We’re Offering A ‘River to Table’ Experience in Alaska

Add Unique Fishing Expeditions To Your Field to Vase Experience -- Space is Limited!

Fishing is for everyone in Alaska.

Among the great outdoor opportunities that tempt visitors to Alaska, fishing lands at the top of many bucket lists. It’s easy enough to see yourself pitted against nature’s ruggedness – and coming out the victor.

This could be you! Imagine yourself reeling in a big King Salmon during your American Grown Field To Vase adventure in Alaska! This our dinner guest Val Mellano. She caught her king with Kenny on the Kenai River.

Certainly, this dream has caught the attention of guests reserving their seats at the Field to Vase Dinner Tour in Homer, Alaska, at Joslyn Peonies on Aug. 3, 2019. And the professional fishermen in that area are happy to take the bait.

Certified American Grown has reserved two special charters for dinner tour guests who are arriving early to revel in this state’s adventures. On Tuesday, July 30, join guide Kenny Bingaman and his team of expert fishing guides on one of their King Size Adventures to hook king salmon on the Kenai River. This 30-year veteran has a reputation for consistently producing fish for his clients during their eight-hour trips, some as large as 70 pounds.

Don’t fret. Kenny will provide the right rods, reels and even clean your catch back at the dock.

Seats are available for $300 per person, not including tip, and King Size Adventures will assign four persons per boat.

Only 16 seats are available, so reserve you spot quickly!

 

Reel in the catch of your life with North Country Charters while in Alaska for our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner.

On Thursday, August 1, North Country Charters invites you to board its 53-foot M/V Irish with her crew for eight fun hours of challenging halibut fishing. All of the fishing equipment, bait and filleting are provided, so all you need to do to cast off is bring warm clothing and your love for competitiveness. Lunch is available for $15, but you ‘re welcome to bring your own. The cost is $225 per person plus tax and $25 for a one-day fishing license available at the North Country Halibut Charters office or online at admin.adfg.state.ak.us/license.

Don’t hesitate – only 16 seats are available!

 

Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist reels in a 45 lb king salmon during the week of the 2017 Field To Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies.

 

And after you reel in the big catch? You’re welcome to donate it to be specially prepared and served at the Field and Vase Dinner itself. On the dinner tour’s last stop in Alaska, Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist did just that after catching a 45-pound salmon.

Because if there’s one thing better than attending one of our crown jewel events, it’s having a hand in creating it!

Chef Dave took Kasey’s king salmon and served it to our guests during the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies in 2017.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

 

 

 

 

But first, make sure you have a seat at the dinner table at Joslyn Peonies.  You won’t want to miss this uniquely Alaskan Field to Vase Dinner on August 3.  And fishing expeditions are a special offer for dinner guests only.

Join us at Josyln Peonies, in Homer, Alaska, located on the Kenai Peninsula and you’ll enjoy this stunning view of Kachemak Bay with your Field to Vase Dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Red Twig Farms

Varieties, events are ever-expanding on this flower farm

At Red Twig Farms in New Albany, Ohio, old-fashioned farming has met the Instagram age.

But it didn’t start out that way at this Certified American Grown flower farm. In 2010, the McCullough family opened the farm as a place to grow willow and dogwood branches for the family’s landscaping business. But that was a one-season crop and there was unused acreage.

Josh andLindsey McCullough have grown Red Twig Farms using the modern tools of social media. Photo by Bob Stefko.

The next year, the family added peonies, which were a hot commodity at that time. When the peonies were mature in 2014, the family sold to florists and wholesalers as well as at local farmers markets. But the peonies didn’t fare well at farmers markets where the warm temperatures caused them to open up and rendered any leftover inventory unsellable.

That’s when the family decided to create a farm store on its property and try to get people to come to the peonies rather than taking peonies to the people. That way, the flowers could be kept in a controlled environment at optimal temperatures.

The missing part of the equation was how to get people to the farm. That’s where social media came in. And it was the second generation of the McCullough family running the farm – son Josh and his wife Lindsey – who spearheaded the push. Lindsey handles the farm’s marketing while Josh attends to the growing operation.

The farm kicked off the opening of its farm store in 2016 with an event to mark the opening of peony season. Lindsey, who has a degree in marketing and e-commerce, took to Facebook to promote the event. That first year, 168 people came out.

“We just kept marketing it through social media,” Lindsey said. “Josh did a couple articles locally and Midwest Living (magazine) found us through Instagram and they wanted to be a part of it. In 2017, that season opener we had more than 1,400 adults come through. And it all came through social media.”

The event has continued to grow. More than 2,000 people attended in 2018.

“We’ve started advertising for what we’re calling Peony Fest 2019 for the opening day and we’re nearing 14,000 people interested,” she said. “We’re obviously going to have to make it a couple-day event.”

The season opener was just the first of the farm’s successes that got an assist through social media.

In March, the farm started a subscription service where people could sign up for weekly deliveries of peonies during the season for two to five weeks. The goal, Lindsey said, was to get flowers to customers in nearby Columbus who had expressed via Facebook messages that they wanted peonies but didn’t have time to get to the farm. The service started with a goal of 50 customers; the farm had to stop taking new customers after 94 people signed up.

The farm’s VIP Peony Harvest Experience has also been a hit. The event, limited to 40 people, takes participants into the fields that are usually closed to the public, and Josh explains the ins and outs of growing peonies. Those on the tour are then allowed to harvest two dozen peonies themselves. The first year the event sold out in two hours.

“They do everything we do and they have a blast doing it,” Lindsey said.

Social media also has played in recruiting workers. When the farm needed staff for its farm store, the word when out via Facebook. It was customers who responded and were ultimately hired. For Lindsey, who better to sell the farm’s product than happy customers.

As much as modern marketing methods have played a role in its success, one of the farm’s goals is to remind people of the natural rhythms of agricultural life.

Red Twig Farm posted a great example of their pride in the program on their Instagram page.

“We just want to keep educating everybody and bring back some farming that people might have forgotten or are just so busy doing social media that you forget what it’s like to be out there,” Lindsey said. “We want to show people the other side of cut flowers. Yes, it’s the pretty pictures on Instagram but there’s also a lot of hard work that goes into it and long hours. There’s trial and error in everything you do. Just because it works this year doesn’t mean it’s going to grow next year. We want to showcase that, the real side to it.”

The farm, which has grown from harvesting 8,000 peonies in 2015 to 30,000 in 2018, aims to continue expanding its offerings. The goal is to build up the subscription service with new flowers, which would allow the service to operate in March and April in addition to the peony season in June. Daffodils, tulips and ranunculus are among the possibilities. Flowers will be planted this fall for early spring harvest.

“There’s a whole list of flowers that we’re looking at and saying to ourselves, ‘Can we do this?’” she said.

Of course they will! We can’t wait to see what Red Twig Farm will do next.

 

Meet Certified American Grown Lobbyist Jumana Madanat Misleh

She Shares Why Flower Farmer Participation in Upcoming Fly-In is Critical

When Jumana Madanat Misleh was hired in May to be the voice for Certified American Grown in Washington, D.C., it didn’t take her long to get up to speed on the issues facing America’s flower farmers.

Jumana Misleh (far left) attended this year’s First Lady’s Luncheon along with Certified American Grown representatives shown here with Second Lady Karen Pence (center). Also pictured from left to right: Kasey Cronquist, Benno Dobbe, Second Lady Karen Pence, Pamela Arnosky, Kelly Shore and Klazina Dobbe.

In her previous job at a Washington law firm she had handled the group’s legislative efforts in the capital. She came out of “early retirement” at the request of Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist.

“I don’t think I would have done it for anyone else,” she said. “I believe in their issues and I was happy to jump back in.”

