We’re Returning to Alaska in 2019!

Save Your Seat for Dinner at Joslyn Peonies in Homer

The 2017 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Homer, Alaska was one for the memory books. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce (well in advance, because we can’t contain our excitement)  that we’ll be returning to Alaska in 2019!

Imagine yourself dining on a peony farm in Alaska.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour will head to Joslyn Peonies in Homer on Saturday August 3, 2019. There guests will dine in a park-like setting on this 24-acre farm that features a 3-acre lawn, incredible views of Kachemak Bay, the entrance to the Cook Inlet and the awe-inspiring views of Alaska’s majestic Kenai mountain range; all from your seat on the grass!

Homer, Alaska is home to a number of beautiful peony farms. Guests will enjoy a tour of Josyln Peony Farm and the opportunity to tour a number of others during an elective excursion the following day. Stay tuned for more on that!  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

Flower farmer Betty Joslyn grows 16 varieties of peonies in white, blush, pink and red – but mostly white for their ethereal quality and appeal to brides.

An incredible view awaits our guests at Joslyn Peonies. Photo by Linda Smogor Photography

 

Our American Grown Field To Vase Dinner brings focus to the beautiful peonies growing in Alaska. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

The farm includes two barns, his and hers, each with unique features that make the farm perfect for events.

You never know who might show up to a peony party in Alaska.

Betty can’t wait to share the farm and it’s 6,000 peony plants with American Grown Field to Vase Dinner guests. In fact, she’s already envisioning it and making plans.

Picture yourself surrounded by peonies – literally!  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

By announcing this 2019 tour date now, we’re giving everyone plenty of time to make travel plans and turn the trip into a full-on Alaskan adventure! In fact, with our previous experience, we’ll be helping you organize additional farm tours, fishing trips and helping to recommend accommodations during your stay.

If you’d like learn more about these additional opportunities and excursions as they develop, sign up here.

We want you to kick up your heels for a relaxing dinner on the flower farm.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

First things first though, before you do anything else, you’ll want to save your seats.

Granted, you have a year’s time to buy plane tickets, reserve accommodations and plan exciting excursions, but you do not want to check back here and find the seats have all been sold.

So, save your seat today and join us in planning for a trip you’ll never forget.

A bucket list experience, bring your friends for this unique Alaska adventure you’ll never forget. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography

Safeway Launches Certified American Grown Debi Lilly Bouquet

Bouquet Debuts in Stores During American Grown Flowers Month

They say timing is everything! That’s absolutely the case when it comes to the recently released Certified American Grown Debi Lilly bouquet, now available at Safeway’s Northern California stores.

After all, the bouquet began arriving in stores in July, which Congress has declared American Grown Flowers Month. Perfect timing.

The design features lilies, gerberas and lisianthus and is available in a range of hues – pinks, yellows and oranges. All flowers in the bouquet are grown by Pyramid Flowers in Oxnard, California, a Certified American Grown flower farm and marketed by B-Fresh Floral.

“I love these beautiful bouquets and soft summer color palettes to help celebrate American Grown Flowers Month,” shares Lilly. “This Certified American Grown bouquet is a Debi Lilly dream come true. I’m so proud to share this design and support our American flower-farming families.”

Lilly first announced plans for the Certified bouquet at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner held at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California, in April. From there, Crystal Hedgpeth, floral sales manager for Safeway’s Northern California Division, worked with Lilly and Albertson’s corporate team, to launch the program.

 

“This Certified American Grown Debi Lilly Bouquet is a wonderful addition to our flower program and quickly becoming a customer favorite,” explained Hedgpeth. “Since our pilot launch earlier this month, we’ve already sold over 5,000 bouquets which actually helped drive a positive sales lift in our bouquet category across all of our stores.”

To be labeled Certified American Grown, the bouquet is required to be 100 percent American Grown Flowers and assembled in the United States. The farm providing the flowers is also required to go through a third-party audit (administered by Where Food Comes From out of Castle Rock, Colorado) to ensure the flowers provided are American Grown.

“This is just the beginning,” said flower farmer Fred Van Wingerden of Pyramid Flowers. “We love working with Debi and Safeway and look forward to producing our farm-fresh flowers for customers everywhere.”

