Local, Organic, Sustainable Flowers: Join the ‘Slow Flower’ Movement

Seeking local, organic options isn’t just about food. Learn the basics of sustainable cut flowers, a beautiful alternative to the mainstream flowers grown with pesticides and shipped many miles before ending up in a bouquet near you.

| March 30, 2012

The following is an excerpt from The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers by Debra Prinzing (St. Lynn’s Press, 2012). This book introduces many innovative voices of the sustainable flower movement: organic flower farmers, green floral designers, and consumers who are increasingly asking, “Where and how were my flowers grown, and who grew them?”  Most flowers on the market today are imported, mass-produced and chemical-laden, and in this book, Prinzing shows us that there are meaningful alternatives. A growing number of farmers and florists provide local, seasonal and sustainable flowers. With detailed reporting and full color photographs, this informative and visually elegant book takes us onto the farms and into design studios to follow the journey of the 50-mile bouquet. This is the first book to spotlight the major transformation underway in how cut flowers are grown, designed and consumed. This excerpt is the complete introduction of the book. 

Do you enjoy flowers in your life? Are you drawn to a voluptuous heirloom rose like a bee to honey? Is burying your head in a just-picked garden bouquet and inhaling its perfume a joy-inducing experience? You are not alone. Our love affair with flowers is ancient and visceral.

But lately something has been missing from everyday flowers — you’ve probably noticed. That clutch of gerbera daisies or tulips from the supermarket may appear picture-perfect, yet it feels disconnected from the less-than-perfect (but incredibly romantic) flowers growing in your own backyard. The mixed bouquet delivered in a happy-face vase by a floral service is pretty enough, but somehow looks unnatural, as if it were produced in a laboratory and not in real garden soil, nurtured by sun and rain. These blooms feel far removed from the fields in which they grew. And they are, in more ways than one. To the many of us who seek that visceral joy of just-picked bouquets to bring into our homes or use for special celebrations — or give as gifts to others — the flower has lost its soul. What happened?

These are “factory flowers,” grown by a $40 billion worldwide floriculture industry whose goal is uniformity and durability — so as to withstand long shipping distances. They are altogether different from the carefree zinnias,  romantic peonies and wispy cosmos you clip from the garden for a home-styled arrangement. The $100 box of long-stemmed roses may look close to perfect, but its contents have been off the farm for up to two weeks. Those scentless creations were likely grown a continent or two away and shipped on a dose of preservatives to travel to you — poor substitutes for heady, abundant armloads of blooms gathered from grandmother’s cutting garden. They have lost the fleeting, ephemeral quality of an old-fashioned, just-picked bouquet.

A Greener Way: Sustainable, Local Flowers

“Green” floral design is only recently appearing in the sustainable living lexicon, but the term suggests using flowers that have been grown with eco-friendly methods. To us, it feels authentic, echoing the voices of those in the slow food movement. Why can’t we have flowers that come from local fields? Or ones that express the cycle of seasons? Isn't that a more natural, and sustainable, way to bring flowers into our lives?

Faced with concerns about our food supply, the materials with which our homes are built and furnished, and the energy sources we consume, more people than ever are asking questions about the environmental impact of everything they use, drive, eat and even wear.

4/16/2012 10:03:32 AM

You've inspired me to give it a try! Hopefully, my roses will soon be traveling to the local farmer's market! Thank you! Nancy

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: September 14-16, 2018
Seven Springs, PA

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard