Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU
Ugly Truth About Pretty Flowers
Valentine’s Day is the biggest day for fresh flowers sales in the U.S., with an estimated $1.8 billion dollars spent in 2012. Most of the flowers we buy in the States come from Colombia. That means your average bouquet of roses, tulips or petunias racks up jet-setter air miles, leaving behind a significant carbon footprint. That, the World Health Organization has rated more than a third of chemicals used in Colombian flower farms as either “extremely” or “highly” toxic.
So, what about some local options for fresh flowers? Linda Chapman of Harvest Moon Flower Farm is here to save the day. Along with herbs, beets, Jerusalem artichokes and (today’s customer favorite) carrots, she sells winter flower bouquets and wreaths at her booth at the Bloomington Winter Farmers Market.
Local Flowers To Say I Love You
Harvest Moon is able to grow flowers 12 months of the year thanks to a solar greenhouse and two hoop houses. Chapman has also learned which flowers like colder temperatures, around 40-50 degrees. She says flowers like these wouldn’t even think of growing in June.
The bouquets today feature white oriental lilies, stock (which is a yellow/white flower that smells like cloves), eucalyptus, dusty miller, long stems of rosemary and boxwood, pussy willows and some red stemmed dogwood. The color scheme is primarily green and white, but come Valentine’s Day, Chapman promises a burst of color with flowers like tulips and purple anemones.
“I got my ranunculus in quite a bit earlier than I have in years past kind of as an experiment, looks like a successful one,” she says. Ranunculus can be pink, yellow, red and orange, “very romantic flowers, multiple petaled.”
Live Long And Prosper
A bouquet of flowers from Harvest Moon will run you $15, so Chapman understands that consumers are invested in keeping them beautiful for as long as possible. She says the best thing her customers can do it change the water every 2-3 days to keep the bacteria down.
But, winter and early spring blooms are not typically bacteria producers, so there is minimal upkeep with cool-season flowers. It becomes more mandatory in the summertime when temperatures are hotter.
Chapman says her blooms were harvested just the day before, so this fact also means the flowers will live longer than the bouquets sold at big box stores.
The farm grows over 100 varieties of flowers, ”so you’re never going to see the stuff that comes off our farm at Kroger.”
This time of year, she does buy whole sale flowers to augment her harvest, and she notices a distinct difference:
There’s a certain sterility to the whole sale flowers we get compared to our flowers. Our flowers seem to be more dynamic and they have more of a living energy about them. I feel like you can actually see that and perceive it. The wholesale flowers… are just another stem of flowers. I feel like ours have a soul.
Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU