The vibrant violas, pansies, snapdragons and marigolds John Clemmons grows on his 33-acre farm in eastern San Diego County offer not only a feast for the eyes - they’re delicious, too.
In 1984 Clemmons became one of the first US farmers to grow edible flower crops that make their way on to and into everything from salads and pizzas to wedding cakes and martinis. And with 5 million of his flowers adding a touch of elegance to culinary creations devoured by diners worldwide, Clemmons remains among the nation’s largest growers of 30 varieties of organic blooms.
But his success in the fields doesn’t stop there. Clemmons and his fiancé have gained national recognition for their candied, or “crystallized” edible flowers – some of which they even sprinkle with real gold dust – and none of which they create the old-fashioned way. Instead, Clemmons developed several patent-pending techniques that have streamlined the centuries-old art into a high-volume, global business centered on their farm in rural Jamul.
California Heartland’s Stephanie O’Neill visits the Sweetfields farm and learns the secrets to their edible sugary flowers. We’ll also stop by a bakery using their sweet creations on wedding cakes and signature restaurant desserts.