Declared in 2017 and again in 2018, July continues to be officially recognized by Congress as American Grown Flowers Month. The Debi Lilly bouquet will continue to be offered by Safeway throughout the year and going forward.

Certified American Grown Celebrating Its Fourth Anniversary

Coalition Represents Over Half of All Domestically Grown Flowers

Certified American Grown, a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. flower farms that includes small and large farms in multiple states nationwide, is celebrating its fourth anniversary this month.

Click on the photo above to visit americangrownflowers.org and learn more about Certified American Grown and all 57 farms in the program.

Today, the coalition includes 57 farms that represent over half of all U.S. cut flower and foliage production.

Launched in July 2014, Certified American Grown is now the largest and most successful consumer-facing brand that promotes the origin of flowers. In just four years, the brand has become a widely sought-after guarantee, appreciated by retailers, designers and consumers alike.

More than just a logo, farms Certified American Grown farms participate in a third-party  certification process that guarantees the flowers and foliage adorned with the American Grown logo were grown locally and meet established quality, freshness and sustainability standards.

Certified American Grown takes its Field to Vase Dinner Tour to flower farms across the country where guests experience the beauty of the flower farm. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Certified American Grown is also the host of the award-winning American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, now in its fourth year. The dinner tour is a series of intimate, must-attend gatherings that place seasonal, local and sustainable American Grown Flowers at the center of the table where locally grown food, beer and wine is served by a farm-to-table chef. Each artisan-style dinner is held at a breathtaking venue — an American flower farm that encourages guests to experience the age-old art and science of flower farming.

Certified American Grown was featured in the September issue of Floral Management as the 2017 Marketer of the Year for the success of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour to promote American Grown Flowers.

 

In 2017, the dinner tour earned the 2017 Marketer of the Year Award from the Society of American Florists’ (SAF) Floral Management magazine. The prestigious award recognizes original, highly successful marketing campaigns that increase awareness and the overall sales of cut flowers.

Today the Certified American Grown logo is the most widely used consumer facing brand promoting origin in the floral industry.

 

And just this June, the U.S. Senate declared July “American Grown Flowers Month.” The resolution supporting the designation notes that Senate recognizes: that purchasing flowers grown in the United States supports the farmers, small businesses, jobs and the U.S. economy; that growing flowers and greens in the United States is a vital part of the U.S. ag industry; and urges “all people of the United States to proactively showcase flowers and greens grown in the United States in order to show support for our flower farmers, processors and distributors as well as agriculture in the United States overall.”

 

To help spread this important recognition and awareness, Certified American Grown is working with retailers across the country on in-store promotion programs to help consumers identify and celebrate our homegrown blooms all month long. Photo provided by Fry’s Food Stores.

More than 1,200 stores are promoting American Grown Flowers Month this July!

It’s Here! Our Most Important Publication of the Year!

Welcome To the 2018 American Grown Farm & Flower Guide

It feels like Christmas morning here at Certified American Grown!

Why? We just received the 2018 American Grown Farm & Flower Guide, perhaps our most important publication of the year.

Our largest and most beautiful edition yet! You’ll want to make sure to get a copy for yourself.

The guide features profiles of America’s flower farms, a floral arrangement gallery, an illustrated glossary of ALL American Grown Flowers and a national directory of hundreds of flower farms from throughout the United States. It’s chock-full of flower photos, examples, descriptions and stories from America’s flower-farming families.

This resource is a must-have for wholesalers, florists and flower-lovers everywhere – and it’s never been more vibrant and informative.

Subscribers to Florists Review and SuperFloral magazines will receive the guide with their September issue, but if you just can’t wait or would like one now, just let us know! (Special thanks to our friends at Florists Review for helping us produce this beautiful guide!)

Email our very own Andrea Philpot at andrea@americangrownflowers.org to get one headed your way!

Breathtaking doesn’t begin to describe it …

Flower Farmer Beth Van Sandt Discusses the Doors That Opened Post-Dinner Tour

 

Beth Van Sandt of Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska, was in on the ground floor of the Certified American Grown Flowers movement. As Van Sandt puts it, she saw the value of the certification early on and knew there would be benefits from American flower farmers coming together under a single brand.

