Debbie Thornton is one of a growing number of people in this country that are doing something I think is very important. Debbie is the owner of Farm to Market Flowers (FM Flowers) and she is sustainably growing fresh cut flowers for the florists and farmer’s market in Tomball, Texas. A lot pf people don’t know this, but at least 80% of the cut flowers sold in the US are grown somewhere else. Each time you buy a bouquet from a grocery store (that is not Whole Foods or Central Market), you are buying products that have been sprayed with every chemical possible and shipped from places very far away.
It doesn’t have to be this way. When asked if they had a choice between a product created or grown oversees and one grown or created in the US , 78% of respondents said they would buy American. Unfortunately it can often be difficult to find a local alternative; especially when it comes to fresh cut flowers. That is why farmers like Debbie, The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG) and Debra Prinzing (Slow Flowers) are so important. These people are working very hard to promote locally and sustainably grown fresh cut flowers and let consumers know that they now have a choice.
I learned about Debbie and her farm through one of the nicest and most touching comments I have ever received on my blog. Here’s the comment:
Thank you Jay. I am growing cut flowers as a result of your article in the Texas Gardener Magazine. I did just what you said and visited the Arnosky’s and met Kim with Billabong. I am in the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers and I have been growing for our local farmers market and florists here in Tomball for two years. I was a Master Gardener for several years and heard you speak at the Bear Creek Extension office.
Luckily, the story of how Debbie became a flower farmer is becoming more common. After gardening for years, she decided to capitalize on her knowledge and love of growing flowers. She has now turned her hobby into a small business that provides fresh cut flowers to the Tomball, Texas local area.
It doesn’t take a lot of room to become a flower farmer. Debbie is currently growing on one fourth of her one acre property. However, by properly and intensively managing that quarter of an acre, she is able to supply fresh flowers to the weekly Tomball Farmer’s Market and a couple of local florists. This quarter acre farm has become so successful that she has been able to cut back on her hours at her “real job”.
I asked Debbie if the hard, hard work of flower farming is worth it. Debbie said “I absolutely love it. It is hard work, but I love the joy it brings to people. I would definitely recommend it to others. It can be scary at times, but I just try to produce quality flowers and they sell themselves.”
My hat is off to Debbie Thornton and all of the other flower farmers out there that are making a living (or a least a part of their living) providing us with a very beautiful option to the imported, chemical drenched flowers that you find in most outlets. Debbie’s work ensures that the next time you are in the market for cut flowers, you have a choice. If you are like me (and Michele Obama who recently decreed that American grown flowers will be used in the White House), it is worth a little effort to “go local” and buy these American grown products.
If you are a flower lover in the Tomball area, head over to the Farmer’s Market and visit with Debbie. She loves growing these flowers and she loves telling you why they are so special. Once you buy a bunch of her beautiful, long lasting bouquets you will be hooked. If you live somewhere else, and would like to buy local flowers, go to the ASCFG website and find out if there is a local grower in your area. If not, you still have a choice. Please check out The Slow Flowers website. This new offering from Debra Prinzing (mother of the field to vase movement and author of “The Fifty Mile Boquet”) will allow you to buy and ship locally grown flowers regardless of where you live.