It’s hard to believe, but I’m heading into the last week of the #seasonalflowerproject! Do you recognize the flower above as a Chrysanthemum? It’s an heirloom ‘mum’ variety, as are the images throughout this post.
These mums were delivered on Friday, and one of this month’s members posted their lovely Cedar Farms Wholesale mums, and joked that they were repenting for any prior mum prejudice upon receiving this week’s bouquet . So funny – I laughed out loud instantly, because I totally get it. And in some ways, the Seasonal Flower Project is meant to do just this – change your perspective on local flowers, and on flowers in general. How long they should last, how much they should cost, how fast they should arrive, and how few petals they should drop.
But of course I too am guilty of silently giving mums a pass for years — at least the ones I saw being retailed in corner stores and in supermarkets, before getting introduced to the wider diversity of mum species with natural tones, with delicate sprays (like ‘Bronze Fleece’), with bodacious peony-sized blooms and with amazing tubular petals like this week’s ‘Peach Centerpiece’. I believe our flower discriminations are no accident: as in food, so in flowers.
Just as profit-driven/corporate/environmentally-destructive agribusiness traded diversity and flavor in vegetables and grains for durability and profit (impacting food security, nutrition + cultural tradition), the same is true of corporate/globalized/industrial floriculture.
As flower farms scaled and consolidated, and as chilled air transport expanded, corporations (owned by white and/or European men) moved farms abroad in the 70s to countries where cheap rent, cheap labor, lax labor and lax environmental laws could be exploited. Flowers were bred for longevity, durability and profit, not aroma, graceful lines or whimsy. Racism, sexism, health hazards, and sexual abuse were rampant issues that floral workers (largely women) faced (and still do, under largely male leadership and ownership).
These “cheaper” imported flowers (whose environmental and health costs aren’t factored in) cost domestic flower farmers their livelihoods + deprived consumers of local flower farms, and of so many incredible textures, colors, + aromas that overseas shipment doesn’t favor.
Small farmers are changing that, with your support. When we come face to face with a purple carrot, a Pink Lady apple, ‘Homecoming’ heirloom mums or ‘Honey Dijon’ garden roses (such as the Rose Story Farm stems used in my wedding this weekend), it’s like we’re born again, no? The singular beauty of a single flower or petal hits us. A rare petal color variation or stem curve remind us that there is endless beauty, inspiration, strength + possibility in diversity.