In the final days of July — which Congress designated “American Grown Flowers Month” — Certified American Grown celebrated its fourth anniversary and added two new members to its ranks. Now, the coalition of domestic growers includes 59 farms in 19 states and produces approximately 300 million stems of cut flowers and foliage.
The addition of Bloomia in King George, Virginia and Washington Bulb in Mount Vernon, Washington pushed the group past the halfway mark to 428 million — the total number of stems grown in the US, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s most recent Floriculture Report — a goal the organization had set for year’s end.
“We’re thrilled with that milestone; that it coincided with our fourth anniversary gave us even more reason to celebrate,” said Kasey Cronquist, PFCI, Certified American Grown’s administrator. “These are two very large farms. When they put our label on their product’s sleeves, recognition for our program will grow exponentially.”
It’s been a busy year for the group, with several achievements worth celebrating. Last fall, the organization received Floral Management’s coveted Marketer of the Year award for its Field to Vase dinner tour, a series of intimate gatherings around the country that place seasonal, homegrown flowers at the center of the table where a farm-to-table chef prepares a meal of locally-sourced ingredients.
“That recognition really inspired our farms,” Kronquist said. “It proved to them that we struck on something magical that’s catching the attention of a lot of people, both in and out of the industry.”
In the spring, the organization once again provided flowers for the First Lady’s Luncheon, a bipartisan event attended by more than 1,500 people, including congressional spouses, cabinet members and other Washington VIPs.
“Not only is it an honor to have our flowers in the spotlight at such a prominent event, but it has connected it us with designers and other people in the supply chain,” Kronquist said. “[The luncheon] is a wonderful example of what we can do when we work together.”
This summer, to build awareness for the newly-established “American Grown Flowers Month,” Certified American Grown launched a contest for mass merchant retailers to see who could create the best display advertising home-grown flowers. Twelve companies, representing more than 1,200 stores, signed up. “It was fun to see their creativity,” Kronquist said. “We’re optimistic it will become even bigger next year.”
To kick off year No. 5, Certified American Grown has created a farm guide that profiles its members, provides a map of who’s growing what where and includes a botanical guide. It will be debuted next month at SAF Palm Springs 2018, the Society of American Florists’ 134th annual convention, September 12-15, in Rancho Mirage, California.
“Going forward, our major goal remains recruitment,” Kronquist said. “We’d like to have 100 farms and see our logo on sleeves all over the country.” He’d also like to encourage the industry to embrace American Grown Flowers month. “We need something to pick up sales in the slumpy summer months,” he said. “This is a great launching pad for marketers.”