The Fresno State floral lab and the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market are stocked up for Valentine’s Day with red and pink ribbons, heart-shaped boxes and plenty of flowers as Fresno State students, faculty and the surrounding community prepare to spoil their sweethearts.
A week before the day, the lab was taking orders and prepping flowers. By that time the Fresno State floral lab already had 30 orders for Valentine’s Day.
In the week before Valentine’s Day, Elisa Valdez, manager of the floral lab, expected the number of orders to double. She said that the lab normally does 50 deliveries and has up to 35 pick-up orders every year for Valentine’s Day.
The lab can sell up to 62 dozen roses, for Valentine’s Day — and that is not including the bouquets of mixed flowers and other heart-shaped goodies iTo meet the demand, Valdez said the schedule for the floral lab employees is maxed out.
The lab normally places its order on Jan. 20, three weeks before Valentine’s Day and long before any orders are placed.
“We’re taking a big risk,” Valdez said.
Work to prepare the flowers began a week before Valentine’s Day. Valdez said there are three phases to preparing the flowers: unpacking, processing and sorting. This year, the employees unpacked more than 15 large boxes crammed with flowers, which took two hours.
After unpacking, the real work begins.
The processing phase starts with cutting the stems of the flowers, rehydrating them and letting them cool for 24 hours. After this, employees remove the leaves and thorns. They do this for the entire 62 dozen roses.
On the third day of preparation, employees sort the roses by stem length. The floral lab only orders premium roses with extra long stems. The ‘extra long’ length is a minimum with some roses still having even longer stems. So that all roses in the bouquets are the same size, they are sorted by stem length.
Valdez said it is tricky determining what day to start this three-phase preparation as it depends on what day Valentine’s falls. If Valentine’s Day were on a Tuesday, the lab would begin prepping the flowers the Monday prior to the holiday.
The day before Valentine’s Day, the lab has all of its arrangements ready. On Valentine’s Day, two vans full of pink and red bouquets begin delivering at 6:30 a.m.
Most of the lab’s Valentine’s Day clients are repeat customers. Every year, one month before Valentine’s Day the lab makes phone calls to previous customers to offer them special prices and remind them of the approaching holiday.
“Men really appreciate the call backs,” Valdez said.
Throughout campus fliers are sent to previous customers and different departments.
“A lot of women send the fliers to their husbands,” Valdez said with a giggled.
The floral lab is in the beginning phases of kick starting what they call the “Forget Me Not Club.” The club offers members five bouquets per year at a discounted price with free delivery.
The floral lab also partnered with the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market for a Valentine’s Day deal that includes roses, chocolate and wine.
This year the farm market is catering to its Valentine’s Day customers with specially packaged heart-shaped products.
Jennifer Sobieralski, manager of the farm market said it offers custom gift baskets with choice of products made per order. The market will also offer coffee, jam and indoor plants tied with bows. Of course, the farm market offers a variety of wine and chocolates.
“Those have historically been a big hit for Valentine’s Day,” Sobieralski said.
Two new products will also be featured at the farm market for Valentine’s Day, raspberry romance and sinful cinnamon ice cream. These will be featured flavors the entire month of February.
Dairy processing technician Daniel Avila and his students made a cooperative effort to create the two new flavors.
They created the two flavors based on the idea that people like to give chocolate for Valentine’s Day. They brainstormed what flavors compliment chocolate.
Part of the method for making new flavors is looking at existing flavors. By adding raspberry swirl to a vanilla base, the dairy processing unit created the raspberry romance.
“We try to add a twist,” Avila said.
The unit makes 65 flavors of ice cream and keeps at least 50 on-hand. Avila said customers sometimes request flavors. If it is not too expensive the unit will make it.