plymouth, mn — When it’s snowy and only 18 degrees outside, it’s simply enchanting to partake of an artisan-style, locally sourced meal inside a warm greenhouse filled with about a million tulips, live music, twinkling lights and a 200-foot-long formal dinner table decorated with hundreds of lavish, fresh floral arrangements. This was the shared experience of over 100 flower lovers March 11 at Len Busch Roses, here, and the sold-out kickoff event to the 2017 American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour.
“We had a wonderful experience,” Marcy Lepine, general manager at Flowerbud.com, headquartered in Arcata, CA, told The Produce News. “The opportunity to have a catered dinner inside a tulip greenhouse was unique, and everyone involved did an amazing job. A couple of things stood out that we took away from the evening. The first was the variety of attendees, from professional farmers and master gardeners to friends celebrating birthdays and couples who saw publicity for the event on TV and attended out of their sheer love of flowers. The second was how innovative and resourceful a farm like Len Busch Roses must be to produce high-quality product as a U.S. grower that is also located in a northern climate.”
Len Busch Roses, a 50-year-old flower farm with 15 acres of greenhouses, is only one of a handful of rose growers left in the United States. In addition to roses, it grows alstroemeria, lilies, tulips, snapdragons, gerberas and potted flowering plants. Over 7 million stems and pots are produced each year. There was an extended farm tour led by Patrick Busch, chief executive officer at LBR, for a group of attendees prior to the F2V dinner event.
“I personally loved the tour and I thought going on the tour was very important,” Amy Carrieri, sales representative at Sun Valley Group in Arcata, CA, told The Produce News. “Seeing what the farm is doing and what they are growing; getting that personal time with the growers at Len Busch and seeing the items they decided to take a risk on, or new items they are working on, like delphinium or snapdragons — it’s fun to see how they are changing their business in order to survive in the marketplace. Not many people go to events where it’s about the farmer, and I’m all about events that showcase the farmer and make the farmer the rock star.”
Cindy Egan, design room manager at Bachman’s in Minneapolis, told The Produce News, “One of the best parts for me was being around the flowers in the greenhouse, just seeing what we can do in the United States as far as growing, and the beautiful products that we can grow. But somehow we have to make sure that these events include our younger generation. There’s got to be flower lovers out there just like us, and we need a way to get them to these things so they are not only enjoying the flowers, but they are buying more flowers and being in tune with them — it’s called immersion therapy.”
At the conclusion of the dinner, all of the guests were given a flower-lovers swag bag, a table floral arrangement, and bouquets of fresh Len Busch-grown flowers to take home.
“I thought it was amazing,” Carol Berde, general manager at AMC Flowers in Elk Grove, IL, told The Produce News. “I was impressed from the moment I walked in the door to the moment I left with my hands full of gorgeous flowers. Every detail was well done and the whole concept is really cool — that it’s at a local grower’s greenhouse, they had local beer and a local band — the whole concept is great. The first thing I did the next morning was to look up where and when the future events were taking place. I had so much fun.”
The following day, despite a snowstorm, several people returned to the farm to take part in a daylong workshop focused on wedding design, taught by award-winning designers and educators Sandy Schroeck, customer education coordinator at LBR, and Loann Burke, design director at Oasis Floral Products.
Summing up the total experience, Kasey Cronquist, administrator at the Certified American Grown Flowers program, said, “It was fantastic. These dinners let flower farmers tell their stories. It’s a way for us to raise the awareness for the flower-farming families here in the United States.”
And Amy Carrieri added, “It’s about having an event where you educate people who don’t know anything about the industry, who have the ability to say, ‘Oh wow, this is going on. I had a phenomenal time and tomorrow I’m going to buy some more flowers because I now know where they are coming from.’ It’s the story.”