Sunshine Floral Attains BloomCheck Certification

Sunshine Floral, which produces 2 million bouquets a year at its facilities in Oxnard, California, has been certified for its sustainable growing practices by BloomCheck.

Sunshine Floral’s operation includes over 1 million square feet of greenhouses and a 15,000 square-foot warehouse. In its 25 years, Sunshine Floral has become known for its gerbera daisies, which are grown hydroponically in a computer-controlled environment and available year-round.

“Sunshine Floral is a progressive company on the cutting edge of technology and innovative approaches,” said Anthony Vollering, the company’s chief financial officer and part owner. “As a company, we want to make sure we follow the best practices and be a steward for the environment. BloomCheck is a way for us to ensure we do everything correct and according to recommendations from a well-informed source.”

Anthony Vollering, Sunshine Floral’s chief financial officer and part owner, chose BloomCheck to reflect their farms’ commitment to the high standards of sustainable growing practices.

To earn BloomCheck certification, flower growers undergo a rigorous third-party audit to ensure they are using best practices for sustainability when it comes to water, air and soil quality and wildlife protection. That means reducing energy use, recycling water, deploying biological pest management and taking care of employees.

The certification lets retailers and consumers know that the companies they’re engaging with are environmentally and socially responsible.

Protected Harvest, an independent nonprofit organization that certifies the sustainability of agriculture operations, is responsible for the on-site auditing to ensure flower and greens farmers are meeting the standards.

“Congratulations to the team at Sunshine Floral,” shared BloomCheck Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “We are excited to have Sunshine join the growing list of domestic flower and green farmers who are proudly reflecting their commitment to the high standards involved with sustainable growing practices here in the United States.”

Willow Creek Earns BloomCheck Certification

Certification Attests to Willow Creek’s Sustainable Practices

At Willow Creek, about an hour inland from Arcata, California, Sun Valley Floral Farms found the ideal growing conditions for some of its specialty crops.

This mountain canyon is the perfect location for the Willow Creek farm, growing specialty crops such as  ilex berries, cotinus, rosehips, snowberry and viburnum. Photo Credit Lane DeVries 

The farm is located in a mountain canyon on a wild and scenic stretch of the Trinity River at an elevation of 640 feet. Cultivated flowers thrive alongside bald eagles, black bears and salmon.

Such a setting demands respectful stewardship. With its recent BloomCheck certification, Sun Valley Floral Farms has a stamp of approval that attests to its environmental-friendly practices at Willow Creek.

Lane DeVries, President, CEO and Farmer of Sun Valley Floral Farms standing next his field of smokebush at Willow Creek. Photo Credit Kasey Cronquist

“We wanted the certification to highlight to the industry and to our community that we are committed to environmental responsibility and sustainability,” said Bill Prescott, communications and marketing associate at Sun Valley. “Getting the BloomCheck certification was just a great way to get there.”

Flower farmers seeking BloomCheck certification undergo a rigorous third-party audit to ensure they are using best practices for sustainability when it comes to water, air and soil quality; wildlife protection; and social impacts on workers and the community. That means reducing energy use, recycling water, deploying biological pest management.

Protected Harvest, an independent nonprofit organization that certifies the sustainability of agriculture operations, does the on-site auditing to ensure farms are meeting the standards.

Willow Creek is one of Sun Valley’s three growing sites in California. At Willow Creek, the focus is on specialty crops —  ilex berries, cotinus, rosehips, snowberry and viburnum.

Willow Creek is home to the award winning ilex berries. Sun Valley recently took home a blue ribbon for the ilex berries at the 2018 outstanding varieties competition in Palm Springs. Photo Credit Kasey Cronquist 

Although the BloomCheck process is thorough and demanding, the production at Willow Creek wasn’t faced with overhauling any growing practices.

“We were pretty close,” Prescott said. “A few things had to be adjusted but our farmers are always looking for new ways to innovate and improve our operations. So, it kind of came naturally. It wasn’t a struggle, but these kinds of things do take time and effort.”

For Sun Valley, the BloomCheck seal will tell consumers a lot about the source and quality of what’s grown at Willow Creek.

“Consumers want to understand how their flowers are grown, where they were grown and who grew them,” Prescott said. “As you know, 80 percent of the cut flowers sold in the United States are grown in South America. BloomCheck certification is a great way to highlight to consumers that we are operating in a forward-thinking, environmentally friendly way.”

Pyramid Flowers Achieves BloomCheck Certification

For Fred Van Wingerden and Pyramid Flowers, receiving BloomCheck certification was validation of the company’s longtime sustainable practices.

Meeting BloomCheck’s rigorous certification standards didn’t mean a whole lot of changes at Pyramid Flowers’ operation in Oxnard, California, where it grows a variety of cut flowers on nearly 100 acres and employs 120 people.

Having sustainable practices is a way of doing business for Pyramid Flowers.

“It was more a matter of pulling the paperwork together because we knew that for years we’ve been operating under sustainable practices,” Van Wingerden said.

