VA Pop-Up Field Dinner One Stop on 10-City Tour
By Susan Able, Edible DC
On an eighth-generation heritage farm, flower farmers Andrea and Lou Gagnon, owners of LynnVale Studios in Gainesville, Virginia, hosted a dinner on Thursday evening for two hundred guests in their flower fields. The stunning event and dinner was all part of a national promotional tour to highlight the Certified American Grown flowers program and the farmers who grow them. As explained by the event organizers, Certified American Grown, which is a coalition of American flower farmers, the event was designed to focus attention on fresh, local and sustainable flowers in the same way that a farm-to-table chef sources the freshest regional and seasonal menu ingredients available.
The national dinner series was designed to make locally grown flowers the focal point of the evening discussion. So why do we care about at "Slow Flowers", American-grown flower movement? Well, for many of the same reasons we care about local food. We import 80% of flowers sold in the U.S. These low-cost imports from South and Central America have hurt our U.S. flower industry--59% of U.S. flower farms have gone out of business since 1992. When we lose farms, we lose jobs and farm land. While we may save money on cheap imports (roses are the number one flower import), we create a huge environmental footprint in shipping them--a less sustainable way of having a bouquet than buying locally. Over 200,000 tons of flowers come into Miami International Airport, that is 40,000 boxes of flowers a day that come in on seven daily flights, six days a week. Supporting farmers who grow local flowers is a win-win, natural beauty from our own area that mirrors the seasons and supports a local industry and helps it gain traction again. More information can be found at slowflowers.com, americangrown flowers.org and fieldtovase.com.
"The Field to Vase Dinner Tour puts a face on the flowers, introducing the farmers and highlighting why it is so important that flowers at the center of the table be as fresh, local and sustainable as the food on your plate. That's a powerful experience," said Kasey Cronquist, administrator of the Certified American Grown brand.
And now back to the Field to Vase dinner. The evening also celebrated locally grown food and locally produced wine and beer, with fantastic representation by Crooked Run Brewing out of Leesburg with a grapefruit saison and a 100% chardonnay sparkler from Stone Tower Winery. Catering was fresh and local and kudos to Michael Kozich, Executive Chef and owner of Blue Water Kitchen in Bluemont, VA and his team for a wonderful meal, with flawless table service on a very warm evening. Chef Michael featured a fresh from the garden meal featuring local vegetables and lamb.
Andrea Gagnon gave a tour of the farm and did a floral design demo. Their flowers are sold (and have a huge following!) at the Burke, Dupont Circle and Palisades farm markets. For more information about their farm, events or flowers, go to lynnvale.com.
Want to support the Slow Flowers movement, U.S. flower farmers and buy local? Look for the Certified American Grown brand and logo on your floral purchases.