[Press Release] Proposed Legislation Requires American Grown Flowers, Greens In U.S. Government Facilities

Alaska Congressman Don Young, a member of the Congressional Cut Flowers Caucus, has introduced legislation requiring the federal government to purchase cut flowers and greens grown in the U.S. for use in its facilities. The legislation, referred to as the, “American Grown Act,” includes bill sponsor support from all six co-chairs of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Rep. Salud Carbjal (D-CA), Rep. Ducan Hunter (R-CA), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL).

Congressman Don Young (R-AK) speaks with Alaskan flower farmer David Russell in Washington, D.C.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

In proposing the legislation, Young said requiring the federal government to use American Grown Flowers and Greens to decorate its facilities shows support for American farmers and raises awareness of their beautiful products. Today imports, primarily from Colombia and Ecuador, make up approximately 80% of flowers sold in U.S.

Congressman Young reviewing production information and market share data on American Grown Flowers and Greens in the United States.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

Government subsidy programs such as USAID, combined with favorable federal trade policies established in the early ‘90s to stem drug trafficking and encourage cut flower production in these regions, have had a direct and negative impact on American flower-farming families.  

The bipartisan legislation has received quick organizational endorsements from Certified American Grown, the Alaskan Peonies Growers Association, AmericanHort, California Farm Bureau Federation, Santa Barbara County Flower and Nursery Growers’ Association, California State Floral Association and the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC).

“It seems like a no-brainer that the United States should be putting American farmers first by choosing not to import cut flowers,” Young said. “Unfortunately for the federal government, this is not the case. American farmers are hugely disadvantaged by the foreign growers that are subject to fewer environmental regulations and labor standards, and it is time Congress does something to help our country’s farmers compete. Putting our farmers first starts at the top, and I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation. I encourage my friends on both sides of the aisle to do right by the flower and greens farmers in their districts and sign on to this important effort.” 

Benno Dobbe, a flower farmer in Washington state and California advocates on behalf of America’s flower farming families in Washington, D.C. each year.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“This is great news for U.S. cut flower farmers because the bill will bring special attention to the beautiful flowers and greens we grow,” said Benno Dobbe, a flower farmer with farms in Washington State and California. “It will definitely highlight our products and is an outstanding PR opportunity for flower farmers.”

American flower farmers and Certified American Grown also weighed in:

“Once again, Congressman Young’s support and leadership to raise awareness and advocate for our Alaskan flower farmers is greatly appreciated,” said Alaskan peony farmer Rita Jo Shoultz of Homer, Alaska, and a member of the Certified American Grown Council. “The American Grown Act is something that makes sense and is a wonderful way to acknowledge and support our hard-working, flower-farming families across America.” 

Alaskan Flower Farmer Rita Jo Shoultz with Congressman Don Young.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.



“I’m sure I speak for flower farmers from all 50 states who are very excited to see this kind of support for America’s flower farmers coming from Washington, D.C., and I hope this bill helps to raise the awareness of the trade issues our farms continue to face,” said June VanWingerden, chair of the CCFC and a flower farmer in Carpinteria, California.

“Most American taxpayers probably assume that the flowers they see displayed at our national cemeteries, federal buildings and government events were grown here in the United States,” said Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “The American Grown Act will help ensure that flowers purchased by our federal government for events, occasions and day-to-day displayed are grown and harvested by hardworking Americans.”

More information on the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus can be found at carbajal.house.gov/district/congressional-cut-flower-caucus.htm

More information about the American Grown Act can be at bit.ly/HR3019

 

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About Certified American Grown Flowers. Launched on July 1, 2014, Certified American Grown Flowers represents a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. flower farms, including small and large entities in multiple states across the country. Certified American grown flower farms participate in an independent, third-party supply-chain audit to verify both origin and assembly of the flowers they grow. When it appears on bouquets, bunches and other packaging or store signage, the Certified American Grown Flowers logo gives consumers confidence in the source of their flowers and assures them that the flowers they purchase come from a domestic American flower farm. For more information about Certified American Grown Flowers, visit www.americangrownflowers.com.

 

 

Renowned Sacramento Chefs Share Their Show-Stopping Menu

Sacramento chef Aziz Bellarbi-Salah understands the joy amazing food brings to people’s lives. In fact at his area restaurants Brasserie Capitale and Café à Coté, the menus embrace “the charm of life” an evening of fine dining provides.

