Why Local Flowers?

Many of you may know that I'm an avid gardener, tending to my plot in the Potrero del Sol Community Garden here in San Francisco, often pulling materials to supplement the arrangements you see here. Less of you may know that I once worked for a flower farm in Santa Cruz. This is where I really fell in love with flowers. Next, I'll tell you the love story of how it all began:

It was a brisk March morning in Santa Cruz, as I started my new job (at 5am!) at Thomas Farm Organic. I closed the truck back--it's still dark at this time, so I don't really get to see what's inside--and begin the drive up with a co-worker to the Temescal Farmers Market, both of us warming our hands with very caffeinated coffee. We arrive and I'm instructed to open the truck back and begin unloading. And, to my surprise, I open the truck back to find 80 buckets of the most beautiful ranunculus that California grows. Then, there. It was over. Love at first sight. That's the short version of this story. Because I really want to hone in on something a lot more important than my love for flowers. 

Do you ever wonder where you get those red roses on Valentines Day? More often than not, they are shipped from Latin America. I recently read Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart and it hit me hard. Stewart describes the processes and conditions of the farms half-way across the world, and what it really takes to get those pretty roses to your table on V-Day. 

It's a tough story to read. But, it did change the way I look at flowers. This doesn't mean I'll never buy a tropical flower again, but it certainly allows me to focus on the seasonality of flowers, and enjoy the beauty of the flowers that are grown closest to us more often than not.  And diving deeper with that...enjoying the flowers that you grow yourself if you are fortunate enough to have enough time, patience, and space to grow! 

Just like shopping local, and eating local, flowers are no different. So this Valentines Day, buy your honey a nice local bunch of ranunculus, freesia, tulips, daffodils, and if they're really lucky: a bunch of local lilac or daphne.

Photo: Thomas Farm Organic Flowers