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Field to Vase event transforms Arroyo Grande flower farm into a one-of-a-kind dining experience

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At Ocean Breeze Farms in Arroyo Grande, the glass-enclosed gerbera greenhouse explodes with hues of gold, hot pink, and other vibrant floral shades. On Aug. 6 the space will be transformed into an elegant dining venue featuring chef Jeff Olsson of Industrial Eats and New West Catering in Buellton, and pours from local breweries and wineries, including Laetitia Vineyard & Winery in Arroyo Grande.

The Field to Vase event is an elaborate production orchestrated by Certified American Grown Flowers, a national nonprofit group based in Ventura.

According to its website, "Each artisan-style dinner is held at unique, breathtaking venues—American floral farms—where you can experience the art and science of growing the flowers and foliages we love."

The annual dinner series kicked off its eighth season in Carlsbad on April 21, and Arroyo Grande is its only remaining California stop before it heads to Michigan, Texas, and Florida.

"The Central Coast of California is home to many cut flower and foliage farms, and it is a wonderful place to host this celebration," said Camron King, CEO of American Grown.

It's also a hotbed of culinary talent. The farm setting combined with the elaborate menu promise an unforgettable evening, according to Ocean Breeze sales manager Mike Furlong.

"The contrast of a working farm softened to melt into the display of a world-class floral artist is so pleasing that you forget about the world going on outside of the greenhouse," Furlong said. "The scale of this location, with its vast footprint and soaring ceiling, creates an engaging ambience. ... I can only imagine that with the additions of a winery as recognized as Laetitia and a meal experience presented by such an accomplished chef as Jeff Olsson, it will be one of the most satisfying events in our county this summer."

Founded by Rene Van Wingerden in 1973, Ocean Breeze Farms now boasts nationwide sales from three locations—Carpinteria, Nipomo, and Arroyo Grande

The Arroyo Grande farm, acquired in 1999 and co-owned by Ivor Van Wingerden, Rene's son, focuses on gerbera daisies and Oriental lilies, and also features an 80-acre avocado orchard. Locals can purchase flowers and avocados at the farm every Saturday.

FLOWER POWER COUPLE Ivor and Brooks Van Wingerden, proprietors of Ocean Breeze Farms in Arroyo Grande, will host Field to Vase diners under the glass canopy of their 5.5-acre greenhouse, featuring rows of multi-colored gerbera daisies. - COURTESY PHOTO BY LINDA BLUE PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Courtesy Photo By Linda Blue Photography
  • FLOWER POWER COUPLE Ivor and Brooks Van Wingerden, proprietors of Ocean Breeze Farms in Arroyo Grande, will host Field to Vase diners under the glass canopy of their 5.5-acre greenhouse, featuring rows of multi-colored gerbera daisies.

The Van Wingerdens attribute their excellent flower quality and increased stem length and bloom size to Arroyo Grande's cool nights and mild days.

In fact, the Central Coast is an agricultural oasis for growers of myriad products, many of which will be showcased at the upcoming farm-to-table experience. While admiring rows of gerberas, guests will enjoy a multi-course meal sourced from nearby farms, ranches, and vineyards.

The welcome pour will be provided by Laetitia, founded in 1982 by winemakers from Champagne, France.

"Our brut cuvee is a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot blanc grapes, all grown on our estate here in Arroyo Grande, and just a few miles from Ocean Breeze Farms," said Eric Hickey, Laetitia's winemaker and general manager. "Like all our sparkling wines, it was produced using méthode champenoise, the same winemaking techniques Champagne has employed for centuries. This wine is the perfect pairing for chef Olsson's delicious hors d'oeuvres."

The extensive slate of passed appetizers will include Morro Bay oysters, Santa Barbara urchin with orange and avocado, grilled lion's mane mushroom with chipotle butter and black truffle, smoked king salmon on cucumber with creme fraiche and caviar, and quesadilla with skirt steak, tomatillo, and queso fresco.

