The rooftop of a brick building in an industrial navy yard is not where you’d expect to find a fashionable dinner party. But on a recent, blustery evening, a group of invited guests, including Rustik editor Zahra Sethna, took a creaky old elevator up to the Brooklyn Grange, the world’s largest commercial rooftop soil farm, for a ‘Field to Vase’ dinner.
The evening provided spectacular skyline views, fresh food and flowers, and a chance to hear from farmers who believe that the flowers at the center of the table should be as fresh, local and sustainable as the food on the plate.
The dinner was part of a 10-city summer-long tour that is putting a floral twist on the farm-to-fork concept.
Guests were given a tour of the farm and then treated to a flower arranging demonstration by Molly Oliver Culver, of Molly Oliver Flowers in Brooklyn, who prepared all the center pieces for the evening.
About 90 people attended the dinner in Brooklyn. The tour continues throughout 2015, taking place across the country – from Detroit to Seattle – on American flower farms in both urban and rural settings.
Jointly organized by the Certified American Grown coalition and Slow Flowers, the aim of the events is to encourage support of local flower farms. Above, Kasey Cronquist of the California Cut Flower Commission and Debra Prinzing of Slow Flowers, pose for a selfie amidst rows of farm fresh vegetables.
About 80 per cent of the flowers sold in America are imported, largely from Colombia (65%), Ecuador (17%) or the Netherlands (5%). There is no reason to doubt similar percentages in Canada. The Certified American Grown campaign aims to encourage purchases from local and domestic growers.
“The Field to Vase Dinner Tour puts a face on the flowers,” said Cronquist. Guests at each event have the opportunity to meet and converse with local flower farmers, floral designers and farm-to-table chefs. “That’s a powerful experience,” he said.
A salad of Little Gems corn and cherry tomatoes, part of the meal prepared by guest chef Tom Kearney, executive chef and partner of The Farm on Adderley. The Brooklyn restaurant has been sourcing locally and supporting farms in the area since 2006.
Research shows that 74 per cent of consumers don’t know where their flowers come from. More than half of consumers say they would prefer flowers grown in North America if given a choice.
In the same way that demand for local food has grown in recent years, consumers are also conscious of buying flowers that support local jobs, help local farmers and artisans, and are grown in a way that is safe and sustainable. The dinner included fresh local produce such as green beans and summer squash stuffed with freekeh.