Guests at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner June 12 in Sacramento will get a taste of Chef Bellarbi-Salah and Chef Christophe Cornet’s talents as they dine on the lawn of the State Capitol at tables overflowing with flowers and greens from flower farms spanning the entire state of California.

Sacramento icon, Chef Aziz Bellarbi-Salah, has created a delightful menu for guests of the Sacramento Field to Vase Dinner using much-loved California Grown ingredients. Photo courtesy of Brasserie Capitale.

The variety of flora is going to be breathtaking, as are Bellarbi-Salah and Cornet’s dishes. After all, Bellarbi-Salah and his father, Reda Bellarbi, have been icons of the Sacramento restaurant scene for over 20 years. Reda opened the doors of the iconic Aïoli Bodega Española (1800 L Street in Midtown) in August 1994 and The Grand Wine Bar (1600 L Street) in February 2007.

And they’ll be working with top-quality, farm fresh ingredients, many of which are coming directly from 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 at the VIP reception will enjoy a variety of appetizers, including avocado mousse canapes, beef tartare and brie and onion crostini.

Photo courtesy of Brasserie Capitale.

 

The multi-course dinner will feature 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 or a vegetarian option of ratatouille in puffed pastry; and cantaloupe with a fig and port reduction.

 

You won’t want to miss this unique opportunity to dine on the lawn of California’s capitol surrounded by the floral bounty of the state and enjoying the delightful menu created by Chef Aziz Bellarbi-Sala.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

An artisan meal; wine, craft brews and floral-inspired cocktails; and a tables abundantly dressed with American Grown Flowers and Greens. All in the shade of the trees of the State Capitol building. What’s not to love?

Just a few spots remain!

A Dining Experience Bursting with Color

A Saturday dinner on the town is always fun but rarely a work of art. Meals that satisfy more than just your hunger simply aren’t a routine experience for most Americans.

But on Saturday, June 1, diners have a chance to make memories rather than mark time over a plate when the 2019 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour makes a stop at Bloomia USA in King George, Virginia.

Guests of the King George Field to Vase Dinner on June 1 will be amazed by the beautiful table and the incredible menu that awaits them.  Photo provided by Petals by the Shore.

 

The twists begin with hors d’oeuvres that include crazy carrot, Occasions Caterers’ take on traditional Mexican street corn, but with whole sumac roasted baby carrots drizzled with mayonnaise and dusted with a cotija and queso fresco blend. Or delight in golden beets rolled around carrot matchsticks and house-smoked goat cheese mousse and served over crumbled maple pistachio pralines. There’s also crispy wonton cones with lemon chicken and red endive with citrus-cured salmon to anticipate.

Executive Chef Sina Molavi of Occasions Catering will delight guests with the lavish menu he will prepare.

 

 

So it’s no wonder your taste buds are swooning for the main course, served family style among the stunning tulips in this unusual greenhouse setting.

 

 

 

 

 

Bring a healthy appetite because you want to enjoy every bite of char-grilled strip loin rubbed with a spring herb and green mustard mix; grilled branzino medallions served on a bed of fennel and tomato drizzled with lemon-infused olive oil; and carrot barlotto, toasted barley prepared risotto style after simmering with white wine and rich chicken stock and topped with butter, shredded parmesan cheese and fried carrot ribbons.

Save room, too, for the cauliflower salad with opal basal vinaigrette, roasted beet salad and lemon-black salt grissini breadsticks.

The menu for the evening is designed to compliment the rainbow of colors displayed in the tablescape, including this violet cauliflower in the salad.

 

It’s a flavor medley that won’t surrender to the ordinary. And that’s even before they serve the strawberry couronne with milk snow and basil cream along with a French press coffee service for dessert. When the final act involves chocolate mousse, strawberry streusel crunch and almond frangipane finished with red velvet chocolate, milk snow and basil cream, you know you’ve skipped over the rainbow.

Save your seat now for this dreamy evening at Bloomia USA, where the food and flowers will have you in awe.

 

But just in case you lose your way, the dinner’s renowned wedding floral designer, Kelly Shore, plans to create a cornucopia of color using the fresh tulips from the Bloomia farm across the table and serving each dish from the section of the table with its matching flowers.

