Why Buy Locally Grown Flowers?

This time of year is exciting for me…  For these few warm months in Chicago, locally grown cut flowers are available!  In May, when the first peonies and lilacs add life to local farmers markets, it starts to really feel like spring.

Peony and allium

When I’m sourcing flowers for an event, my first choice is for organic, locally grown flowers.  Of course, living in Chicago, that’s only possible for part of the year.  But while they’re here, I’m a happy camper!  And here’s why…

1.  Better for the environment.

About 75%  of cut flowers sold in the US are grown in South America.  With a stopover in Miami, most cut flowers destined for Chicago have traveled over 2,500 miles.  A shorter distance between producer and consumer means that fewer resources are used to get the flowers to market.  No planes needed, just the grower driving their product to their customers, and that means fewer carbon dioxide emissions.  Also, imported flowers are refrigerated for most of their journey to the US, so local flowers not only require less energy for transportation, but also less energy for refrigeration.

2.  Fresher, better product.

Imported cut flowers are cut at the greenhouse, put in boxes, put on a plane, and sent to a wholesaler, where they continue sit in their boxes until they are purchased or put into water.  By purchasing locally grown flowers, the transportation time is significantly reduced, meaning the flowers are happily drinking up water for much more time than flowers that travel some distance.

3.  Better deal for you and the producer.

By purchasing directly from the grower, you get a better price, and the grower gets a larger portion of the sales by cutting out the middle man!  What a great way to support family farms!

And if you can find a local grower who farms organically, all the better!  Double win!

You can find locally grown organic cut flowers at the Green City Market in Lincoln Park on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  I find myself returning to these two growers again and again:

And of course, for your weddings and special events, I provide floral designs using locally grown flowers whenever possible!

2 thoughts on “Why Buy Locally Grown Flowers?

  1. I’m surprised it isn’t mentioned that almost all South American flower plantations subject their (mostly female) workers to dangerous chemicals banned in the US, underpay them, and don’t offer medical help once health complications arise. It’s a horrible industry that is fraught with human rights violations.

    • Thank you for bringing up this important point. I have tried to keep my approach a positive one, focusing on what we can offer, rather than focusing on what others are doing wrong. Thankfully, there are many growers who continue to employ more environmentally and socially responsible practices. I’ll be adding more background info on the cut flower industry as I beef up my blog. In the meantime, here’s a great article by Smithsonian Magazine on how the cut flower industry ended up to be centered in South America. I also recommend Flower Confidential, by Amy Stewart, to anyone who would like to learn the ins and outs of the cut flower industry.

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