As guests move to long communal tables with professionally designed tablescapes, Olsson will dish up entrees ranging from steak and salmon to a slew of fresh vegetable dishes.

The sweet finale will feature chocolate souffle cake with salted caramel and creme anglaise, and berries and peaches over shortbread with Chantilly cream and white chocolate.

According to Olsson and his wife, Janet—co-owners of their Buellton restaurant (Industrial Eats), butcher shop, and catering firm—all the food on their menu can be directly traced back to a local business, whether it's a hog from a nearby ranch or fresh produce in a salad.

BLOSSOMS AND BUBBLES In addition to its sparkling lineup, showcased at the Arroyo Grande Field to Vase event, Laetitia produces small-lot pinot noir and chardonnay from its estate vineyard in the Arroyo Grande Valley American Viticultural Area, now part of the SLO Coast AVA. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LAETITIA VINEYARD & WINERY
  • Photo Courtesy Of Laetitia Vineyard & Winery
  • BLOSSOMS AND BUBBLES In addition to its sparkling lineup, showcased at the Arroyo Grande Field to Vase event, Laetitia produces small-lot pinot noir and chardonnay from its estate vineyard in the Arroyo Grande Valley American Viticultural Area, now part of the SLO Coast AVA.

Their philosophy of doing business with local people is also the primary reason they chose to partner with American Grown and the Arroyo Grande Field to Vase event.

"American Grown fits the model of what's important to me," Olsson said. "I try to support people doing the right thing."

American Grown represents domestic farms specializing in cut flowers and foliage, and potted plants. While promoting American farmers it also provides signage on labels verifying origin for consumers, according to CEO King. Field to Vase is the organization's premier annual event.

SOURCING BY THE SEASIDE Industrial Eats in Buellton features innovative menu options, such as oysters with caviar, smoked pheasant salad, and beef tongue pastrami Reuben. Fresh local ingredients from the Central Coast are the restaurant's mantra and will be on full display at the Aug. 6 Field to Vase event in Arroyo Grande. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CERTIFIED AMERICAN GROWN FLOWERS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Certified American Grown Flowers
  • SOURCING BY THE SEASIDE Industrial Eats in Buellton features innovative menu options, such as oysters with caviar, smoked pheasant salad, and beef tongue pastrami Reuben. Fresh local ingredients from the Central Coast are the restaurant's mantra and will be on full display at the Aug. 6 Field to Vase event in Arroyo Grande.

For the Arroyo Grande dinner, two special one-hour add-ons include a workshop with tablescape designer Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore and a VIP farm tour and reception with Ivor Van Wingerden.

ALL THAT JAZZ In addition to several varieties of gerbera daisies—including gold standout Jazzy—Ocean Breeze Farms in Arroyo Grande specializes in a slew of other floral favorites, such as dahlias, lilies, hydrangeas, peonies, and more. - COURTESY PHOTO BY MIKE FURLONG
  • Courtesy Photo By Mike Furlong
  • ALL THAT JAZZ In addition to several varieties of gerbera daisies—including gold standout Jazzy—Ocean Breeze Farms in Arroyo Grande specializes in a slew of other floral favorites, such as dahlias, lilies, hydrangeas, peonies, and more.

Shore, an East Coast-based designer with clients nationwide, will lead a floral design workshop the day before the main event. Attendees will create an arrangement using a cylinder vase and fresh florals.

The VIP tour will take place immediately before the event. Van Wingerden will offer up to 25 guests an intimate opportunity to delve further into the beauty, dedication, and science behind flower farming.

"Our dinner series is a unique immersive experience where guests have the chance to enjoy a beautiful evening with gorgeous flowers, great food, and an opportunity to build community in supporting our domestic cut flower and foliage farming community," King said. Δ

Flavor Writer Cherish Whyte thinks flowers are food for the soul. Reach her at [email protected].

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