Episode 244: Meet Mike A. Mellano, 3rd generation American flower farmer & ranunculus expert
May 4th, 2016
This week we welcome a new Sponsor to the Slow Flowers Podcast — Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com.
Click here to learn more about Alaska peonies and listen to Episode 102.
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Next up, today’s engaging guest is Mike Anthony Mellano.
I met “Mike A,” as he’s often called, in 2012, when the California Cut Flower Commission invited me to speak to their board meeting about The 50 Mile Bouquet and my passion for connecting consumers with the source of their flowers.
We’ve since crossed paths at many industry gatherings and I’m so impressed with Mike’s commitment to flower farming. His approach is to blend old-world Italian family traditions with modern and commercial innovation to grow and provide millions of American Grown flowers to today’s floral marketplace. Click here to read the History of the Mellano Family of Flower Farmers.
This interview took place on the morning of April 13th, prior to the Field to Vase Dinner held at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California. For the 2nd year, Mike was the “farmer-host” for that must-attend event. Unlike last year, I planned ahead for the podcast and was able to corner him for an interview at Mellano & Co. earlier in the day.
Here is a bit more about Mike Anthony:
Michael Anthony Mellano, Ph.D. is Chairman of the Board and Vice President of Production for Mellano & Company, a third generation cut flower production and distribution operation in San Luis Rey, California. He joined the family business in 1988 after graduating from UC Riverside.
He is a Past President for the San Diego County Farm Bureau and past chairman for the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC). He is currently a commissioner for the CCFC and chair of their Grower Research and Economic Development Committee. He has been a long standing member of the USDA Floriculture Research Initiative Task Force, chairman and a Director of the Kee Kitayama Research Foundation and has served the last 8 years as the University of California representative to the national “Council for Agricultural Research, Extension & Teaching”. Most recently Mike has accepted a board position with the American Floral Endowment.
Michael in the past also served as chairman for the California Ornamental Research Federation (CORF), was on the UC Davis Environmental Horticulture Department Advisory Committee and the grower representative to the USDA-Pacific Area Wide Program for Methyl Bromide Alternatives.
Michael received his B.S. in Plant Science and Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of California Riverside under Dr. Donald Cooksey where he focused on the molecular genetics of bacterial pathogens and copper resistance. The San Diego County Farm Bureau named him Farmer of the Year in 2015.
Michael is married to Valerie Mellano, Ph.D. the current chair of the Plant Science Department at Cal Poly Pomona. Together they have four wonderful and exceptional kids and one grandchild.
I know you’ll learn a great deal from our conversation and appreciate the passion and commitment Mike devotes to his family’s business.
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Just two days ago, On May 1st, we announced the 2016 American Flowers Week campaign. If you thought it was fun to be involved in this social-media-campaign last year, get ready for a bigger, better celebration this year — June 28 through July 4th.
Last year was our first time to devote an entire week promoting American Grown flowers, farmers and floral designers. This year, we’ll have a huge flower bucket filled with fun — all for the cause that is near and dear to our hearts.
Four industry sponsors have signed on with their financial support, including Certified American Grown Flowers, Syndicate Sales, Longfield Gardens and Mayesh Wholesale.
As I said in the press announcement, “Consumers are more conscious than ever about the origins of the goods they purchase, especially when it comes to food — and flowers. It’s important to raise awareness for and celebrate American grown flowers, as well as flower farmers who grow a diverse selection of botanicals for the cut flower trade. At the same time, we salute floral designers whose ethos and intent inspires them to source domestically.”
Earlier this week, I shared details about the 2016 American Flowers Week campaign with more than 700 Slowflowers.com members, unveiling new graphics and a “50 States of American Flowers” contest. The contest encourages farmers and florists to post photographs of their red-white-and-blue bouquets along with the hash-tag americangrownflowers on social media platforms. Entrants will be included in a drawing for a number of prizes.
You’ll find more information and resources at americanflowersweek.com. Downloadable fact sheets, infographics and the 2016 American Flowers Week logo and social media badges are available for growers and florists to use for their own marketing and promotion efforts.
Submissions to the “50 States of American Grown Flowers” contest will highlight local flowers from across the country. Slowflowers.com member farms and florists are invited to submit their designs to a gallery that we will share with the media during American Flowers Week. Our goal is to showcase the botanical and seasonal beauty from flower farms and designers in all 50 states.
Participate in the “50 States of American Grown Flowers” Contest here.
Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.
The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.