Beth Van Sandt and her husband, Kurt Weichhand on their peony farm in Homer, Alaska.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

In fact, Scenic Place was the first farm in Alaska to become Certified American Grown.

Left to Right; Jerry Hagstrom of the Hagstrom Report, Tim Dewey of Delaware Valley Wholesale, first lady Melania Trump, Kasey Cronquist, administrator for Certified American Grown, Beth Van Sandt of Scenic Place Peonies and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies.

But that was just the starting point for Van Sandt who has since leveraged nearly every aspect of the brand, including attending the First Lady’s Luncheon in Washington, D.C., that features all American Grown Flowers and hosting an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on her farm in 2017.

The tables were filled with flower-loving guests at the Scenic Place Peonies Field to Vase Dinner.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

And oh the connections and opportunities that came from that dinner!

“The exposure the Field to Vase Dinner gave our farm made us recognizable and gave us a seat at the table industrywide. People know who we are now,” Van Sandt explains. “Wholesalers who may not have looked at us in the past see us as a reputable farm today.”

 

While volunteering for the the First Lady’s Luncheon in 2017, VanSandt met floral designer Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore. The two hit it off, and later Shore agreed to be the designer for Field to Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies. “Sitting at the table and meeting the designers, that was a great opportunity and it helped us promote the dinner tour at the farm,” Van Sandt recalls.

(Photo: Beth Van Sandt and Kelly Shore, of Petals by the Shore, designing arrangements for the First Lady’s Luncheon)

 

And when the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour came to Homer, the real fun (and exposure) began!

Florists Review did a feature on the dinner and included lots of images from the farm.

While in Alaska, Shore did a photo shoot featuring Van Sandt’s peonies for the Slow Flowers section of Florists Review, helping to further the exposure of Alaskan peonies for the industry to see.

And, last but not least, thanks to an introduction to Cal Poly Pomona Plant Sciences Department Chair Valerie Mellano, wife of Mellano & Company’s Mike Mellano (both who attended the dinner at Scenic Place Peonies), Van Sandt was able to start an internship program with four Cal Poly students.

Cal Poly students are spending their summer interning at Scenic Place Peonies learning about flower farming as a result of the connections made during the Field to Vase Dinner at Beth’s farm.

But how does Van Sandt know hosting the dinner tour stop was worth it?

“My phone blows up continuously with requests and my email inbox is always full. That’s proof that it worked. And it correlates with more cuts and more shipments out the door,” Van Sandt says.

Since hosting the dinner last summer, Van Sandt has continued her efforts to raise the profile of her Certified American Grown peonies, including having her Certified American Grown-branded truck in the Homer Fourth of July parade, along with Cal Poly interns wearing flower crowns!

And she shares the unique benefits and opportunities that come from connection to the brand with all who will listen.

Organic Valley Just Took the Next Field to Vase Dinner Up a Notch!

We promise American Grown Field to Vase Dinner guests an artisanal meal in the blooming fields of an American flower farm. It’s our brand standard. Thanks to our partners Organic Valley and Organic Prairie, that standard will be taken to a new level at our Sept. 8 dinner at John Zehrer’s Star Valley Flowers in Soldier’s Grove, Wisconsin.

In the ancient Driftless hills of southeastern Wisconsin, several local food and farming powerhouses will join their considerable talents to create a magical evening guaranteed to dazzle your senses.

 

We can’t wait to see what Driftless Café owners, chef Luke Zahm and wife, Ruthie, will do with the scrumptious organic ingredients provided by Organic Valley, Organic Prairie and more than 200 regional organic farmers as they craft the special menu for this dinner tour stop.

 

 

 

Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative representing more than 2,000 organic farmers in 35 U.S. states, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, along with its Organic Prairie meat company, is providing a long list of organic foods, including its signature Grassmilk® cheeses and Organic Prairie beef tenderloins.

And we’re thrilled for Organic Valley’s support and look forward to supporting its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming – and its regional model of producing, bottling and distributing milk where it’s farmed to ensure fewer miles from farm to table and to support our local economies.

Sounds a lot like our goals at Certified American Grown!

