Years ago I lived for a time on a farm in French Quebec. I learned to harness and drive a team of horses, plant and cut acres of oats, buckwheat and rye, and tap hundreds of maple trees for syrup to sell. I first heard the term “organically grown” around that time. Now, as a flower farmer in Oregon, I continue to use organic and sustainable growing practices. However, being a flower farmer in North America has some unique challenges.
In 1991, the U.S. War on Drugs began a campaign to stop coca/cocaine production in South America by encouraging flower production instead. This had devastating effects on U.S. flower farmers. The Andean Trade Preference Agreement (APTA) included duty free export for many South American countries, which flooded the U.S. market with cheap flowers. Using toxic pesticides and herbicides, they were grown, cut and packed for long flights and trucked hundreds of miles to chain grocery stores for the American public to buy. Today roughly 80% of cut flowers continue to come from those countries.
While flowers are not typically eaten, if you value supporting American farmers offering sustainably grown flowers while paying a living wage to their workers, then you might find it helpful to consider who you buy your flowers from. Just like the organic and local food movements, flower farmers have a vision, a path and "a long row to hoe", but a great goal in sight!
Buy beautiful fresh cut American grown flowers and support your local farmers!