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An American Grown State Dinner – Featuring America’s Cut Flower Industry

Last week, President and Mrs. Obama hosted France’s President, Francois Hollande for a State Dinner on the South Lawn of the White House. State Dinners are a way to celebrate U.S. relations with international friends and allies.  Past dinners at the White House during the Obama Administration have hosted visiting heads of state from nations including India, Mexico, China, Germany, and Great Britain.  In many ways, these events are an opportunity to demonstrate and celebrate for invited guests and the world, the cultural and culinary heritages of our country.

The State Dinner last week was an excellent example, highlighting the diversity of American agricultural and rural products that our nation has to offer. The dinner celebrated the “best of American cuisine” and featured dry-aged rib eye beef from Colorado, trout from Maine, cheese from Vermont, chocolate from Hawaii, and potatoes from New York, Idaho, and California. The wines served at the dinner included excellent selections featuring California, Washington State, and Virginia offerings. However, beyond the menu itself an equally impressive feature was the visible presence of American cut flowers that decorated and added a stunning visual touch for guests at the White House. The floral arrangements displayed at the dinner included:

  • Flowering quince branch – Mississippi
  • Weeping willow – South New Jersey
  • Scotch Broom – Virginia
  • Iris (blue and purple) – California
  • Alocasia – Apopka, FL and Zellwood, FL
  • Equisetum – East coast Florida, De Leon Springs
  • Nandina –  East coast Florida, De Leon Springs
  • Green Liriope –  East coast Florida, De Leon Springs

These floral touches and ornamentals certainly provided a graceful and elegant element for a very special event.  In addition, the many U.S. states and regions represented provided an excellent opportunity to celebrate and showcase the diversity of American Grown cut flowers. The U.S. floral industry includes fresh cut flowers, cut cultivated greens, potted flowering plants, foliage plants and bedding/garden plants, making floriculture the third largest U.S. agricultural crop. It is an industry that consists of more than 60,000 small businesses, such as growers, wholesalers, retailers, and distributors.

Best of all, every U.S. state has access to locally grown fresh flowers which supports the U.S. economy with jobs and opportunity. Last week’s State Dinner is just one example of the many contributions the U.S. flower industry is making to our nation – an opportunity that every American can celebrate.

157 Responses to “An American Grown State Dinner – Featuring America’s Cut Flower Industry”

  1. Kip Kolesinskas says:

    Awesome. Yes we need to support the US nursery and greenhouse growers as well, they are part of agriculture and plants provide many benefits to us (including beauty). Just think, if every Fed,State, Municipal Agency, and US organization made the commitment to do at least one all US ag products meal for their functions each year (better yet have it include at least 1 local ag product) it would help change our food culture and system. It would motivate suppliers, restaurants,etc, and build local economies. How about a national day to celebrate and use US farm and forest products?

  2. Carol Carrier says:

    Odd to think the White House would even consider foreign flowers for a state dinner. Show case this country’s talents for the rest of the world to aspire to

  3. Dave Dowling says:

    Yippee! I am so glad to see that someone has finally embraced the use of American grown flowers at a White House State Dinner. And then had the smarts to brag about it.

    I hope this is just the beginning of a new policy to use ONLY domestic flowers in the White House, Capitol, USDA and other government buildings across the country, ALL the time, not just for special functions. Why would this not be the policy?

  4. Jennie {Love 'n Fresh Flowers} says:

    Bravo! Thanks for sharing this news of a new-found commitment to locally-grown flowers in the White House! As a US flower farmer, I’m so pleased to know the momentum for the local flower movement is picking up in politics as well! Next stop: a State Dinner at a farm?? Mine’s always available! :-)

  5. Diane Szukovathy says:

    This is wonderful news! I am a cut flower grower in Washington State and cannot tell you how gratified I am to see American Grown flowers recognized in this way. Please keep doing this!

  6. Debra Prinzing says:

    This is a HUGE cause for celebration in all 50 states where flower farmers are working hard to make a decent living from their land; working hard to grow unique, high quality flowers for American consumers; working hard to keep their employees on the payroll; and working hard to stimulate the economy in their own communities.
    The whole concept of our own government sourcing American Grown flowers makes so much sense – what is there not to get?”

  7. Diana Roy says:

    Great News – A cause for Celebration! All of us here at Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers in Fallbrook, CA – ‘Thank You’ for featuring American Grown Flowers during last week’s State Dinner with France’s President, Francois Hollande! To hear that American Grown Flowers were showcased in the White House is a ‘Dream Come True’, something we have been working hard to achieve for years!

  8. Stephanie says:

    With the diversity of growing climates in the United States, we should all challenge ourselves to buy produce and flowers grown by American farmers right here on our own soil!

  9. audrey norberg says:

    Yay!!Real! Live! Homegrown! flowers

  10. Melinda Studinka says:

    With around 80% of flowers sold in the US coming from South America, it’s very encouraging to see the White House supporting the US cut flower industry.

  11. Beth Van Sandt says:

    What a great way to honor the hard working American Flower Farmer!! Thank you White House for using American Grown products!!

