As the world rises and opens up lotus-like from the COVID mud with all the human hustle and bustle that entails the budding geniuses behind the Slow Flowers Movement are optimistic that some eco-benefits of the virus’s earth-shaking effects will be long-term.
“I hesitate to use an over-used term, but there was surely a ‘silver lining’ to the pandemic,” said Debra Prinzing, a Seattle-based gardening writer and domestic flower advocate who coined the phrase, “Slow Flowers” in 2013. At its most basic, she explained, Slow Flowers advocates cultivating flowers grown with sustainable farming practices, harvested in their natural season of bloom, sourced as close to you as possible, and produced by florists who are using green, chemical-free design techniques.
Like “slow food” which Ms. Prinzing acknowledges inspired her movement, the philosophy is that it’s best to “wait” to enjoy a flower or an edible to be in season. Speaking of waiting, ongoing supply chain issues have disrupted the usual tsunami of imported flowers into the U.S. market, resulting in reliance and recognition of American flower growers by everyone from floral designers to interior decorators to June brides.
Ms. Prinzing has since written a game-changing book on the topic, founded the eponymous national movement, created an online directory of American and Canadian flower farms, hosts a weekly podcast with 5,000 listeners, and produces and moderates an annual summit. Next week, the fifth annual Slow Flowers Summit takes place at Maple Grove Farm in Bedford and Stone Barns Farm & Agricultural Center in Pocantico Hills, from June 26 to 28.
In 2017 Ms. Prinzing launched the first Slow Flowers Summit in Seattle to support American Flowers Week. Dubbed a “TED talk for flower lovers,” the SFS consists of lectures and demonstrations for those interested in the American-grown floral community. The summit hosts approximately 125 people — 60% are professional florists, 30% are flower farmers, and 10% are what Ms. Prinzing labels “avid flower gardeners and floral enthusiasts.”
Ms. D’Ambrosi, whose Sweet Earth Co. offers landscape design, consulting, and flower arrangements for weddings and various events, will talk about how floral designers and garden hobbyists can use their cutting gardens to support and supplement either their business or their art.
“While there’s been an awakening in recent years, there’s still an urgency to the message,” she remarked. “And we need the leaders in the field to help spread the word. The U.S. floral industry is still disproportionally imported roughly 80% to 20% American grown.”
“Another issue was that in trying to perfect their products, the Latin Americans were spraying their flowers with huge amounts of pesticides,” added Ms. D’Ambrosi. “The flowers coming across the border never had any bugs or evidence of bugs.”
“Fortunately, American flower farmers are on the rise,” stated Ms. D’Ambrosi. “The younger generation is eco-conscious and insists on sustainability. Before they make their flower choices, they do their research.”