There are many occasions on which you might want to send flowers to someone special. As with most things in our chemical-happy society, we suggest doing a few minutes of homework before placing your order.
About 80% of cut flowers sold in the US are grown in South America. They travel thousands of miles (think, carbon footprint) before you ever see them. US Customs protects US farms – quite rightly – by requiring imported flowers to be pest-free. All good so far, but how do they do that?
Most imported flowers arrive saturated with up to 50 times the pesticides and fungicides permitted on US food crops. Often, these include chemicals that have been outlawed in the US, but are not regulated in flower-exporting countries. If you’re thinking you might reconsider what to send your loved ones, we second that emotion. Fortunately, there’s a growing movement to help us find and buy locally grown and sustainably produced flowers.
Best known as a resource for finding local farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture, and organic food-related businesses, Local Harvest also offers a terrific directory of local and organic flower growers in the US (Canadians: please see Slow Flowers below). The flowers grown by Local Harvest family farmers are fresher than imported flowers, healthier for the people who grow them and the people who receive them, and healthier for our environment. Plus, when you buy from local farmers, you’re supporting your local economy.
Veriflora certifies that the flower growers, distributors and florists it approves offer “only the highest quality products, produced with rigorous environmental accountability, … addressing the health and well-being of workers, their families and communities.” The program is administered by a global third-party certifier of environmental, sustainability and agricultural product quality claims:
- establishing significant greenhouse gas reduction and energy efficiency goals,
- requiring growers to develop a plan for converting to organic pest management and soil fertility practices,
- steering farmers away from potentially harmful agrochemical usage,
- offering extensive ecosystem, water quality protection, and resource conservation measures, and
- applying these standards to everyone in the supply chain, including not just growers, but shippers, distributors, and retailers as well.
Slow Flowers is another directory for finding local flower growers in the US and Canada. Debra Prinzing, Slow Flowers’s founder, is a woman on a mission to help restore American floral agriculture. Her listings are not necessarily organic farms, but they most likely have a much lighter environmental footprint than your average bouquet.
If you can’t find a local source, you can order online from Organic Bouquet, which will ship beautiful, sustainably grown bouquets anywhere in the US. Organic Bouquet delivers gorgeous flowers and supports development of a more robust system for the sustainable cut-flower industry.
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