  12. Vivian Larson says:

    This is so great. We need everyone to be aware of not only where their food comes from, but also the flowers on the table. USA grown all the way.

  13. Dana Deardorff says:

    Please continue to support US grown products, food, and flowers, in particular those grown by natural means excluding GMO grown products. It is time that the smaller farmers are able to earn a living here.

  14. Heidi Joynt says:

    Great to see US grown flowers celebrated by the White House; there certainly are enough US grown flowers to make this a regular occurrence! Lets keep sustainability on the table and do all we can to support US flower farmers!

  15. Great work supporting local flower farmers! Would love to see this kind of visible support for US flower growers continue and grow.

  16. Steve O'Shea says:

    As an organic flower grower, I applaud this and call for more. 85% of flowers purchased in the U.S. are imported from out of the country… That means big pollution, loss of jobs, and lots of money leaving the U.S.
    Let’s bring the industry back home and do it responsibly.
    Keep it up!

  17. Carrie McCann says:

    An excellent move to use all American products and to showcase locally grown flowers at the State Dinner. Every event at the White House and throughout the federal, as well as state governments, should feature locally grown plants and flowers. Approximately eighty percent of cut flowers sold in the US are imported from other countries. What a travesty! Support local flower growers with your dollars.

  18. Melissa says:

    Excited to see American grown flowers featured!

  19. Kate Sparks says:

    About 80% of the flowers sold in the US are shipped from overseas. Most come from Columbia and Ecuador. As and American flower farmer I’m happy the white house is supporting #americahgrown flowers.

  20. Kathy Baker says:

    It is SO important to educate America to support locally grown cut flowers. The industry employs many and is a mainstay product for many small farmers such as myself. Hooray for all who promote locally grown flowers.

  21. Riz Reyes says:

    Kudos to all those who work hard to produce such beautiful, quality products for our industry. I’m thrilled to see that we don’t have to import most of our cut flowers from overseas with growers both large and small being so close to home!

    Thank you!

  22. Jessica Hall says:

    As a fellow U.S. specialty cut flower grower I am so proud to see us represented in such an important way. Domestic cut flowers is such a small total of the entire cut flower industry and one that is easily incorporated into other agricultural enterprises with a comparatively high profit margin. I hope this inspires more research, funding, and grant assistance for this promising sector of agricultural.

  23. Frank Arnosky says:

    This is great news. As current board president of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, I encourage the agencies in Washington D.C. to source American grown flowers for all their events. We have nearly 700 members in our organization, from California to Maine, and American grown flowers are available year-round. As noted in the article, floriculture crops are a huge part of the agricultural economy, and in addition create many more jobs than most other sectors of agriculture. Keep up the good work!

  24. Andrea Gagnon says:

    As flower farmers in Virginia, we are grateful to the Obama Administration for recognizing and celebrating the diverse and beautiful contributions American flower growers make to the U.S. cut flower industry. Thank you for supporting American Grown Flowers, the farmers that grow them, the communities they help create and sustain, the preservation of American farm land and our nation’s rich agricultural heritage.

  25. Cindy Creps says:

    How wonderful to showcase flowers grown here in the United States. There are so many of us small flower farmers working hard to teach our communities to buy local flowers – your use of these flowers will go a long way in that struggle. Thanks! Cindy Creps, Meadow Ridge Perennial Farm, Hebron, Maine

  26. Linda O'Connor says:

    So glad that locally grown flowers are being recognized for their beauty and quality. As a small flower farmer in Western New York, it saddens me to see the millions of dollars sent over seas to purchase cut flowers when gorgeous high quality blooms are grown right here in the USA! Way to go President and Mrs Obama. BY LOCAL!

  27. Sue Roseman says:

    Wonderful news! It is so important for our own government to support our own growers in all aspects of agriculture! I agree a national day to celebrate and use US soil grown farm and forest products would be awesome! Thanks for using US grown flowers!

  28. Karen Yasui says:

    Yes, it is wonderful that the state dinner showed some pride in American products, both food and floral. This is the way it should be for all foreign visitors to the White House. I think visitors want to see what is special about a place they are visiting.

  29. Carolyn Snell says:

    I’m a flower farmer in Maine, and I love that our government is displaying some of the beautiful flowers, foliage, twigs, and other elements planted, grown, and harvested in this nation! We have many talented farmers here. I hope honoring domestic producers of flowers continues at many White House events in the future. Warm wishes!

  30. Dennis Fuze says:

    Symbolism is great, and we flower farmers are grateful for this signal of leadership from the White House. It will take much more though to keep the passion alive and to grow new flower farmers in the US. Most of our flowers sold in the States are grown free of labor and environmental protection in poor countries and imported free of tariffs as part of a “war on drugs” deal. Consequently, our US flower market is flooded with cheap, toxic products, grown for transportation, rather than vase life.

    Support your local flower growers at farmers’ markets and CSAs. Ask your supermarkets, hotels and restaurants to buy local flowers. Use local flowers at your weddings and other celebrations. Write to your government representatives at all levels to require fair competition of imported flowers. Support local 4H and Future Farmers education, local garden club and master gardener organizations.

