Friday, August 21, 2015

Qi-Xi (Double 7 Festival)

2015 Chinese Valentine's Day (Aug 20)

Chinese Valentine's Day is on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month in the Chinese calendar. Therefore, it is also called Chinese Double Seven Festival, the formal name in Chinese is Qi-Xi. Another name is The Daughter's Festival, which is the day for unmarried young girls looking for love. 

The Double Seventh Festival in China is what Valentine's Day is to the western countries. Because of the beautiful legend about Niu Lang and Zhi Nu, the festival has been endowed with the meaning of great romance. In the urban cities, young people are starting to celebrate Western Valentine’s Day (Feb 14) over Qi-Xi, but in the rural areas, the customs still persist and gifts of flowers and chocolates between couples is the custom.

Here are some recent photos from the Kunming Flower Market from Tricia Tang van der Borg who works in China for Van den Bos bulbs.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Juniper Fund

Beginning on July 8th, I started posting a daily Happiness Type on our Facebook page every day until Happiness Happens Day on August 8th at Kitayama Brothers
We will donate 5% of our 8/8 sales to The Juniper Fund.

You're probably wondering WHY did I used Happiness in this campaign.
I don't know Melissa Arnot or David Morton, the founders of The Juniper Fund, 
but I sensed that they are happy to help others. 
And in our own ways, we wanted to help them not just with a donation, 
but also share their efforts in Nepal.

Linda Nguyen

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Congratulations to Tony Scalisi

I won't be able to attend KB's Bon Voyage ~ Happy Retirement party this Friday, so I thought, why not interview Tony, and that would be my little "digital" gift.

We all have our story, I hope you'll enjoy this one. (Edited down to a shorter version)
Tony, wishing you many more exciting new chapters to come! ~ Linda 

How did you get into the Flower Business?
I thought we would go back to 1974, but it actually started in 1967. While in high school, for fun, he would ride with his friend to SFO airport - picking up and dropping off boxes. 

After college, the same friend called Tony up; offered him a book-keeping/office job at his family's business: Sun Bay. So from 1974 to 1996, he did it all: office work to packing to driving, eventually ending up in sales. 

Flower Power
After Sun Bay closed, he didn't leave the flower business...he continued on with GE Moore in sales and was the sales manager off and on. Then in 2007, Kitayama Brothers and GE Moore merged and by 2009, Tony became the sales manager. And the rest is history...

Why do you love the flower business?
"In the early 70's through the mid-80's, it was exciting at Sun Bay, an innovating company - carnations and mini carnations grower. Also during that time, California Flower Growing was an exciting industry."     

Today and future, where do you think it's going? 
"The flower industry must always be on its toes with both eyes open. And be ready to change and adapt."

The list included new customer & sales markets, looking at (growing) different crops and among the challenges: water, labor, economy, supply chain and of course, affordable transportation.

In Retirement - tell me something crazy?
I asked Tony, so are you going to do anything crazy? Like go down your bucket list, sky-dive maybe? Sorry everyone, Tony does not have a bucket list lol, but he said he will work on one.

"Travel a little, golf a little and some photography..." Paused. 
"We'll see after 6 months, I might be calling Robert up!" 


KB is talking about you! SURPRISE!
This 2nd part, Tony didn't know and hopefully, it was kept a secret by our staff. Due to time and deadline, I'm sure there are more wishes that I couldn't get to. I say, the missing ones owe you a drink on Friday Tony!

(Juan - green jacket) "I've worked with Tony for a long time...19 years. Thank you Tony."
(Jimmy - sitting left) "What can I say. Tony will take on anything he is asked to do. He won't say no, always yes."
(Stuart - burgundy shirt) "Tony’s been a great asset to KB.  He rides herd on the sales people and customers, and also fixes our computers and phones, we couldn’t ask for more.  He’s been fun to work with and has a positive outlook. I wish Tony and Wendy the best as they start their new adventure in the retired world. And hope Tony comes by every once and a while to fix our phones."
(Wilbert - black shirt) "It has been nice working with you."

