Buying local, ecologically-grown food is a no-brainer. There are so many benefits, both for families as well as for our local community, economy, and ecology. Voting with our dollars and choosing food grown by a farmer we know and whose values and practices we respect is one of the biggest social, ecological, and economic changes we can make to boost our (largely-rural) Atlantic provinces.
I know firsthand, I’m a first-generation farmer who could never have dreamed of settling and making my livelihood here in Atlantic Canada without the support of eaters. Eaters who choose to eat the fresh, local organic food that I imbue all my values into through the way I raise it. What are some of those values?
My partner Bryan and I value providing wildlife corridors on our farm and enhancing soil health for the billions of creatures that inhabit it as well as for future human generations. We value protecting the water that courses on top of, underneath, and alongside our farm. We value the diverse insects including pollinators that serve an important purpose on our farm but are also important for their place in the web of life that is too complex for us to fully understand. We value biodiversity, of plants and animals.
And all these values are inherent in, not only the food that we and all the other local, ecologically-minded farmers produce, but in the local, ecologically-grown cut flowers that an increasing amount of farmers in Atlantic Canada (and around the world!) are growing for their communities.
Think of some of the reasons you may be wary of the industrial food system. And then apply them to the industrial cut flower industry. Most of the cut flowers you can easily buy for your wedding, for your hospitalized relative or to brighten your home, have been grown on large, monocultural, heavily-sprayed farms in tropical climates where farm-worker health, safety, and recompense are questionable.
Compare that to your friendly, neighbourhood farmer-florist who lovingly tends their diverse flower patch and wants the flowers they’re picking and arranging into beautiful, imaginative bouquets to be safe and healthy for them to handle as well as for you to take a big whiff of.
Flowers add so much biodiversity to our farm with the over 50 different kinds we grow. Very few of them are closely related to our vegetable crops so growing flowers helps us with our crop rotation (an important principle in managing soil health and reducing weed and insect pressure).
In addition, many of the “wild” elements on our farm, whether in the hedgerow or part of our cover crop rotation, as well as field weeds, are beautiful additions to a lush bouquet. This helps us to value and admire these “crops from nature” rather than hoping to control or eradicate them.
Adding diversity to our farm increases our resilience with weather instability and market unpredictability, just as it does with our communities overall. How many one-industry towns and villages have we seen boom and bust across our region? One-crop farms are equally as fragile.
Perhaps the biggest reason an increasing amount of discerning customers are choosing locally-grown flowers is to celebrate the awe-inspiring beauty of where we live. I love knowing that a customer is sitting down to a meal to be nourished with the vegetables we grew while their soul is nourished by the seasonal floral abundance from our farm that week. Their connection to the farm is enhanced and we get to share more of the beauty and uniqueness of our small farm. Now if we only we could package up the bird song and wonderful feeling of a cool breeze on our sweat-covered brows….
And….for all you cut flower growers out there or for anyone interested in growing cut flowers as a business (either stand-alone business or as part of an existing farm), there’s a super exciting workshop coming up in September! It’s being organized by ACORN, hosted at our farm and led by Svenja Dee of Tulipwood (she was one of my original inspirations for growing cut flowers because her bouquets are INCREDIBLE!).
I am crazy excited and know it will be great! Space is super limited (I think it’s already half booked up) because of the hands-on nature and intimate setting so sign up asap if you’re interested. Here’s the sign-up link: http://acornorganic.org/events/calendar/cutflowerworkshop