Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Ag Funding Bill

Bill Language Supports Floriculture Report

The U.S. Senate Appropriations committee has approved a bill to fund the Agriculture Department and related agencies for fiscal year 2020. The bill provides discretionary funding of $23.1 billion, $58 million over the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $4.1 billion over the budget request. Mandatory funding in the bill totals $128.6 billion.

The bill also includes language that supports funding for the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) annual Floriculture Crops Report, the only report providing national stats on the cut flower sector.

The bill’s report language states: “The Committee recognizes the importance of the Floriculture Crops Report and recommends an increase of $500,000 for NASS to complete the report. The Committee directs NASS to include data from Alaska in compiling the report.”

Sen. Dianne Feintstein has met with flower farmers each year at Certified American Grown’s annual DC Fly-In.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

 

Certified American Grown and the California Cut Flower Commission worked closely with Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Lisa Murkowski to ensure that language supporting the annual Floriculture Report was included.

Senator Murkowski, shown here with flower farmers at the Homer, Alaska Field to Vase Dinner in July, has long been a friend and advocate of the American flower farmer. Photo by Rachel Tweggs Photography.

 

This year and in 2018, the California Cut Flower Commission submitted appropriations requests to both the House and Senate, and had numerous discussions with Members advocating about the importance of the report. The report was also a topic at the annual Washington, D.C. fly-in.

In 2018, during the Certified American Grown DC Fly-in, flower famers elevated 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.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

As you may know, the report was quietly suspended in 2016, but as a result of Certified American Grown and CCFC’s advocacy for fiscal year 2019, the report was bought back and released in May 2019.  The Society of American Florists (SAF) also lobbied for the report.

The approval of the ag funding bill with language supporting the Floriculture Crops report is a huge win for America’s flower farmers!

Regarding the overall bill, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said, “This bill funds our nation’s agriculture and nutrition programs and directly influences the quality of life in rural America. It provides our farmers and ranchers the support they need. This is a good committee product, and I thank Senators Hoeven and Merkley for working together to craft this legislation. It deserves the backing of the full Senate.”

Next, the bill will be placed on the legislative calendar for a vote.

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!

 

Floral Designer for Last 2019 F2V Dinner Announced

Mindy Staton To Bring Her Sumptuous Designs To Red Twig Farms

Farmer florist Mindy Staton exudes passion. And when she pairs that passion with big ideas, watch out!

In other words, guests at the sold out Oct. 5 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Red Twig Farms in New Albany, Ohio, are in for a treat.

After all, Staton is an owner of Two Little Buds Florist in Hamilton, Ohio, and a second location in Cincinnati. And she’s a co-owner with husband, Josh, of Morning Sun Flower Farm, a venture they started in 2016 based on Staton’s vision.

Mindy Staton, owner of Two Little Buds Florist will be the featured designer of the much-anticipated Field to Vase Dinner at Red Twig Farms in New Albany, Ohio.  Photo courtesy of Two Little Buds.

A wedding and events florist, Staton is known for her flower-heavy designs that are packed with color and texture.

It’s a look she’s excited to bring to the Field to Vase Dinner where she’s planning designs showcasing Red Twigs’ gorgeous dahlias and, of course, red twig branches.

Think flowers spilling out of vintage trucks, in compotes along the community dinner table and overhead in the form of arches.

Flower heavy designs are Staton’s signature as a wedding and event florist.  Photo provided by Two Little Buds.

Her Instagram account gives you a glimpse into her lush aesthetic, and if you’re one of the lucky ones with a seat at the table, you’re going to be amazed by her inspiring designs.

This dinner tour stop is sold out, but don’t despair! We’ll announce tour stops for 2020 in January! When that happens, be sure to save your seat since nearly every dinner sells out early!

Sign up here for our newsletter to be the first to know next year’s dinner locations!

 

 

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! 

 

Celebrity Designer Debi Lilly Will Delight Lompoc Dinner Guests

You Can Design Alongside a Floral Luminary

Celebrity florist and party planner Debi Lilly will bring her amazing design skills to the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Ocean View Flowers in Lompoc, California, on September 7. 

Celebrity florist and party planner Debi Lilly will be our featured designer for the Lompoc Field to Vase Dinner. Photo courtesy of A Perfect Event.

If the name sounds familiar, that’s because you’ve seen Lilly on TV, in magazines, in stores nationwide, and you’ve likely even seen photos of her floral and event creations for designer brands.

Photo courtesy of A Perfect Event.

Known as Oprah’s “favorite pro,” Lilly was part of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” for more than 10 years and has made it her mission to inspire, educate and share her 20 years of party planning expertise, stylist tips and DIY designs with fans worldwide.

With her impressive client list that includes brands like Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Lamborghini, Lilly is a highly sought-after designer. Oh, and she’s also the creator of a unique American Grown bouquet available at Safeway stores, along with her Debi Lilly branded floral containers! 

 

Lilly has twice been a featured designer for stops on the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour. Each time, she delighted guests with her creations and the easy-to-follow design tips she provides during her F2V-related workshops.

Lilly brought her design expertise to the Carlsbad Field to Vase Dinner in 2018. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

That’s right, you can design alongside Lilly at a floral workshop, also on Sept. 7, at 8:30 a.m. Just add the $40 workshop when you save your seat for the dinner. 

Join Debi Lilly at her Sept. 7 workshop where she will share her tips for fall and holiday floral design and party planning. Photo by Linda Blue Photography.

 

During the workshop, Lilly will cover fall design trends, creative vessels for unique arrangements and perfect floral designs for the holidays.  

Debi Lilly loves to inspire and connect with her workshop guests and they in turn, love the personal interaction with her. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

Don’t miss you chance to see Lilly’s breathtaking tablescapes at the dinner and design alongside her at the workshop. After all, she’s floral royalty! 

 

 

Culinary Artist Will Wow at Alaskan Dinner Tour Stop

When you visit Alaska Coastal Catering’s website, the photos are both mouthwatering and breathtaking, making it easy to see why the chefs there refer to themselves as “culinary artists.”

Now for the big news: Guests at the Aug. 3 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Joslyn Peonies in Homer, Alaska, will get to experience multiple courses of Alaska Coastal Catering’s artistic creations. 

And the menu will feature the best Alaska has to offer. Think salmon, stripe shrimp, homegrown carrots, local oysters and sauces from Alaska blueberries. And the bounty of seafood to be served is being sponsored by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), ensuring incredible quality and freshness. 

Chef Susie Von Willer Linford has an impressive Alaska-inspired menu prepared for guests of the Homer Field to Vase Dinner.  Photo Courtesy of Alaska Coastal Catering, LLC.

Alaska Coastal Catering’s Corporate Chef and Managing Member Susie Von Willer Linford’s wealth of experience includes catering for the executive chefs of Disney Corporation, Warner Brothers, Prudential Commercial and Safeco in Southern California. Since coming to Alaska in 1993, she’s continued her culinary adventure by creating memorable events featuring the best seafood, meat, fruits and vegetables Alaska has to offer! 

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Coastal Catering, LLC.

It’s that approach that has earned her Best of Alaska recognition from Alaska Business Monthly Magazine from 2016-2018. And Linford was also a 2018 nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef” in the Northwest. 

And per Field to Vase Dinner tradition, Linford’s multi-course artisan meal will be paired with local wines and craft beers, and a floral-themed cocktail.

You can enjoy this delightful Alaskan meal while surrounded by gorgeous peonies and flower-loving friends when you reserve your seat at the table today. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography

Guests will also enjoy an oyster bar, and will leave with armfuls of flowers and a swag bag packed with floral-themed treats.

With food and goodies like this, seats are going fast. Save your seat today and taste all Alaska has to offer! 

 

It’s American Grown Flowers Month!

We’re Celebrating All Month Long and So Can You!

For the third year in a row, Congress has designated July American Grown Flowers Month, recognizing the economic and cultural impact of America’s cut flower and greens farmers. It’s an amazing form of recognition right at the height of flower season! 

And there are so many ways you can participate in the celebration and help spread the word that origin matters! 

First place winner at King Soopers Store 112 in Bennett, CO. during our 2018 American Grown Flowers Month contest.

First, you can look for the amazing American Grown Flowers displays from retailers participating in the second annual American Grown Flowers Month Merchandising Contest. You’ll find special presentations and supporting collateral in many Safeway, Albertsons, Vons, Bristol Farms, Lazy Acres, Big Y, Whole Foods, Reasor’s, Grocery Outlet and Ovallarta Supermarket stores. 

Look for the Certified American Grown label when you reach for a bouquet at your local store, this month and every month.

Grab some American Grown Flowers and Greens when you see them and encourage your family and friends to do the same. With 7 stores participating, it’s easy! 

Florists, you can also look to DVFlora for its celebration of American Grown Flowers Month that includes downloadable marketing materials and eight weeks of specials on flowers and greens from Certified American Grown farms throughout July and August.

Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore is one designer that is committed to using American Grown Flowers and supporting the farms that grow them.  Photo provided by Petals by the Shore.

And florists who are committed to spreading the #originmatters message and designing with homegrown flowers can use DVFlora’s dedicated online directory to quickly and conveniently purchase Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens. 

Finally, you can have a conversation about homegrown flowers with all of your connections. That might be in person, in an email or by sharing about American Grown Flowers Month on social media. 

Now’s the time to spread the word about the bounty and beauty of American Grown Flowers and Greens that are at their peak in July!