If you thought you needed a plot of land to get in your fair share of organic gardening and flower growing, think again. There's no need to even get your hands dirty when you choose to support organic flower growers. The only problem is that considering the myriad of flower certifications out there, it's difficult to know exactly what entails an organic flower certification! of that which is the best for the environment, farmers and workers.
Unlike edible green products, which have a more universal standard when it comes to obtaining organic and sustainable practice certifications (Fair Trade Certified products for instance), flowers have sort of been overlooked. I mean, something so pretty as a hybrid tea rose couldn't possibly be bad for the earth...right?
Well, actually...no. The flowers themselves aren't a bad thing. It's the practices of excessive pesticide exposure, chemical usage, child labor and sexual harassment that has given the flower farming a not so bright and cheery reputation. Don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about the entire flower farming industry. There are many small flower farmers trying to be as sustainable as possible. Some farmers have even obtained organic growing certifications despite the excessive costs of doing so. Still, many flower farmers - the big one's especially - have opted for quick fixes and maximum yield, resulting in excessive chemical use and unethical, cost-cutting practices.
As long as us consumers continue buying flowers "no questions asked", it will be a slow climb getting more flower farmers organically certified. Only until there is an increased global market demand for organic flowers, will trade bodies start working together to form a more universal organic flower gardening standard, consequently making a certification more accessible to smaller farmers.
The good news is that more consumers (like yourself hopefully!) are becoming more sustainable, whether it be for their food or flowers. A handful of businesses are also stepping up to the plates. And I don't just mean Whole Foods, although Whole Foods is certainly doing their part for the movement by purchasing Fair Trade Certified flowers (TransFair certification) and the hopeful future of organic flower certifications - VeriFlora.
Besides being the first organic flower certification in the United States, VeriFlora is unique from other programs (in Germany, Canada and Ecuador for instance), in that they require farmers to either be organic or to have a transition plan to become organic in place. VeriFlora's definition of an organic flower and sustainable flower farming could very well become the de facto standard for the global farming industry. Not only does it require farmers to organically grow their flowers with a quality assurance standard (no wilting in the vase for two days), VeriFlora requires farmers to be sustainable on all levels, including energy efficiency. They have already certified over forty flower farms internationally, which amounts to over 750 million flowers per year thus far.
Another name to look for is the Canadian distributor label for VeriFlora certified organic flowers - Sierra Flower Trading, also known as Sierra Eco. Being Canada's largest distributor of flowers, 30% of Sierra Eco's flowers are organic certified by VeriFlora.
Other certifications to look for are the USDA National Organic Program, and as mentioned, Fair Trade Certified through TransFair USA. Please visit Veriflora.com for more information on their organic flower certification standard. If you are interested in buying organic flowers online, we highly recommend Organic Bouquet (USDA certified flowers).