(Kevin - far left) "It's been great working with you Tony...27 years. I sure will miss you."  My reaction: What? 27 years, really? Wow you look great Kevin! "Thanks, but maybe I shouldn't have said that, now everyone will know I'm old." 
(Juana - in front of Kevin) "Thank you for all your help."
(Kathy - right of Juana) "Thanks for putting up with me. Enjoy your retirement."
(Maria - right of Kathy) "Tony, hope you'll enjoy every minute of your retirement. Best wishes!"
 (Robert - sitting) "Tony was given to me as a “farewell” present from Winston Moore when I replaced him at KB.  Winston said, “I have chosen the new sales manager, he will be good, trust me.”  Winston was right.  Tony and I have had a great partnership during our 5 years together.  KB has made a lot of changes in what we grow and how we do business.  Tony has been willing to take on all the crazy ideas that I have asked him to implement.  They don’t all work, but I would say that KB is a much better company as a result of Tony’s efforts. Good luck Tony.  Come and see us, and let me know if you have any great ideas, you never know what the future holds."
(Nicole - black & white scarf) "Thanks for the sales adventure."
(Alex - one button shirt) "Tony is truly the Iron Man of KB. Going to miss him and his "dramatic" moves. Wishing him a very fun & adventurous retirement. GO GIANTS!!!"  
(Javier - far right) "Enjoy your retirement, we'll miss you."
(Dave K - not pictured) "Us (Old Timers) have brought the flower business to where it is today.  You have done so much to bring KB where it is today and did a great job setting the company up for the future. You will be missed."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Field to Vase Dinner (Longmont, CO)

The Fresh Herb Co.

On July 18, Jane Armstrong and Dennis Kitayama from our corporate office in Brighton, CO got to experienced a Field to Vase Dinner in Longmont, CO at The Fresh Herb Co. 
Thanks Jane and Dennis for the pictures and feedback.

Chef Lyle Davis
Floral design by Lisa Weddel
Chet Anderson

"Tom and I had a great time.  The weather was great.  Chet gave a good tour and has a lovely farm.  The food was wonderful and tasty.  The whole event was fabulous.  There was a demonstration on making a bouquet; she made it look so simple."  

"It was great to hear how we as a consumer can make a difference for the farmers.  By being aware of where the goods come from and selecting local produce and flowers, we can encourage local farmers to grow more.  The event was well planned and executed."
Jane & Tom

"We had a great time.  Ann and Steffani were very impressed with the dinner, the people and the friendliness of everyone.  

It was interesting to hear the Anderson story of how they started in vegetables, then to salad greens and finally to flowers.  His family was one of the first ones that started the farmers’ market and they still sell there.  Whole Foods was at the dinner and they are very instrumental in the livelihood of the farm."

Steffani, Ann & Dennis with Chet

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fun ‘N Sun - Jellyfish Delight

Night at the Aquarium

Fun ‘N Sun Aquarium Dinner

One of the big events at this year’s Fun ‘N Sun will be the dinner at the Monterey Bay Aquarium on Thursday July 30th.   My family and I love going to the aquarium and it is amazing that CalFlowers was able to reserve this incredible venue.  I have visited many aquariums throughout the world and I think this is the best.  


I have a special affinity for the jellyfish.  They float around sedately and surrealistically, and possibly can help you achieve that “serenity” we are all seeking.  

Plus...jellyfish come in many sizes, shapes and colors, just like flowers and people!


Of course the aquarium has plenty of fish, big and small. The opposite of the jellyfish are the sardines swimming in endless circles around and around with mouths wide open looking for that elusive reward.   Hmm my problem is?! as much as I like the jellyfish, I spend most days looking like a sardine.


Monday, July 20, 2015

The Floral Hat-Trick

July 18th was the day that over 50 volunteers from Girl Scout Troop 611 of San Jose, California came to Oak Hill Cemetery to do a cemetery clean up and place flowers on over 1,000 graves. 

The event was organized by Bob Uenaka, of Cupertino Florist, and Lynette Honda of the San Jose Buddhist Church.  Over 6,500 stems of beautiful California Grown Flowers and Greens provided by Kitayama Brothers Farms were made into bouquets and distributed around the cemetery.

