Days before Thanksgiving, a group of floral industry members came together in California to support wildfire recovery efforts in the state’s wine country.
Hosted by Visit California, The Grateful Table was a farm-to-fork style feast for more than 500 guests. The event featured celebrity Chef Tyler Florence, and the California Cut Flower Commission, with its experience managing the award-winning American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour, assisted with the design and execution of the floral elements of the event.
“This was a wonderful way for our farms to support the recovery effort of the communities that have been impacted by these fires” said Kasey Cronquist, PFCI, CCFC’s CEO. “As the flower donations rolled in, we learned about the many connections our farmers have with people who were affected by these fires. They were very happy to give their blooms to the cause.”
One hundred percent of proceeds raised from sales tickets to the feast support nonprofits helping those affected by the wildfires, Cronquist said. Among the guests at the event were people who had lost their homes, as well as first responders, he added.
For the dinner, a team of volunteer floral designers led by Venn Floral of Sebastopol, California, created a tablescape based on thousands of flowers donated by California flower farmers, including Resendiz Brothers Protea, Sun Valley Floral Farms, Holland America Flowers, Green Valley Floral, Joseph & Sons, Ocean View Flowers, Camflor Inc., Mellano & Company, CallaCo, Westland Floral, Pajarosa Floral and Kitayama Brothers. Torchio Nursery and Jessup Transportation provided logistics support; Syndicate Sales provided vases.
Industry participants said the event, and its philanthropic aim, made for a poignant day.
“Throughout these past couple of months, I’ve come to realize that bringing in light and color and beauty to our lives is essential, and that is what I have to offer,” said Heather Frye of Venn Floral. “I was excited at the opportunity to be a part of the bigger picture of a widespread community effort to support each other and everyone who has lost so much.”
Frye said she was amazed at how quickly — and beautifully — the dinner came together: The group needed 63 tables, which were set up, end-to-end, to run along the Napa and Sonoma county line.
“Standing at one end of the table and looking down to the other — you could barely see the end — and then walking the three minutes it took to get from end to end was pretty satisfying,” Frye said. “We were happy to know that all of the flowers went home with first responders and other guests to keep enjoying beyond the event itself.”
Diana Roy of Resendiz Brothers, which donated proteas, leucadendron, grevillea Ivanhoe and silver dollar eucalyptus, also volunteered on-site. Her favorite moments from the day? That “stunning” table and her time manning the boutonniere bar. (Read more about Roy’s experience.)
“[I loved] helping guests create their own special floral accessory for the evening,” she said.