The Loveliest Flowers to Give Your Valentine

If you’re one of the millions of lovebirds that contribute toward the annual $1.9 billion that is spent purchasing flowers for Valentine’s Day, you may have never asked the question: where are the flowers I’m buying grown? Odds are, not locally.

Up to 80% of the flowers sold in the United States are imported from South America, where author Amy Stewart has reported common use of underpaid labor, chemical fertilizers and potentially toxic pesticides. Add to that the long distances the flowers must travel from the field to your vase, and all of a sudden the flowers you bought have a greater cost than the dollars you paid.

Enter the locally-grown flower movement. The benefits of locally-grown flowers are akin to the benefits of the locally-grown food movement. They’re cut fresher, may last longer, were grown by and purchased from a local farmer, and may be more responsibly grown.

Since there are no requirements for country-of-origin labels on cut flowers, you might have to be a stem sleuth to figure it out. Some say you could go on looks alone. With local flowers the stems will usually be curved instead of straight and the flowers will be brighter, fresher and sweeter-smelling. Why is this? One reason is that they simply don’t have as far to go. With less travel, not only are your flowers going to smell and look fresh, they will also have been picked at a more desirable time.

Thankfully, there are easier ways to find locally sourced flowers if you find yourself florally challenged. Two online resources are the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, which provides a search engine for local flowers by state, and Slow Flowers, which is an online directory of roughly 500 florists committed to sourcing American-grown flowers for Valentine’s Day.

Buying local means not only are you getting a fresher, more beautiful product for the one you love, but you are also showing local farms some love. Buying local cuts out shipping costs (and associated environmental emissions) and allows farms to sell their products directly.

And with agriculture as the nation’s leading employer, buying locally-sourced flowers insures that you’ll receive a gorgeous product while also helping local farms thrive. Show your love in a sustainable way this Valentine’s Day by taking the time to shop local. Check out our local farmer’s market, find a local CSA, or search for gardens and nursery centers within North Carolina!

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