 

Rene Van Wingerden of Ocean Breeze Farms with Jumana Misleh at the CCFC Annual Dinner in November 2018. Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

 

Her accomplishments for American flower farmers have come quickly.  Shortly after coming on board she:

  • Helped lead an effort to reinstate the USDA’s annual floriculture survey after it had been eliminated two years previous due to budget cuts. The survey provides American farmers with information about flower-growing trends and gauges the sector’s economic impact and for the first time will include Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Virginia and Wisconsin.
  • Secured an invitation for a Certified American Grown delegation to attend the White House Economic Summit in September. It was billed as a conversation with President Trump, but he was forced to cancel by the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Still, the event featured high-level administration officials including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, economic adviser Larry Kudlow and White House adviser Ivanka Trump. It was the first time Certified American Grown had been invited to such as event.
  • Reengaged an effort to bring about enforcement of an existing law that requires imported flowers to be identified by their country of origin on consumer packaging. Misleh has gained the support of a congressman who is pursuing enforcement of the law.
  • Increased support for the annual resolution by the U.S. House of Representatives declaring July as American Grown Flower Month. Sponsors of the resolution increased from seven representatives in 2017 to more than 57 in 2018. Misleh then convinced some sponsors of that resolution to become members of the Cut Flower Caucus, a bipartisan group of House members that support the interests of flower growers.
  • Helped grow the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, a bipartisan group that supports the interests of America’s flower farmers.
  • Renewed an effort to convince the White House to use only American Grown flowers at the White House. That has been a longtime goal of Certified American Grown. Misleh’s ultimate aim is for all federal agencies to be required to use American Grown flowers at their events.

Misleh has accomplished all this through her contacts cultivated through her years as an attorney in Washington, D.C., and a don’t-take-no-for-an-answer approach.

Jumana Misleh (center) leads a meeting between farmers and a congressional staffer.

 

“Really, it’s a lot of relationship-building and working with people who have an interest in our issues,” she said.

“When Kasey brought me on board, essentially my strategy was to do everything in my power to draw attention to their issues and to check those items off their to-do list.”

With Certified American Grown as her only client, Misleh said she is free from conflicts faced by lobbyists working for multiple agriculture interests who do a balancing act to ensure they are not alienating someone in pursuit of another client’s interests.

“I am putting all my eggs in one basket with Certified American Grown,” she said. “I’m not afraid to do what it takes, because my sole goal is to get things done for Certified American Grown.”

Misleh says she’s part of a new generation of Washington lobbyists.

“I’m willing to cold call. I’m willing to walk into the office of someone I don’t know for the sake of my client. The perspective of a lot of people is that you have to do things in an orderly fashion – ‘you can’t call that office, you have to call the guy in the office below him’ – out of respect for hierarchy.

“In this day and age of LinkedIn and everything being on the internet, you can go directly to the decision-makers and I’m not afraid to do that. That’s what I’ve been doing and that’s what I plan to keep doing.”

Misleh has worked to see where flower farmers’ interests have aligned with the Trump administration’s policies.

“We have a very receptive administration right now,” she said. “They want to help American businesses and American farmers, so I think we really need to capitalize on that. We show them we’re supportive of their policies, and we’d like them to be supportive of us as well. Hopefully, good things come from it.”

Her efforts to get the White House’s ear on flower-growing issues began in June when she made contact with an official there through a longtime mentor. The relationship blossomed at a time when much of American agriculture was opposed to Trump’s policies. But the administration’s efforts to level the playing field with foreign producers meshes with the interests of American flower farmers, Misleh said. That led the White House to request a statement of support for its trade policies that Misleh and Cronquist drafted.

The result has been an ongoing relationship with the White House.

“It’s nice to know that they know who we are,” she said. “I enjoy hearing from the White House and appreciate the attention they are giving us, whether it’s invitations to various events or to join on conference calls or briefings. So, we’re on their radar.”

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

It was also that relationship that led to the invitation to the White House Economic Summit.

Andrea Gagnon, Certified American Grown Council member also joined Kasey Cronquist at the Economic Summit.

 

“It was a great opportunity to network,” she said. “And whether or not you agree with what this administration is doing, it’s always an honor to be invited to the White House.”

Misleh urges flower farmers to come to Washington for the annual fly-in in February (24-26). It will give them a chance to talk to members of Congress and have an impact on issues that affect them.

Jumana has had a history with our farms, attending meetings with flower farmers and members of Congress in Washington, DC as far back as 2012.

