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Cal Poly Horticulture Major Is Second Recipient of CalFlowers Floriculture Scholarship

Helene Dondero, a senior at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly), has been selected to receive the second annual CalFlowers Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded every year to an undergraduate student who demonstrates a commitment to working in the floriculture industry.

Dondero is a senior at Cal Poly majoring in agricultural science with an emphasis in ornamental horticulture and a minor in agricultural business.  She grew up in the floral industry, working in her family’s business, Fiore Floral and Gifts, and participating in and leading numerous student and industry organizations at Cal Poly and with Future Farmers of America (FFA). She plans to return Cal Poly to complete a master’s degree in agricultural science after she graduates in the spring of 2020.

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CalFlowers engaging in legislative advocacy in 2019

Several months ago we reported on CalFlowers’ actions in relation to two proposed bills directly impacting floral markets in California and the nation: CA Assembly Bill 1205 and House Resolution 3019.  Since that time we have actively reached out to 16 members of the California Assembly, 7 members of the California Senate and 24 members of the Cut Flower Caucus in the House of Representatives.  We then followed up with phone calls and conversations with staff members from six Cut Flower Caucus members, and several Assembly and Senate offices.  We even enjoyed the visits to Fun ‘N Sun of staff members from the offices of Assembly Member Limón, State Senator Jackson and Congressman Carbajal.

We are expanding our scope to study proposed legislation affecting all aspects of the California floral industry dealing with a range of business issues.  As we move into 2020 we will also explore federal legislation affecting our members across the country.

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Why do consumers buy flowers?

Ask those who work in the floral industry, “why do people buy flowers?” and you will get numerous answers delivered with great confidence.  Some of these answers may even be correct.  However, we can’t be certain which ones are the real reasons consumers buy flowers.  Turns out, asking consumers such a direct question will not reveal the most accurate answers.

All consumers have unconscious reasons for just about anything they purchase, especially something as discretionary as flowers.

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Floral Business: Grower Tour Garners Applause

We were pleased to have E. Shaunn Alderman, Floral Department Marketing Strategist at FLORAL BUSINESS / PRODUCE NEWS, attend our biennial convention, Fun ‘N Sun, a few weeks ago. She wrote an article about the event – with great photos­ – in the August issue of Produce Business, and provided us with a pdf of the article.

Please click on this link to read and/or download the article.

Inspired Design Retreat & Floral Runway Show

The design team “Inspired Design”, co-founded by Patience Pickner, AIFD, PFCI, and Ace Berry, AIFD, PFCI, recently held a three-day floral education retreat in Chamberlain, South Dakota.  The retreat started with a brunch riverboat cruise and featured several styled shoots, including one on the Missouri River.

The retreat culminated in a Field to Table dinner and Floral Couture runway show in a 100+ year-old barn venue.  The public was invited to this event, and the barn was filled to capacity, where over 175 people attended. They got to enjoy an amazing locally grown/raised dinner, locally produced wine, several speakers who touted the importance and benefits of purchasing American Grown flowers, and the finale of the evening where over 40 floral designs rocked by gorgeous models on a floral runway brought the house down!

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CalFlowers Supports Certified American Grown

In light of CalFlowers' recent public position on state and national legislative issues, some might conclude that CalFlowers does not support the Certified American Grown program.  That conclusion would be wrong. 

CalFlowers supports American consumers who wish to select their floral products based on where those flowers and greens are grown. We also support consumers who enjoy flowers regardless of their origin.  For the former group, programs like Certified American Grown and CA Grown are valuable programs. For the latter group, the market should provide a range of convenient choices at affordable prices year-round.

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Looking forward to Memorial Day Flowers 2019

Final preparations are underway for this year’s Memorial Day Flowers tribute, taking place on Monday, May 27, at 40 national cemeteries around the country. The national event is led by the Memorial Day Flowers Foundation.

