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First Lady’s Luncheon showcases Certified American Grown Flowers

American Grown Flowers were front and center May 4 in the Grand Ballroom of the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC, at the 105th First Lady’s Luncheon honoring Melania Trump. This springtime tradition is hosted annually by the Congressional Club, which was founded in 1908 and is made up of spouses of members of the House, Senate, and Supreme Court.

Since 1912, the Congressional Club has honored the current first lady of the United States at this event, which began as a breakfast but is now a luncheon. Around 2,100 people attended the sold-out luncheon because each member can bring up to three guests.

KAREN-PENCESecond lady Karen Pence with Kasey Cronquist of Certified American Grown Flowers.“It was the second year we’ve done it and we were excited to be a part of it,” Kasey Cronquist, representative for Certified American Grown Flowers, told The Produce News. “It was a massive event with 2,100 people. The year before was Michelle Obama’s final First Lady’s Luncheon and there were roughly 1,800 people there. This year there was a lot of great energy for the event and we loved the bipartisanship of it. It reflects what gets lost in some of the realities in Washington, DC — that there is a spirit of bipartisanship over certain issues and elements. Everybody was clapping for Melania Trump.”

Every year the luncheon has a different theme and this year’s was “A New Direction,” complete with compass tablecloths. Everything from the centerpieces to the swag bags revolved around the theme.

In support of Certified American Grown Flowers’ sponsorship of the First Lady’s Luncheon, American flower farmers shipped over 18,000 stems of domestic flowers to the event, according to a news release. More than 20 volunteer professional floral designers — led by Kelly Shore, owner at Petals by the Shore in Olney, MD; Christy Hulsey, owner at the Colonial House of Flowers in Statesboro, GA; and Margaret Lloyd, owner at Margaret Joan Florals in Montecito, CA — created all of the stunning flower arrangements.

“We had the support of the farms with their flowers, we had Delaware Valley and Armellini helping with the freight, and we had three main designers and a team of 15 to 17 volunteers under them, all working to make this happen,” said Cronquist. “It was great to see the camaraderie among Republicans and Democrats. No one asked about their politics — it didn’t matter — they were designing for this really incredible event.”

Diana Roy, flower farmer and creative director at Resendiz Bros. in Fallbrook, CA, was able to speak with Melania Trump at a meet-and-greet and she encouraged the White House to adopt an all-American-grown flower policy. That request was repeated by the chairwoman of the First Lady’s Luncheon Committee, Carolyn Yoho, wife of U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), who commented on all of the beautiful flowers during her remarks from the podium and asked that “everyone, including the White House, support American Grown Flowers.”

“That was our moment to shine,” Cronquist said. “Carolyn Yoho actually stopped and looked right at the first lady and said that. That was a pretty awesome moment for everyone involved.”

Roy and Cronquist also spoke with second lady Karen Pence, who encouraged them to follow up with a letter to her requesting support for an all American Grown White House.