Oh, and in addition to enjoying an organic menu, guests will also find an additional treat from Organic Valley in their Field to Vase Dinner swag bags!

In the meantime, get to know Organic Valley by following @OrganicValley on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Then save your seat for this once-in-a-lifetime dinner!

During American Grown Flowers Month, You Can’t Miss Alaskan Peonies

There’s nothing like a field of peonies to positively impact your mood.  Even their names can brighten your day: Sequestered Sunshine, Blaze, Festiva Maxima.

Photo: Alaska Peony Cooperative

The peony’s beauty is certainly at the root of its popularity status with flower fans and brides. Available in every color but blue, the flower is popular in bridal bouquets (they are seen as a symbol of good luck) and are the superstars in summer arrangements and in bunches to bring home.

Photo: Jacqueline Patton Photo

Alaskan peonies just happen to be in all their glory in July – which is also American Grown Flowers Month! So we’re celebrating these gems, along with the thousands of other varieties grown right here in the U.S.

Photo: Arctic Alaska Peony

Here’s what you need to know about American-Grown peonies:

Alaska’s warm summers and perpetual daylight are the fuel peonies need to grow larger, bloom more vibrantly and enjoy a growing season that’s three weeks longer than in other locations. But it’s the state’s famous cold winters that are the secret ingredient: herbaceous peonies need a minimum of 400 hours of temperatures below 40 degrees and tree peonies need between 100 and 300 hours in that colder ground in order to flower.

Photo: Alaska Perfect Peony

The Alaska Peony Cooperative, formed in 2015 to help support the state’s burgeoning flower industry, has grown from a handful of farms with fewer than 1,000 stems to nearly a dozen growers expecting to sell a total of 40,000 stems this year.

“The secret is out: Our peonies are fantastic,” explains farmer Martha Lojewski.

Scenic Place Peonies’ delivery truck sports a new truck wrap showcasing the beauty of these stunning blooms, while proudly waving the flag for Certified American Grown.

Certified American Grown peony farms include Alaska Peony Cooperative, Alaska Perfect Peony, Arctic Alaska Peonies Co-op, Boreal Peonies, Cool Cache Farms, Giggly Roots Gardens, Joslyn Peonies, Scenic Place Peonies and Slimtree Farm.

Look for Certified American Grown peonies throughout American Grown Flowers Month in July and into August. You’ll be glad you did!

 

 

Driftless Café to Serve at Soldier’s Grove Field to Vase Dinner

For Driftless Café in Viroqua, Wisconsin, “The best” isn’t just a marketing slogan. This family eatery, serving a population of 4,362, has earned a big reputation for farm-to-table delectability. It was chosen as the state’s best small-town restaurant by Thrillist, and one of the Midwest’s 38 most essential restaurants by Eater.

And those are just a couple of the reasons why Driftless Café was selected to create the multi-course meal for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Soldier’s Grove, Wisconsin, on September 8.

Driftless Café owners, chef Luke Zahm and wife, Ruthie, returned to their Vernon County roots in 2011 after his interviews at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, revealed that much of the food they used was sourced from his hometown. Why not source it right out of the ground, in that case? Now, thanks to his delicious touch, the James Beard Foundation award-nominated restaurant is drawing attention across the Midwest and boosting the local economy turnaround to national fame.

Driftless Café’s entrees depend on what comes in from the field each morning from the more than 200 certified organic farmers the Zahms work with, so guests can count on a fresh concept with every menu.

That’s why diners look forward to culinary treats like black goat truffles, warm beet salads, organic prairie beef tenderloins, lacina kale and sugar snap peas.

We can’t wait for the Zahms to bring their from-the-field approach to the next American Grown Field to Vase dinner, just a few weeks away on Sept. 8.

 

The East Coast’s Largest Flower Farm Becomes Certified American Grown

Bloomia, the largest cut flower farm on the East Coast, has become the latest Certified American Grown Farm.

With a mission of spreading happiness via sustainably grown flowers, Bloomia is committed to providing consumers with top-quality flowers at affordable prices that are grown in conscious ways. Bloomia even has a Sustainably Manifesto to back its commitment.

