Our floral departments are all dressed up for the holidays! Along with providing your traditional favorites in fresh, vibrant colors, we think this is the perfect time of year to reflect on how our Whole Trade® Guarantee provides beautiful blooms that can change someone’s world. From Costa Rican lilies to Ecuadorean roses, our Whole Trade flowers are grown to meet our commitment to ethical trade, the environment and the highest quality — all while bringing the warmth of the holidays to you and yours.In Costa Rica, we buy our Whole Trade lilies from Plantas y Flores, and their deep red Asiatic Knockout lilies are perfect for the holidays. Plantas y Flores is located high in the mountains — about 6,600 feet above sea level — above San Jose near the Irazu volcano, which you can see on a clear day. They are keen on detail and, in addition to quality checks on foliage, they actually measure to ensure the head size of every lily hits our minimum specification. Once the lily stalk is cut for packing, the plant’s bulbs are taken out of the ground and used in the farm’s compost. It takes an average of 13-18 weeks to grow a lily plant from bulb to a stalk that is ready to be harvested for retail sale.
For every Whole Trade lily purchased from Plantas y Flores, Whole Foods Market makes a scholarship donation to EARTH University to support students who want to work in agriculture. Plantas y Flores’ greenhouse production manager, Juan Pablo, graduated from EARTH University. He uses his education and training as he focuses on environmental and sustainability at the farm. For example, in the greenhouses they use nutrient-rich compost and coconut husks on the topsoil — the compost is made on the farm from the packing house and greenhouse scraps. Juan Pablo also created a system of four water collection tanks to reuse as much water as possible from rainfall and greenhouse run-off; these four reservoirs are used for water re-use in the greenhouses.
In Ecuador, we work with seven Fair Trade Certified rose farms for our Whole Trade® Guarantee roses. Last year, I got the chance to meet Gladys, who has worked at Agrocoex, one of our Whole Trade partner farms, for 17 years. She explained that at Agrocoex she is able to participate in decision making and feels comfortable to express herself and her opinions. Women make up about 60% of the workforce at the farm and are valued for their work. Gladys and her coworkers have all received training in labor rights, project development, negotiation skills and management.
Through the farm’s programs, which are supported by Whole Trade purchases, she has received education for both herself and her 12-year-old son. In addition to taking classes at the farm’s computer lab, her son attends school courses sponsored by the farm, located where Gladys knows he is safe and the people are reliable. Her family received dental care that is affordable and close to their home. And Gladys has received a loan for home improvement and is working towards her dream of building her own home on the farm’s Fair Trade funded housing project.So, the next time you’re in one of our stores, make sure to stop by the floral department to see our Whole Trade floral selections that give back to the communities where these products are grown! And if you, like me, enjoy lilies and roses this time of year, here are a few basic care tips.Care Tips for Lilies and Roses
- Trim at least 1 inch off the bottom of the stem, and clear away any foliage that will sit below the water line.
- Immediately place into cool, clean water.
- Change the water in your vase at least every 3 days (and give the stems a fresh cut) to help ensure that your flowers are able to continually “drink.”
- Keep out of direct sunlight as this can cause discoloration.
- Note: Lilies have pollen and this can be a pest! To keep stains from appearing on clothing, table linens, carpeting, and even the bright white petals of Oriental varieties, remove pollen when still “smooth” by plucking it off. Should you find yourself plagued by a bright orange pollen mess, gently brush the pollen away using a craft pipe-cleaner (do not rub it in) and wash with soap and warm water. Pipe-cleaners can also be used to brush pollen gently off the petals of your lilies.
Which blooms brighten your holiday table?