Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia

“Marketing specialty cut flowers in the Northwest” was the theme of our Regional Meeting in Forest Grove March 2nd. Over 40 people attended the meeting which turned out to be one of the warmest days all year.      
    
We toured Bent Oak Farms, the only organic cut flower and plant nursery that ships organic flowers nationwide. Will Moore, owner of Bent Oak Farms, is a dynamic businessman. It was interesting to see how his 30 acres of production on raised beds was filling a niche market for organic bouquets.  
    
We had a panel of three growers to discuss how they market their flowers. Peter Mitchell of Flora Pacifica, Will Moore, and Pat Zweifel of Oregon Coastal Flowers/ZCallas shared their ideas on marketing and selling cut flowers.
    
In addition to shipping wholesale nationwide, Flora Pacifica sells much of their flowers and herbs as well as their value added dried and preserved special floral products direct through their florist shop and through mail order and internet sales. Mitchell discussed types of marketing which has or hasn’t worked for them. A listing of mail order customers that has been compiled over the years has been one of their most effective marketing tools to use for selling direct.
    
Will Moore is in a unique situation in that the market for organic bouquets came to him and his biggest problem is increasing his production large enough, fast enough. In his discussion, his strongest point to convey to the rest of us is that prior to starting a business, it is essential to have a strategy. Without a clear-cut plan or strategy, it is difficult to focus on what will drive a business and make it successful.  
    
I shared some of the more non-traditional routes of selling flowers that have complemented our wholesale flower shipping. We sell through multiple farmers’ markets, garden shows, website sales, and partnerships with other website companies. Marketing/sales strategies need to be flexible enough to integrate with whatever opportunities that may arise to allow you to earn the best return on your flowers. 

I can honestly say that the more I get involved in the ASCFG, the more that I’m getting out of it. There is a saying, “the more you give, the more you will receive.” That has certainly been true for me.  – Pat Zweifel

In the afternoon we toured Oregon Roses. Jason Tosch, production manager, gave us an overview of their 400 acres in production. Their business is divided into 4 categories: roses, specialty cut flowers (e.g. willow, forsythia, peonies), cut foliages (e.g. oregonia and boxwood), and Christmas sales. Their scale of production was both breathtaking and somewhat intimidating. Because of the large amount of competition from South American countries in rose production in recent years, they have readily adapted in the marketplace which puts their products ahead of the curve. They sell much of their product direct to florists across the country.  
    
We were not quit as lucky with the weather March 3rd for the optional tour of Oregon Coastal Flowers/ZCallas in Tillamook. We average over 100 inches of rain a year in Tillamook, and the quota for the previous month had not yet been met. I gave a tour of our bulb and flower processing and packing sheds, hydrangea production, and over an acre of inside white calla lily production currently flowering.

 It was clear in our introductions that we all represent a small piece of the specialty cut flower industry. We come from different backgrounds and produce different products. The ASCFG to me, represents a very diverse group of flower growers. Pooling our ideas and resources into a group allows us all to become better people and better flower growers.
    
As Northwest Regional Director, it was my first experience in leading a meeting. I can honestly say that the more I get involved in the ASCFG, the more that I’m getting out of it. There is a saying, “the more you give, the more you will receive.” That has certainly been true for me. I hope that we can all work together to help each other become better business people and producers of our products.

Pat Zweifel

Pat Zweifel, Orgeon Coastal Flowers/ZCallas 9455 Kilchis River Road Tillamook, OR 97141 phone (503) 815-3762 fax (503) 815-9326 [email protected]