With Earth Day right around the corner and the talk of "green" in the air, the timing couldn't be better to share the scoop on our recent trip to check out a certified organic flower producer. On a cool sunny morning last week, five of us from Whole Food Market met excited to tour a Southern California flower grower and gain a better understanding about their organic program. We were not disappointed!
Looking in any direction, the landscape was a visual patchwork of different textures with each crop. The hills and valleys were each a microclimate, creating ideal growing conditions. Eucalyptus and waxflower dominated the landscape with all kinds of treasures (like protea and sunflowers) mixed in. The majority of the crops were South African and Australian natives - certainly less common than a rose or tulip here in the states, but no less beautiful (and in most cases they last two to three times longer than a "typical" flower).
So what made this farm so cool? Part of it was certified organic! Sure, when we talk about organic flowers we get plenty of "Organic flowers??!? It's not like I am going to eat them!", but our visit reinforced that organic flowers are so much more than pretty. They are produced without the use of toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers. This maintains and enhances ecological harmony and positively affects the health of the environment - including the land, groundwater and the workers.
Over 500 acres in total, the farm is family owed and operated. While only a portion of the farm was certified organic, more land is being transitioned that will nearly double the organic acreage. Everything on the farm - from plant selection to the location of each variety and its water usage - was planned to the last detail. The farm has over 30 wells, making it self-sufficient in watering. The perrenial plants are propagated on the farm and planted by hand once they are ready for their permanent home on the hills. Onsite compost production helped to ensure robost, heathly plants. All that (and so much more) added up to high quality, stunning flowers.
We know there are lots of great flowers out there and lots of great places to get them - locally grown, from well-managed farms in other countries (like our Whole Trade™ flowers) or from your very own garden - but be sure to add certfied organic to the list of flowers to consider!
Carol Medeiros joined Whole Foods Market in 2001 at our Cherry Creek store in Denver and has been working on our produce and floral team ever since.