25,000 visitors to Arlington National Cemetery will receive roses and California focal flowers to place at the grave sites of loved ones and others.  Holland America Flowers is donating 700 bouquets for children in T.A.P.S. (the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors).

291,000 flowers have already been ordered for National Cemeteries across the country.  

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CalFlowers Goes to Washington


A group of CalFlowers board members and I joined more than 90 retail florists, wholesalers, suppliers and growers from all over the country to walk the halls of Congress last week. Our goal was to speak with our representatives about how they can support a healthy environment for cut flowers in our state.

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CalFlowers Attends Proflora for First Time in 2017

Of course, many CalFlowers members have attended Asocolflores' Proflora event in Colombia in years past, but this is the first formal attendance by association staff, as well as my first visit to Colombia.  I learned a great deal, but probably what those who've attended Proflora in the past already knew.  Colombia grows many varieties of commercial cut flowers, not just the big three (e.g., roses, mums and carnations); the commercial flower farms are generally indistinguishable from flower farms I've visited in California, and the people are wonderfully hospitable (everyone I met, whether they were part of the floral industry or not).

In discussions with the Board of Directors about attending this year's event, we felt that it would be important for me to attend to represent CalFlowers and to experience first-hand what the industry was like in our market's largest importer.  Upon reflection these were two valid and important reasons to attend, but there was much, much more to the trip.  So much so, that I believe I should attend one South American floral conference per year as CalFlowers' CEO.  Here's why, in no particular order ...

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Buffalo Soldiers Tribute 2016

Buffalo Soldiers 150th Anniversary - Say It With Flowers

On June 4, 2016 the Heritage Office of The Presidio of San Francisco paid tribute to the Buffalo Soldiers at the San Francisco National Cemetery with a morning of education sessions and a walk through the Cemetery to find and place a rose on each of the 430 graves of Buffalo Soldiers resting in this gorgeous location overlooking the San Francisco Bay.

Inspired by what has now become a tradition on Memorial Day by the Memorial Day Flower Foundation to display honor and respect for U.S. military by placing a flower on graves at National Cemeteries, this tribute to Buffalo Soldiers featured youth from local YMCA centers and their families locating each of the 430 Buffalo Soldier grave sites and placing a single stem rose in remembrance.  

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Record Numbers at CalFlowers Fun 'N Sun Convention

Attendees of this year’s CalFlowers-hosted Fun ‘N Sun came out in droves for the growers’ tour, educational sessions and expo. The whales in Monterey Bay and the colorful jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium gave attendees something to talk about and to Instagram, but the real draws, once again, were the daylong growers tour, great educational sessions and the flower fair.

The biennial gathering of CalFlowers growers, shippers and business partners, along with retailers and designers, created a new record for Fun ‘N Sun attendance of more than 500 attendees and guests. That included 35 exhibitors, including growers, suppliers, wholesalers, and our transportation partners.

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CalFlowers Fun ’N Sun Attendees Get Up Close with Central Coast Growers

Floral designers, retailers, wholesalers, transportation providers and business partners attend the bi-annual CalFlowers Fun ’N Sun event ( for many reasons - to network with potential business partners, meet new suppliers, learn about new floral trends and products and mix and mingle with the industry’s movers and shakers.

But many attendees will tell you that the best part of the three-day event is the growers tour. Despite rising early to board the bus, attendees love getting to meet the growers and their staffs, shuffling through greenhouses and fields and seeing them miracle of flowers as they being the journey to the vase or bouquet. 

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Bloom365 Book Offers Tips and Ways to Enjoy Flowers Every Day

According to researchers at Rutgers University, flowers make us happy

J Schwanke with Kelly Blank at UBloom has just published a terrific new book, Bloom 365 – The Essential Guide to Arranging Flowers Every Day ( that focuses on how to simply enjoy flowers – and get happy. This great softback book, which comes in a variety of covers featuring a wide range of flowers, offers 365 tips on everything floral.