Kelly Shore of Petals by Design is creating the colorful tablescape that has inspired this unique and delightful menu.

 

The experience begins at 5 p.m. This dinner will be a breath of fresh air in your dining life with a bounty of beauty and color for all your senses.

Tickets for the King George dinner are limited, so reserve your seat today!

Congress Introduces Bipartisan Resolution Declaring July ‘American Grown Flowers Month’

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House and Senate have jointly introduced a bipartisan resolution to declare July “American Grown Flowers Month.” The resolution was put forth by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), along with Congressman Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.) and colleagues who are part of the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus.

The resolution notes that the chambers recognize: 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.”

Alaska’s peony farmers meet with Senator Dan Sullivan, one of the original co-sponsors of the resolution. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

American consumers spend almost $27 billion on floral products each year. While the majority of consumers would prefer to buy homegrown flowers, only 20 percent of the flowers sold here were grown in the United States.

Senator Dianne Feinstein took time with flower farmers in February 2019 during the American Grown Flowers Fly-In.  Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

“Buying American-grown flowers is one of the best ways to support local farmers,” said Sen. Feinstein. “California grows nearly 75 percent of American-grown cut flowers. Unfortunately, only one in five flowers sold in the United States today was grown here. Our resolution will encourage consumers to look for the ‘Certified American Grown’ label when buying flowers.”

Rep. Salud Carbajal, a stalwart advocate of America’s flower farms, is seen here meeting with farmers in February. Photo by Nony Park of Ken Pak Photography.

Rep. Carbajal added: “I have seen firsthand the value the grown flower industry adds to our economy and communities during my visits with our Central Coast growers. I am committed to recognizing their contribution by designating July as American Grown Flower Month, in order to celebrate the beauty this industry brings to our homes and celebrations year-round.”

Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist noted the importance of the national designation recognizing the value and importance of homegrown flowers, and the hard work of America’s flower-farming families.

Retailers celebrate American Grown Flowers Month as a way to promote homegrown flowers with their customers.  Taken at Safeway on 19th Street in Sacramento.

“Officially designating July American Grown Flowers Month opens the door for florists, wholesalers and retailers to continue to discuss the virtues of promoting and marketing homegrown flowers – a point that’s resonating with consumers who understand that origin matters when it comes to the flowers they bring home.”

To learn more about American Grown Flowers Month, visit AmericanGrownFlowers.org/AGFM

About Certified American Grown Flowers:

Launched on July 1, 2014, Certified American Grown Flowers represents a unified and diverse coalition of U.S. flower farms, including small and large entities in multiple states across the country. Certified American grown flower farms participate in an independent, third-party supply-chain audit to verify both origin and assembly of the flowers they grow. When it appears on bouquets, bunches and other packaging or store signage, the Certified American Grown Flowers logo gives consumers confidence in the source of their flowers and assures them that the flowers they purchase come from a domestic American flower farm. For more information about Certified American Grown Flowers, visit www.americangrownflowers.com.

 

 

 

American Grown Flowers Star at 107th First Lady’s Luncheon

America’s flower farmers proudly contributed their blooms to the 107th Congressional Club’s First Lady’s Luncheon.  Photos by Kirsten Smith Photography.

Twelve hundred boutonnières. One hundred, forty-four table arrangements. Eighteen VIP room arrangements. Six cascading head table designs. Two enormous floral photo walls. And a 107 year tradition.

All created using American Grown Flowers and Greens and taking center stage at the 107th First Lady’s Luncheon hosted by the Congressional Club on May 14 in Washington, D.C.

Co-lead by Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet and Christi Lopez of Bergerons Flowers, this was the fourth year that Certified American Grown provided the flowers for this bipartisan tradition.

American Grown Flowers and Greens were elegantly displayed on each of the one hundred, forty-four tables welcoming guests of the First Lady.

America’s flower famers proudly sent over 21,000 stems of flowers from farms across the country to the event. A team of 20 designers, backed by a 10-person support team, worked for three days to transform the Washington Hilton Ballroom into an amazing display of the beauty that is represented in our homegrown flowers.

The amazing design and support teams were made up of designers and farmers from all across the nation, giving their time and talent to this worthy and memorable cause.

Christi Lopez (left) and Mary Kate Kinnane (right) co-led the team that masterfully designed the floral arrangements and installations for the First Lady’s Luncheon.

“This has truly become a wonderful opportunity for our organization to be a part of this bipartisan tradition of honoring our country’s First Lady, while showcasing what our American flower and greens farms can do,” shared Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “From the flowers sent by our farms, the transportation provided by DVFlora, the vases from Accent Decor, the hardgoods and flower food from Smithers-Oasis, the amazing volunteer design team – everyone came together to make this happen.”

A sincere thanks goes out to this year’s lead designers Mary Kate Kinnane and Christi Lopez for their hard work, leadership and amazing design vision!

Thank you to the following flower farms for contributing flowers and greens to this year’s luncheon:

California

  • Camflor
  • Dramm & Echter
  • Eufloria
  • Gallup and Stribling
  • Green Valley
  • Kitayama Brothers
  • Mellano & Co
  • Menagerie Farm & Flower
  • Myriad
  • Ocean Breeze Farms
  • Ocean View Flowers
  • Pajarosa
  • Pyramid Flowers
  • Resendiz Brothers
  • Westland Orchids

Florida

  • FernTrust

Virginia

  • Bloomia
  • Harmony Harvest

Washington

  • Continental Floral Greens
  • Holland America Flowers

A big thank you to the following design team members:

  • Jessica Allder
  • Stephanie Auville
  • Maggie Bailey
  • Mickey Bailey
  • Jennifer Baker
  • Brittany Brady
  • Laura Cavanaugh
  • Julie Christina
  • Jennifer Figge
  • Pia Geraghty
  • Quan Gorbachevski
  • Hosanna Guttierez
  • Pamela Hale
  • Jessica Hall
  • Crystal Hedgpeth
  • Tonya Jones
  • Betty Joslyn
  • Franceska McCaughen
  • Sue McKenzie Tendall
  • Jennifer Michel
  • Courtney Rosenbalm
  • Tina Rosenbalm
  • Les Saltzman
  • Melissa Saltzman
  • Julia Marie Schmitt
  • Kelly Shore
  • Carrie Wilcox
  • Nancy Zimmerman
  • Wayne Zimmerman

Florists, How Will You Celebrate American Grown Flowers Month?

Certified American Grown Wholesaler DVFlora Can Help!

 

Last year, DVFlora surprised and delighted many of its customers with its DV Crush program during American Grown Flowers Month – a hand-curated box of American Grown Flowers that designers used to create a magical arrangement, share on social media and then be entered to win a credit for flower purchases.

 

This July, DVFlora is taking it to the next level!

In addition to the crush boxes, DVFlora is offering a downloadable marketing kit to help florists promote American Grown Flowers month to their customers and drive business to their stores in July, a traditionally slow time for flower sales.

 

 

The materials in the kit, including social media graphics, email headers and pre-designed flyer, will be available for download from DV’s website in early May, says John Burk, e-commerce project manager for DVFlora. The collateral can also be used to inspire American Grown Flowers displays in their stores.

Last year, designers all over the country posted their unique designs created with the American Grown Flowers received in their DV Crush package.

 

 

But that’s not all. DVFlora will also offer eight weeks of specials on flowers and greens from Certified American Grown farms in July and August as part of its summer celebration program. Watch for aggressive discounts and the opportunity to win a trip to California to visit several Certified American Grown farms, Burk says.

There will also be giveaways of Certified American Grown Swag, a contest to win a trip the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Sept. 7 at Ocean View Flowers and floral design demo videos using all American Grown Flowers!

Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore, submitted this breathtaking image taken of her DV Crush flowers.

And florists who are committed to spreading the #originmatters message and designing with homegrown flowers can now use DVFlora’s dedicated online directory to quickly and conveniently purchase Certified American Grown Flowers and Greens. Just one more way DVFlora, the nation’s first Certified American Grown Flowers distributor, is meeting floral industry and consumer demand for homegrown flowers!

Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale Studios shared her excitement about celebrating American Grown Flowers month with flowers from her DV Crush box.

 

Ideas like these make it easy for florists to fight the summer flower sales slump and give customers the American Grown Flowers they crave!

