“ A Flower-Farming Renaissance: America s Slow Flower Motion
On a gloomy morning in March, an insistent rain fell on the dull gray and smoky brown structures of South Seattle s industrial Georgetown neighborhood. At the back of a former brewery, a different scheme reigned. Bursts of yellow corylopsis gave way to pale magenta hellebores and pink cherry blooms.
The Seattle Wholesale Growers Market certifies as a curiosity for more than just its gritty locale. While locally grown blossoms account for approximately just 20 percent of cut flowers offered in the United States, every stem this storage facility stocks stemmed on a family farm in Oregon, Washington, California, or Alaska. The aforementioned hellebores? They were collected by the market’s board chair, Diane Szukovathy, at her Jello Mold Farm in neighboring Mount Vernon. Introduced in 2011 by a dozen farmers in the region, the cooperatively owned market characterizes an emerging motion to put American-grown flowers back on the nation’s tables.
These nation’s flower farmersdidn’t t constantly occupy such a hard spot. In 1991, domestic blossoms accounted for 64 percent of the nation’s flower sales. That was also the year that the United States entered into the Andean Trade Preference Agreement (ATPA), which got rid of tariffs on a variety of products from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Part of the War on Drugs, the pact had amongst its goals persuading South American farmers to cultivate flowers instead of the coca that ends up as drug. Colombia, in specific, rapidly flooded the American market with inexpensive, duty-free cut flowers, devastating the United States industry, particularly in California, which supplied 75 percent of the nation’s cut flowers prior to the passage of the ATPA. When the home of more than 500 flower farmers, the state declares simply 200 today. Colombia is now the source of 78 percent of cut-flower imports to this nation. An added 15 percent originated from Ecuador, with Africa, China, and Europe making up the difference. I believe we got traded away, says Szukovathy, of the 1991 trade arrangement.
Products imported from abroad are not required to fulfill the exact same labor and environmental requirements as those grown domestically. The flowers in your normal grocery store arrangement, to puts it simply, were likely tended by underpaid workers exposed to harmful pesticides, preserved with chemicals, and cut days or even weeks previously.
Finally, in 2013, a group of flower farmers led by Kasey Cronquist, the president of the California Cut Flower Commission, developed a Certified American Grown task force and commissioned a survey about the industry. Among the findings: 74 percent of customers had no idea where their flowers originated from, and over half reported they would choose to purchase local blooms. A year later on, Cronquist s group partnered with Made in USA Certified, Inc., an independent agency that validates the source of all kinds of items, to develop an identification system. Qualified American Grown labels making sure that flowers and foliage have been grown, and arrangements put together, in the United States began appearing on the sleeves of plastic bouquets in Safeway, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe s shops in 2014. Ken Tirpak, director of the flower department at Oklahoma’s Reasor’s Foods, says that sales of among the chain’s most popular bouquets shot up 30 percent after its stores started bring the logo design.
The label is a method for sellers to distinguish themselves from the competition, states Debra Prinzing, the Seattle-based author of The 50-Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local, and Sustainable Flowers. Prinzing, who is widely credited with assisting to spark the American-grown flower motion, launched slowflowers.com in 2014 to connect customers to farmers, flower designers, and supermarket providing domestic blooms. Given the stringent labor and ecological regulations in the United States, flower farmers here can’t perhaps contend on price alone, states Prinzing.
Many farmers, together with wholesalers and florists, are looking beyond labeling, to other avenues for raising awareness and reclaiming market share. In Wisconsin, 8 growers joined forces to form the Fair Field Flowers cooperative, which uses an 85-square-foot truck to provide online orders to purchasers in the Madison location.
And last year, Certified American Grown and slowflowers.com hosted a series of field-to-vase suppers on flower farms across the nation. Individuals put food on a pedestal, describes Prinzing. I felt that we needed to make some room on that pedestal for flowers, too.
At each supper, a flower shop designed tabletop arrangements and a chef prepared a meal including food and flowers sourced from regional farms. (In 2014, more roses some 1.6 billion stems were imported to the United States than any other cut flower.).
The federal government has actually started to acknowledge that flowers matter. At her departure ceremony in 2013, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, who had actually set up the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program, revealed the launch of Know Your Farmer, Know Your Flowers. Michelle Obama has actually made it an indicate source more American-grown flowers for White House events.
Consumers, too, seem to have a higher awareness of the implications of imported blossoms. In 2014, the Seattle market grossed approximately two times more than it had its very first year in business with 2015 sales close to a million dollars.
At the exact same time, domestic farms are finding that flowers in the field can benefit the bottom line. Cronquist, who in addition to his California post acts as the administrator of Certified American Grown, cites a 2014 U.S. Department of Agriculture report that found floriculture among the most successful crops for farms with 10 acres or fewer.
Cut flowers command high value in the marketplace due to their relative rarity and luxury status, concurs Molly Culver, a Brooklyn-based metropolitan farmer and floral designer. 4 years back, Culver started cultivating flowers in addition to the produce she grows at The Youth Farm among the very first in the nation with CSA subscriptions offering flowers as well as vegetables.