As Americans become increasingly aware of the importance of domestically grown products, participants in this weekend’s Monterey Bay Growers open house are eager to show visitors that the flowers on their tables can be as fresh, local and sustainable as the food on their plates.
The free tour, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, gives flower admirers a glimpse inside the state’s $10 billion industry – $700 million of which comes from Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, according to theCalifornia cut flowers Commission.
Many of these farms, like Kitayama Brothers, which manages more than 2.5 million square feet of greenhouses in the area, are multigenerational and have contributed to the local economy for decades. Kitayama predominately grows lilies, gerberas and gardenias and are leaders in the California-grown flower movement. Other participating growers include California Pajarosa (roses), Four Winds Growers (citrus and fruit trees), McLellan Botanicals (orchids) and Succulent Gardens.
Normally closed to the public, each greenhouse will host tours, provide growing advice and tips, and have plants for sale with the proceeds going to charities of their choice. Many will also have presentations, including Pajarosa, where Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers and Field to Vase will conduct bouquet design workshops.
Domestic flower movement grows
Floriculture is the nation’s third largest agricultural product yet it wasn’t until a recent White House state dinner that domestic and California cut flowers were intentionally added to the centerpiece bouquets.
In February, domestic flower advocates and growers were part of a Washington delegation that created the bipartisan Congressinoal cut flowerCaucas headed by Rep. Lois cappes, D-Santa Barbara, and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine (San Diego County).
“Lots of people care about where their food is coming from, but our annual open house event really helps us make that important connection for people when it comes to the flowers they buy,” saysKasey Cronquist, CEO and ambassador of the California Cut Flower Commission. “Tours like these increase awareness of the state’s cut-flower industry.