P Allen Smith and American Grown Flowers
Last week, Stargazer Barn wine and flowers made a splash at Moss Mountain Farm in Arkansas. This picturesque farm is the home base for P. Allen Smith, who is a gardening expert, TV show host and flower connoisseur. The Moss Mountain vibe is at once country, yet sophisticated. It is a working farm, but also has stunning rose gardens, a “Martini Shack” and a gorgeous view of the Arkansas River.
Allen, as his friends call him, is leading the way to help spread the word about cut flowers grown in the United States. Did you know that 80% of the flowers sold in the United States come from foreign countries, such as Columbia, Ecuador, Kenya and Ethiopia? At Stargazer Barn, we only sell flowers we grow ourselves, right here on US soil, and we know this makes a difference on a bunch of levels.
First, the flowers are fresher and last longer, since they are fresh picked, and haven’t traveled from south of the equator. Second, domestically grown flowers are much more sustainable, since they don’t have nearly the carbon footprint of imports, and the environmental standards of the United States are much more stringent than those of most other nations. Third, the basic economics of keeping your dollars at home, supporting American jobs and supporting American farms is a no brainer.
P. Allen Smith was hosting his yearly, Garden2Blog summit, with a diverse collection of bloggers from across the nation, all passionate about gardening, local food production and of course, flowers. I managed to wrangle a spot on the guest list as Stargazer Barn came on as the wine sponsor for the Field to Vase dinner, which would be the big finale of the event.
Yes, we grow both flowers and grapes. This takes two separate skill sets, but they actually mesh together really well. Wil Franklin is our wine maker and grape agronomist. I brought a sampling of his wine to Moss Mountain to hear what the bloggers and Allen himself thought. The response was great, my favorite quote was, “I don’t generally like red wine, but this Pinot is really good.”
A fellow sponsor of the Garden2Blog event was Certified American Grown Flowers. This is the organization which is spreading the American grown flowers message and asking folks to “Take pride in your flowers.” They are working on certifying farms across the nation. Right now there are certified flower farms in 14 states; Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
Kathleen Williford and Kasey Cronquist were both on hand to talk flowers, and Kathleen took lead on arranging the flowers for the Field to Vase Dinner, which featured all American grown flowers, as well as all local food. This meal was as beautiful as it was flavorful. It was a meeting of the Slow Foods Movement and the Slow Flowers Movement, and the only problem was that it went by too quickly.
Guests oohed and aahed over the flowers, toasted with hand crafted wine and savored each bite, right through Allen's own recipe for desert, buttermilk pecan pie.
As the event concluded, all the guests came away with the feeling that knowing the origin of your food, drink and flowers is not some trend; it is an important part of building and supporting community. Truly a night to remember.