Stop and Smell the Sustainable Flowers: Valentine's Day Alternatives

By Sari Kamin and Leah Eden, HRN Writers

It's almost Valentine's Day, and many of you are probably planning to pick up roses at your corner store or order a bouquet from a 1-800 service. Most people don't think about where cut flowers come from but the growing interest in sustainable food has led to a greater focus on environmentally and socially responsible flowers. Like food, flowers come with their share of sourcing challenges. 80 percent of cut flowers sold in the United States are imported. From transportation and energy costs to labor challenges to pesticide usage, there are plenty of reasons to think about where you buy flowers for your loved ones this Valentine's Day.

Luckily there is a small but growing sustainable flower industry working to make changes in every aspect of the flower supply chain. They focus on conserving water, limiting pesticides and promoting economic and social justice for those who grow and harvest flowers. Advocates for domestic, seasonal and eco-friendly flowers suggest asking your neighborhood florist for a local alternative to imported roses. There are also several online flower companies, such as,, or that offer USDA certified organic flowers or direct customers to local growers.

Debra Prinzing, author of "The 50 Mile Bouquet" and creator of (launching this month), suggests consumers source their flowers as thoughtfully as their food. As an advocate for local and seasonal flowers, it is no surprise she suggests looking beyond roses for Valentine's Day. Look for flowers blooming in your region or drought-resistant flowers that cut down on water usages in the growing process.

If you would rather pick up some pretty petals in person and live near a Whole Foods Market, check out Whole Trade® flowers which works much like Fair Trade. Whole Foods' partner flower farmers in Ecuador, Colombia, and Costa Rica get a "social premium" price used to fund a community project benefiting the collective of farmers.

Make your gift of flowers a little more meaningful this Valentine's Day by supporting the budding sustainable flower industry and give your loved ones something extra to love.

To learn more about the growing sustainable flower industry tune in to Heritage Radio

Sustainable Valentine's Day Flowers: Pleasure-play episode
It's almost Valentine's Day, and instead of picking up roses at your local bodega or ordering them from a 1-800 service, think outside the box and learn about seasonal local flower alternatives from Debra Prinzing. Also, hear from Carol Medeiros, Associate Global Produce Coordinator at Whole Foods Market about how your purchase of Whole Trade® flowers directly supports flower farmers in South and Central America.

Cut Flowers: News-play episode
Currently, the food world is obsessed with traceability and sourcing. But how do these ideas apply to other agricultural products? Debra Prinzing is a cut flower expert and author, and she joins the to discuss the ethics and environmental impact of importing flowers. Find out how you can support local growers with your choice in flower arrangements, too!

We Dig Plants: Slow Flowers: Episode 129-play episode
Looking to get something special for that special someone on Valentine's Day? Skip the roses and try some slow flowers! What's a slow flower? Well, Debra Prinzing is here today on "We Dig Plants" to explain! Alice Marcus Krieg and Carmen Devito invite Debra onto the program to discuss her infatuation with local, seasonal, American-grown flowers, and why she wrote a book about the floral industry entitled "Slow Flowers."