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Star Valley Flowers hosts record-breaking Field to Vase Dinner

Star Valley Flowers in Soldiers Grove, WI, drew a record-breaking 200 flower lovers on Sept. 8 to its Certified American Grown Field to Vase Dinner. But the event almost didn’t happen due to flooding, according to company owner John Zehrer.

FIELD-TO-VASE-4 During the Certified American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on Sept. 8, guests enjoyed local food and drinks and Star Valley Flowers’ many floral products in fall-colored table arrangements, along with pussy willow arches, accented by bittersweet berries, which covered the 200-seat table“Two weeks before the dinner, we had all this flooding, with a couple of dams that broke above one of the rivers that comes down through Soldiers Grove here,” Zehrer told The Produce News. “Homes were flooded out and after three or four days the water was down, but then two days later they got hit again. The forecast even for our dinner [time] was 80-90 percent chance of rain. It rained every day; I’ve never seen that much rain for that long. But on Sept. 5, the skies cleared, the sun came out and we were able to hold the dinner outside as planned. And the event couldn’t have been better — the temperature was perfect and people said they really enjoyed it.”

Located in Wisconsin’s Driftless Region — an area that was never glaciated —Star Valley Flowers grows specialty cut flowers, woody ornamentals and perennials. Greg Campbell and Erick New of the Garden District in Memphis, TN, used many of the farm’s diverse products to create stunning fall-colored floral arrangements, along with pussy willow arches, accented by bittersweet berries, which covered the 200-seat table.

Attendees were also able to tour the farm and learn from the floral designers about designing with homegrown flowers.

“People really wanted to be out in the fields,” said Zehrer. “We gave extra tours on Sunday, and even Monday I had people come back for a tour of the farm. People have called to tell me that it was a great event and one comment that I heard was that it all went by too quickly.”

Chef Luke from the local Driftless Café cooked up organic beef tenderloin, provided by nearby Organic Valley, for the dinner’s main course and wine was provided by Geyser Peak.

“The fields were impressive and we were sitting in the middle of the hills down there; it was just gorgeous,” Tammy Anderson, sales representative at California-based Fiorebella Inc., told The Produce News. “It was wonderful that they did all local stuff. With local flowers and local food — there were local cheese plates from Organic Valley and local honey — they did a great job and they went above and beyond. The mood was very relaxed and yet you felt like you were really at a farm, not a greenhouse. The setting was just awesome.”

At the end of the night, guests left with arms full of flowers, a Field to Vase Dinner swag bag and happy memories.

“The tour was interesting, the people at Star Valley are super nice and they were really organized,” Carol Berde, general manager at AMC Floral International in Elk Grove Village, IL, told The Produce News. “The design work was beautiful, with all the flowers grown on the farm, and the food was fantastic. As the sun was setting, the bittersweet arches that the designers had placed over the long tables filled with flowers -— it was just so beautiful. It was a magical evening.”