Tuning Into Slow Flowers
Slow flowers is a fairly new umbrella term used by small scale growers who are focusing on growing seasonal, chemical free cut flowers to sell to a local community.
It’s an answer to the growing trend of resource and chemical heavy conventional flower farming, which has dominated the floral industry for decades, but gone barely unnoticed.
Flowers are such a thing of beauty, it’s easy to be seduced by their allure, but now more than ever we need to ask ourselves, “Where did they come from?”. This goes for everything we buy of course, but is extra important these days with flowers.
Why? We don’t eat flowers, what does it matter how they have been grown?
Growing flowers is agriculture. In a nut shell, because most flowers are generally not grown for human consumption, it means that the normal restrictions and withholding periods of chemical use are not adhered to, and this goes into our soil, our waterways and our bodies when we touch and smell them.
It’s quite staggering to discover that many of the flowers you see at the supermarket, florist or even the local farmers market are actually imported from overseas or come from large monoculture conventional farms grown in large greenhouses, excluded from bees and the natural environment.
It’s easy not to notice. When Alex and I got married back in 2007, I had no idea about flowers. All I knew is that I wanted David Austin Roses and Lavender for my bouquet and the long outdoor reception table. It was the beginning of March and I remember the florist saying, “I’m not sure if I can get these in March”. I remember thinking, “Surely you can find them somewhere, it’s the 21st Century for heavens sake”. It turned out that they could source the flowers from a farm in Tasmania, but it was a really hot day in the Subtropics, and all the David Austins dropped their petals between the florist and the ceremony out of shock.
I have since learnt that David Austins can be a great cut flower, but they don’t like the heat and don’t like being transported. If bought locally, cut fresh and refrigerated and cared for properly, they can be wonderful wedding blooms.
I ended up with very expensive rose petal confetti and my mum went and bought some basic hybrid tea red roses to replace them. They were probably from Columbia and dipped in Round Up when they were in customs to maintain biosecurity. I probably dove in for a nice lovely fragrant-less sniff when I first sore them and rubbed chemicals all over my face… on my wedding day. You get me.
Anyway, things are looking up and local flowers are on the rise. Especially now since COVID restricted many imports getting through get through. People started realising how much we rely on an open global market and more and more people are realising the many benefits of local flowers. Less chemicals (certified organic in our case), less transportation and less single use plastic and floral foam.
Our little farm is very small. Probably around 1/4 acre of intensive beds, but it’s amazing, just like veggies, how many flowers can be produced in a small space.
Seasonal local flowers will hopefully one day be the norm and we can all use a little more joy in our lives and sweetness for the bees.
So plant some flowers in your garden, add a few to the veggie patch, they make everything grow better and are the best reminder of how fleeting beauty and life can be!
Check out our instagram @olivegapfarm to see what I’m planting this week. I’d love to know what you are planting in yours!