Have you heard of the “slow food” movement that’s becoming widely accepted? When I say slow food, I’m not talking about meandering cows or leisurely vegetables, but a movement of choosing sustainably grown and locally produced, chemical-free produce and meats. The benefits of returning to this method not only are healthy for our bodies but also the environment. I want to offer that the “slow flowers” movement has the same connection. Maybe its best to start our thinking here: When was the last time you stood and looked at the flowers at your local retailer? Maybe you can’t remember perusing flowers because you don’t even bother to look anymore. Maybe you’ve noticed they all seem the same: run-of-the-mill, always available, never changing. Am I right? They’re…bleh. Or maybe you’re aware of this, but maybe not aware of the unsustainability behind it all.
You see, the limited varieties of flowers available to the average, non-farming consumer tend to be only those that sport stiff petals, stodgy stems, and short vase lifes… the few that can survive the arduous treck from South America. Store sold flowers are the minimal varieties that are bread to outlast this vigorous process, yet as a result they lose their natural fragrance and we lose the availability of more showy flowers, like the blushing coral sunset peony (see end of post) or the delicate Champagne Bubbles, Iceland poppy (two of my favorites.) Those nominal retailer flowers are akin to the forced, out-of-season tomatoes we see in the same stores: bland, pale and pasty…no one dreams of them sliced on a sandwich, and no one dreams of these bland flowers as the symbol of ones affection. Enter the locally grown, farmer-florist movement. A movement that is quickly catching on.
Local, cut-flower growers are a passionate group and grow an incredibly diverse selection of blooms, foliage, stems, and fruits that all retain their fragrance and longevity. Almost 80 percent of the fresh flower industry in North America and Canada is produced in, and flown from, South American countries. They may look pretty enough but the truth is they are steeped in pesticides and preservatives in order to make it through their challenging journey. By the time they reach the North American florist for processing and rehydration, they have often been a week without water. The chemicals are harmful for the environment, the flowers and for the florists. All this translates to another predictable bouquet that can only last another three or four days in your home.
The local grower movement aims to produce their flowers using responsible farming methods. We’re aware of the effects of farming on the environment and are always moving towards improving the land we care for, providing for the beneficial bugs, bees, butterflies and birds through soil health and responsible irrigation. And due to being cut often the morning of purchase, the flowers you receive have an incredibly long vase life, pushing two weeks on average! As if all these benefits weren’t enough, the local flower farmer helps the surrounding economy and with your support, can grow to provide rewarding local employment and experiences. It’s a win-win for everyone. There are even American flower farmers that are currently pioneering an initiative of breeding flowers specifically for the local grower. This means that these breeds of flowers won't be flown in and so the demand stays here. There are beautiful things on the horizon and you can be a part! Support your local flower farmers and farmer-florists and you’re taking responsible action and reaping all the benefit!
Champagne bubbles poppy Coral sunset peony Local dahlia mixed bouquet