American Flower Farming Update with Lane DeVries, Chairman of the California Cut Flower Commission (Episode 112)
Today’s interview is with Lane DeVries, a fourth generation flower farmer who grew up in his family’s business in Holland until he came to the US in 1983, at the age of 23.
I’ve gotten to know Lane in the past few years while partnering with him on projects for the California Cut Flower Commission, the advocacy agency that promotes that state’s 225 flower farms. His farm, The Sun Valley Group, based in Arcata and Oxnard, is the state’s largest (in fact, it’s the country’s largest).
Lane and I recently met in Portland, at the Field-to-Vase Dinner, a very special gathering of flower farmers, florists, flower retailers and wholesalers and the media, held on October 8th.
I co-hosted the event with the CCFC and our goal was to convene floral industry leaders to discuss new initiatives in the American Grown Flower Movement.
The underlying message: partnering with your would-be competitors is a good idea when it comes to changing how consumers connect with domestic flowers.
My podcast interview with Lane took place via Skype, a few days after that dinner. Please enjoy our conversation and meet a man who lives and breathes cut flowers. I love that Lane, in spite of all of his professional success, continues to eagerly seek out the next new thing. He sees old flowers in a new way and improves on customer favorites with new hybridizing methods.
He is a visionary and I credit Lane with his amazing leadership moving his own flower farming community into an important dialogue about American grown flowers.
The next time you see a blue-and-yellow license plate-style CA-Grown label on a bouquet of flowers at the supermarket, you’ll have people like Lane DeVries to thank.
Highlights of Lane’s long career in the U.S. cut flower industry are chronicled in Amy Stewart’s 2007 book, Flower Confidential: The Good, The Bad, and the Beautiful – and you can read an excerpt of that story here, courtesy of Amy and Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (c) 2007 and 2008. All Rights Reserved.
(Photos (c) Linda Blue, courtesy of the California Cut Flower Commission)