“It is critical that we have as many participants as possible from as many states as possible,” she said. “Members (of Congress) want to hear from their constituents. I can go in and meet with people every day and they’ll listen to me and we’ll have a successful meeting. But when they hear from their own constituents, it has much more of an impact.”

Misleh said last year’s big showing from America’s flower farmers was the single most important factor in getting the USDA floriculture survey reinstated.

Thanks to Jumana’s leadership, last year’s team of flower famers were able to elevate the issue for reinstating the annual floriculture report directly to USDA NASS officials and worked with members of Congress to help secure the funding necessary for its reinstatement.

“Things like that only happen when farmers are involved, engaged and willing to come out here for a fly-in,” she said. “And it’s a great opportunity for them to see the type of impact they can have firsthand. … I’m looking at their issues with a fresh set of eyes. I have new contacts and I’m making new friends every day. We’re very energized this year.”

A big turnout in February also will help efforts to rebuild the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, which lost eight members in the recent midterm elections due to retirements and election losses.

“We actually have a huge task ahead of us,” she said. “We need to grow the caucus back to the level it was and we need to grow it ever further. We have a goal of having 75 members. It’s going to be tough because we’re going to be starting the year with 40 members.”

February’s fly-in will feature a briefing at the White House as well as meetings with the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus and USDA officials.

“I think we’re going to have a fantastic event this year. We already have a commitment from the White House to meet with our group and with a large turnout from our farms, hopefully we’ll have some more tangible successes that we can highlight during their time here.”

 

Join Us In Washington, D.C., For Annual Fly-In

This Year’s Visit Is Critical!

Year after year, we’re reminded of the importance of the face-to-face meetings we have during the annual flower farmer fly-in to Washington, D.C.

 

Our past efforts have netted the reinstatement of the national USDA survey of flower farms, inroads on bringing American Grown Flowers to the White House, expansion of the Cut Flower Caucus and strong relationships with policymakers.

These things happen because we’re there. Flower farmers are seen and heard. They share their stories. They give policymakers a name and face to remember.

It’s serious business. And it works.

Which is why we’re asking flower farmers to join us February 26-28, 2019, for our upcoming fly-in.

This is your opportunity to advocate for the work you do and its impact on the economy. It’s your chance to explain how policies from D.C. affect real farmers and their families. And it’s your opening to help make something big happen for flower farmers – like it did with the reinstatement of the farm survey.

The Commercial Floriculture survey, arriving in your mailbox very soon, had not been conducted for the past two years due to budgetary constraints at USDA’s NASS program. But after leaders from Certified American Grown program flew to Washington, D.C., and met with USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Administrator Hubert Hammer and members of the U.S. Senate, the report was reinstated.

We were heard. And there are other big issues we need to lend our collective voices to.

Let us know you’d like to join the delegation by emailing Andrea Philpot at andrea@americangrownflowers.org.

And be sure to participate in the Commercial Floriculture Survey, being mailed to farms on Dec. 14.

NASS will be collecting data from growers by mail, phone, online and through personal interviews. Enumerators from NASS will be visiting farms and calling farmers to help complete the survey from Dec. 31 through Feb. 8.

Your participation provides our farms and the larger industry with data that shows just how valuable our farms and flowers are to communities and to the economy.

Just one more way to be heard.

Nine New Retailers Excited to Promote American Grown Flowers Month in 2019

Certified American Grown (CAG) recently “set up shop” at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Orlando.

Certified American Grown kicked off 2019’s promotions for July at PMA’s Fresh Summit this October. A focus on celebrating American Grown Flowers Month has already proven to drive sales.

With red buckets, beautiful bouquets and bunches all labeled Certified American Grown, the display provided inspiration for retailers that stopped by.

“Drive sales all month long,” helped communicate the opportunities retailers have to increase their sales during the summer slump.

The effort was designed to motivate, encourage and sign up retailers for the American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest, held for the first time last July with great success.

And sign up they did! Nine mass market retailers have already agreed to participate in the second annual contest coming in July 2019, kicking off a great start to proven campaign.