Bloomia grows nearly 100 million flowers a year, including tulips (year-round), hyacinths, muscari and peonies (seasonally) in 46 acres of temperature-controlled greenhouses. Most of the flowers are grown hydroponically in greenhouses equipped with biological control systems and incorporating precise techniques to avoid chemical use.

In addition to sustainability and energy-efficiency efforts, Bloomia believes in giving back. With initiatives like Blooms for Hope, the Field of Tulips and The Bloomia Market, Bloomia and its customers have donated thousands of dollars to help communities in need through amazing partners charities like DC Central Kitchen that aims to break the cycle of hunger and poverty.

If the Bloomia brand sounds familiar, that’s because the farm’s flowers can be found at Wegmans, Whole Foods, Kroger, Woolworths, Kroger, Harris Teeter and Trader Joe’s.

“Bloomia is a global company with operations in four continents, with each having the same commitment and focus at the local level. Our passion drives us to deliver the best possible floral experience to the end consumer,” says Evan Kerkhoven, sales and purchase manager at Bloomia. “Becoming Certified American Grown is an honor. American Grown embodies the same goal and passion for flowers we thrive on every day.”

Bloomia joins 56 other farms that have become Certified American Grown, giving consumers confidence in the source of their flowers and assuring them that the flowers they purchase come from a domestic American flower farm.

“This is very exciting,” shared Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist, “Certified American Grown has become the most prolific origin-based brand in the floral industry. With Bloomia’s certification, the program now represents over half of all domestic production of cut flowers and greens.”

If you want to learn more about Bloomia, you can visit their website, blog or follow them on Instagram!

Why not join the #originmatters movement by becoming the next Certified American Grown farm? There’s no better time to get on board than during July – American Grown Flowers Month!

 

Floral Designer Helps Peers Envision a 100 Percent American Grown Wedding

Last year, floral designer Kelly Shore committed to increasing her use of American Grown Flowers and foliage in her designs with a goal of getting to 100 percent.

Kelly Shore was the featured designer at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Alaska during 2017. That experience led to a passion for using American Grown Flowers in all her designs. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography

She’s edging closer. Shore, owner and lead designer at Petals by the Shore in Maryland, is currently using 85-90 percent American Grown Flowers.

And with her passion still overflowing, she wanted to show other designers that they, too, could successfully source American Grown Flowers for events and weddings – and remain on-trend while doing it.

Photo by Kelly Hornberger Photography

 

That’s why Shore recently used nearly 750 stems of American Grown Flowers and Greens to create and photograph a mock wedding.

“I want to inspire other wedding and event floral designers to give American Grown Flowers a chance and to challenge them to source their flowers from more American farms,” Shore explains. “I wanted them to look at the photos, feel empowered and know that they can do it.”

 

 

 

She also wanted to give a hand up to a new wedding venue in the Washington, D.C., area that needed some photos to promote its space. So after working with leadership of the Congressional Club at the First Lady’s Luncheon (featuring American Grown Flowers and Shore as the lead designer), she offered to do an all American Grown wedding photo shoot at the Congressional Club building, a historic museum and luxury wedding venue.

Photo by Kelly Hornberger Photography

Thanks to support from five Certified American Grown farms and by sourcing a few additional varieties from nearby farms, Shore created a floral-bedecked staircase ceremony location, a “sweetheart table” tablescape, bride’s bouquet and a groom’s boutonnière. And she even managed to get a classic Rolls Royce to use in shots of the happy couple.

Photo by Kelly Hornberger Photography

She was sure to use a popular wedding palette (blush!) and to include a vast variety of American Grown Flowers, including delphinium, stock, tulips, snap dragons, larkspur, protea, callas, peonies, spray roses and seven varieties of garden roses.

Photo by Kelly Hornberger Photography

Shore also made the vibe relatable and recreatable, to inspire other designers to source American Grown Flowers to create beautiful weddings that meet the requests of today’s brides.

“I want designers to see what can be done and know that they can do it, too. Through my designs, I want people to feel empowered to connect with farmers, learn what grows here and become a storyteller through their flowers,” Shore explains.

“It’s about supporting American farmers, supporting our economy and finding new and exciting things that make you, as a designer, feel inspired.”