Flowers for the Life of the World
by Erin Lockridge
Surprised, I did some reading and discovered that, while the global floral industry generates billions of dollars and provides livelihoods to many, the hidden costs are high. The vast and dynamic orchestration of farmers, hothouses, warehouses, airplanes, cargo ships, and vendors, demands fuel, land, irrigation, and massive amounts of refrigeration. The short-cycle production process utilized to supply the demand for perpetual blooms, requires extensive use of agro-chemicals, some of which are banned in the U.S. because of their toxicity. Because flowers are not an edible crop, the regulations surrounding their pesticide content are loose and, while I had the ability to eventually do less-toxic work, others at different points in the supply chain don’t have that privilege.
The flowers we now grow here in Norwood may only be a small industry that requires little more than a pair of snips and a couple of buckets, but our hope is that it brings life beyond the ephemeral joy of the blooms. Maybe these bouquets inspire gifts of beauty and care between neighbors and friends. Maybe the flowers bring a brightness to the park down the street where they grow. It gives me great satisfaction to hear the hum and buzz around the gardens and to know that the plants offer food to countless pollinating insects and songbirds, shelter to spiders, snakes, and crickets, and health to the soil below. Even the leaves, lacey with insect holes, point to the hope that these bouquets -in the humblest of ways- are for the life of the world beyond ourselves. And, yes! the pile of discarded plant material that accumulates next to my workstation will most definitely go into our compost pile.