While it’s true that countries like Canada and Colombia supply a lot of America’s cut flowers, reports on the death of our domestic industry have been greatly exaggerated. Just ask Frank Costa of Ocean View Flowers in Lompoc. He’ll be showing off his operations on September 7 as part of this year’s Field to Vase Dinner Tour, which will finish with the ultimate al fresco meal in the middle of his fields bursting with delphinium, gladiolus, heather, and Queen Anne’s lace. “The main point is, we still grow flowers here in the United States,” said Costa. “More than just roses and carnations.”
The tour is also making stops in Carlsbad and Sacramento, as well as New Albany, Ohio, and Homer, Alaska. The dinners are always hosted by a local chef committed to sustainably grown food served alongside regionally sourced beer and wine. In Lompoc, the meal will be prepared by Clark Staub with Full of Life Flatbread with more food from Babe Farms, Tutti Frutti, and Rancho San Julian. Wine will come from Alma Rosa, Montemar, Foley, Sweetzer Cellars, and Kessler-Hawk, and cheese will be provided by Milk Advisory.
Costa grows between 15-20 varieties of cut flowers, depending on the season. He’s a fourth-generation California farmer on both sides of his family, and he grew up farming cows and vegetables before switching to flowers. When he’s not in the fields, he’s hunting quail or at the beach with his family. His company is big into giving back, working with high school agricultural departments and Cal Poly students.
When made aware of the difference, and given the choice, flower buyers will often choose American-made over imported, explained Costa. He’ll occasionally peek at browsers in the grocery store. “A lot of them are fussy about having domestic flowers,” he said. “But some just want flowers to make people happy.”
For tickets and information, visit americangrownflowers.org/fieldtovase/.