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CalFlowers Exhibits at IFE for the First Time

CalFlowers was in the California Pavilion at the 2015 International Floriculture Exposition in Chicago on June 9 & 10.  While the booth itself was on the small side, it was ideally located near the exhibit entrance, and therefore, enjoyed excellent traffic over the two days of the show.

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Journey to AIFD National Symposium with CalFlowers June 30 - July 4

AIFD, the American Institute of Floral Designers, will host its annual National Symposium ( June 30-July 4 in Denver, Colo.

This event offers a robust schedule of not only design classes, but local chapter meetings and gatherings of industry professionals involved in the national organization. Instructors include leading floral designers from around the U.S. who will help attendees with the latest products and techniques.  CalFlowers is a Diamond Partner of this event, which also will offer a design contest.

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Thank You Ocean View Flowers

Thanks to CalFlowers member Ocean View Flowers hundreds of members of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) were able to take a donated bouquet of larkspur with them to Arlington National Cemetery over the 2015 Memorial Day weekend.  TAPS offers compassionate care to all those grieving the death of a loved one serving in our Armed Forces. Since 1994, TAPS has provided comfort and hope 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a national peer support network and connection to grief resources, all at no cost to surviving families and loved ones.  Thanks to CalFlowers member, Ocean View Flowers, 500 hundreds TAPS members  were not going to visited their fallen soldiers empty handed.  The family members were simply disbelieving that the bouquets were there as a gift.  Many would ask:  "well much do I owe you", as they reached for money.  We simply said:  "you already paid -- this is our small way of saying thank you."  Damn!  Not a dry eye for 20 feet...

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remembering marine lcpl andrew patten

Victor and Gayle Naschansky of Florida express their gratitude for Ocean View's donation of larkspur bouquets for members of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) on Saturday, May 23, 2015 as they make their way to Arlington National Cemetery to remember Gayle's son Marine Lance Corporal Andrew Patten.  Corporal Patten was killed on December 1, 2005 when an improvised explosive device detonated near their base on the edge of Fallujah.  TAPS is an impressive program to help those loosing loved ones in the military.  On Saturday morning there were hundreds of TAPS members, volunteers - and especially impressive were the number of mentor volunteers who work with the children who have lost parents to military service.

Memorial Day Flowers-It's Personal

I spent the morning in the hotel lobby of the Marriott Gateway assisting in the distribution of bouquets donated by CalFlowers' member Ocean View Flowers.  It was moving to watch the families, couples - young and old - and young women remembering their lost soldiers.  There were some tearful moments, especially as the family members realized that the bouquets offered to them were a gift and the roses that will be placed on more than 100,000 grave sites over the next two days were all donated by growers!  We received many hugs with requests to pass along their deep and abiding gratitude for even thinking of them - very touching.  Hard not to tear up!

What struck me about today was that for so many Americans this weekend is very personal.  I also learned that this is very personal for Ramiro Peñaherrera, founder of Memorial Day Flowers and an American/Ecuadorian flower farmer.  I am honored and pleased to call Ramiro a friend – a new friend, having met through this year's event.  Here we are with the stand of Ocean View bouquets in between meeting, greeting and passing out flowers this morning.

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CalFlowers to Sponsor Memorial Day Flowers Foundation to Honor Service Members Across the U.S.

This year, for the first time, CalFlowers will join other floral industry providers and organizations in supporting the Memorial Day Flowers Foundation (

The foundation started in 2011 to “…show appreciation for our country and to honor those who have served…” with executives at four flower industry companies who distributed 10,000 roses at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC).

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Check Out Our New Virtual Home

Check Out Our New Virtual Home:  CalFlowers Launches New Website

CalFlowers continues its evolution as a vital link from flower to the consumer with a new website.

If you click over to, you will see a fresh new design that symbolizes the rebranding of CalFlowers from its NorCal roots.

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