Attention Good Earth Plant Company blog readers: Friday, February 14 is Valentine’s Day. You’re welcome.
If you let this sneak up on you like a lot of people, you’ll be scrambling today to purchase the no-brainer Valentine’s Day favorites: chocolates and flowers, usually roses.
Valentine’s Day roses and I go back a long way at Good Earth Plant Company. For my first 14 years in business, I ran a flower stand named “Good Earth Plant & Flower Co.” – very different from what we do today after four decades in business. Back in the 1970s and into the early 1990s, our main product was fresh cut flowers, and our biggest sales rush of the year was Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day means BIG business and it taught me some of my most important early lessons.
I got ready for the week-long barrage of frantic phone calls from sometimes desperate (mostly) men who hadn’t thought ahead and now realized if they didn’t get those roses delivered to their girlfriends or wives on the Big Day, they would pay the price. I had paper order slips falling out of my pockets. How did we keep track without any computer order systems? It seems totally crazy now.
Learning how to maximize these short time periods of increased demand let me put some money in the bank to get through the lean days when I could count the number of customers I had on one hand. These are the challenges you learn to navigate when you run your own business. To this day, I have recurring dreams of not having enough stock or not being able to find an address for delivery.
And I learned how many dozen roses, baby’s breath and ferns in a vase I could make in an hour (14).
What I didn’t think much about back then was the impact on the planet of rushing all those roses (always roses) into production during the winter season in the U.S. That’s one of many things which has changed at Good Earth Plant Company.
The majority of cut flowers sold for Valentine’s Day come from South America. South American farms grow a superior product, and it’s summertime below the equator. The U.S. Department of Agriculture keeps a running total of flower imports into the U.S. So far in 2020, one-third of all flowers imported into the U.S. are roses. Ninety percent of them come from Colombia and Ecuador.
They’ve got to get here somehow. You guessed it, they are flown into the U.S. Thirty cargo jets fly from Colombia to Miami every single day in the month before February 14, and another 30 cargo jets fly in from Ecuador. The International Council on Clean Transportation worked out the math. This is 360,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. During the height of the drug cartels, flower shipments included bricks of cocaine making the whole batch of roses subject to confiscation. Once the flowers get to the U.S., they are put on refrigeration trucks to drive them across the country.
People who care about the planet are starting to push back with something called the “Slow Flowers” movement. It was started by outdoor living and American flower industry advocate Debra Prinzing. She has written books on this topic, and her website provides resources to find florists who use only U.S. or locally grown, sustainable flowers.
Good Earth Plant Company works with many clients who like fresh cut flowers in addition to green plants in their work spaces. Often we provide them living orchids and bromeliads as a substitute. They save money and they’re much better for the planet.
But recently, we realized the need to figure out another, better way to provide fresh colorful displays with less impact on the planet. And if we can save our clients a little cash, even better.
Starting this year, Good Earth Plant Company is using vibrant multi-hued succulents, air plants, mosses, rocks, shells, twigs, and other interesting materials to create tabletop ‘Living Art’ displays. Six sizes range from “mini” (under 6 inches) to “extra-large” (three feet overall).
We deliver a new Living Art creation every six weeks. When the latest design shows up, people come from every corner of the building to see what Good Earth Plant Company has come up with for them.
Clients use Living Art to brighten their lobbies, conference rooms, group seating areas, and other places where they can be the center of attention. They are a wonderful replacement for fresh floral displays. Clients discover Living Art displays last much longer than cut flowers, and can lower costs.
And – they are sustainable. Our succulents are grown right in our San Diego greenhouse. We recycle them when they come back, and use cuttings from our living walls. They don’t need a lot of special care and they don’t need transportation. It’s something everyone can feel good about.
They’re so interesting and beautiful. When we bring in a new Living Art bowl, people stream into the lobby.
Want some Living Art for your business? I thought you’d never ask. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can put something unique together for you.
Back to our original topic. I do get it that roses mean something special to a lot of people on Valentine’s Day, and sometimes only roses will do. There are a handful of rose producers in California and you can check their websites. Another possible source is your local farmer’s market. Back in the day, all I had to do was drive 20 miles to Encinitas to buy from a local grower.
If you can choose something besides roses, there are many other beautiful flowers in season grown closer to home in the U.S. Consider carnations (they come in red!), or daffodils, hyacinths, freesias, iris or lilies. Mother Earth will love you for it. Shouldn’t you be good to her on Valentine’s Day too?