A few weeks ago, something happened in New York that was as unexpected as it was gratifying. Colombian flower growers handed out some of their favorite species to New Yorkers and tourists, who received them as an emotional gesture of gratitude.
The weather was benevolent, with a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius in a summer that has been on fire. The asphalt usually boils in this season in the busy areas of Times Square, Fifth Avenue, Empire State Building, Wall Street, Broadway or the access to the Brooklyn Bridge. There, the three florists who traveled on behalf of their guild gave out such delicate gifts.
The day began in Central Park. Could Colombian flowers stand out in such an iconic park, which has more than 24,000 trees and 500 square meters of forest, 21 recreation areas and seven water reserves? "Of course," they answer in unison. The starting point was the Shakespeare garden.
The decision was a declaration of principles. He is as important to English literature as flowers are to the country's cultural tradition. They grow in the fields, hang on the balconies, decorate homes, and sprout in the Andean villages or on the coasts, in the Plains or in the capitals.
And that story is known by the country's growers. Some of them already belong to the second or third generation that is devoted to this trade.
But they no longer work like their ancestors. They left the homeland behind and, in these times of globalization, they move like fish in the water in London, Tokyo or New York, the most cosmopolitan city in the world. Here they come to sell in a market that welcomes them. In 2018, the value of global imports of fresh flowers totaled 8,436 million dollars, says a ProColombia report. The study adds that in that year, the United States was the largest importer, with purchases worth 1,516 million dollars, 80 percent of which were Colombian.
In a way, the trip of the 5,000 flowers to give out in New York symbolizes the effort of the 600,000 Colombians who take part in the sector’s daily activities, from the planting to the products’ sale.
Prior to the tribute in New York, the sector organized similar initiatives in London and Tokyo. It is an experience of cultural exchange and with an innovative vision. The goal is to depend less on specific dates, such as Valentine's Day, and also to bring to the forefront of those markets a product that has the Netherlands as its fiercest competitor.