Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hardest Working Women in Flowers...

Grandma Kitayama and Farm Girl

Grandma Kitayama worked till the day she died at 85. She passed away during the morning break from grading carnations. Grandma raised 6 children in a country she couldn't speak the language and who put her and the family into concentration camps during WWII. However, she told her kids this was a good place and to work hard and it would be "daijobu" OK. Grandma's boys build greenhouses and grandma graded carnations and made sure everyone got along.  She was given her own color rubber band to grade carnations, she would grade every bunch "Fancy" because we could charge the most money for Fancys. I am reminded of Grandma Kitayama when I went to visit Christina Stembel AKA Farm Girl over Valentine's Day. Here is another woman who works very hard, every day to fulfill her dreams.

Grandma Kitayama on the rare day she wasn't working.

Once upon a time Kitayama Brothers would start at 4;30am and work until midnight during Valentine's Day. That was when we grew roses and carnations and stored them and then shipped thousands of boxes. However, now we are older and lazier. This holiday we went home around 5:00 PM, we did work 21 days straight (can't do that anymore in CA after this year). On February 13th I drove to San Francisco to deliver kale and visit with our great customer Farmgirl Flowers. She did not have time to chat with me, she was too busy working her butt off to get out hundreds more orders before cut off. She had just done a 24 hour shift. I love KB but I haven't worked 24 hours ever. Not only is Christina the hardest working women I have met since Grandma she also supports KB flowers almost as much as grandma. Christina buys as many California flowers as she possibly can and she doesn't get enough credit for doing so. From KB, "Thank You", get a little rest, and then get back out there! 

Farm Girl at Valentines Day, "no time to talk" 

PS: March 8th Women's Day. 
Women buy 85% of all flowers, 
please give you favorite female some flowers!

Robert Kitayama

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Rain, rain... go away, but just till we dry out

The KB Blog has been on hiatus till I could find time again.  I am going to give up reading distracting online articles and start writing them.  
At least I will know how much truth they contain.  

You have to be careful what you ask for, last year we said, "if it rained every day that wouldn't be enough".  It might not be enough to end the 5 years of drought, but it is enough when it actually happens.  You find out that creeks, roads, embankments, power lines and other usually innocuous things have their limit and will overflow, tumble down or stop working.  It is another example of how awesome nature is.  The other night my family and I were in the dark, literally.  We just went to bed even though it was 8:30pm.  We didn't know how to deal without electricity, don't even get me start on not having internet, "what's the point of living?"

Good news bad news, flowers love rain water, we collect if off our greenhouse roofs and the gerbera daisies think it is a great treat.  You will start seeing the results in the coming weeks and months.  However, warm, rainy weather is a growers worst enemy when dealing with botrytis and other diseases.  We have done a good job keeping the flowers clean, but every California grower and I believe South America also is having a wet winter, will have issues.

I am going skiing this weekend if I can get to there.  One ski area in Tahoe reported 51 feet of snow so far this season.  I am excited about the prospect and hope you have a good weekend too.

 "one of KB's fields under water"

 "neighbors strawberry crop"

"one of our tenant's hoop houses"

Robert Kitayama

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.