Why Local Flowers?
Lots of people believe it's a good idea to buy organic, locally-grown food when possible. But what are the benefits of local flowers?
Better for the Planet
Better for Your Family
Easy on the Eyes
Grocery store flowers are jet setters! Only about 20% of flowers sold in the United States are grown here. The rest begin their botanical lives thousands of miles away – mainly in Colombia and Ecuador, two countries that have a pretty lousy track record of agricultural labor practices. Once harvested, these delicate, perishable crops must travel for several days or longer in heavily refrigerated planes and trucks. By the time that cheerful little grocery store bouquet makes it into your shopping cart, its carbon footprint is seriously Sasquatch-sized.
All Fluffy Dog flowers are grown and sold within a 5-mile radius of Acton Town Hall. While this does put us at the mercy of our…interesting New England weather (sorry, we won't have peonies for you in November!), what we can offer are incredibly fresh blooms that don’t qualify for platinum status on Refrigerator Airlines.
I don’t know about you, but when I get off a long-haul flight, I look like the world’s crankiest crumpled napkin. But imported flowers have to look as if they didn’t just spend days on end in airplanes and trucks. What’s their beauty secret? Chemicals, of course – lots of them. While the government carefully regulates the types and amounts of pesticides that may be used on food crops, when it comes to flowers, just about anything goes! Many pesticides and fungicides used by the floral industry are known carcinogens, many persist on the flowers, and many can be absorbed into your body through the skin. Numerous peer-reviewed studies (like this one from 2017) show increased rates of cancers, reproductive problems, and other health issues among people who work in the cut flower industry. Is that fungicide-drenched bouquet really something you want on your dining room table?
Fluffy Dog flowers are grown completely free from synthetic chemicals. I use three main strategies to manage pests and grow healthy, beautiful flowers:
beneficial insects such as green lacewings, which prey on aphids and thrips
physical methods (for example, I place an organza bag over each and every dahlia bud to protect the blooms from insect damage)
an intensive, organic approach to soil health, including homemade compost (thanks, backyard chickens!), no-till methods, and natural inputs such as biochar and leaf mold tea. (Jennie Love, whose leaf mold tea recipe I use, is a fabulous, incredibly generous source of information on natural inputs – as well as pretty much anything else you’d want to know about regenerative flower farming.)
Not gonna lie: these methods aren’t as cheap, easy, or fast as dousing the plants in chemicals. But the result is a bouquet you and your kids can touch with your bare hands, worry-free.
Because local flowers never have to travel more than a few miles, local growers like me don't have to stick to varieties that can handle days or weeks in transit. That means Fluffy Dog can grow flowers you will never, ever see in a grocery store. Bring on the dahlias, the Iceland poppies, the love-in-a-mist!
A tiny local flower farm can also experiment with varieties that just aren't workable or even available on an industrial scale. One of the things I'm super passionate about is sourcing seeds from small, independent plant breeders to grow flowers, foliage, and textural bits that are quirky and rare. (What can I say, I love the oddballs!) Think zinnias are garish? Wait until you see the pastel beauties I'll be growing this year, from 50 precious seeds I got from a micro-scale breeder in California. Some truly jaw-dropping sunflowers are in the works too, thanks to the handful of seeds I got from a guy in Wisconsin who goes by the name of Sunflower Steve.
The universe of beautiful cut flowers is so much wider than the floral counter at the supermarket! As a small-scale local grower, I'm absolutely thrilled if I can help celebrate that breathtaking diversity in my teeny little way.