Its American Flowers Week !!! That means it is time to celebrate American flower farmers, the beautiful products they grow and the talented people that turn them into the stunning arrangements that will brighten your dinner table, adorn your wedding, let your sweetie know you care or comfort the family of a dear friend at their passing.
A lot of people don’t know this, but most of the cut flowers sold in the U.S. are imported. Each time you buy a bouquet at the supermarket or order an arrangement, there is an 80% chance that the flowers came from overseas. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that fact, more and more Americans are making a choice to ensure that “the flowers at the center of [their] table [are] as fresh, local and sustainable as the food on [their] plate” (quote courtesy of the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner press release).
Over the last couple of decades the American floral industry has seen several changes. One of the most pronounced has been the beginnings of what is now called the “Slow Flowers” movement. The term “Slow Flowers” was coined by my friend Debra Prinzing. Debra is the author of the of the best-selling book “The Fifty Mile Bouquet – Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers”. Debra was the first person to begin telling the world about the amazing American floral producers who have decided to win back market share from foreign competitors by doing something the foreign growers can’t – locally growing the highest quality, environmentally sensitive floral products available on the planet.
Since writing “The Fifty Mile Bouquet” Debra has been adopted by these local farmers to spread their message. These flower farmers and their amazing, high quality products inspired Debra to start a journey that has led her from the flower fields of America all the way to the Whitehouse. In the past few years she has worked to build growers coops, organize and promote field to vase dinners, create an on-line resource to connect those that want to buy locally with those that produce, promoted flower farmers through regular interviews available on podcast and written extensively about the “Slow Flower” movement in publications like the New York Times, Sunset Magazine and Country Gardens Magazine. Her advocacy for the American flower farmer recently resulted in an invitation to speak about “Slow Flowers” and the importance of the American farmer at the annual “First Lady’s Luncheon” ( a gathering of all of the spouses of our elected officials in Washington, D.C.).
I recently attend a local Field to Vase Dinner in Blanco as Debra’s guest. The dinner was a very special event for me. Not only was it a beautiful event that featured local food, local beer, local wine and the beautiful locally grown flowers of Slow Flower pioneers Frank and Pam Arnosky, it was a chance to gather with old and new friends that love American grown flowers as much as I do. The night was an unbelievably beautiful and tasty tribute to the work being done by these passionate growers of American flowers.
If you are already a passionate believer in the work being done by these American farmers, or you would like to learn more about them, I highly recommend attending one of these Field to Vase events when they come to your area. Each year American Grown sponsors several of these events all across America. Be sure to click here to see when they are coming to your part of the country.
Market research has shown that, when given a choice between an American product and an import, the vast majority of US consumers would choose to buy American. In a market that is flooded with foreign products, it is often difficult to find a local alternative. Thanks to the hard work of these pioneering American flower farmers, their advocates and educational programs like American Flower Week you now know you have a choice when it comes to buying fresh cut flowers. The next time you need an arrangement, why not head over to the Slow Flowers website and spend your dollars in support of American agriculture. By buying American from these visionary farmers, florists and designers you will ensure that the flowers you purchase will be as fresh, local and sustainable as the food on your plate.