PASADENA, Calif. — Now in its 125th year, the annual New Year's Day parade in Pasadena celebrates California's beautiful weather and bountiful flowers. It is an American tradition, yet most Americans are not aware that four out of five flowers used to decorate the floats are likely imported from South America. In fact, of all the flowers sold in the United States today, approximately 80 percent are grown in places like Colombia and Ecuador.
This year's parade theme, "Dreams Come True", is exactly what the Buy California Marketing Agreement (BCMA) and the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) are hoping to realize someday when more float designers and builders opt-in for a California-Grown designation and truly take the parade back to its roots. This year the prestigious honor is going to one float – Cal Poly Universities, both the San Louis Obispo and Pomona campuses. The students and faculty are working with flower farmers to ensure that 94 percent of the fresh flowers used on their "Bedtime Buccaneers" float are plucked straight from California's lush flower farms.
But before the float makes its debut down Colorado Boulevard, Cal Poly Universities will be recognized by California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross and Assembly Member Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) in a special ceremony honoring Cal Poly students on New Year's Eve. Cal Poly will be "California-Grown Certified" for committing to source from the Golden State a minimum 85 percent of the fresh cut flowers and greens that adorn their float. Their effort not only pays homage to the parade's heritage, but also draws focus on a growing nationwide trend to support local agriculture and American jobs.
"There has never been a better event to celebrate the beautiful flowers that are grown right here in California and to encourage more Americans to look for California Grown when it comes to flowers," said Kasey Cronquist, CCFC Executive Director. "Most people (74%) don't know where their flowers come from; however, our research shows that if given the choice, more than half (58%) would prefer to buy California-grown flowers. People have a choice and buying local, American-grown flowers matters."
The cut flower industry is responsible for nearly 15,000 jobs and generates an annual economic impact of nearly $10.3 billion for the state.
In this same spirit, Assemblymember Holden introduced a bill this year to help boost the state's agricultural economy by putting California's farmers first, encouraging public institutions to choose agricultural products grown in California before buying from out of state. "It just makes sense to put California-grown crops first, especially for the Rose Parade," said Assemblymember Holden. "Choosing California Grown – food or flowers – will help create opportunities for our farmers and help instill a new appreciation for locally grown in consumers that will in turn stimulate the economy and keep jobs here in the U.S."
"I'm so proud of Cal Poly and its students for their hard work and dedication to highlight our beautiful California-grown cut flowers in this year's Tournament of Roses Parade," said Congresswoman Lois Capps. "Our state's cut flower farmers grow some of the most beautiful flowers in the world, and there's no better place to showcase California's amazing flowers than the Rose Parade."About the California Cut Flower Commission The California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) was created by the state legislature in 1990 with the mission to promote California cut flowers and foliage. The CCFC is overseen by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and is funded by grower assessments. The Commission represents the state's 250 growers who collectively produce more than 75 percent of the cut flowers grown in the U.S., generating $278 million in sales (2011). For more information about California cut flowers, visit www.ccfc.org or on Facebook/CaliforniaGrownFlowers.
About the Buy California Marketing Agreement and the "California Grown" Program The Buy California Marketing Agreement (BCMA) is a joint effort of agricultural industry groups representing the products of California's farms and ranches. Working as an advisory board to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, BCMA brings together industry and government resources to increase the awareness, consumption and value of California agricultural products, helping the state's consumers enjoy the best of the California lifestyle. For more information, visit www.californiagrown.org or on Facebook/California-Grown-Campaign.
Source: California Cut Flower Commission