René van Rems Brings His Magic To The Flower Fields of Carlsbad

The Flower Fields of Carlsbad attract nearly 300,000 visitors a year who come to bask in the breathtaking beauty of rows and rows of blooming flowers. Visiting the fields is a 26-year agri-tourism tradition. But another tradition for flower lovers, the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, celebrated its fifth year at The Flower Fields on April 18.

Guests toast to another evening to remember at the 2019 Carlsbad Field to Vase Dinner.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

It was a sold-out event at the site where, since 1993, Mellano & Company, a Certified American Grown farm, has grown 800 million stems of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus.

René van Rems created a stunning dining room in the middle of The Flower Fields, complete with floral chandeliers.

Floral designer and educator René van Rems was this year’s feature designer. He also led a one-and-a-half day workshop April 17-18 where participants learned about tabletop vignettes, large display-style arrangements and floral chandeliers, and helped create the designs for the dinner’s tablescapes and other installations.

Mike A. Mellano shares both the history of Mellano & Company as well as the science behind growing beautiful flowers and greens.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Flower farmer Mike A. Mellano, Ph.D., CEO of Mellano & Company, provided guests with a tour of the farm and flower production prior to dinner and welcomed everyone who came to the event. Mellano acknowledged his team of growers, highlighting the team effort and hard work that it takes to keep a flower farm blooming in California.

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Guests then dined on a multi-course artisan meal at tables overflowing with ranunculus, created wearable floral flair at the tour’s famous boutonnière bar, learned about the American tradition of flower farming and left with armfuls of homegrown blooms.

A gorgeous boutonniere bar invited our guests to the enjoyment of making their own.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

One guest shared their experience saying, “There’s no way to truly share how incredible it was to sit between vibrant rows of orange ranunculus on both sides of the tables. The table was covered with orange, and the centerpieces were lined down the center of the tables in mass. Lights hung above us and the conversation was stimulating, meeting other flower lovers across the table. The location is stunning with the ocean as a backdrop.”

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour heads to Virginia next, stopping at Bloomia on June 1.

Don’t miss out on the 2019 tour!

Cindy Magan Announced as Floral Designer for Field to Vase Dinner in Sacramento

‘Fresh Romantic’ Style Will Grace Tablescapes

Cindy Magan of Hillside Blooms Floristry will be the featured floral designer at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on the lawn of California’s state Capitol in Sacramento on June 12.

Photos courtesy of Cindy Magan.  Photos courtesy of Cindy Magan.

Magan, a California native, says she can’t wait to create tablescapes and other installations from the dozens of flower varieties grown up and down the state of California. She’ll be familiar with the blooms, having grown up in Fallbrook, California, where proteas are grown, and being a frequent visitor to San Diego and Half Moon Bay, home to many flower farms.

 

“I feel connected to these places and I can’t wait to play with the amazing flowers from throughout California,” Magan says. “I’m honored and I’m going to throw my entire heart into the designs.”

 

Dinner guests will appreciate Magan’s on-trend aesthetic, something she calls “fresh romantic,” that features a garden style paired with a special accents to keep the designs current. Think novelty accent flowers, surprise fillers and lots of texture.

 

 

“Flowers are an artistic medium for me; I love playing with textures and getting creative with flowers and greens,” Magan adds.

Guests at this dinner are in for a treat as they dine on in the shade of the Capitol building at tables adorned with Magan’s lush romantic garden look.

Seats are going fast for this unique location!

 

Fox Hollow Peonies Becomes a Certified American Grown Farm

Beauty Replaces Ashes at This Alaskan Farm

 

Fox Hollow Peonies, a Certified American Grown farm, has its roots in near total disaster.

In 2008, a forest fire threatened to destroy the home of Milt and Wanda Haken in Nenana, Alaska, a town of about 400 people in the interior of the state, 54 miles from Fairbanks.

Although the fire burned thousands of acres, the Hakens, along with neighbors and firefighters, were able to save their house. But they were left with a completely charred landscape.

The Hakens slowly cleared the burned property, and used the wood to heat their home. But what they were left with, Wanda says, was “a large, open field in need of a mission.”

What once was acreage burned by fire, is now fertile soil for 5,000 peony plants grown by Fox Hollow Peonies. Photos provided by Fox Hollow Peonies.

The Hakens discovered that mission in a roundabout way. Wanda, a school counselor, attended a class at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, on connecting students to the food they eat by bringing agriculture into the classroom. During the class, the head of state’s agriculture division was a guest speaker who gave an overview of state’s industry.

“She said, ‘If I had any land right now, I’d be putting in peonies,’” Wanda said. “She said, ‘Peonies are going to be Alaska’s next gold rush.’”

The class later went on a tour of North Pole Peonies, one of only three peony growers in the state’s interior at the time. It was there that Wanda learned about Alaska’s niche in the global peony business: The flowers bloomed in July and August, a time when no one else in the world had peonies for sale.

“I went home that day and told my husband, ‘I know what we’re putting in that field we cleared.’

“Of course, he’s mister macho man – he’s a retired police officer, a Teamster – and he says, ‘We’re putting in flowers – you’ve got to be kidding me.’”

The next weekend the university put on a seminar for people interested in growing peonies that was led by Patricia Holloway, the horticulturist who discovered that peonies could grow in Alaska. Wanda wasn’t able to attend, so she sent Milt.

“He came home and said, ‘Yep, that’s what we’re going to do,’” she said. “So, we ordered our first roots that fall.”

That was in 2010. Since then the Hakens have gradually expanded their operation, and they now have 5,000 peony plants and 21 varieties.

Growing peonies wasn’t a complete stretch for the couple. Both come from generations of farmers in the Midwest and they spent time on relatives’ farms growing up. Wanda has always had a garden and a greenhouse and had dabbled in selling some produce locally, such as tomatoes.

Still, getting Fox Hollow Peonies off the ground took some trial and error. Their first set of plants had a hard time breaking through the heavy soil. Before planting their next group of roots, they reached out to other growers who showed them how to amend the soil to create a better growing environment.

“We had real good success with them coming up the second year,” she said.

For the business side, the Hakens teamed up with other growers in the area to form a co-op – Arctic Alaska Peonies. The Hakens were a founding member of the co-op that now numbers 20 farms. They share marketing efforts, chillers for their flowers and negotiate for the best deals on shipping and supplies.

Wanda is a member of the co-op’s marketing committee and makes it a point to spread the word about Alaska peonies wherever she goes.

“Whenever I travel, I spend a day or two doing nothing but marketing,” she said. “I pack materials and go visit all the florists, all the garden centers and wholesalers wherever I am. There are still a lot of people out there who haven’t heard that Alaska has peonies in July, August and September.”

Wanda and her husband Milt have found an unexpected calling as peony growers.

Wanda has spent her career in education but in Fox Hollow Peonies she may have found her true calling. She recalls taking a career interest survey as senior in high school and it came back showing that she should explore the floral industry. So focused was she on becoming a teacher that she thought that idea was “ridiculous” and “crazy.”

Looking back now, she says the survey probably picked up on her affinity for gardening, her creative streak and the desire to work outside.

“I just enjoy working with plants,” she said. “I’ve started making bouquets for the farmer’s market here and I think that’s my favorite part of the whole thing.”

Wondering What a Field to Vase Dinner is Like?

These Photos Capture the Magic!

If you’ve always wanted to attend an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner but haven’t yet, or if you’re a past guest who’d like to relive the magical experience, check out these incredible photos from the first stop on this year’s dinner tour!

Guests were awed by the rainbow of colors surrounding this beautifully designed table and the Pacific Ocean within view.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

Mike A. Mellano of Mellano and Company, was the host for the evening and led guests on a farm tour sharing both the history and the science behind farming at The Flower Fields. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

Smithers Oasis and FloraLife sponsored the boutonniere bar where guests had a fun opportunity to make their own.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

Wine and hors d’oeuvres were enjoyed before the dinner began.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

Our inaugural 2019 dinner was held last week in Carlsbad, California, at The Flower Fields and was hosted by Mellano & Company. Guests dined in fields of ranunculus at tables bursting with homegrown flowers, thanks to floral designer René van Rems, who added an extra splash with fresh flower chandeliers overhead!

Featured designer, René van Rems, created these amazing floral chandeliers that graced the ceiling of the table.  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

Take a look that the photos. Then take a deep breath and imagine yourself at one of these dinners!

Every guest went home with an armful of flowers and swag!  Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

We’ve got five more stops on this year’s tour and seats are going fast!