That’s a testament to the company’s way of doing business because BloomCheck has stringent standards for ensuring growers are using best practices when it comes to water, air and soil quality; wildlife protection; and social impacts on workers and the community. That means reducing energy use, recycling water, deploying biological pest management and taking care of employees.

Protected Harvest, an independent nonprofit organization that certifies the sustainability of agriculture operations, does the on-site auditing to ensure growers are meeting the standards.

“It’s exciting to see Pyramid Flowers being recognized for the gold standard of production practices they’ve met as a requirement for BloomCheck certification,” shared BloomCheck Administrator Kasey Cronquist. “Completing our rigorous program and audit process, Pyramid’s commitment to growing flowers and greens sustainably should be celebrated.

One of the first farms to become Certified American Grown in 2014, BloomCheck is the Pyramid Flowers’ first sustainability certification. Van Wingerden expects it to help his company market its flowers at a time when sustainability is increasingly important to retailers and customers.

Fred Van Wingerden and his son, Marcos.

“We wanted our customers and our clientele to know that we operate sustainably and we wanted to have the proof of that,” he said.

Pyramid Flowers has been in operation for more than 25 years at its farm a mile from the Pacific Ocean. It grows a multitude of novelty cut flowers for the mass market and wholesale industry. It’s also a supplier of bouquets and consumer bunches through B-Fresh Floral, a company started by the Van Wingerden family in 2001.

Flower growing in the Van Wingerden family extends back 15 generations to the 1600s in the Netherlands. In 1967, four Van Wingerden brothers immigrated from the Netherlands to California to take advantage of the optimum flower growing environment along the coast between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. The children of the original brothers have gone to create 10 more flower growing operations, making the Van Wingerden family one of the country’s largest growers, distributors and marketers of fresh-cut flowers.

 

 

Sutton Ferneries Awarded BloomCheck Certification

For Sutton Ferneries, BloomCheck certification was a chance to complete the sustainability path the company had been on for a few years.

And it fit CEO Michele Sutton’s vision for how the company should be run.

The team at Sutton Ferneries worked together to align the company operations and production into alignment with BloomCheck certification standards.

“This is the healthy way of a running a business,” Sutton said. “This is the way we want to do it.”

Sutton had been putting the pieces in place for a sustainable operation for the past few years but had never taken the step to get certified. So, when Albertsons requested its suppliers become certified, Sutton saw it as an opportunity.

“The preparation over the last couple of years put us in a very good place to be able to go ahead and get certified,” she said.

Sutton Ferneries, headquartered in Doral, Florida, just outside of Miami, grows foliage on close to 100 acres in north central Florida and ships its products worldwide. It provides supermarkets with pre-made arrays of greens that just need flowers added for a complete arrangement.

Photos provided by Sutton Ferneries

 

Growers seeking BloomCheck certification undergo a rigorous third-party audit to ensure they are using best practices for sustainability when it comes to water, air and soil quality; wildlife protection; and social impacts on workers and the community. That means reducing energy use, recycling water, deploying biological pest management and taking care of employees.

Protected Harvest, an independent nonprofit organization that certifies the sustainability of agriculture operations, does the on-site auditing to ensure growers are meeting the standards.

“Congratulations to Michele and her team at Sutton Ferneries. This is no small accomplishment,” said Kasey Cronquist, administrator of the BloomCheck certification program. “BloomCheck represents the gold standard of sustainability for the floral industry in the U.S. and they should be very proud of what it says about their farm and its commitment to excellence.”

 

Sutton said the certification process was very detailed and credits her farm manager with guiding the company through the process.

One of the results of getting certified was getting the entire company on board with sustainability. It took a bit of cultural change over the years to put the company on the sustainability path.

“I think the main thing you need when you go down this path is management buy-in,” she said. “Everybody has to be on board to participate and understand the practices and whatever changes you decide, all the way down to our farmworkers.”

It took a lot training, aligning of practices to standards and documentation.

“At the end of the day, you know it helps your business in general,” she said. “This is really, in my opinion, how you should run your business.”

Sutton said the certification will support its supermarket business where sustainability has become a common standard.

“I think it helps us better align with the supermarkets and their mission and objectives. And I think that it will make us even better partners with people who are looking to have a sustainable partner.”

Just as important is what the BloomCheck certification did for the company.

“We’re really excited that we were able to get to that place where we could qualify,” she said. “Our goal is to continue to build upon this platform with continued improvements at all levels of our company.”

 

Mellano & Company Achieves BloomCheck Certification

 

Mellano & Company recently received their BloomCheck Certification, recognizing their farm for their commitment to sustainable flower and green production.

Mellano & Company, a prominent presence on the landscape of California flower farming for more than 90 years, has recently achieved their BloomCheck certification for their sustainable practices on their farm in northern San Diego County.

For CEO Mike A. Mellano, being BloomCheck-certified helps make his business stronger both inside and out.

From the outside, it differentiates Mellano & Company’s flowers in the marketplace and certifies them as sustainably grown based on a set of domestic production standards.

From the inside, it strengthens the company by bringing its practices into sharp focus.