Nine retailers signed up to celebrate American Grown Flowers Month in 2019 during PMA’s Fresh Summit.

Here’s why: data from the contest showed this campaign helps sell more flowers. In fact, the top five stores from each division that participated in the first year of the contest saw a 17.5 percent increase in their year-over-year sales during the month of July.

An example of one of our First Place Winners in 2018. This is the Safeway store in Daly City, California, part of the NorCal Division.

Selling more flowers in July, a typically slow month for flower sales, is something that all retailers can support. In fact nearly 12 retailers representing over 1,200 retail locations participated in the contest in its first year.

The team at Fry’s did an incredible job driving sales and waving the flag during American Grown Flowers Month this year.

We’re thrilled more and more retailers are seeing the value of promoting Certified American Grown, so much so that they’re getting on board with promotional efforts eight months in advance!

It’s a win-win for retailers and consumers who continue to tell us origin matters!

To learn more visit http://www.americangrownflowers.org/agfm/.

To register your division, visit: http://americangrownflowers.org/julycontest/

Sponsors Add Magical Touch to Dinner Tour!

It takes a village, as the saying goes, to put on the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour. And we simply couldn’t do it without our national sponsors who, in the most clever and imaginative ways, add a secret sauce to each tour stop.

These sponsors seamlessly add to the guest experience and make each dinner special. Each of the six stops on the 2018 tour was sold out, a feat made possible by the support of our sponsors.

The boutonnière bar has become a main attraction for our guests that attend a dinner.  Photography by Liraz Photography

One of the most popular features of the dinners, the boutonnière bar, is sponsored by Smithers Oasis. Time and time again, guests tell us how much they enjoy designing a bout or corsage to wear throughout the evening.

Photography by Liraz Photography

Thanks to the support of Smithers-Oasis, our guests enjoy designing their own boutonnière during the reception of each of our events.  Photography by Liraz Photography

Ball Horticultural is our reception sponsor, underwriting the food and wine for both our VIP reception and our pre-dinner reception. Ball ensures each dinner is off to a great start!

Our guests enjoy an hour long reception prior to dinner. Ball is our headline sponsor for every flower filled reception we host.  Photo courtesy of the Society of American Florists.

Live music, cocktails and meeting great people helps kick off an evening you will remember forever.  Photo by Kelleghan Production

Speaking of wine, Geyser Peak Winery and the nonprofit Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley provide all of the wine for our dinners, a must for any artisan meal experience.

Working closely with our chefs, Geyser Peak Wine provides our guests with a perfect pairing every time our table is set. Photo by Kelleghan Productions.

Our guests enjoy red and white wines from Geyser Peak at each dinner.   Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Great wine makes for a great event and we are fortunate to have Geyser Peak as a part of our national tour.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

And Syndicate Sales ensures our tablescapes will amaze and delight by providing the containers our floral designers fill with American Grown Flowers at each stop. The volume and variety of vessels they provide is spectacular.

The beautiful tablescapes would not be possible without the support of our national sponsor Syndicate Sales. The vases and containers they provide help our designers craft the most creative and beautiful table arrangements.  Photo by Taken by Sarah Photography.

This vivid tablescape byRené van Rems included these colorful vases by Syndicate Sales. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Helping guests bring home some magic from each event are Visit California, sponsor of our swag bags; and Corona Inc., which provides each guest with a pair of floral clippers so they can design their own American Grown arrangements at home.

Visit California helps us ensure that our guests leave with some wonderful memories and parting gifts from their Field to Vase experience.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

Each guest leaves with tools they can use thanks to Corona tools, a national sponsor of our Field to Vase Dinner Tour.  Photo by Kelleghan Productions.

Designers and guests appreciate the opportunity to use Corona tools during our hands-on workshops and at our boutonniere bar.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Our swag bags have become a much sought after item. Once the dinner is over, every guest takes home a fun bag filled with gifts from our sponsors.  Photography by Liraz Photography.

The dinner tour is also generously supported by national wholesale flower sponsors Mellano & Company and DV Flora, and is underwritten by Certified American Grown Flowers and the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC). Needless to say, a floral dinner has to have spectacular flowers and these sponsors ensure that’s the case at every single stop!

