December 16, 2020
I'm launching a little series about sustainability in floristry. It's something that's been on my mind and heart for a long time but I'm only recently becoming secure enough in my place as a flower farmer to speak out about it. Some of the things I will say in this post will anger some, but it really is an incredibly important topic when it comes to the health of our planet.
I truly believe that we have a responsibility as floral professionals to educate our consumers on what seasonal sourcing looks like. By seasonal sourcing, I am referring to using materials that are growing in a sustainable way (i.e., field or hoop grown, without the use of heat/light). This means sourcing flowers only during what is considered a local growing season (here in Colorado, that means April through October, typically, give or take a couple of weeks). Outside of this time, flowers are simply not available locally. This means that approximately 90-100% of the cut flowers that you are seeing in the off-season come from places such as Ecuador, Guatemala, Columbia, and other South American countries.
I see countless tags and advertisements for "Farm fresh" flowers, or "#localflowers" in December. THIS IS CONFUSING FOR THE CONSUMER. It may seem obvious to us in the floral industry what is being grown locally and what is not, but it is not evident to the average consumer. So, florists (and farmer-florists): it is our job to be CLEAR and TRANSPARENT about where our flowers come from. If a florist or farmer-florist claims to be "local," "sustainable," "farm-fresh," or sourcing from "eco-friendly farms," but then supplements with flowers sourced from thousands of miles away, this leaves customers thinking that everything in their bouquet was grown locally and sustainably. It confuses consumers and it cheapens the local flower movement.
It ultimately is ON US AS FLORAL PROFESSIONALS to be forthcoming about where our flowers come from. And if a florist or grower wants to be truly local, their flowers need to REFLECT THE SEASONAL SHIFTS that exist in our own climates.
Action items for those who want to do more:
***CONSUMERS: ask your florist where your flowers are coming from. As a general rule, **nothing** you buy as a cut flower in December will be grown locally. And many things come with a VERY high footprint, such as peonies in December. Dried flowers or greenery are a wonderful option and can be incredibly beautiful.
***FLORISTS AND GROWERS: be honest and transparent about where your flowers come from. Sourcing locally one time during the season does not earn you the use of the hashtag "#localflowers" in January. Avoid greenwashing your business for the sake of marketing.
***WHOLESALERS: be transparent on price sheets and bouquet wrappers with sourcing information so florists can make informed decisions.