Week 37 of the blooms has got me thinking hard about the challenge I set myself at the beginning of this year; to produce a flower arrangement every week made with seasonal flowers. Despite being behind in my blogging, I have so far been able to produce an arrangement each week mainly using flowers from my own garden so, to me, they feel as seasonal as you can get. Since my cutting patch is now pretty much on its last legs, I have had to turn back to the supermarkets, corner stores, florists, and markets to supply my seasonal flowers. This has been no easy task here in Vancouver, BC.
I have noticed that the hunt for seasonal flowers out with my garden has really turned into more of a hunt for locally grown flowers. To me it seems more likely that local flowers grown in the same climatic zone as me will be more seasonal than say roses grown in Ecuador and shipped to Canada in the middle of Winter. Thankfully, there are a handful of local BC farms that send their flowers to auction in labelled packaging which then end up on the shop floor for us to buy. There is also a new brand representing flowers and plants grown in BC called ‘Flowerful BC’ which labels some flowers that are BC grown aiming to extend the advantages of ‘buying local’ to the flower industry.
The only super market that I have found to make a conscientious effort to label flowers origin themselves is Whole Foods. This is a significant milestone for the slow flower industry in Canada as finally the origin of flowers is shown to be something that can be considered when purchasing flowers. Florists themselves I have found to be a bit hit or miss with their knowledge of where their flowers are from. Some have no idea, some say fresh from the local auction, others know they are BC grown but don’t know the specific farm, and some are super knowledgable about the specific local farms their flowers have come from.
Either way, it is not an easy process going about finding a supply of seasonal flowers to make a weekly arrangement with. And so came this weeks arrangement. I turned to Whole Foods knowing I would find something I could trust to be locally grown. But all I could find was some mini Gerberas…my least favourite flower! And not exactly very seasonal, knowing they were non-organically greenhouse grown in controlled conditions throughout the year. So local yes….but seasonal I’m not so sure. I bought them anyway on the premise that they were grown by Canadian farmers on Canadian soil which in itself felt better than some of the other options available to me. Also a percentage of the cost of the Gerberas went to the BC breast cancer foundation for breast cancer action month which was another plus to buying local.
It’s hard when you have an ideal. Something you want to achieve, something you believe in, but along the way, as with a lot of things in life, you find out it’s not quite as simple as all that. There are farms out there…farms close to me that grow flowers organically with the seasons. But can I get access to these flowers easily on a weekly basis throughout the year?…No. It’s then a case of looking to the next best thing. Perhaps flowers that are grown locally, but not necessarily 100% organically, then perhaps fair trade flowers that are not grown locally but are grown in farms with good working conditions and environmental standards.
I think something I am asking myself over and over right now, is do enough people actually care enough for changes to be made in the flower industry that would result in us seeing more seasonal flowers in our shops and florists with clear labelling of their origin? I know I would prefer to have a bunch of organic locally grown seasonal flowers on my kitchen table but it’s not realistic to think that every Tom Dick and Harry does. Without a demand, changes are hard to make. And how can there be a demand if people haven’t really even thought about where their flowers are from in the first place?
And back round I come again to the reason I started this blog; to get people thinking about the origin of the flowers they are buying. I hope to inspire others to seek out more local, seasonal alternatives and to ask their florist next time they buy some flowers, “do you know where these flowers are from?”
So here it is. The not so seasonal, but the next best thing, Week 37 of The Blooms…..