“Pursuing the BloomCheck certification required us to create targets and goals that helped us focus on improvement and be recognized for our commitment to environmental stewardship,” Mellano said. “BloomCheck puts us in a position to promote and communicate all the good things we’re doing as flower and greens farmers in California.”

Flower farmers that become BloomCheck certified have undergone a rigorous third-party audit to ensure they’re using best practices for sustainability when it comes to water, air and soil quality; wildlife protection; and social impacts on workers and the community. That means reducing energy use, recycling water, deploying biological pest management and following the law when it comes to state and federal employment rules and regulations.

Protected Harvest, an independent nonprofit organization that certifies the sustainability of agriculture operations, does the on-site auditing to ensure farms are meeting the standards.

Mike Mellano of Mellano & Company giving a tour of the company’s ranunculus production at The Flower Fields of Carlsbad.

“BloomCheck is the gold standard of sustainability claims within the floral industry,” shared Kasey Cronquist, administrator of the BloomCheck program. “We’re proud to recognize and announce Mellano & Company’s certification and the high bar of commitment to best practices and environmental stewardship it represents.”

Mellano is the third generation to run the family farm. It covers 375 acres at two locations in Oceanside and Carlsbad and produces more than 30 different items. Its ranunculus operation in Carlsbad is also a popular agri-tourism site.

At Mellano & Company, preparing for the BloomCheck certification took about 60 days. It was time well spent, Mellano said.

“I think it sets a path for us so that we can continually improve on what we’re doing,” he said. “That came through during the application process and all the tests. It pointed out the things we do that we don’t really think about.

“All of a sudden you had to think about it, you had to write it down and it creates a path of thinking, ‘Well, what can I do to improve on that?’ It creates some very useful prioritization and focus.”

The BloomCheck process was also a chance for Mellano & Company to publicly demonstrate its commitment to sustainability.

“The engagement and communication with our employees and customers makes this an outward, publicly visible statement that we are committed and passionate about sustainability.”

Albertsons Companies Welcomes BloomCheck Certification

Debi Lilly florals are found throughout Albertsons companies floral departments.

Albertsons recently added the BloomCheck certification program to its list of approved sustainability certification programs used to certify the plants, flowers and greens sold through their Debi Lilly line of floral products. BloomCheck provides retailers and their customers with a third-party certification that assures that farms are not only following the high standards involved with agriculture production in the United States, but are also committed to continuous improvements in best practices involved with growing flowers and plants.

“We’re pleased to provide Albertsons and Albertsons customers with a sustainability certification program for our domestic producers,” shared Kasey Cronquist, administrator for BloomCheck. “BloomCheck certification is a rigorous set of standards designed to help set our farms apart and accurately credit them on what it takes to produce flowers sustainability here in the United States.”

Farms that complete the BloomCheck certification have undergone a complete review of their production practices with an “on-farm” auditor from Protected Harvest. Protected Harvest is a third-party nonprofit organization responsible for accrediting BloomCheck’s standards and providing the third-party auditors involved with the verification of our farms’ practices.

 

BloomCheck, A Domestic Alternative

Increasingly, retailers today are seeking third-party verification systems that provide the guarantee and assurances consumers are coming to expect when claiming a product’s “sustainability.”

The majority of these claims have been created to provide environmental, climate control and human rights assurances of the production of foreign products that are then imported into the United States from countries where standards aren’t as high. For instance, RainForest Alliance is a non-governmental organization (NGO) created in 1987 to specifically combat deforestation and is now known for certifying everything from coffee, to bananas, to forest products and even tourism businesses in Latin America. Similarly, Fair Trade Certified was launched in 1998 to help, “rural farmers and workers around the world learn to navigate the global market and empower themselves on a journey out of poverty.”

In a market full of claims verifying the production practices of imports from third-world countries, BloomCheck was launched as a solution for farms specifically producing flowers, plants and greens here in the United States.

Why BloomCheck?

Because domestically produced flowers deserve to be recognized differently because they are produced differently.

The high bar of involved with legal production and regulatory oversight in the United States is the foundation upon which BloomCheck was built. It recognizes our domestic farms for what they already are required to do as producers here in the United States that are overseen by federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, state ag departments, county ag commissioners, water districts, etc., etc. With so many jurisdictions already in place for overseeing agriculture production practices in the United States, BloomCheck layers on the best practices in the floral industry and provides third-party auditors to help confirm for our retail partners and consumers that these farms are not just following the laws of the land, but that they are going even further to do their part to follow recognized best practices for sustainable production here in the United States.

If you’re a retailer that would like to learn more about BloomCheck, or a domestic farmer seeking certification, contact us for more information. Our team would look forward to sharing with you the BloomCheck difference.

The BloomCheck Difference

Redefining Sustainably Grown Flowers

Benno_Dirt

When it comes to growing sustainably, California’s flower farmers have had their hands in some of the most innovative and environmentally sound flower farming practices for decades. Efforts to reduce energy use, recycle water, deploy biological (good bugs against bad bugs) and taking care of employees has been not only good for business, but good for the environment.