Flowers made the day, according to organizer Lynette Honda.

Kitayama Brothers feels that this is a triple win: 
Honoring the families represented at the cemetery, 
boosting community spirit, 
and a beautiful use of flowers from the California Floral Industry.  
Using the tag line from sports, “This is truly a Floral Hat Trick.”

Dave Kitayama

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Happiness Happens Day (Aug 8)

Pay It Forward 

Today is the kickoff to the 31 Types of Happiness at KB. It is a campaign we're doing to help raise awareness and hopefully, some money for a very worthy nonprofit - The Juniper Fund 

Up until July 1st, I did not know about the Secret Society of Happy People or that August 8th is Happiness Happens Day started in 1999, then later in 2000, due to popular demand, was extended to Happiness Happens Month (August).  

I thought of the documentary film Happy, also known as The Happy Movie by director Roko Belic. For me, it goes hand-in-hand, doing something good always makes me happy. Do good, feel good, repeat. So if I could help raise awareness and money for Nepal, my goal is accomplished.

Every day I'll be posting on our social media a type of happiness with information on The Juniper Fund and its founders. KB is pledging 5% of our Aug 8th sales, so join us, you can make a direct donation on their website.

Linda Nguyen

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Greenhouse Dinners

Field to Vase Dinner

KB would like to take credit for starting the greenhouse dinner craze.  In 2012, we had one of the first dinners in range II - gerbera house 5.  Nothing is better than a greenhouse full of flowers for an interesting dinner venue. 

I would like to commend the California Cut Flower Commission, Kasey Cronquist, Kathleen Williford and Debra Prinzing for taking the dinners to the next level.  

They are now taking these dinners on the road and across the country to find cool and interesting flower farms to host. 

Karen and I had a great time at the Santa Cruz County Field to Vase dinner at Pajarosa greenhouse in Watsonville (OUR HOME TOWN!!)  

As a result Kitayama Brothers is proud to be a sponsor for the rest of the dinners.  

Take a look at the pictures and future venues.  I suggest you attend.  If you are a friend or family member of KB, we might be able to help you get a seat!  Contact us.    

Event Info

Monterey Event Photos


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Happy Birthday Lou!

I have told anyone who will listen, the reason I am the President of Kitayama Brothers 
is because of Lou Kawamura from Flowers by Jr, Lou and T in Honolulu, HI.  
After about 3 years of constantly visiting her in Honolulu from 2004-2006, 
Lou started buying flowers from me. 

Once she decided to give me a chance, 
she increased my little Greenleaf-GrowFloral sales by 50%.  
As a result GrowFloral became profitable, 
and when the position for President of KB came up, 
I had enough credibility to be given a chance.   
That was 6 years ago and I am no longer Lou’s salesperson, 
but I will not forget who helped me get here. 

Happy Birthday Lou!  Thank you for your friendship and support.  

Here's a picture with Millie, it is amazing how she picks up ALL the boxes!

When you are in Honolulu, go up South King Street to the Moiliili district 
near the University and visit Lou.  Buy a lei or flower basket and tell her I think she is wonderful.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lily Days in Holland

Which do you like best?

I was in Holland at the beginning of June for Lily Days.  This is a time of year when the bulb hybridizers in Holland show off their lily varieties to growers from around the world.  I was with a group of California growers, we were hosted by Flamingo Bulbs and Onings Bulbs - KB’s largest bulb suppliers.  

Holland is such an amazing place to visit for a flower grower, the Dutch are so much more advanced when it comes to greenhouse technology.  Thank god we have such better climate to grow in. 

While viewing the vast array of lilies old and new, it occurred to me that KB doesn’t take many risks when it comes to varieties.  The Dutch tell me there are certain countries, especially in Europe where growers have to grow the new varieties every year because the customers expect to see new varieties.  

Then there are countries like China and the USA where everyone grows the same varieties because they are comfortable and familiar with those varieties.  Our production and sales department are the same way.  They say the customers do not want to try new varieties and if we offer them something different, they say they will just get what they want somewhere else.   

