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Ramsay Live: Department of Agriculture

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(HawaiiNewsNow) - Importing flowers and foliage into Hawaii raises many concerns when it comes to the introduction of invasive pests and plant diseases. The Department of Agriculture is kicking off an event to raise awareness. Ramsay Wharton went down to the state's plant quarantine office to find out more.

Buy-Local Bridal Floral Challenge
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Kahala Mall 
11:00am

HAWAI`I-GROWN FLOWERS TAKE STAGE IN WEDDING DESIGNS
Top Wedding Floral Designers to Create Spectacular Bouquets and Tablescapes 

Honolulu – Competition will blossom as four of Hawai`i's top wedding floral designers compete in the first-ever "Buy Local Bridal Floral Challenge," sponsored by the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) at Kahala Mall on Saturday, May 19 at 11:00 a.m.  The challenge is a collaborative effort by the Hawai`i Floriculture and Nursery Association, Kahala Mall, Hawai`i Bride & Groom magazine and HDOA's Plant Quarantine Branch.

The event is free to the public and part of HDOA's Buy Local, It Matters campaign, which encourages consumers to support local farmers and growers by making conscious decisions to buy local whenever possible.  In addition, this particular event emphasizes that by buying local, we can also reduce the amount of imported flowers, thus reducing the amount of invasive plant pests and diseases entering our state.

The floral designers will compete in two categories, including finished bouquets and a tablescape category where the designers will have one hour to create a wedding reception tablescape live at the event.  The bouquets will be on display and the public will have a chance to vote for their favorite.  The tablescapes will be judged by a special panel of judges. 

Designers participating in the competition specialize in wedding florals and include:  Easely Designs; Exquisite Hawaiian Weddings, The Floral Boutique, Inc.; and Su-V Expressions. To help enhance their tablescapes the designers will be assisted by REA Events, Royal Party Rentals and Event Essentials. 

HDOA and the local nursery industry will provide the designers with hundreds of locally grown flowers and foliage for the competition including:  anthuriums, orchids, cymbidiums, protea, heliconia, ginger, bird of paradise, palms and much more.   In addition, the designers will be required to incorporate a secret ingredient to be unveiled on the day of the event.

"Florists tell us that local consumers don't ask for local flowers for special occasions such as weddings," said Russell S. Kokubun, chair of the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. "With this event, we want to demonstrate how supporting local growers may also help to create exceptional and memorable wedding bouquets and reception tables."

"Imported flowers and foliage bring into Hawai`i a wide range of invasive pests and plant diseases," said Carol Okada, manager of HDOA's Plant Quarantine Branch, "By selecting locally grown flowers, we can reduce the amount of imported flowers and reduce the risk of hitchhiking pests and diseases."

Once an invasive pest or disease becomes established in Hawai`i, it may have a devastating impact on Hawai`i agriculture by causing damage to crops and is often costly for the state and growers to control.  Invasive species also may harm Hawai`i's unique environment.

"We are hoping that wedding planners and brides-to-be will become more aware of the exciting and beautiful floral options that are available from local growers," Okada added. "In the process, newlyweds can feel good about helping to sustain our local economy and protect our unique agriculture and ecosystem for the future."

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