We load our swag bag up with unique items from each region, but always include a copy of Florists’ Review and SuperFloral magazine, our national media sponsor.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Finally, media sponsors Super Floral and Florists’ Review help us share the experience in text and photos all year long! We’re grateful for the coverage and the ability to share the tour experience far and wide.

As we wrap up the 2018 dinner tour and plan for the thrilling stops in 2019, we send our sincere thanks to our national sponsors!

Farm to Fork Dinner Goes Floral

Designer Debi Lilly is ‘Floral Chef’ at Iconic Event

Debi Lilly served as this year’s Floral Chef for the Farm to Fork Dinner event on the bridge in Sacramento. Photo by Glenn Younger

The annual Tower Bridge Dinner is the grand finale for Sacramento, California’s annual Farm-to-Fork Celebration. This year the event took on a floral focus with the addition of an American Grown Flowers tablescape created by Debi Lilly A Perfect Event.

Lilly, an event planner, floral designer and two-time American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour designer, served as the “floral chef” for the popular event where 800 diners gather for a multi-course meal at table that covers the length of the Tower Bridge.

Debi Lilly with Crystal Hedgpeth, Floral Manager for NorCal Safeway.  Photo by Glenn Younger.

She used hundreds of flowers of plants from farmers throughout California to create a multi-level tablescape that emanated fall sunshine and happiness. Think 440 vases of sunflowers. 440 vases of gerbera. 990 feet of bay leaf garland. 440 jack ‘o little pumpkins, 440 loose sunflower blooms, 440 succulents.

American Grown Flowers took center table during this year’s Farm to Fork event in Sacramento.  Photo by Glenn Younger.

And in a nod to a popular feature at all American Grown Field to Vase Dinners, the event also include two boutonniere bars where guests crafted bouts and posy bouquets using California Grown Flowers.

“Everyone loved it and the bar was a dozen people deep the entire cocktail hour,” Lilly shared.

Throughout the Farm-to-Fork weekend, Lilly also hosted demonstrations on flower design trends and designed two trend tables that were fully dressed with linen, crystal, dishes, dozens of vases of American Grown Flowers and, of course, the Certified American Grown Debi Lilly bouquet.

Photo by Glenn Younger.

She also recognized the farms that had contributed flowers to the event, gave a shout out to the flower farmers in attendance and discussed the importance of origin when it comes to selecting fresh blooms.

“Where flowers come from is as important as where food comes from. The origin of our food has been a focus for years, and now it’s the big story for florals, too. A lot of consumers aren’t aware that many blooms are grown thousands of miles away in other countries, so helping share the American Grown Flower movement and the stories of the farm families is an incredible opportunity,” Lilly explains.

“The Tower Bridge Dinner continues to highlight the best of the best, and we couldn’t think of a more fitting addition to the evening than Debi Lilly to ensure the beautifully designed California Grown Flowers were also showstoppers,” said Visit Sacramento President & CEO Mike Testa. “We’re thrilled that she could join us this year to create such a memorable experience for our guests.”

“For the last four years, we’ve been taking our American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour around the country to highlight that the homegrown movement isn’t just about food,” shares Kasey Cronquist, CEO and ambassador for Certified American Grown. It’s also about the flowers at the center of the table being as important as the food on your plate when it comes to sustainability, freshness and beauty. It was wonderful to see Safeway and Debi Lilly take that important floral message to this iconic food event in Sacrament, the nation’s Farm to Fork Capital.”

Winners of First-Ever American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest Announced

National Contest Included 12 Divisions Representing Over 1200 Stores

Eighteen stores that wowed consumers with their displays and promotional efforts for Certified American Grown Flowers were selected as winners of the first-ever American Grown Flowers Month merchandising competition held throughout the month of July.

The winners represent first, second and third place honorees from among four large grocery retailers nationwide. Twelve mass market divisions representing over 1200 stores participated in the competition – an amazing number for a first-time event, and one that will propel the competition into the future.

