Fun N Sun 2015
As I headed off to Monterey California for The Cal Flowers Fun N Sun event my ever so efficient wife asked me, if I had everything organized? Of course I said, as I picked up my perfectly packed travel bag that she had prepared for me. A few flights later I realized that Monterey is not a cab ride from my arrival airport in San Jose. No problem I will just rent a car so, on the bus I go to the rental car area where there is a wide selection of agencies to choose from. But this is California in the summer time so cars without reservations are rare unless you’re willing to pay $375 a day for an Escalade that will sit in an expensive parking lot for a few days. But alas I found El Cheapo rental and was on my way to Monterrey from San Jose (Isn’t that a song?).
After a pleasant ninety minute drive my trusty GPS took me right to the door of the sold out Marriott only to find that I had no hotel reservation due to a mix up. So I sat in the corner hoping not to run into too many friends who would ask the obvious question. “How are you”? The hotel situation in Monterey is even more limited than rental cars in San Jose this time of year so I was ready to abort the whole convention idea when, Anne Price of Cal Flowers came to my rescue and in no time had me relocated into a nearby hotel that was just perfect.
My wife is convinced that I should not travel unattended. But now, on to the show.
Returning to host hotel refreshed and relieved for the opening event I saw beautiful flowers displayed everywhere and many friends and familiar faces. The lobby displays were beautifully refreshing after a long day and the open bar helped. The evening activity was a very special tribute to Yoshimi Shibata of Mt Eden Floral. First of all he made it to 100 years old and is still kicking and then he received the Distinguished Service award. While Yoshimi was not there his son Rob did the honors with a moving speech and a well done video presentation.
For those of you who might not know who Yoshimi Shibata is, to be concise. He is the Godfather of the California flower industry. It is humbling and wonderful that we, in the flower industry, have such a great rich history and legacy to share.
Up early on Thursday to board buses for a farm tour of some of California’s finest growers. Those were Golden State Bulb/ CallaCo, California Pajarosa, Camflor, Kitayama Brothers, and Green Valley Floral.
The operations at Golden State Blub /CallaCo are much larger then I imagined and they are really in the blub growing business. Fancy grading machines and other European style innovations were in use everywhere. The wholesale side of the business is marketed under the CallaCo brand. The many of us on bus journey were well informed about the in and outs of growing bulbs and the process of getting Mother Nature to work with them to craft the perfect bulb.
On to California Pajarosa, one of the few farms still growing roses. Having toured many rose farms over the years in many countries the struggle that comes with growing roses was evident. Keeping up with other parts of the world that have altitude in their favor is a challenge. With that said the roses were beautiful and the operation efficient. They have managed to maintain a nice niche in the marketplace selling boutique locally grown roses in a big way.
On to Camflor, with our host, Carlos Cardoza. Camflor, based on what we saw in the coolers is, a supplier that has the “what you need when you need it” mentality. Wide selection of local products from a 300 acre novelty cut flower farm. They also have a clever machine operated by folks with clever hands making wreaths and garland. (see video)
Then off to Kitayama Brothers for what was to be the highlight of the day. Having previously worked for the Kitayama family at Greenleaf Wholesale I had been to this farm before. I have to say that the place looked great and a good sign of a healthy company. Robert and the staff have really set the bar higher. But the best was yet to come when we were guided to lunch in the most marvelous setting one could ask for. Nothing like dinning amongst a sea of beautiful gerbera daisies in countless colors to make your day.
Plenty of tasty California wines on hand to lubricate the palette and of course locally grown everything. This is same overall concept that the CCFC is promoting via their Field to Vase dinners. The festivities were in full swing when J Schwanke took over and revealed the reason for five designer tables set up on the perimeter.
To help demonstrate how to throw a party with flowers as a promotional stunt to get more people in touch with flowers, J selected five unsuspecting candidates and had them take their places behind their assigned tables. With a five minute time limit they were to make an arrangement from the flowers provided to each table. the chosen were: Dennis Wheeler of Chrysal, Kate Penn of SAF, Bob Otsuka of the San Francisco Flower Mart, Mike LoBue of Cal Flowers and Courtney Hill from Kennicott Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The winner was based on crowd applause and in the end Courtney Hill won the price in the purse. A copy of J;s new book Bloom 365.
Many thanks to the Kitayama’s!
The final on our Bus #3 tour was Green Valley Floral. This most interesting farm did what smart farms do. They listened to the market and changed from growing from standard roses to Fragrant Garden style varieties exclusively from David Austin meet the growing demand. We were advised that they are the only licensed David Austin grower in the US.
It is hard not to like these unique roses and their scent is an allure that we humans have in common with bees. Since every recipient of a gift of flowers must smell them these really offer the best bang for the bloom.
Back on the bus we traveled back to the hotel for a quick change and then off to the Monterey aquarium for a private party where one was able to get up close with the most amazing fish and jellies. I highly recommend it if you get a chance to visit.
I attended a session given by none other than J. Schwanke titled; “Future Flower Trends”.
There is no better presenter at 8 am, than J! He is like a flamboyant bumblebee stinging you with intellect and humor while making it all feel good. I will summarize what I learned by saying that you must keep your eyes and ears open to what is out there in front of you every day. Color, texture, form, and theme.
His hot new trends are “Fairy Tale, Heirloom, Cumulus, and Fleur La Table” See more at (www.Ubloom.com)
Next I attended a presentation by Kasey Cronquist, CEO of the CCFC. Kasey’s job is to promote California flowers and that is what he is all about. The locally sourced “Farm to Table” movement is in high gear and the CCFC is following right along with them with their “Field to Vase” dinners. They are hosting these dinners in gardens and greenhouses around the US.
Kasey presented a very compelling and well put together, independently produced, video of one of these dinners and it is quite a powerful tool for this push toward locally sourced, everything.
Finally it was on to the flower fair where a reasonable number of vendors had simple but ample booths displaying the floral fruits of their labors.
This biennial event is well worth your time to attend if a wide variety of locally grown, high quality, flowers and service companies are important to your business.
My personal travel challenges continued in my efforts to end up in Southern California to visit my one year old Grandson and family. However, I will not bore you with those details only to say that one must plan well but also be able go with the flow when things don’t go as planned or even when not planned so well and good things will happen.
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