Flower Farmers Unite
Southern Oregon serves as home to over ten flower farms of varying size. Local agriculture may be synonymous with pears, wine, and cannabis, but floriculture is an important part of the agricultural landscape as well. Hundreds of types of local flowers and foliage can be obtained from March through November in the Applegate and Rogue Valleys. With abundantly available floral material, it should be easy for the public to think local when they want to buy bouquets and arrangements. However, most consumers think first of Trader Jo’s and Costco if flowers are on the shopping list.
How can we shift the demand from imported, chemically-produced flowers to local, seasonal, and organic flowers? Well, I’ve teamed up with 3 other flower farmers to try to educate the public about the beauty of using Southern Oregon flowers for weddings and special events. We want to grow the number of flower shoppers who don’t just think about what’s cheapest and most convenient when they want to make a flower purchase; instead, we think that shoppers will make the choice to support small, woman-owned and operated farms, invest in local businesses, preserve working farms, value the agricultural identity of our valley, reduce the carbon footprint of their purchases, and avoid blooms that are toxic for consumers and farm workers. How you say? Well, seeing is believing:
With the help of photographer Ann Nguyen, we’ve created a gallery of fine art photos of our flower farms and are rotating the gallery through different, highly visible locations in the Valley. Coffee shops, restaurants, and food co-ops have been hosting our photos and an opening event where we give away DIY flowers to their customers. We answer questions about flower varieties, flower gardening, our businesses, and floral design. In so doing, we find ourselves re-committed to the work of growing flowers, and along the way we are supported by a spirit of collaboration with fellow farmers and new customers who fall in love with local flowers.