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Environmentally Friendly Cut Flowers

Consumers have more choices than ever when it comes to cut flowers. Now you can even buy organic flowers. For floral designers who are concerned about environmental issues, here are some ideas to consider.

First, consider the carbon footprint of the flowers. Where they are grown and how far the stems travel in order to reach the consumer is a key issue. The fewer the miles traveled, the greener the flower stems will be. For that reason, it is always desirable to buy locally grown flowers whenever possible. During the summer months, buy flowers that are in season locally rather than
exotic ones grown elsewhere.

Typically, local cut flower sources can include farm stands, farmers’ markets, tail gate markets, and the like.

For those who live in temperate climates, the tropical flowers would have a larger carbon footprint. This is because they are typically grown in Asia or other warm tropical locations. For the most parts, orchids are rarely a
sustainable choice.

The most earth friendly flowers are ones that are field-grown locally rather than those being produced in greenhouses. It takes a lot of energy to heat and run greenhouses for orchids and other tropicals.

The best source of information is the local grower. At farmers’ markets and tailgate markets, you can meet the growers and asked them what flowers they grow and learn whether they’re using organic or sustainable growing methods.

Growers can use organic methods without being certified. Those seeking certification have to follow certain guidelines regarding fertilizers, chemicals, and the like. All materials used must be on the list of approved organic products. Certification is done by the state or the certifying board of OMRI.

Sustainable farming methods shares some concerns with organic gardening. But it goes one step further by tackling other issues. Sustainable means that agricultural practices have minimal impact on the environment. They don’t exhaust the resources of the planet.

Cut flower growers can now have their operations certified by VeriFlora. This eco-label program is also used by growers of potted plants. The VeriFlora Certified Sustainably Grown label is used by those that meet the guidelines. At this point only large wholesale cut flower operations are using this eco-label. You can look on cut flower labels to see if the symbol is there. At this point, one operation in the U.S. is certified. The rest are in Ecuador.

The sustainability certification applies not only to questions of agricultural sustainability, but also to social responsibility regarding employees. These socially responsible organizations take further steps. For example, they may provide housing, medical care, day care, or similar benefits to workers. They also pay a living wage, which is based on the local cost of living.

If you wish to support VeriFlora, look for the orange and green symbol on the flower label.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Connie Krochmal. All rights reserved.
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