copper River salmon, couscous with gorgonzola, carrots roasted in thyme and butter, and a dessert featuring two kinds of truffles and organic berries. 

 

 

 

The band Burnt Down House played for guests throughout the evening, and craft beer was provided by Homer Brewing Company and Broken Tooth Brewing.  

 

We love to see our guests smiling as they leave with armfuls of American Grown goodies.  Photo by Rachel Tweggs Photography.

 

Guests left with amazing memories, a new appreciation for homegrown blooms, armfuls of American Grown Flowers and a swag bag packed with floral goodies. 

To see more beautiful photos from the dinner at Joslyn Peonies, visit our Flickr page.

If an evening like this sounds like something you’d enjoy, join us Sept. 7 at Ocean View Flowers in Lompoc, California, for the next American Grown Field to Vase Dinner! 

 

 

Solving the Summer Slump Is Focus of Fun ‘N Sun Session

Experts Shared How Origin-Based Campaigns Can Drive Consumer Demand

It’s an industry-wide problem. Flower sales drop in the summer just as flower production is at its peak. 

What to do?

A panel of floral industry experts shared tips and resources to address the slump as part of a panel session at Fun ‘N Sun, held July 26 in Santa Barbara, California.

The session, “Solving the Summer Slump – A Plan to Drive Sales Beyond Mother’s Day,” featured Crystal Hedgpeth, floral sales manager for Safeway’s Northern California division, John Burk, digital marketing manager for Certified American Grown wholesaler DVFlora and Kelly Shore, owner and lead designer of Petals by the Shore in Maryland. The session was guided by the California Cut Flower Commission’s (CCFC) Anna Kalins. 

Left to right: Fun ‘N Sun panelist John Burk, CCFC’s Anna Kalins and Interim CEO Dave Pruitt, along with panelists Crystal Hedgpeth and Kelly Shore.

During the session, the panelists explained how they were growing sales and consumer awareness for homegrown flowers by featuring American Grown Flowers and Greens throughout July (declared American Grown Flowers Month by Congress). They also discussed the incredible success they’ve witnessed with marketing campaigns focused on American Grown flowers and from the American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest – think sales increases as large as 17.5%!  

Hedgpeth, Burk and Shore also shared the tactics they and their companies are leveraging to gain customers when “America is in season” and all year long. 

CCFC’s Anna Kalins moderated the panel discussion about how to drive sales beyond Mother’s Day.

Hedgpeth described Nor Cal Safeway’s wildly successful blue bucket campaign that promotes American Grown Flowers in dozens of stores. Burk shared DVFlora’s multi-pronged efforts, including free marketing materials for its customers, special pricing on American Grown Flowers, DV Crush boxes sent to high-profile florists and special website pages featuring American Grown product. Shore shared her story of committing to sourcing American Grown Flowers for her floral business all year long. She also talked about the many ways she’s spreading the word that origin matters, like farm tours, a 12-month project featuring American Grown bridal bouquets and volunteering to lead design efforts for Certified American Grown events.  

Attendees left with the knowledge of how to plug into future American Grown Flowers Month campaigns and contests, and a better understanding of why the origin matters message is resonating with consumers.

The big news – tips from the session will help everyone say “so long” to the summer slump! 

 

Get Your Hands On Some Amazing Alaskan Peonies!

Join a Design Workshop at Joslyn Peonies in Homer, Alaska

If you’re still pondering attending the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Homer, Alaska, on Aug. 3, we’re making your decision even easier! 

Now, before you dine among peonies, you can design with them! 

Make your American Grown Field to Vase Dinner experience complete by participating in our exclusive floral workshop with renowned designer Christi Lopez, AIFD EMC, on Aug. 2 from 10 a.m. to noon on the farm at Joslyn Peonies. 

Imagine learning to design a beautiful arrangement for your home from Christi Lopez, this year’s co-lead of the First Lady’s Luncheon Design Team. Photo by Kirstin Smith Photography.

You’ll work with gorgeous blooms and learn all the techniques you need to create a stunning centerpiece for your home that will engage your guests and be a conversation-starter. You’ll be able to use what you learn again and again, and you’ll be working in person with one of America’s most talented floral designers! 

Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

All materials, including an awesome pair of Corona clippers, are included in the $75 fee. Sign up when you save your seat at dinner! Just add the workshop at checkout. 

You’ve just got to join us in Alaska! 


 

Oyster Bar Is Part of Alaskan F2V Experience!

We’re always looking for ways to make the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour even more special. And when it comes to the Aug. 3 dinner tour stop at Joslyn Peonies in Homer, Alaska, that means an oyster bar! 

Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

Guests at this tour stop will have the extra-special add-on of a full oyster bar hosted by Jakolof Bay Oysters as part of the pre-dinner reception. 

Jakolof Bay Oysters are renowned for their prime condition – plump, clean and firm – a benefit of slow, pristine, cold-water growth. 

Photo courtesy of Jakolof Bay Oysters.

