American consumers spend $7 billion-$8 billion each year on cut flowers. About 80% of those flowers are imported from South America.
Like many others, Activist Debra Prinzing (@dkprinzing) is concerned about issues surrounding the sustainability of this trade, including the carbon footprint created when flowers are flown from South America to the U.S., and then shipped around the country. She’s working to create a “slow flower” movement that will encourage an ethos of field-to-vase. And organizations like the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) are on board with that notion. In fact, CCFC has implemented a “Certified American Grown” labeling program for domestically grown flowers. (There’s another “CCFC” – the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus).
“It became interesting to me that [these farmers] were a forgotten part of agriculture,” [Prinzing] says. “The pendulum has swung so far over to [being] all about food that non-food agriculture had been completely ignored and wasn’t even considered legitimate agriculture.”
The work of Prinzing and the slow flower movement may be blossoming (sorry). The number of small flower farmers grew more than 20 percent across the country from 5,085 in 2007 to 5,903 in 2012. To Prinzing, this is a positive sign that the demand for locally grown flowers is increasing.
You also can listen to Prinzing’s podcast on the slow flower movement here.