Why My Family Doesn't Sends Me Flowers Anymore
Updated: Feb 13, 2022
My family shows how much they love me by not sending me flowers. They know I don’t want flowers covered in pesticides that are grown and shipped from thousands of miles away.
The fresh cut flower market in the U.S. is a 7-billion-dollar industry. Around 80% of the flowers are coming from other countries - 70% of the flowers are grown in Columbia and 23% in Ecuador. A heavy ecological imprint is the real cost of a bouquet of mass marketed flowers. The floriculture industry uses an immense amount of synthetic pesticides and water, pollutes the local environment, generates an outsized amount of carbon emissions because of refrigeration and long-haul transport, and exposes workers to dangerous amounts of fertilizer, insecticide, and floral preservative toxins.
There are still options for sustainably grown cut flowers. The growing trend of farmer florists in the floriculture world expanded during the pandemic as the floral industry struggled and more people embraced local agriculture and micro-farmers.
Locally grown flowers still take up only a tiny portion of the ornamental horticulture industry in Georgia, but it’s an encouraging direction. A list of Georgia farmer florists who grow pesticide-free, local and seasonal bouquets can be found if you just search “flowers” on the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s agricultural products marketing program called Georgia Grown. Some farms include Good Life Flower Farm, Whimsy Flower Farm, Honeysuckle Market Garden, Bee N’ Blooms, and 3 Porch Farms. I haven’t checked out all the farms, but locally grown means the flowers probably aren’t available for Valentine’s Day but will be for other special occasions during the growing season.
I'm a bit of a purist in my yard because I think every native flower contributes to the local ecosystem, so a lovely bouquet of organic, non-native flowers from the farmers market is a welcome surprise.
Flowers are not the only botanical way to show your love on Valentine’s Day. My husband and (grown) kids know native plants bring me joy. They don’t know much about native plants so I’m more likely to get a generous gift certificate to buy more native plants. In Atlanta there there are some wonderful local native plant nurseries including Beech Hollow Wildflower Farm, North Georgia Native Nursery (previously named Nightsong Natives), and Nearly Native Nursery.
For the backyard nature lover, any of the suggestions from a list I made for the holidays might work. It’s not always possible, but I try to support small businesses by shopping locally. This week I bought small, funky, eco-friendly, botanically inspired gifts from a local Ace Hardware to make everyone in my family smile. Each independently owned Ace store has a different version of a gift boutique!
Local specialty shops and restaurants are a great place to find locally sourced or ecologically-minded gifts that might have a nostalgic connection for your special someone.
For the hardcore native plant devotee, their idea of the perfect gift may require a little outside the box thinking. A dear friend once brought me a bag of worm compost I was as thrilled to receive it as I would have been if she brought me a little vase of flowers!
If your Valentine is ecologically minded, you can scroll through the list of 305 environmental organizations on Cause IQ and find one to join, donate or buy merch for a loved one. (You will need to make a free account to do a basic search.) My top Atlanta suggestions would include Georgia Native Plant Society, Georgia Audubon, Trees Atlanta, and the Southfork Conservancy. Another love donation option is to help restore habitats by donating to Trees for a Change and dedicate a tree in a US National Forest damaged by wildfires for a loved one. Yet another unique way to show you care is to donate to the friends of the park group you and your Valentine live near. In Atlanta Park Pride has a list of the friend groups.
I look forward to giving gifts to everyone I love for Valentines Day. I’m going to guess whatever I get from them will have something to do with nature, but I also love food so I won't bet on anything!
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