First place winners were: Big Y store #103 in Norwell, Massachusetts; Dave’s Marketplace store #08 in North Kingstown, Rhode Island; Safeway NorCal store #3031 in Daly City, California; King Soopers store #112 in Bennett, Colorado; Fry’s Store #64 in Gilbert, Arizona; and Whole Foods Market store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

First Place Winner Safeway NorCal store #3031 in Daly City, California

Second place winners are: Big Y store #86 in Wilbraham, Massachusetts; Dave’s Marketplace store #04 in Warwick, Rhode Island; Safeway NorCal store #1648 in Lodi, California; King Sooper store #98 in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Fry’s Store #675 in Buckeye, Arizona; and Whole Foods Market store in Cincinnati, Ohio.

First Place Winner Whole Foods Market store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Third place winners are: Big Y store #90 in Shelton, Connecticut; Dave’s Marketplace store #01 in Warwick, Rhode Island; Safeway NorCal store #691 in Berkeley, California; King Sooper store #102 in Longmont, Colorado; Fry’s store # 60 in Glendale, Arizona; and Whole Foods Market store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

First Place Winner Big Y store #103 in Norwell, Massachusetts

Participating retailers were judged on the quality and beauty of their in-store displays promoting American Grown Flowers Month, their ability to increase flower sales in July and their efforts to promote the celebratory month overall, as well as promoting the Certified American Grown brand.

First Place Winner Dave’s Marketplace store #08 in North Kingstown, Rhode Island

Participating retailers were judged on the quality and beauty of their in-store displays promoting American Grown Flowers Month, their ability to increase flower sales in July and their efforts to promote the celebratory month overall, as well as promoting the Certified American Grown brand.

First place winner at Fry’s store #64 in Gilbert, AZ.

The average sales increase for the top five stores from each company was more than 17.5 percent. Overall, participating stores reported an average increase in sales of 6.7 percent throughout the month of July.

First place winner at King Soopers Store 112 in Bennett, CO.

All we can say is “wow.”

The contest was launched after Congress declared July American Grown Flowers Month, which happens to be a high-production month for flowers but a traditionally slow time for retail flower sales. Until now.

Store campaigns were judged by Travis Rigby, publisher of Super Floral magazine and Florists’ Review; Keith White, AIFD, creative director for American Floral Trends Forecast and AANDK Productions; and Tom Bowling, AIFD, PFCI, education director for Syndicate Sales.

Participating stores that earned the highest marks had large attractive displays that were saturated with American Grown messaging. In fact, the more ways stores communicated the message visually and with verbal support from staff, the higher their sales.

And retailers got very creative in their efforts to attract attention to American Grown Flowers, using balloons, buttons worn by employees, the American Grown logo on signage and even red, white and blue pinwheel hats!

Look for information about next year’s contest starting in June 2019. With sales increases like we saw in the inaugural year of the contest, we’re expecting more retailers to get on board.

After all, consumers appreciate knowing the origin of their flowers, and as nearly 1,200 retailers found out this summer, make buying decisions based on that knowledge.

Rey Rodriguez Wins 50th Annual Sylvia Cup Competition

Certified American Grown is a Proud Sponsor

Rey Rodriguez, AAF, AIFD, TMFA, of The Gypsy Florist in Austin, Texas, was named the winner of the Society of American Florists’ 50th Annual Sylvia Cup Design Competition held during SAF Palm Springs 2018.

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

Lee Burcher, AIFD, CCF, PFCI, of Fleur de Lys in San Pedro, California, received second runner-up honors and $250. Burcher won Sylvia Cup top honors in 2004.

Certified American Grown sponsored all of the cut flowers and greens for the live competition.

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.

Rey Rodriguez’s winning designs.

This year’s competition — the contest’s 50th anniversary — paid homage to “The Wizard of Oz.” The event was sponsored by Certified American Grown and Smither-Oasis and coordinated by Professional Floral Communicators-International.

Among the 19 floral designers competing were 12 members of the American Institute of Floral Designers, eight past Sylvia Cup contestants and three contestants sponsored by state floral associations.

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.