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Flower Growers Branch Out, Tour Colombian Regions

A California Cut Flower Commission delegation gets a look at the overseas competitor's production practices.

California growers Lane De Vries of The Sun Valley Group, left, and Anthony Vollering of Sunshine Floral take a close look at the soil makeup of a Gerbera plant at Elite Flower Farms, just outside Bogota, Colombia. (California Cut Flower Commission photo)

The California Cut Flower Commission recently led a delegation of 14 California cut-flower growers and industry representatives to Colombia to experience firsthand the production practices of the domestic industry’s largest international competitor. The California delegation made the trip upon invitation by Asocoflores, the Colombian cut-flower exporter’s association.

California growers tour the packing house, which includes bouquet operations, at Tahami & Cultiflores in Rionegro, just outside of Medellin, Colombia. Pictured are, left to right, Gerrit Van Der Kooij of The Sun Valley Group, Scott Kornberg of The Sun Valley Group, Chad Nelson of Eufloria, Lane De Vries of The Sun Valley Group, Ivor Van Wingerden of Ocean Breeze and Maximino Santillan of Flowers West. (California Cut Flower Commission photo)

“We traveled to Colombia to establish enhanced working relations with our international counterparts,” said Kasey Cronquist, CCFC’s executive director/ambassador.

“Our goal was also to gather insight, information and experience on issues affecting Colombia’s cut-flower production in a way that we can distill and apply to what California growers are experiencing, as well.”

The trip also adds significant credibility to the public affairs work the CCFC is undertaking at the federal level, Cronquist said. 

During the tour, May 27-31, the California growers toured Colombian growing regions in and around Bogotá and Medellin and a variety of cut-flower growing farms. They learned about local growing techniques and working conditions. Additionally, growers received separate briefings from Asocoflores representatives and U.S. Embassy officials about Colombian cut-flower production, export processes, as well as floral research under way in that country.

“Experiencing the Colombian way of cut-flower growing was enlightening,” said Wilja Happe, CCFC chairwoman. “As we all work within a dynamic global economy, being insightful about how flowers are being brought to market from other parts of the world is not only a smart business move, it is also a necessary business move.”

Participants of the trip were Wilja Happe, Brand Flowers, Carpinteria; Reinier Langenberg, Brand Flowers, Carpinteria; Thomas Lemus, Brand Flowers, Carpinteria; Maximino Santillan, Brand Flowers, Carpinteria; Rene Van Wingerden, Ocean Breeze Int., Carpinteria; Ivor Van Wingerden, Ocean Breeze Int., Carpinteria; Anthony Vollering, Sunshine Floral, Carpinteria; Sharon Koch, Eufloria, Nipomo; Chad Nelson, Eufloria, Nipomo; Diana Roy, Resendiz Brothers, Fallbrook; Scott Komberg, The Sun Valley Group, Arcata; Gerrit Van Der Kooij, The Sun Valley, Oxnard; Lane Dirk De Vries, The Sun Valley, Oxnard; and Kasey Cronquist, CCFC, Carpinteria.

The CCFC is a state commission, created by the state Assembly and overseen by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, to promote California grown cut-flowers and foliages. Click here for more information about the California cut-flower industry.

Julie Ficker represents the California Cut Flower Commission.

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