We’re Returning to Alaska in 2019!

Save Your Seat for Dinner at Joslyn Peonies in Homer

The 2017 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Homer, Alaska was one for the memory books. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce (well in advance, because we can’t contain our excitement)  that we’ll be returning to Alaska in 2019!

Imagine yourself dining on a peony farm in Alaska.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

The American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour will head to Joslyn Peonies in Homer on Saturday August 3, 2019. There guests will dine in a park-like setting on this 24-acre farm that features a 3-acre lawn, incredible views of Kachemak Bay, the entrance to the Cook Inlet and the awe-inspiring views of Alaska’s majestic Kenai mountain range; all from your seat on the grass!

Homer, Alaska is home to a number of beautiful peony farms. Guests will enjoy a tour of Josyln Peony Farm and the opportunity to tour a number of others during an elective excursion the following day. Stay tuned for more on that!  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

Flower farmer Betty Joslyn grows 16 varieties of peonies in white, blush, pink and red – but mostly white for their ethereal quality and appeal to brides.

An incredible view awaits our guests at Joslyn Peonies. Photo by Linda Smogor Photography

 

Our American Grown Field To Vase Dinner brings focus to the beautiful peonies growing in Alaska. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

The farm includes two barns, his and hers, each with unique features that make the farm perfect for events.

You never know who might show up to a peony party in Alaska.

Betty can’t wait to share the farm and it’s 6,000 peony plants with American Grown Field to Vase Dinner guests. In fact, she’s already envisioning it and making plans.

Picture yourself surrounded by peonies – literally!  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

By announcing this 2019 tour date now, we’re giving everyone plenty of time to make travel plans and turn the trip into a full-on Alaskan adventure! In fact, with our previous experience, we’ll be helping you organize additional farm tours, fishing trips and helping to recommend accommodations during your stay.

If you’d like learn more about these additional opportunities and excursions as they develop, sign up here.

We want you to kick up your heels for a relaxing dinner on the flower farm.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

First things first though, before you do anything else, you’ll want to save your seats.

Granted, you have a year’s time to buy plane tickets, reserve accommodations and plan exciting excursions, but you do not want to check back here and find the seats have all been sold.

So, save your seat today and join us in planning for a trip you’ll never forget.

A bucket list experience, bring your friends for this unique Alaska adventure you’ll never forget. Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography

Flower Farmer Beth Van Sandt Discusses the Doors That Opened Post-Dinner Tour

 

Beth Van Sandt of Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska, was in on the ground floor of the Certified American Grown Flowers movement. As Van Sandt puts it, she saw the value of the certification early on and knew there would be benefits from American flower farmers coming together under a single brand.

Beth Van Sandt and her husband, Kurt Weichhand on their peony farm in Homer, Alaska.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

In fact, Scenic Place was the first farm in Alaska to become Certified American Grown.

Left to Right; Jerry Hagstrom of the Hagstrom Report, Tim Dewey of Delaware Valley Wholesale, first lady Melania Trump, Kasey Cronquist, administrator for Certified American Grown, Beth Van Sandt of Scenic Place Peonies and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies.

But that was just the starting point for Van Sandt who has since leveraged nearly every aspect of the brand, including attending the First Lady’s Luncheon in Washington, D.C., that features all American Grown Flowers and hosting an American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on her farm in 2017.

The tables were filled with flower-loving guests at the Scenic Place Peonies Field to Vase Dinner.  Photo by Joshua Veldstra Photography.

And oh the connections and opportunities that came from that dinner!

“The exposure the Field to Vase Dinner gave our farm made us recognizable and gave us a seat at the table industrywide. People know who we are now,” Van Sandt explains. “Wholesalers who may not have looked at us in the past see us as a reputable farm today.”

 

While volunteering for the the First Lady’s Luncheon in 2017, VanSandt met floral designer Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore. The two hit it off, and later Shore agreed to be the designer for Field to Vase Dinner at Scenic Place Peonies. “Sitting at the table and meeting the designers, that was a great opportunity and it helped us promote the dinner tour at the farm,” Van Sandt recalls.

(Photo: Beth Van Sandt and Kelly Shore, of Petals by the Shore, designing arrangements for the First Lady’s Luncheon)

 

And when the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour came to Homer, the real fun (and exposure) began!

Florists Review did a feature on the dinner and included lots of images from the farm.

While in Alaska, Shore did a photo shoot featuring Van Sandt’s peonies for the Slow Flowers section of Florists Review, helping to further the exposure of Alaskan peonies for the industry to see.

And, last but not least, thanks to an introduction to Cal Poly Pomona Plant Sciences Department Chair Valerie Mellano, wife of Mellano & Company’s Mike Mellano (both who attended the dinner at Scenic Place Peonies), Van Sandt was able to start an internship program with four Cal Poly students.

Cal Poly students are spending their summer interning at Scenic Place Peonies learning about flower farming as a result of the connections made during the Field to Vase Dinner at Beth’s farm.

But how does Van Sandt know hosting the dinner tour stop was worth it?

“My phone blows up continuously with requests and my email inbox is always full. That’s proof that it worked. And it correlates with more cuts and more shipments out the door,” Van Sandt says.

Since hosting the dinner last summer, Van Sandt has continued her efforts to raise the profile of her Certified American Grown peonies, including having her Certified American Grown-branded truck in the Homer Fourth of July parade, along with Cal Poly interns wearing flower crowns!

And she shares the unique benefits and opportunities that come from connection to the brand with all who will listen.

Kelly Perry to Lead Design at Nashville Tour Stop

Renowned Designer is Known for Her Entrepreneurial Spirit

Kelly Perry of Team Flower and Philosophy Flowers will bring her creative energy and breathtaking designs to the tablescapes at the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 5.

Kelly Perry brings her passion for celebrating the moments of life with the beauty of flowers to the Field to Vase Dinner Tour on October 5, 2018. Photo by Heather Payne Photography.

Perry, who as a sixth grader convinced classmates to create silk flower corsages for a friendship banquet and then started a cake-decorating business in seventh grade, has built an incredible following of flower-lovers throughout the floral industry and beyond.

Perry will invite guests to take in the beauty of American Grown Flowers during our Nashville Field to Vase Dinner at Green Door Gourmet with stunning tablescapes like this one.
Photo by Heather Payne Photography.

Her passion and entrepreneurial spirit are mesmerizing.

At Team Flower, a global flower community that provides professional learning about floral design and growing flowers, Perry heads up all content development and classes.

Photo by Heather Payne Photography.

Perry also operates Philosophy Flowers in North Carolina, a boutique floral design business that specializes in weddings.

Her work has been featured with Southern Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings and nearly 60 other publications.

Perry is a believer in the transformative power of small exquisite moments. Once I really started noticing the beautiful little things, like poppies blooming along the side of the road, a life shift began to happen,” she told Flower magazine.

 

 

“For me, flowers are all about celebrating the present moment. That’s why I love working with American Grown Flowers, especially ones grown close to home. Seasonality is important to me. Designing with these types of ingredients connects us to the moment, something that’s easy to breeze through in our busy world. I’m looking forward to creating for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in partnership with American farmers and my Team Flower friends. May it be an invitation for us all to slow down, settle in and celebrate the day, ” Perry shares.

You don’t want to miss this opportunity to connect with one of the floral industry’s most vivacious and inventive designers and teachers!

 

Dinner Guests Get a Hands-On Flower Experience

F2V Boutonnière Bar is a Guest Favorite!

At every American Grown Field to Vase Dinner, guests are invited to visit a boutonnière bar where they can design a custom floral “wearable” with flowers from the farm they’re visiting.

Beautiful blooms at the boutonnière bar await guests of the Sacramento Field to Vase Dinner. Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

This hands-on experience is one of the most popular aspects of the event!

Making their own boutonnière gives guests a chance to be creative and they absolutely love it.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

Guests love learning how to create a boutonnière (or corsage), adding in their own personal style and then getting to wear the floral swag they create for the rest of the event.

Smithers Oasis/Floralife is the celebrated sponsor of this guest favorite.  Photo by Eye Connoisseur Photography.

At each stop, the available flowers and foliage at the bout bar, kindly sponsored by Smithers-Oasis/Floralife, change, reflecting the blossoms and greens grown at the farm we’re visiting.

Guests have designed with Florida ferns, California protea and Alaskan peonies, to name a few. And when they don they’re creations, we’ve noticed they have a bit more spring in their step or swag in their swagger.

Plus they’ve learned a new skill they can use again and again for other special events – always using Certified American Grown Flowers, of course.

Just one more way guests, and our amazing sponsors like Smithers-Oasis, are getting involved in this amazing dinner tour that’s crisscrossing the country!

 

We’re headed to Star Valley Flowers in Soldier’s Grove, Wisconsin, on Sept. 8.

You don’t want to miss this next stop!

 

First-Ever Book Signing at our Soldiers Grove Dinner!

Get Your Signed Edition of Florists to the Field

Guests at the Sept. 8 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Star Valley Flowers in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin, will be part of a first-ever book signing on our dinner tour. They’ll be able to purchase a signed edition of the spectacular new book Florists to the Field from floral designers Greg Campbell and Erick New, also our designers for the dinner.

The book takes readers on a floral excursion from the Deep South to the West Coast, through the Midwest and across the ocean to Holland, sharing the flower fields where Campbell and New find inspiration.

Plus you’ll get a glimpse into what drives these designers’ avant-garde aesthetic and their knack for large-scale installations.

You can see that aesthetic in person when Campbell and New, also owners of Garden District in Memphis, Tennessee, bring their over-the-top design skills to this stop on the dinner tour.

At Garden District, Campbell and New have created a business based on floral abundance and artistry. The shop provides seasonal flowers, unique gifts and home accents, and their floral installations weave flowers and greenery into breathtaking textural structures.

Their showroom in the heart of Memphis is a soaring showcase of the latest in flowers, containers and antiques.

To meet Campbell and New, and purchase a signed copy of the book, save your seat at the Sept. 8 dinner and add the book purchase at checkout.

Chef for Dinner Tour Stop in Sacramento Named

Meet Executive Chef Dan Watterson

With the third stop on the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour fast approaching, we’re excited to announce the chef for our June 13 stop in Sacramento!

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Meet Dan Watterson, executive chef for Statehouse at the Capitol.

Chef Dan Watterson is creating a delicious menu that will delight the guests of our Sacramento Field to Vase Dinner.

Watterson leads a top-notch culinary team at Statehouse, a brand that includes Statehouse Eatery, Statehouse Café, Statehouse Coffee and Statehouse Catering.

 

 

 

 

He has over 15 years of culinary experience and recently relocated from Washington, D.C., where he was the chef de cuisine for Stephen Starr’s famed French bistro Le Diplomate. Prior to joining Le Diplomate, he was an executive chef for Matchbox Food Group. His resume also includes positions at Hamptons Restaurant in South Carolina and The Ashby Inn in Virginia.

Watterson is planning a multi-course farm-to-table meal that will be paired with Geyser Peak’s amazing wines.

Join the table! You will delight in a delectable meal prepared by Chef Dan Watterson while surrounded by the beauty of American Grown Flowers. Photo by Taken by Sarah Photography

With the announcement of the chef and floral designer Liezet Arnold of Bloem Décor in place, tickets for the Sacramento dinner are going fast!

 

Add a Capitol Tour to Your F2V Experience

At each American Grown Field to Vase Dinner, we love to offer guests the chance to tour a flower farm and chat with a real farmer about the blooms and greenery grown on the farm, sustainability efforts and overall operation.

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When the dinner tour comes to the gardens of California’s Capitol on June 13, we’ll offer a similar – but oh so unique – experience!

A view of the Capitol from the surrounding gardens.
Photo courtesy of The Sacramento Bee.

Guests can sign up for a special tour of the Capitol grounds and building with George Soares, an ag expert and partner in Kahn, Soares and Conway. Soares is a tour guide extraordinaire and plans to show guests all sorts of special locations and artwork as he shares about the Capitol’s history and the ag issues won and lost there.

California’s State Capitol Park, featuring the World Peace Rose Garden. Photo courtesy of worldpeacerosegardens.com.

Join Soares to learn about some of the statues on the grounds, see the site where Queen Elizabeth arrived, where President Gerald Ford was nearly assassinated and where a semi-truck drove into the Capitol building a few years back.

Inside the Capitol, you’ll get a glimpse of a statue of President Ronald Reagan that now resides in the basement, the entrance to the governor’s office – complete with a giant bear Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger found while on a ski trip – and portraits of the last seven California governors.

Guests will also see the beautiful Capitol Rotunda from inside.
Photo courtesy of CapitolWeekly.net.

Along the way, Soares will get you caught up on quite a bit of history, share insider stories and fill you in on ag decisions made in these hallowed halls.

And if the stars align, guests will also get a glimpse of the Assembly and Senate floors or galleries.

State legislators were greeted by bouquets of fresh California Grown Flowers in the Senate Chamber on the day they voted to declare June is CA Grown Flowers Month.

This tour is unprecedented in scope and uniqueness.  Sign up for the tour when you purchase your ticket to dine on the Capitol lawn.

Designers Announced for Sacramento, Soldiers Grove Dinners

Meet Liezet Arnold, Greg Campbell and Erick New!

Liezet Arnold will be the featured designer at our next American Grown Field to Vase Dinner in Sacramento on June 13.

With the first two stops on the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour under our belt and another dinner just weeks away, we’re excited to announce more floral designers for our upcoming dinners!

Liezet Arnold of Bloem Decor will be designing breathtaking tablescapes at our Sacramento dinner on June 13 in the gardens of the state Capitol.

Next, Greg Campbell and Erick New of Garden District will bring their skills to our Sept. 8 dinner in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin.

Arnold, the daughter of a tomato farmer who grew up in a small village in Holland, began working in flower shops at age 16. After years in the industry, she earned the title Master Dutch Florist.

In 1985, she moved to Beverly Hills to work in a flower shop that catered to celebrity clients and allowed her to expand her floral creativity. Along the way, she met her husband and moved to Sacramento where she started a creative flower shop featuring designs that “maintain European traditions with our unique flair.”

Today, 33 years later, Arnold is still celebrating the beauty and delight of flowers from her Sacramento flower shop. We can’t wait to see how she brings her unique style to the Field to Vase Dinner tablescapes in Sacramento!

Greg Campbell and Erick New of Garden District

At Gardent District, co-owners Campbell and New have created a business based on floral abundance and artistry. The shop provides seasonal flowers, unique gifts and home accents, and their floral installations weave flowers and greenery into breathtaking textural structures.

Their showroom in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee is a soaring showcase of the latest in flowers, containers and antiques.

You can get a sense of their design aesthetic and their commitment to the field to vase approach in their upcoming book, Florists To The Field.  The images in the book hint at the incredible design style diners at the Field to Vase Dinner in Wisconsin will experience.

Thanks to designers like these, an amazing artisanal meal and the opportunity to meet an American flower farmer and dine in fields of flowers, American Grown Field to Vase Dinner destinations continue to sell out.

Don’t miss out on our Sacramento, CA or Soldiers Grove, WI dinners!

 

Rene van Rems Wows at First 2018 Tour Stop

Floral Designer Shares the Inside Story on Prepping for a Field to Vase Dinner

You might think the job of a floral designer is singular – to surprise and delight by creating beautiful flower arrangements.