    We can’t eat flowers, so they may not seem as important as other agriculture products; flowers feed the spirit, which we need more than ever in this ever challenging world.

  31. Paula L. Gilman says:

    Thank you President & Mrs. Obama for using American Grown Cut Flowers for your State Dinner. I am a Proud member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers and am a small farm trying to make a living growing Certified Organic cut flowers and edible flowers and herbs. The fact that you chose to use American Grown Cut Flowers for such a prestigious event is a HUGE boost to us American growers. I encourage you to continue to choose American Grown Cut Flowers for all your events. THANK YOU~!!! Paula L. Gilman

  32. Laura Bigbee-Fott says:

    Way to go to support American growers! Too many flowers are flown in from South America and even Africa. That means a huge carbon foot print for all those flowers. Where there are so many American growers, it’s ridiculous to purchase from outside the country. Good job! it’s nice to see our government doing something positive.

  33. KpKeber says:

    Thank you for recognizing the importance of domestically grown flowers, herbs, and natural greenery. By selecting such, not only does it help the American flower farms but it also puts a limit on unregulated pesticides and fungicides entering the US from foreign, industrial flower farms.

  34. Fina says:

    There should be a push by USDA to support small local flower growers. It increases the local economy and reduces the carbon footprint of having flowers travel long distances (Colombian, Ecuador, Peru).

  35. Emily Calhoun says:

    This is great news! I hope that the US government continues to put their money where their mouth is. Supporting American grown flowers need to be more of a priority. It sets an example for other US consumers and demonstrated a more holistic support for US agriculture.

  36. Laurie K. says:

    Thank you for making a conscious effort to choose American grown flowers for the State Dinner. I would have loved to have seen them in person, but I am sure they were beautiful! Most people don’t realize that many flowers are grown outside of the US, and you are helping the effort to educate the American consumer. American grown flowers are fresh and beautiful! Maybe the White House needs a cutting garden to go along with the vegetable garden?

  37. Bill Prescott says:

    As California flower farmers, we are proud to have our flowers at the White House. Lets make this the standard, so the American people will see that this administration supports American grown flowers everyday of the year. #AmericanGrown

  38. Brcue Brady says:

    It is so awesome that the White House supported the best of America at State Dinner! As part of an American Flower Growing company, it is so gratifying to have the beauty that we grow on display. The jobs that our industry and the other American products supply are very meaningful to both the individual’s holding them and to the communities that they live in. Great to see our Nation’s Capital making a meaningful show of what we do in the USA! Thank you!

  39. Nancy Johnson says:

    Way to Go! Bringing support for locally grown to a whole new level. Very nice to see that U.S. flower growers were represented and even Trout from my home state of Maine and cheese from our neighbors in Vermont.

  40. Michelle Wiggins says:

    Wonderful! I’d love to see more US grown cut flowers and agricultural products in general be used domestically. Support our growers!

  41. Don Lareau says:

    This is great way to use American grown flowers! There is a renascence happening in the local, organic flower growers right now, check it our and support local agriculture!

  42. Denise says:

    How wonderful, I think is is perfectly fitting that our government uses and supports American agriculture!

  43. Ivan VanWingerden says:

    What a great way to decorate such an important event! The White House must have been very proud to showcase home-grown quality products from its local hard working growers. I love Kip’s idea of a nationally recognized day to use and appreciate US grown agricultural products – of which there are so many to choose from!

  44. Winfred Van Wingerden says:

    What a breakthrough and a common sense thing to do. Use US flowers for all American event. Can we make this a tradition please!
    No one can produce it fresher then American grown. We can all support this!

  45. Karen Graf says:

    Great to see our American Grown products showcased to raise awareness that we have great products grown in our country. In addition, we have to remember that the floral and nursery industries provide a lot of jobs here as well.

  46. Jan Siehler ASCFG Member says:

    Supporting/promoting U.S. agriculture/flower growers is a no brainer. Double winner !!!

  47. Ron Illingworth says:

    Wonderful idea! It is time we recognize that the US has a lot of flowers and other agricultural products which appeal to others while at the same time supporting US businesses. We need more use of US grown flowers in our State functions.

  48. Marion Schlueter says:

    As an ancillary support worker in the flower industry I applaud the White House for supporting the U.S. workers by using American grown products. So many workers besides farmers and farm workers are affected by not using American products, from bookkeepers like me to teamsters that transport and even gasoline industry that fuels those vehicles, to name a few. I’ve heard the song and dance that it is more expensive to buy American. Consider the possibility that the cause of that may be lower consumption. Koodoos to the White House for supporting this country in practical ways.

  49. Tom Parker says:

    As a small cut flower grower and also a wedding an event planner in south Jersey I was very happy to hear about all USA grown flowers and other cuts being used at the White House. This is great news!

  50. Nancy Cameron says:

    Thank you, Krysta Harden for featuring American Cut Flowers.
    There is a very exciting movement going on to get our American fresh cut flowers and our USA grown food recognized and appreciated.
    We LOVE healthy American dirt!
    Destiny Hill Farm

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