Here is a slide show with some novelty Asiatics, LA hybrids, Orientals and OT lilies, some old, some new.  I am interested in some feedback if you like the novelty bi-color lilies on the first 6 slides of the slide show.


Monday, June 22, 2015

2015 KB Cup “Iron Designer” Is…

The ONLY details provided and 10 entered.

Here's the KB Cup behind-the-scene story.

Two months of brainstorming, behind the scenes work to marketing and promoting of the 2015 KB Cup Floral Design Competition resulted in an exciting and fun event at this year’s KB Open House. A blog on our KB Open House coming soon(KB is a part of the annual Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House Tour)

I love and believe in the KB Cup Floral Design Competition because it benefits everyone: giving back to our community (all of KB proceeds are donated to Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks), supporting our floral industry by educating and entertaining the general public, recognizing the amazing talents of designers and of course, an opportunity to showcase KB grown flowers.

In order to truly appreciate the KB Cup "Iron Chef" Challenge, let me share all the details behind the final results. Typically, I do not post anything this long and lengthy, but in this case, I believe it's a journey worth reading for 10 minutes. Like and share if you agree.  

In the Blind - Judges & Competitors

On Tuesday 6/16, 
our judges: Steven Brown AIFD (City College of San Francisco
Environmental Horticulture/Floristry Department Chair), Jenny Tabarracci AIFD, CFD
(Instructor/Designer - City College of San Francisco Environmental Horticulture/Floristry) and Susan Ishkanian, AIFD (Freelance Designer) received the final details.

Yes, we also kept the "secrets" from our judges! 

On Friday, the day before the competition, our competitors found out the KB Cup will not be a two-level divisional competition, instead it will be one competition for all. SURPRISE! 

During the random table selections, I discovered an empty table. Talk about being spontaneous, 5 minutes before the competition, Lily Lum-Chan was cheered on (some would say peer pressured) to compete. It was meant to be, Greg Lum had some extra tools for her! 

Creativity under Pressure

No glue. No tape. No wires. No prep-work. Oh My! No clue until the day of the competition and per round surprises. The only allowed tools were scissor, plier, pruner, stemwrap and knife.  

The competition theme was Designing for Men ~ Happy Father's Day. Our designers were given only one foam to use for the entire competition. 

Round 1 - Designer's Freestyle - 15 minutes to select 15 stems and design (9" dish)
Round 2 - Top 7 were given a Mystery Box - 10 minutes to think, be creative and design (6" container and 1 stem aspidistra, 1 stem KB mini calla lily, 1 stem KB gerrondo, 1 stem KB stock and 1 stem KB lisianthus)

At this point, the pressure definitely went up a notch or two...5 stems?! 10 minutes?!

Final round - the top 5 received the 2 secret stems (1 KB mini calla lily, 1 KB gerbera) and the 1 secret small prop was a golf ball with holes! They had 15 minutes total to select 8 more stems using all 3 secret items to create a design for a golfer's dinner party. (1/3" cage w/foam)

A few of the competition designs here. 
We'll be posting many more pictures throughout the week.

 3rd Place ~ So-Yeon Kim (Student – City College of SF Floristry Dept)

2nd Place ~ Lily Lum-Chan, AIFD

People's Choice Award ~ Greg Lum, AIFD, EMC (Flowers Indeed!)

The 2015 KB Cup Winner ~ Hee Joo

She defeated 9 other talented designers among them... 
the 3 years in a row KB Cup Floral Design Competition Winner,
Greg Lum.

Adding to the final moments of excitement, Greg was in the final round...
Robert announced 3rd and 2nd places, a pause to retrieve the KB Cup trophy.

And the KB Cup winner is...TABLE 10!
(Silence followed by screams was what I remembered) 

Thanks everyone, let's do it again next year!

(Left to right) Judges: Susan Ishkanian, Steven Brown and Jenny Tabarracci. 2015 KB Cup Winner Hee Joo (table 10), 2nd Place Lily Chan, 5 minutes before competition entry! (table 8), 3rd Place So-Yeon Kim (table 4) and the People's Choice Greg Lum.

Linda Nguyen