I am really proud and excited to be starting the Rose Folk Flower Farm this year and to be providing the region with fresh, beautiful flowers that have been just picked. I made the decision to grow flowers not only because I love them and love to farm, but I saw a huge gap in the Canadian flower industry and the need for more local blooms.
Buying local is becoming a huge trend that has spread into food, beverages and other products, it is an important decision to buy local because it helps build community, a local economy, employment and connects people closer to the products they are purchasing. Locally grown flowers aren’t always easy to find, but more and more small scale flower farms are popping up all over Southern Ontario making the decision easier to chose local! Read on below to see why I think buying local flowers is important.
1. Longer vase life. Flowers are picked at their prime making for a longer vase life. Flowers grown on local flower farms can be cut at the right stage and a day or two before they are sold, which ensures you get the most value and longest life out of your flowers.
2. Support local families. By buying flowers from a flower farm, you are helping support and grow your community, it builds jobs and and supports local economic growth.
3. Biodiversity. Small flowers farms often produce many types of flowers and plants that help support all kinds of wildlife and important pollinators. Since farms are also often found in local and urban environments, you are encouraging more greenspace within your community.
4. Soil conservation. While growing many different types of crops can be very labor intensive, done well, it can greatly enhance soil productivity and health. By having multiple crops in your field and allowing for crop rotation, it helps keep soil from eroding as one flower crop finishes it can be replaced by the next crop. As well some flowers have deep roots which aerate the soil, and when worked back into the soil at the end of the season, helps build up organic material. In addition, using certain legume crops, such as sweet pea, it helps build nitrogen in the soil (as it is a naturally N fixing plant). Since sweet peas are an early spring crop, that bed will be turned around into another crop after they are done producing.
5. Helping to grow the “buying local” movement. Using your dollars to buy local flowers or food rather than products coming from overseas means you are supporting local agriculture and helping grow the buy local movement.
6. Less chemical and pesticides. Unlike food, there are no regulations on chemical sprays in the flower industry. Most flowers that are imported have likely been heavily sprayed with chemicals, many of which are banned in Canada, in order to keep them uniform, healthy and prepare them for long transportation times.
7. Lower carbon footprint. Those roses from the store, while beautiful, were most likely cut about a week or two ago in a place like South America or Africa and shipped in a plane and then delivered in a truck to be able to get to you. Those flowers travelled halfway around the world and likely used several modes of transport before they found their way to you. A local flower farm will have just cut their flowers and only travelled a few kilometers to get to you.
8. Fragrance. Most flowers grown on large commercial farms are bred to be to have thick stems for easy transport and often during the breeding process the fragrance gets lost. Buying from a local, smaller producer means that they are able to grow fragrant varieties because they aren’t worried about shipping their flowers across the world.
9. It brings happiness. Researchers from Rutgers University found flowers to have many positive effects on one’s life, including having an immediate impact on happiness as well as having a long term positive effect on moods such as decreased anxiety and depression! And you can feel even more satisfied knowing you’re supporting a local grower live out their flower growing dreams.
10. Be connected with the seasons. Just as apples have their growing season in the fall, it’s the same as with flowers. Each flower has a specific growing season as some only do well in the cold, wet springs, and some take as long as the fall to produce any blooms.