Friday, January 30, 2015

Getting Ready for the Holiday

Walking around the farm, we are gearing up for the Valentine rush

We had forecasted this year would be down as a result of the Saturday holiday, and we planted accordingly.  Hindsight is 20/20 and we probably should have grown a bit more as we are currently sold out of Gerberas, Lisianthus, Starfighters, Pink Orientals and Snapdragons.  We have tulips and novelty items to sell: talk to your KB rep to see what we have.  

Here is a picture of the warehouse, you can still see the floor space, 
so you know we haven’t gone into full production yet.

Our grower Jimmy Zheng is standing in front of his lily crop.  
We are sold out, so thank you for ordering your lilies this Valentine.  
Oriental lilies will continue to be in short supply for the remainder of the year, 
because of the unstable bulb supply and a backlog of containers at the container ports 
due to a longshoreman strike.  We will do our best to supply our customers.

As for the Valentine holiday, take it one day at a time, it will be over before you know it.  Then you will have just enough time to prepare for Women’s Day on March 8th!


Friday, January 9, 2015

New Year at Auntie Heidi

Akemashite Omedato!! (Happy New Year)

As usual the Kitayama family New Year’s celebration was at Auntie Heidi.  
Each year you can expect about the same things.  
There will be mochi making in the kitchen.  
On the dessert table will be blue finger Jell-O, rice crispy treats made to look like sushi, 
a rainbow sherbet punch and snicker doodles.  

There will be Japanese stuff to eat: 
ozone, nishime, kampyo, gobo, kazunoko, tsukemono, etc…all great.  

We will watch college bowl games, 
meet new boyfriends, 
occasionally hold a new baby, 
and talk about stuff we haven’t covered the 3 or 4 other times 
we have seen each other during the holiday season.    

Clockwise: Kyle, Naomi, Barbara, Mark and Grace

(Mochi Making Group)
Cousin Kyle, Cousin Naomi, Cousin Barbara, Cousin Mark and Grace.

Mochi is eaten on New Year’s Day because…I don’t really know why, but it is sticky and can be hazardous.  

News Flash: This year, 9 Japanese died from chocking on mochi.

Left to Right: Uncle Ted, Mom Kimiko, Auntie Martha and Auntie Heidi

(The 4 Elders) 
Uncle Ted (one of the brothers), Mom (Kimiko, who is Ray’s wife), Auntie Martha (the brothers' youngest sister), and Auntie Heidi (Tom’s wife and Dave's mom)

This table represents about 350 years of advice.  You’ll be glad to know they're still giving a lot of advice.

(Dave and Emi)

Cousin Dave, a new Grandfather with baby Emi.  

A picture says a 1000 words..

Left to right: Grace, Karen, Robert and Maya

(My family) 
Grace, Karen, Robert and Maya 

Happy New Year from KB and our family.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Summing up the Flower Business

Looking forward to 2015 in the Flower Business

As we end 2014 and head into 2015 we should reflect on what we do most days:  grow, sell or arrange beautiful flowers.  People not in the business will often say, “You are so lucky, you get to work with flowers every day!” 

I rarely read the Economist but I saw an article from the Dec 20th issue about the Manhattan flower business which had a very interesting quote. This quote made me laugh, but it captured my sentiment on a lot of days. 

I am often frustrated with our industry and business, especially since I live in the Silicon Valley where all business is cutting edge and everyone is working on their 5th billion dollar startup.  What’s odd is; it is these guys who tell me how lucky I am not doing what they do.  Of course they are right, as my favorite fortune cookie advised me, “You are where you are supposed to be.” 

The flower business can be shitty, but I can’t imagine doing anything else, and today I feel lucky that I get to do more of it in 2015.

Full Economist Article

Happy New Year!!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

KB Christmas

How did it all of a sudden become Christmas Eve?  I will start shopping in about 3 hours: my usual tradition.  I believe gift cards were invented just for me.  Anyway, we have had a nice holiday season.  Our coolers are empty heading into the Christmas holiday week. 

We could have grown and sold more flowers this December, and we will plan accordingly next year, but it will be nice to start 2105 with all FRESH FLOWERS.

Some highlights from this holiday season was a great Christmas lunch last Thursday, 
organized by our HR Director Maria Ledesma.  

The BBQ from Carmonas was delicious, and don’t kid yourself that pinatas are for kids play.  
As you can see the KB staff got into the “swing” of things.

To everyone thank you for your support and interest in KB, 
and we look forward to another great year in 2015!


Friday, December 19, 2014

What we are planning for 2015

Kitayama Brothers - CA Grower since 1948

2015 Growing Plan:
We just returned from the KB December board meeting where I presented plans for 2015.  We are expecting a 5% growth in sales and here is how we hope to accomplish this:

Gerbera Daisies: We will increase gerbera daisies in all types; standards, minis and gerrondos. We are also increasing gardenias, asiatic lilies, stock and mini callas. 



About the Same:
Oriental lilies will be about the same, but we will produce less in the summer and more in the fall and winter. 


Snapdragons, tulips, lisianthus and iris will stay the same. 

New Test Flowers:
We will test a few new items such as astible and anemones.

What we are Not Growing:
The board asked about growing Cannabis.  It is still illegal and we are not willing to risk our assets until the Federal Government changes the law.

What do you Suggest we Grow?
Send us your suggestions, if we take your suggestion, we will send you the first box of whatever it is.

Still Thinking about Growing:
Carnations: The board was very encouraging on bringing back a California carnation.  Now if we could just find some cuttings…


Monday, December 1, 2014

Norman Kawauchi: Hawaiian Gardenia Grower

A Life of Farming

I was in Honolulu last week to visit customers and deliver Christmas greens.  While I was there I visited Norman Kawauchi an 89 year old gardenia and tropical flower grower from Waimanalo.  My favorite people in the flower business are growers.  I can sell flowers and read financial statements, but I don’t grow.  My father and uncles were growers, and that was the strength of Kitayama Brothers.  I am dependent on good growers and I try to understand what makes a successful grower.  Therefore I visit top flower farms and try to learn as much as possible.  I especially love to visit the growers who are innovative and passionate about what they do.

Norman shared with me his love for growing gardenias, but the bigger lesson was hearing about his life as a farmer.  It wasn’t an easy life, but I don’t think he would trade it for any other.  

Please take a look at this 2 minute video of Norman.  I wish I had more of his life on video, but I do plan to go back and “talk story” a little more.  


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NPR and the Drought

Several people asked me if I was on NPR recently, and I had to tell them it was my brother Stuart.  The piece was on the California drought and in the Pajaro Valley, there might not be another farmer who is as knowledgeable about the water situation than Stuart.  Stuart have been on two committees that advise the Parajo Valley Water Board and has been saying for years, before everyone else jumped in, that water will be one of our biggest challenges. Below is a link to the NPR piece. 

We all hope that we will have a very wet winter, but that will not solve the long term problem of increasing water demand and decreasing supply.  KB is working on many programs to use recycled water, recycle our greenhouse water, collect runoff from greenhouse roofs and reduce usage to a bare minimum. Stuart says, the long term solution will have to be a community solution with all parties working and sacrificing together.

Stuart with a valuable resource.