Debra Prinzing

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A field-to-vase celebration

July 10th, 2013


Welcome to the Slow Flowers Dinner

Imagine a table set for 40 . . . inside a flower-filled greenhouse. Vintage vases overflowing with just-picked blooms adorn the table and a locally-grown menu is is served.

Imagine a table set for 40 . . . inside a flower-filled greenhouse. Vintage vases overflowing with just-picked blooms adorn the table and a locally-grown menu is served.

Last month I joined with the California Cut Flower Commission to host a “Slow Flowers” dinner as part of the 2013 Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House & Tour.

table setting

The table was set for local food and local flowers.

We called it “Farm-to-Table; Field-to-Vase” and held the dinner in the gerbera-filled greenhouse at Kitayama Bros. Farms in Watsonville, California. The event was a gathering of like-minded persons. Each of us — farmer, florist, media, community advocate — cares deeply about the role of American  flowers in the greater agricultural environment. And everyone in attendance contributed an important voice around the table, a table with locally-grown food and locally-harvested flowers.

Yellow McCoy

I was asked to create the centerpieces using California-grown flowers and vintage McCoy vases from event planner Kathleen Williford’s personal collection

Ball Jar

We used the reproduction vintage Ball jars (American made) for our party favors. Each guest went home with a personal bouquet.

You will be charmed by the photos included here, courtesy and with permission of the California Cut Flower Commission. Linda Blue took these photographs and I love the way she captured the spirit of the event.

A Toast

Toasting one another across the long farm table (Kasey is on the right; I’m on the left)

Robert Kitayama

Our co-host Robert Kitayama, who along with his brother Stuart Kitayama greeted us in their flower-filled greenhouse. I love that Robert is showing off “The 50 Mile Bouquet” as he makes his remarks.

Kasey Cronquist, CEO and Ambassador of the CCFC, asked me to make some remarks at the event. Here is what I shared:

The symbolic act of giving flowers has been with us for generations. Flowers appear in history, in literature, in many cultures and in many lands, and their charm hasn’t waned in modern times.

The timeless and universal practice of picking flowers as a way to show our affections or to celebrate an event – as we are doing tonight – is no small thing. In fact, this bouquet represents a way of life for many Americans. These flowers were grown right here in Watsonville by people who steward their land with increasingly sustainable practices. These flowers mean a paycheck for the employees who professionally harvested and processed each stem. There are even more homegrown jobs at stake — when you think about those who deliver, sell and design with these beautiful California flowers.

I know that Kasey will share some of the important numbers with us tonight, so I won’t dwell on those. All I know is this bouquet represents some important American ideals: preserving farmland, ensuring economic development in rural areas and keeping jobs here.

In the greenhouse

I’m happiest when surrounded by flowers and cherish the opportunities to advocate for American grown flowers.

I’m so honored to be with you all tonight, a group of flower farmers, designers, writers and friends of the California – the American – cut flower industry. We each have a voice and together our voices and our actions add up to a message that, I believe, is hard to ignore. When consumers are given a choice about where they spend their flower dollar, when they perceive a value-added alternative to the status quo, they will make a conscious choice and select seasonal and locally-grown flowers from close to home.

The very fact that we’re all here enjoying a meal that represents the best of Santa Cruz County’s fields, vineyards and ranches is worthy of celebration. On this same table, the vases are overflowing with floral ingredients grown by the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers. We are making a statement with these gifts from the land – what we’re eating and what’s filling our senses with beauty and fragrance.

We’ve been calling this idea the Slow Flower Movement. This concept symbolizes a more intentional way of buying, giving and using flowers – with a smaller carbon footprint, a desire to celebrate the farmers and hear their stories, and a design-focused message that locally-grown flowers are fresher, longer-lasting and a far better value for the American consumer. It’s all so obvious. Like anything, it takes momentum to build. And this is the ideal moment in time to say we’re not going to let this industry disappear. Instead, we’re changing the conversation from price matters to origin matters. And only local, domestic flower farmers can provide American-grown flowers.

So many friends, new and familiar, were gathered at our event. Here are some of my favorite photos of the evening:

Bruce and Deb

My favorite guest: my husband Bruce, who generously supported this event – even though it coincided with his birthday!


Jeanne Howard, publisher of Santa Cruz Weekly; Sophia Markoulakis, freelance food & garden writer; and me.

Julie Chai

The effervescent Julie Chai, journalist, horticulturist and believer in the local flower movement. Julie is featured in “The 50 Mile Bouquet.”

Deb and Christina

I’m smiling alongside Christina Stembel, floral entrepreneur and pioneer in the local flower movement. Christina is the founder of Farmgirl Flowers in San Francisco.

Johanna, Christina and Kasey

Sunset magazine’s Johanna Silver, Christina Stembel and CCFC’s Kasey Cronquist

Event coordinator Kathleen Williford; Bob Otsuka, GM of the San Francisco Flower Mart; and Janice Wills, CCFC.

Event coordinator Kathleen Williford; Bob Otsuka, GM of the San Francisco Flower Mart; and Janice Wills, CCFC.

Night time

It was a wonderful evening all around, especially beautiful when the twinkling lights and candles began to glow.

Fragrant gardenias (from Kitayama Bros.'s greenhouses) always remind me of my wedding bouquet. What a fun party favor!

A fragrant gardenia (from Kitayama Bros.’s greenhouses) reminds me of my wedding bouquet. What a fun party favor!


2 Responses to “A field-to-vase celebration”

  1. Lydia Plunk Says:

    Happy birthday, Bruce- With wishes for abundant success to find you and Debra wherever life takes you. Lydia

  2. Debra Prinzing » Post » Local Flower Growers Say: “Pick Me” – The Field-to-Vase Dinner Recap Says:

    […] to acknowledge up front that the Field-to-Vase Dinner concept and format began in June 2013 at the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Dinner, created by my friend Kathleen Williford of the California Cut Flower Commission. The Portland […]

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