For the third year running, Certified American Grown Flowers worked with The Congressional Club to guarantee that all of the flowers and foliage featured at this year’s First Lady’s Luncheon, held May 15 in Washington, D.C, were American Grown.
Every centerpiece and boutonnière and the popular floral wall were created from 100 percent American Grown Flowers, and donated by 21 flower farmers from across the country. The statistics from this effort reflect not only the passion and dedication from all involved but also the generosity of so many farmers, designers and wholesale suppliers who helped make this happen.
The floral design included 15,000 stems that were incorporated into an 8-foot-square flower wall, along with 150 centerpieces, 41 2-foot-long boxes along a 90-foot promenade, 36 cocktail table bud vases, a 60-foot head table, a photo station with a floral garland and two boutonnière bars where 800 wearables were created.
The design and installation effort was led by designers Kelly Shore, of Petals by the Shore in Olney, Md., and Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet in Little Compton, R.I. Shore and Kinnane were assisted by a floral design team of 30 people, with some traveling from as far away as Alaska.
The floral designs were based on the theme “Limitless Horizons” and reflected the hues of Sedona, Ariz., the region that Pat O’Halloran, the event’s chair and wife of Congressman Tom O’Halloran, calls home. Shore met with the event’s committees months in advance to create an inspiration board and select décor and flowers. Shore shared the Certified American Grown Farm & Flower Guide to help committee members with their flower selections.
All arrangements reflected the colors of an Arizona sunset, including fuschia, oranges, pinks, golden yellows and a hint of purple. The thousands of homegrown stems included pincushions, Leucadendron and Protea; French tulips; Ranunculus; callas; rice flower; garden roses; stocks; Arizona cypress ‘Carolina Sapphire’ and Podocarpus.
“Everyone on the team was invested in the American Grown movement and passionate about their commitment toward designing with American Grown Flowers,” Shore says. “We worked with amazing flowers and greens to create something very special together. The sense of community and camaraderie was one of the biggest highlights for me. I don’t think one person left the luncheon not fully aware of what Certified American Grown stand for, what we offer and what a community can create.”
Shore noted that The Congressional Club members were particularly interested in the American Grown Flowers movement and helping raise the profile in Washington, D.C.
First lady Melania Trump was unable to attend the event due to health issues, but second lady Karen Pence stood in as a gracious hostess. A delegation of American flower farmers had the opportunity to speak with her about the growing movement for American Grown Flowers. In conversations, flower farmers encouraged the administration to consider bringing American Grown Flowers back to the White House, featuring the homegrown origin of flowers like they do food and wine.“It was an incredible feat,” shared Certified American Grown Administrator Kasey Cronquist, IOM, PFCI.
“From the flowers sent by our farms and the transportation provided by Delaware Valley to the vases from Accent Décor and the amazing volunteer design team, everyone came together to contribute to something beautiful, and it really reflects the ‘can do’ of what Americans can accomplish when we are working together.”
Design team members who volunteered their time and talents were quick to share their take on the experience in a survey:“It was hugely interesting to see what the designers created and how they utilized material to create. It was somewhat magical to see this blank canvas of a ballroom transformed into a breathtaking showpiece for these wonderful Congressional Club people doing so much philanthropy work.”
“To be a small part of this important event is something I will never forget. Having the opportunity to see up close and work with this incredible product has opened my eyes to the amazing florals we have here in the USA. It was the perfect venue to show off what American Grown Flowers has to offer.”
“The volunteering opportunity exposed me to the variety of flowers grown in the U.S. Because of this experience, I will seek out to buy American Grown flowers because I am now able to put a face and the farm that I will be buying from.”
“The farmers and companies that donated the flowers, pots, T-shirts and supplies were wonderful in their generosity. When you think of the number of flowers donated, it’s almost mind-boggling when it was all accomplished within a three-day time period.”
Mary Kate Kinnane has agreed to be the lead designer for next year’s luncheon.
CallaCoDramm & Echter
Gallup & Stribling
Green Valley Floral
Holland America Flowers
Mellano & Company
Ocean View Flowers
Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers
Sun Valley Floral Farm
Len Busch Roses
Texas Specialty Cut Flowers
DESIGN TEAM MEMBERS
Kelly Shore (lead designer)
Petals by the Shore; Olney, Md.
Mary Kate Kinnane (lead designer)
The Local Bouquet; Little Compton, R.I.
Christina Flower Company; Bristol, R.I.
What’s Up Buttercup; Charlotte, N.C.
Atelier Ashley Flowers; Alexandria, Va.
Harmony Harvest Farm; Weyers Cave, Va.
Pollen & Pastry; Bloomington, Ill.
GreenSinner; Pittsburgh, Pa.
Bergerons Flowers; Springfield, Va.
Sophisticated Floral Designs; Portland, Ore.
Crimson & Clover Floral Design; Baltimore, Md.
Sweet Blossoms; Frederick, Md.
Lisa Ann Ruf
Goodness Gracious Florals; Darnestown, Md.
J Starr’s Flower Barn; Preston, Md.
freelance floral designer; Potomac, Md.
Whole Foods Market; Stevensville, Md.
Carrie Wilcox Floral Design; Fairfield, Conn.
Pamela Wilson-Hale (Pamela Primrose)
freelance floral decorator; King of Prussia, Pa.
Fancy Florals by Nancy; Fairbury, Ill.
SUPPORT TEAM MEMBERS
Betty Joslyn; Joslyn Peonies; Homer, Alaska
Anna Kirkpatrick Mississippi State University; Arab, Ala.
Carol Kreykenbohm Barnhart Hagerstown [Md.] Garden Club
Connie Lenhart Hagerstown [Md.] Garden Club
Katie MacGregor Rose Gold Events & Styling; Damascus, Md.
Karri Mast; Fresh Blooms; Wilmington, Del.
Kim-Bang Nguyen Dream Floral Art; Fairfax, Va.
Claire O’Brien Sunnyside Flowers on Sunnyside Farm Dover, Pa.
Karen Palmer Hagerstown [Md.] Garden Club
Melissa and Les Saltzman Alaskan Legacy Peonies; Homer, Alaska
April Zentmeyer Hagerstown [Md.] Garden Club
Wayne Zimmerman Fancy Florals by Nancy; Fairbury, Ill.