A deck full of flowers, a yard bursting with color. The satisfaction of reaping the rewards of your careful attention. The simple joy of nurturing small seedlings into vibrant and extravagant arrangements should be enough to entice any cautious onlooker into starting a small cut flower garden. There are personal benefits to growing flowers yourself (you’ll always have a housewarming gift), financial benefits (store bought bouquets are expensive!). But beyond the joy of growing beautiful bouquets yourself, there are also health and environmental benefits to growing your own flowers or purchasing from local growers, rather than from industrial farming sources. Chemical Uses On Cut Flowers Store bought flowers are notorious for using harsh chemicals that allow your flowers to be grown flawlessly and survive the long journey across the globe. Unlike with food, chemical use on flowers is often less strictly regulated by government entities, allowing mass-market cut flower growers to remain one of the largest users of agricultural chemicals worldwide. Recent studies have found that florists in Belgium come in contact with as many as 111 different insecticides and fungicides at high concentrations daily. Organophosphates, neonicotinoids, pyrethroids, triazolopyrimidine, carboxamides, and triazoles top the list of harmful substances present on imported and mass-grown flowers. Not to sound too alarmist, but the typical chemical mixtures found on imported flowers like tulips, roses, and carnations are nasty and hazardous and have been proven to cause harm. If you have the option for a locally grown bouquet, you’ll be keeping proven carcinogens out of your home, and you’ll be able to bury your nose into that bouquet with confidence. Environmental Footprint In addition to causing lasting harm to employees and customers, pesticide use on cut flowers has environmental implications as well. These chemicals are hugely damaging to the lands and waters surrounding the areas where they are applied. Wildlife is impacted in water bodies where runoff is common, and neighboring agricultural fields become tainted with concentrated chemical runoff. The high carbon footprint required to transport cut flower bouquets across borders is compounded by the intense energy usage of refrigerated trucks and planes throughout the journey from farm to storefront. The majority of flowers purchased in the US are imported. Flowers are easily perishable, so across the supply chain there is a heavy energy demand to deliver great looking flowers across the globe and to your door. Industry Impact We speak frequently on this site about the sad state of the industrialized flower farming industry. There is a strong movement to shorten the supply chain and bring flower growing back to local communities. This movement can be assisted by supporting your local flower grower and by bringing the joy of growing fresh cut flowers into your home. Any bit of local flower growth helps divert money away from industrial growers and keeps it in the community. Even if you can’t grow cut flowers yourself or are a small-scale hobbyist, seek out local growers for your cut flower purchases. Buying flowers locally will usually offer you a wider variety of heritage blooms that represent with the seasons. You’ll save your household from the risks associated with the heavy toxic chemical usage of common mass-produced flowers, and help the environment by eliminating needlessly transporting blooms thousands of miles.
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