It wasn’t on a farm. It involved politicians, and it was held on the lawn of California’s State Capitol. This innovative mid-June version of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner series started with a reception during which guests enjoyed watching members of the California State Assembly compete in a floral design competition hosted by the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC). For the last three years, the CCFC has hosted this competition involving legislators to help raise awareness that June is California Grown Flower Month. Combining the Field to Vase Dinner with this annual tradition by CCFC was not only fitting but also really helped guests, including California’s lawmakers, understand just how valuable the American Grown Flower movement has become.

After the vote was tallied, Assemblywoman Monique Limón was announced as the champion of the “2018 Floral Design Challenge.” Limón will receive a delivery of fresh American Grown Flowers each month for a year to display in her office.

In addition to the friendly competition, the reception included hors d’oeuvres, a floral-inspired cocktail by J.J. Pfister Distilling Company and great local brew from Sacramento’s Track 7 Brewing Company.

Always a guest favorite, the boutonnière bar brought lots of smiles and delight, thanks to sponsor Smithers-Oasis.

Designed by Liezet Arnold, of Bloem Décor in Sacramento, the dinner’s tablescape was a stunning arrangement of flowers and meaning. Rather than the tradition of one long farm table, Arnold showcased the vast variety of flowers grown in California by arranging the table like a compass and highlighting the different growing regions and the flowers from each region.

The “arms” of the compass started in the north with lilies, Irises and tulips and continued through the state to the south where her designs showcased Protea, pincushions, Leucadendron, Eucalyptus, Italian Ruscus and waxflower. Made in USA vases from Syndicate Sales were overflowing with individual flower varieties and bunched by specific hue. Chef Dan Watterson, of Statehouse, the caterer for the event, walked everyone through the menu, highlighting the great care that went into procuring the evening’s ingredients. He explained that the potatoes and carrots were sourced from Full Belly Farm in Guinda, Calif., which he had a chance to visit himself prior to the dinner. The entrée was a delicious rack of lamb that was sponsored by the California Sheep Commission and provided by rancher Richard Hamilton, who was in attendance with his family. And California Grown Strawberries, donated by the California Strawberry Commission, rounded out the meal in a refreshing strawberry shortcake.

Field to Vase Dinner Tour

The next stop on the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner is Star Valley Flowers in Soldiers Grove, Wis., on Sept. 8, and the final stop will be at Green Door Gourmet in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 5. Visit americangrownflowers.org/fieldtovase to learn more or to make your dinner reservations.