Today marks the beginning of American Flowers Week, June 28 – July 4, created by Debra Prinzing of Slow Flowers (www.slowflowers.com). Prinzing states it is a community-focused floral holiday that encourages all floral lovers to participate – from flower seed and bulb producers to growers; from designers to retailers; from cutting garden enthusiasts to artists.
In its third year, American Flowers Week has caught on and welcomed flower enthusiasts from all backgrounds to engage with their farmers, engage with their consumers, engage with their inner artist all to celebrate what is grown here in the U.S. The hashtag #americanflowersweek has produced over 5 million impressions just this past month! Each year Prinzing commissions five floral designers to create
floral couture designs to feature local, season and domestic florals and foliage for the national social media campaign. Last summer I was able to work with Prinzing while we were both in Alaska spending a week at Scenic Place Peonies’ farm for the Field to Vase Dinner tour. I created an Alaskan peony inspired design to reflect the two important economies of Homer, Alaska – fishing and peony farming.
Some ways that you can get involved is by designing a red, white and blue arrangement from your garden or your local farmers market and post on social media using the #americanflowersweek. Visibility creates awareness and awareness creates action!
Last year was my first year to participate in AFW and we hosted a flower crown party at one of my local farms, M & M Plants in Comus, Maryland. Forty guests from floral designers, wedding planners, photographers, stylists to hobbyists joined us for a beautiful evening out on the flower farm where we set up a floral bar showcasing three local farms’ products. We set up tables out in the fields and
welcomed everyone to design a floral crown and the results were worth celebrating! Tonight marks our 2nd year hosting this event and we are honored that Debra Prinzing will be joining us! It’s a great event to get to know local flower farmers, get to experience what grows here in Maryland and network with other flower lovers!
My floral company, Petals by the Shore, is located north of Washington, D.C. in Maryland, and our focus is on designing only weddings and events. Over the past four years I have shifted the way I source my flowers for my couples and now buy more from my local and American grown flower farms. I work very closely with these farms and have forged strong relationships that have improved the way that I service my couples and clients. It has also encouraged more designers to buy local and American grown and has helped foster more community between floral designers and farmers. It not only is a way to support our local community but also our national economy. 80% of flowers sold in the U.S. are imported from South America, Holland and other countries. Only 20% sold are grown here in the U.S. It is more important than ever that we support our hard-working flower farms and flower farming families and agriculture as a whole.
This Friday I will be presenting with Mary Kate of The Local Bouquet at the 2nd annual Slow Flowers Summit in Washington, D.C. It is a one-day conference for creative professionals - doers and thinkers – designed to provoke curiosity, stimulate conversation and inspire. We will be sharing how we each have individually grown our wedding businesses using local and American Grown flowers and how our relationships with the flower farming community has helped our businesses soar. Other presenters include Christina Stembel of Farm Girl Flowers, Jessica Hall of Harmony Harvest & Floral Genius and more.
Last month I was one of the lead designers for the 106th annual First Lady’s Luncheon hosted by the Congressional Club. Certified American Grown Flowers (www.americangrownflowers.com), which is a coalition of flower farms – large and small entities, is one of the largest sponsors of this bi-partisan event which raises money for the charities the Club and the First Lady support. It is an opportunity for America’s flowers to be showcased on a national stage and help create awareness among America’s leaders. Our team of 32 designers, flower farmers and flower hobbyists from all across the country gathered in D.C. for four days to receive, process and design with 15,000 stems of flowers and foliage for this event attended by 2,000 guests. It was the third year that Certified American Grown flowers has been a sponsor of this event and the response we have received has been overwhelming. At the luncheon flower farmers and delegates had the opportunity to share their requests for The White House to feature homegrown origin of flowers as they do their food and wine.
Next month we have more opportunities to celebrate and encourage buying American Grown as the Senate recently declared July “American Grown Flowers Month.” This resolution helps recognize the importance of buying flowers grown here in the United States. By doing so we support the farmers, small business, economy and agriculture industry. The Certified American Grown label program ensures consumers know where their flowers come from – look for the logo in your local grocery stores and wholesalers. If you don’t see it ask for it! Just as you look for the label on your fruits and vegetables as the stores look for the American grown label on your flowers.
The Slow Flowers and the Certified American Grown flower movements are two separate entities both creating change for America’s flower farmers big and small. Everyone can be part of the change by buying local and American Grown botanicals – connecting with your farmers at farmers markets, looking for the American Grown logo and making small changes every day. Join us in celebrating over the next month and keep the celebrating going all year long. We all celebrate these flowers and flower farmers 52 weeks a year but welcome these floral holidays to highlight and shine light on being part of the change as a community!
Guest Contributor Kelly Shore of Petals By The Shore