A field-to-vase celebration
July 10th, 2013
Last month I joined with the California Cut Flower Commission to host a “Slow Flowers” dinner as part of the 2013 Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House & Tour.
We called it “Farm-to-Table; Field-to-Vase” and held the dinner in the gerbera-filled greenhouse at Kitayama Bros. Farms in Watsonville, California. The event was a gathering of like-minded persons. Each of us — farmer, florist, media, community advocate — cares deeply about the role of American flowers in the greater agricultural environment. And everyone in attendance contributed an important voice around the table, a table with locally-grown food and locally-harvested flowers.
You will be charmed by the photos included here, courtesy and with permission of the California Cut Flower Commission. Linda Blue took these photographs and I love the way she captured the spirit of the event.
Kasey Cronquist, CEO and Ambassador of the CCFC, asked me to make some remarks at the event. Here is what I shared:
The symbolic act of giving flowers has been with us for generations. Flowers appear in history, in literature, in many cultures and in many lands, and their charm hasn’t waned in modern times.
The timeless and universal practice of picking flowers as a way to show our affections or to celebrate an event – as we are doing tonight – is no small thing. In fact, this bouquet represents a way of life for many Americans. These flowers were grown right here in Watsonville by people who steward their land with increasingly sustainable practices. These flowers mean a paycheck for the employees who professionally harvested and processed each stem. There are even more homegrown jobs at stake — when you think about those who deliver, sell and design with these beautiful California flowers.
I know that Kasey will share some of the important numbers with us tonight, so I won’t dwell on those. All I know is this bouquet represents some important American ideals: preserving farmland, ensuring economic development in rural areas and keeping jobs here.
I’m so honored to be with you all tonight, a group of flower farmers, designers, writers and friends of the California – the American – cut flower industry. We each have a voice and together our voices and our actions add up to a message that, I believe, is hard to ignore. When consumers are given a choice about where they spend their flower dollar, when they perceive a value-added alternative to the status quo, they will make a conscious choice and select seasonal and locally-grown flowers from close to home.
The very fact that we’re all here enjoying a meal that represents the best of Santa Cruz County’s fields, vineyards and ranches is worthy of celebration. On this same table, the vases are overflowing with floral ingredients grown by the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers. We are making a statement with these gifts from the land – what we’re eating and what’s filling our senses with beauty and fragrance.
We’ve been calling this idea the Slow Flower Movement. This concept symbolizes a more intentional way of buying, giving and using flowers – with a smaller carbon footprint, a desire to celebrate the farmers and hear their stories, and a design-focused message that locally-grown flowers are fresher, longer-lasting and a far better value for the American consumer. It’s all so obvious. Like anything, it takes momentum to build. And this is the ideal moment in time to say we’re not going to let this industry disappear. Instead, we’re changing the conversation from price matters to origin matters. And only local, domestic flower farmers can provide American-grown flowers.
So many friends, new and familiar, were gathered at our event. Here are some of my favorite photos of the evening: