Buying #AmericanGrown Flowers

by Dr. Cheryl R. Boyer

IMG_2395Have you planned your Valentine’s Day flower purchase yet? I sure hope you’re buying flowers locally, but beyond that, where on planet Earth were your flowers grown? For sure, a great deal of them are grown overseas and shipped via an extensive and efficient transportation system (see my February 2013 Stillwater Living article), arriving at your local florist in just a few days after harvest. But what about the unusual blooms becoming more visible in florist arrangements seen on social media? Where do they come from and are they new?

Many of these cut flowers aren’t new. They’re old garden favorites that don’t lend themselves well to vast ocean-jumping flights. Because of new media marketing, consumers are seeing them used more frequently on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, creating new demands on florists and new opportunities for growers…horticultural farmers. Check out Floret Flower for some amazing photography. Then click over to our very own Bear Creek Farms right here in town to see what they’re growing.

There has been a resurgence in American-Grown cut flowers in recent years. Surprisingly, I caught this trend first on my personal Instagram feed. One of my non-horticulture friends asked for recommendations for flowers after seeing someone else’s flower delivery in her own feed. You’d better bet I read that whole comment thread. People were raving about Farmgirl Flowers (San Francisco) and Flowers for Dreams (Chicago). Both have novel business models that center around locally-grown and hand-delivered flowers (often on bicycles, if it’s a local order). The Bouqs (Venice Beach, CA) boasts flowers “straight from the volcano” in South America.

What’s interesting about Farmgirl Flowers, Flowers for Dreams, and The Bouqs is that they don’t offer a huge variety of arrangements. They offer just one (Farmgirl Flowers, Flowers for Dreams) or a handful (The Bouqs). You purchase the size of the arrangement—they choose everything in it (but you see beautiful sample arrangements on the website). They make arrangements based off of what is in season locally. They do a fantastic job with the styling of the arrangement and marketing the whole product (including the people who do the work). Add on website ease of use and quick shipping and you can see why this trend is taking off.

These companies are by no means the first, nor the last. There is a Slow Flowers movement; many books, websites, and Extension resources are available on cut flower production. I think we’ll continue to see an emphasis on sustainable and organic cut flower production in the future. Interested growers and florists have more tools than ever at their disposal and I think we’ll see many dig in (pun intended) and find their niche crops.

No matter where you purchase fresh flowers, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to enjoy their beauty while appreciating the journey they took to get to you. Happy Valentine’s Day!