Why should the floristry industry go organic?
Too often, the benefits of organic are viewed through a highly individualised lens such as "why is organic better for my health?”. This means that the benefits of growing a non-food crop organically, such as flowers isn't always apparent.
While there are benefits for our health by opting for organic flowers - in particular, exposure to less pesticide residue - it is by looking at the wider environmental picture that we really see why growing flowers organically is so important.
Putting the spotlight on Organic Blooms
Jo Wright and Wendy Paul are the Founder and Head Florist of Organic Blooms, a Soil Association Certified organic florist and social enterprise based just outside of Bristol. Jo initially set out to cultivate British grown flowers. Farming to Soil Association Organic standards was the next step in ensuring that her flowers were grown as sustainably as possible.
Purchasing flowers grown in the UK is a good step towards environmental protection due to the reduction in air miles, refrigerated transportation and cold-storage. However, flowers that are certified organic are the gold standard of sustainability.
How the floristry industry impacts the environment
Jo and Wendy acknowledge that there are many sustainability issues with the floristry industry such as the use of floral foam and packaging with single use plastics. However, they say these are “peripheral” and the biggest impact comes from how flowers are grown. Soil Association Organic Standards take a whole system approach to sustainability, refusing to view any one part of the supply chain in isolation. While the standards mean that certified organic flowers will therefore be plastic-free, they also ensure that from the very start, flowers are grown in a way that benefits and does not take away from nature.
“A lot of flowers are grown in areas with potentially less regulation… there is a lot of pesticide and fungicide usage and a lot of pollution of water courses, and staff conditions and wages are poor. There is a long way to go to getting people to understand the issues with the floristry industry, and we are a long way behind the food industry with that”. Jo Wright, Organic Blooms
Why are organically grown flowers better for the environment?
Organic flowers are grown without artificial pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. With less of these chemicals running-off into waterways, pollution is prevented and aquatic life is protected. It also means that the flowers provide a haven for wildlife that would otherwise be killed by these pesticides; on average, organic farms are home to 75% more wild bees and 50% more other pollinators such as beetles, moths, butterflies and ants.
Organic standards also encourage the use of on-site resources, reducing energy consumption. That is without mentioning that organic soils store more carbon than non-organic!
Working with the seasons
By farming with nature, Organic Blooms grows flowers in tune with the British seasons. Once the flower season ends, the company ceases growing over the winter in order for the soil to regenerate, ensuring it is healthy and ready for new flowers to be grown in the spring.
“The UK organic flower season is at most eight to nine months,” says Jo, “and to be sustainable customers should question seasonality.” Just as eating organic, seasonal produce lowers our carbon footprint and makes our diets more sustainable, Jo recommends opting for alternative decorative options outside of the British flower season that can grow organically in the colder weather such as potted plants, foliage or berries.
Shop organic cut flowers now
Organic cut-flower farms like Organic Blooms prove that beautiful and vibrant flowers can be grown via an organic method. The Soil Association Non-Food Team recently visited the site and created the beautiful organic bouquets you see above. Other UK organic flowers producers certified by the Soil Association include Wards Farm Flowers, Taw Valley, Daylesford Organic Farms and Maddocks Farm who grow edible, as well as ornamental flowers!
Our interview with Organic Blooms
We sat down with Jo and Wendy on our visit and asked them about how they started their enterprise, why they grow to Soil Association Organic Standards and what consumers should look for to ensure they are buying sustainable and ethical flowers. You can watch our interview below.