And because the flavor of oysters changes with the seasons, the weather, their age, their reproductive cycles and even their very placement within a small bay, a single Jakolof oyster can provide a kaleidoscope of flavors.

There’s the salty taste of the liquor when it first hits the tongue, gliding into a sweet burst as the silky fatty lipids are released, then a smooth sea tang lingers And if you add lemon, shallot mignonette or Tabasco, that extra kick will give you a thirst for a sip of Muscadet or a local beer. A bite of buttered French bread will clear the palate for another round.

In addition to the oyster bar, guests can also create wearable floral flair at the dinner’s popular bout bar before sitting down for a multi-course artisan meal at a community table overflowing with amazing Alaskan peonies! 

A stunning table will be set with the beauty of Alaskan grown peonies and a break-taking view of the Kachemak Bay. Photo by Joshua Veldstra.

Oh, and it all takes place smack dab in the middle of fields of peonies in full bloom.

Opportunities like this don’t last long, and just a few seats for this dinner tour stop remain!

Save your seat and then start planning your Alaskan adventure that might also include sightseeing, tours of more Certified American Grown peony farms and fishing excursions.

 

 

Bohemian Garden Party Comes to the Lawn of CA State Capitol

Celebration Includes Annual Floral Design Contest For Legislators

Guests at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on the lawn of the State Capitol in Sacramento enjoyed what floral designer Cindy Magan of Hillside Blooms Floristry called a bohemian garden party.

A beautiful table was set for guests who arrived at the 2nd annual Sacramento Field to Vase Dinner on the State Capitol lawn.  Photo by Ashley Noelle Edwards.

And what a garden party it was!

Guests throughly enjoyed the wonderful photo opportunity provided by sponsor Nor Cal Safeway and their classic, red truck filled with CA Grown Flowers.  Photo by Francisco Chavira.

Guests arrived to a vintage truck from Safeway that was overflowing with every variety of California Grown Flowers imaginable.

From left to right: Senator Mike McGuire, Assemblymember Devin Mathis, Assemblymember Monique Limón (champion for the second year in a row) and Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva participated in a lively and competitive design challenge.  Photo by Francisco Chavira

And as part of the VIP reception in advance of the dinner, California legislators Senator Mike McGuire, Assemblymember Devin Mathis, Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva and Assemblymember Monique Limón competed in a floral design contest where they took their best shot at creating a breathtaking bouquet.

The contest, sponsored annually by the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC), brings attention to California Grown Flowers Month being celebrated throughout June. Combining the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner with this annual tradition by CCFC helps guests, including California’s lawmakers, understand just how valuable the American Grown Flower movement has become.

Assemblymember Monique Limón, winner of the design competition, poses with California flower farmers Mike A. Mellano, Felicia Alvarez, Lane DeVries, Farai Madziva and featured designer Cindy Magan.  Photo by Francisco Chavira

For the second year in a row, Assemblymember Monique Limón was the contest champion, earning a gorgeous crystal vase and a year of deliveries of California Grown Flowers for her office.

Photo by Franciso Chavira

After watching the contest and enjoying wine from Silt Wine Company, a floral-themed cocktail from J.J. Pfister Distilling, passed appetizers and a cheese station hosted by the California Milk Advisory Board, guests moved to a community table adorned with floral designs created from blooms donated by flower farmers up and down the Golden State.

Featured designer Cindy Magan created a fresh and lovely tablescape that was both earthy and elegant using all CA Grown Flowers and Greens.  Photo Ashley Noelle Edwards.

Dozens of centerpieces paired with clustered vases of specialty blooms reflected Magan’s “fresh romantic” design aesthetic. And the bohemian vibe was reflected in the flower selection and ombre design that incorporated dozens of flower and greens varieties.  

The menu was divinely inspired by many of California’s favorite local ingredients and prepared by Sacramento’s own chefs Aziz Bellarbi-Salah and Christophe Cornet. Photo by Franciso Chavira

Guests dined on a multicourse meal created by Sacramento chef Aziz Bellarbi-Salah and Chef Christophe Cornet of Brasserie Capitale and Café à Coté. Served were a mixed green salad with watermelon, radish, ricotta, blueberries and chopped herbs; roasted salmon with tomato basil relish, eggplant with tomato-basil coulis; seared bavette steak with red wine reduction and potatoes gratin; and cantaloupe with a fig and port reduction.

Many ingredients for the farm-fresh menu were provided the California Cattlemen’s Association, the California Blueberry Commission, the California Olive Committee, the California Fig Advisory Board and the California Milk Advisory Board.

 

 

 

Guests left with armfuls of California Grown Flowers and a swag back chock-full of floral themed goodies.

Photo by Ashley Noelle Edwards

If this dinner sounds like something out of your floral dreams, there’s still time to make a reservation for the remaining 2019 American Grown Field to Vase Dinners with upcoming stops in Homer, Alaska; Lompoc, California; and New Albany, Ohio.

Don’t miss the summer’s most exclusive dinner parties!