In this week’s bouquet:
Hibiscus (Mahogany Splendor variety):
This week all of your flowers came from Andrew at Shepard’s Farm in Roxborough. For the previous four weeks, some of Andrew’s flowers made an appearance in your bouquets. Last week, most of your flowers came from Kate at Laughing Lady Flower Farm in Doylestown. For the first three weeks, Cassie’s flowers at Jig-Bee Flower Farm in Kensington made an appearance in your bouquets. These farmers are the hard-working faces behind your flowers. They are mentors, colleagues, and gracious partners in my pursuit to distribute locally-grown flowers to more people.
As a floral designer, I try to source locally as much as possible and get local flowers crossing paths with more people. I often justify buying local for reasons of quality. Flowers that have shipped from Holland, Colombia, or California aren’t going to be as fresh as flowers grown locally. I witness the comparison doing wedding work because I see the difference between flowers being shipped long distances (wholesale-bought flowers) and flowers from our local flower farmers. There are also more important reasons to consider. In Amy Stewart’s Flower Confidential (which I highly recommend for a glimpse at all the facets of the cut flower industry) she talks about the environmental impacts of shipping flowers across the world and the lack of regulations involved in the use of pesticides. Colombia is the dominant South American country growing cut flowers followed by Ecuador. In Ecuador, flowers come in third as one of their largest industries after oil and bananas.
On Stewart’s travels in Ecuador she spoke with a local flower shop owner who relayed his perspective on flower farms in his country. “Flower farms, he said, churn out a luxury commodity that does not serve the locals as well as they would be served by growing their own beans or by raising dairy cattle, which would at least put food on the table. They use up important resources like water and fertile farmland. Not only do workers in the flower industry become less self-sufficient because they’re working on the rose plantations and not at home tending their own farms, the country as a whole becomes less self-sufficient as well. When the United States wants to re-negotiate trade deals with Ecuador, flowers are the bargaining chip.” Here he refers to United States tariff policies where the US lowers their tariffs on imported Ecuadorian-grown flowers in exchange for taking our milk and corn, forcing them to become dependent on us. Ransom is the word that comes to mind.
Additionally, a typical wage on a flower farm in Ecuador is about $150/month. Workers, including child laborers, are exposed to pesticides illegal in the United States. In addition, two thirds of Ecuadorian flower workers have health problems such as long-term neurological damage, a third of female flower workers experience sexual harassment, and the agricultural runoff created by dense flower production, contaminates waterways and threatens country’s natural resources.
In addition to supporting my small flower business and local flower farmers, remember that your support means participating in the important work of local, sustainable agriculture! It’s so important as daily consumers to be conscious of the far-reaching implications of a production-focused, large industry like cut flowers; an industry that doesn’t value the health and life of the grower, the quality of the flower covered in pesticides, and the future of the natural world.
Tips for enjoying your flowers + making them last longer:
This week, I recommend taking a few small glasses or bud vases and spreading your flowers out in little bits across your home. Especially since you’re receiving some pretty hardy stems of sunflowers and celosia, creating individual moments to appreciate single stems can be a really nice way to enjoy your bouquet!
Flowers are a short-lived little pleasure. They require a lot of sun and water and care. (some a lot more than others) Then we cut them and they begin to die, and generally don’t look perky anymore after 3-5 days.
However, there are ways to extend the life of your flowers. Once you bring your bouquet home, I recommend taking a sharp pair of scissors and cutting of the very tip ends of your stems at a 45 degree angle, then dropping them in a clean vase of water. (at least 4-5 inches of water, depending on the width of your vase) In two days, do the same thing again. Give a clean cut to the ends of all your stems, wash your vase, fill with clean water and drop them in again!
Even after two days, you’ll notice that your water will be a little murky. The murkiness is bacteria that has built up as your flowers die and decompose in the water. Letting them continue to sit in this dirty water, will only speed up their dying process.