So I’ve had some downtime over the Holidays, and I gave myself a lot of time to think about the New Year, which isn’t uncommon. But I took that time specifically to reconnect with nature and enjoy what’s growing around us this season.
It made me really focus on how drastically different locally-grown, truly fresh produce (in this case flowers) are from imported goods. In my previous blog post I talked about where a lot of the flowers we have in Florida come from. Most stems are produced in South America, with some exceptions for Dutch grown bulbs and blooms. I talked about the carbon footprint and the kind of insane shipping practices that move blooms up into the US market.
Now I want to step back and look at what the benefits are of buying from local growers!
If you go to the supermarket and look at their selection what’s missing? The most noticeable difference is scent which is a fundamental element of flowers in nature. There are a couple of reasons why this happens; one is growing seasons and the other is the breeding that goes into a “perfect” mass producible flower.
A wonderful example of seasonable growing is berries. Blackberries naturally peak during the long southern summer, and while you can absolutely get them in midwinter you’ll notice they aren’t quite as vibrant in flavor as those Summer harvested ones. Anything you grow has obvious and undeniable peak seasons, and flowers are no different. This part of Florida has an incredibly long growing season (250+ days a year) and flowers enjoy an extended season here without affecting that “peak season” freshness and scent. Force growing, while incredibly useful, doesn’t quite match the same vibrancy of field grown/home grown/cottage industry grown flowers.
There are certain things that growers aim for when choosing plants to grow in mass production: Productivity, Stem Length/Sturdiness, Ship-ability, consistent Coloring and Presentation.
While these are all admirable traits for a cut flower, it almost sanitizes them of the whimsy and uniqueness that makes fresh blooms so inspired and stunning. The highly selective breeding practices also rob flowers of “arbitrary” traits like scent which is such a visceral and integral sensory memory for so many people.
So how do locally grown bloom address these subjects?
Field grown flowers are truly unique, from spotting (caused by environmental factors i.e. rain or sun or dappled light), mind-of-their-own stems (quirky, bendy, or flowy) to enchanting and lost varieties that are uncommon on the mass market. When was the last time you saw an Azalea Snapdragon? A Heritage Rose gracing a table arrangement? Smelt the clove of antique Carnations? What about the colors? Did you know Poppies, Dahlias, Celosia, and Zinnias all have sherbet/pastel/antique shades? Sweet Peas come in dozens of shades, with color flecks and striations to boot. Stock comes in a veritable rainbow of wonderfully scented varieties.
Farms like Floret are leading the way for smaller, local growers to produce incredibly desirable stems for the designers in their area by breeding programs. These breeding programs are designed around highly productive, wonderfully shaded and scented flowers that don’t ship (remember they’re dry stored, packed like sardines, and trucked/flown thousands of miles normally) well by traditional floral industry standards.
So if you want to get your hands on incredibly unique, high quality stem, why not contact a local grower and ask about what they plan on growing?
Floral designers and consumers drive market trends and we can’t do it without your voices and support!
Don’t forget to follow my farming adventures on S and J Florals Instagram!