WHY LOCAL FLOWERS?
SUSTAINABILITY & SEASONALITY
Up until the middle of the last century, the majority of flowers bought and sold in the United States were grown domestically in hothouses and on family farms. Today, eighty percent of the flowers purchased in this country are imported - with Colombia alone accounting for a whopping seventy-eight percent of that figure. As a result, the market is dominated by flowers lacking any sense of time and place.
To get orchids from Thailand, roses from Kenya, and lilies from Costa Rica, they are shipped thousands of miles: spending days in transit, and requiring an immense amount of energy and packaging to arrive at their final destination. They are often grown using pesticides and other chemicals banned in the United States because of the harm they cause to human health and the environment. And in general, they are harvested and handled by poorly-paid workers who suffer long-term health problems from prolonged exposure. These flowers may seem lovely at first, but it only masks the reality of the industry.
When you buy from East of Eden, you get flowers that are grown without the use of chemicals. Our flowers are the very essence of seasonality and freshness, reflecting the time and place of special occasions. As the seasons change, so does our selection: as some varieties come into bloom, others come to an end. Many of our flowers are delicate - sweet peas, poppies, dahlias, bleeding heart, cosmos, nigella, foxglove - and would never survive an international journey. Our flowers are picked in the coolness of morning or in the shade of late afternoon, arranged in the evening, and delivered the next day. They spend no more than an hour in our delivery vehicle, which is a station wagon, not a jumbo jet. And unlike the waste that accompanies imported flowers, we use a minimal amount of packaging for bouquets and deliver wholesale flowers in clean, reusable buckets.
When you support local farms - whether flower farms, vegetable or meat producers, cheese makers or fruit growers - you keep money circulating within your town, county and state. You strengthen the local economy and create meaningful, healthy employment for those around you. You help conserve and protect agricultural land by providing farmers with the support they need to act as responsible stewards for the land. And you get someone who will look you in the eyes and guarantee the value of their product. In return, you get the very finest and freshest available.
If you are interested in learning more about the growing specialty cut flower market in our country:
Check out the essay written by Jennie Love of the farm Love 'n Fresh Flowers in Philadelphia, the "Manifesto for a Better Bouquet".
Or look through Erin Benzakien's website for her farm Floret Flower Farm - she provides lots of great growing information, profiles many prominent floral designers and farmers, and gives an interesting look into the life of their family farm in Washington state.
Or find out more about Steve and Gretel Adams of Sunny Meadows Farm outside of Columbus, Ohio - their journey from vegetable to flower farms resonates with me, and I find their use of season extension techniques and minimally heated greenhouses to be a huge source of inspiration.
Lastly, you can learn a lot from the Association of Specialty Cut Flowers. If you are looking for flower farms in your area, check out their website. And if you are a grower who is not already a member, become one!