When the designer is Rene van Rems, you’d be wrong.

Van Rems was the floral designer for the recent American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at Resendiz Brothers Protea in Fallbrook, California. But his efforts went far beyond arranging flowers. He started by visiting the site with flower farmer Mel Resendiz to help select the perfect location for the dinner.

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Since proteas are grown on steep hillsides, this was no small feat. But van Rems knew what he was looking for – a hilltop surrounded by other flower-adorned hills that would provide a sense of warmth and intimacy for dinner guests.

Beautiful farm fresh flowers adorned the tables, welcoming guests to a night of food, wine and flowers. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

 

Next up, van Rems determined a theme for the arrangements that would adorn the long banquet tables and selected containers from Field to Vase Dinner Tour sponsor Syndicate Sales.

He decided to create three variations of a floral design that featured pincushion proteas and he created them in reverse proportion. “We draped everything down while featuring the pincushions. This way, the flowers are looking at the diner and the diner is looking at the flowers. The flowers were the star and the materials we put with them were very botanical and were from the surrounding landscape. It was a real execution of ‘field to vase.’”

Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

For the containers, van Rems selected brushed glass vases with similar designs and textures in colors that provided contrast with the flowers and surrounding landscape.

The amazing part – the 180 arrangements needed for the dinner were created by 15 students who were part of a workshop van Rems led in advance of the dinner. Not only did they learn floral design skills, participants got a hands-on experience in event execution.

“The event became a lesson plan,” van Rems explains. “The students learned what you can’t learn in a book or on YouTube; it was truly experiential.”

Floral designer Rene van Rems was responsible for the beautiful tablescape and floral design installations. Photo by Carrie McCluskey Photography.

Beyond special events, van Rems regularly holds workshops at his state-of-the-art training center in Carlsbad, California. His two-, three- and five-day programs cover floral trends, advanced floral design techniques and business basics.

As for the reviews of the first stop for the 2018 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour – van Rems shares what guests told him: “Everyone loved the experience because it was beyond their expectations. People had no idea what to expect and they were blown away by a beautifully executed dinner. The No. 1 wow was the site and the flowers were a spoke in the wheel of an amazing experience.”

We couldn’t agree more.

 

 

Design with Renowned Event Planner, Floral Designer Debi Lilly

Workshop Added to April 26 Stop at The Flower Fields

You know her name, you’ll likely recognize her face, and now you can design alongside renowned event planner and floral designer Debi Lilly!

Debi Lily stands in a sea of orchids during our 2017 Field to Vase Dinner at Gallup & Stribling in Carpinteria, CA.

Lilly will host a hands-on workshop prior to the April 26 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California. She’ll talk about spring design trends and containers, and share her design secrets during the workshop –  also on April 26, offered at two times, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at The Flower Fields.

Lilly hosted a sold-out workshop in Carpinteria, California, during the 2017 tour, and our guests couldn’t say enough about the tips she offered, her amazing design ideas and her down-to-earth nature. After all, Debi’s a big deal!

Debi Lilly held an oversold floral design class prior to the Field to Vase Dinner at Gallup & Stribling Orchids.

Known as Oprah’s “Favorite Pro,” Lilly was part of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” for more than 10 years and has made it her mission to inspire, educate and share her 20 years of party planning expertise, stylist tips and DIY designs with fans worldwide. Did we mention Lady Gaga’s a fan?

With her impressive client list that includes brands like Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Safeway and Lamborghini, Lilly is a highly sought-after designer.

But you can connect with her, design with her and be wowed by her ideas (just like Oprah) by registering for the two-hour workshop! Attending the dinner is not necessary or a prerequisite for the workshop.

Guests love the personal interaction and learning DIY designs from Debi herself.

Plus, you can invite friends to join you, even if they are missing out on the dinner, because the workshop is open to the public.

Save your seat today – choose the Debi Lilly workshop at checkout!