I cheered as I read the news today that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have chosen to use locally grown and wild foraged flowers for their entire wedding. What a wonderful way to let the world know how they feel about the environment and local sustainability. Through their decision, they are bringing further awareness to the local flower movement and the importance of supporting local growers and the natural world.
One news headline stated that the royal couple’s decision to use local flowers would help bees. It’s true! The benefits of buying locally grown flowers are many and immediate. Growing flowers supports the pollinators - bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and more. Our flower gardens and flower farms provide a haven for them to thrive in. Through growing flowers we become a part of a larger story, a larger circle of life…we move from the microcosm of planting tiny seeds, in the soil to the larger macrocosm where pollinators are needed for the very survival of human life on Earth. We are growing food for the soul, and sometimes plate, and habitat for insects that pollinate not only our flowers but also our food. We are helping them to survive…we are helping ourselves to survive.
Many new flower farmers, myself included, do not use chemicals - we use sustainable, organic and holistic practices. Here at Alchemy Farm we use ladybugs and we grow plants that repel insects in amongst flowers that are vulnerable to attack by insect predators. We use recycled vegetable oil in saucers, or rolls of paper, to trap pesky earwigs - the bane of dahlia growers! Last summer I was at wits end with earwigs destroying precious dahlia blooms. Late one afternoon I was standing by the dahlia patch as the irrigation turned on. Suddenly ten, twenty, thirty tiny chickadees swooped down in to the dahlia patch - they were feasting on earwigs! Within a few days the earwig problem was solved. I marvelled at the cycle of Nature - a pest had turned into a meal for birds (I love birds). But even earwigs serve a purpose - as they travel through the garden they eat aphids, nematodes, mites, slugs and their eggs. Imagine, if you used a chemical pesticide to kill the earwigs you might end up with a bigger problem of aphids, nematodes, mites or slugs! The more I work directly with the Earth the more I am amazed, and deeply humbled, at the intelligence of Nature. I feel called to do this work…a flower whisperer. (I actually do talk to my flowers!)
The local flower movement which has begun to sprout across Canada and the United States has been steadily gaining momentum. We have quietly been meeting together online and through various groups. This September we will become an official movement as we celebrate of the first Canadian Flowers Week! Flower growers, designers, florists and others involved in the flower world will be hosting various events across Canada - stay tuned for more details. Here at Alchemy Farm we’ll be creating an environmental floral installation, through a workshop led by award-winning environmental artist and flower farmer designer, Ingrid Koivukangas. (That’s me.) I hope you will support your local flower farmers and growers by joining us to celebrate Canadian flowers! Contact me if you’d like to find out how to participate in the installation workshop.
Please remember, every single decision you make counts - even if it seems to be something as simple as buying flowers. When you decide to buy local flowers you are supporting a local business, as well as the natural world, the pollinators, and our future. In exchange you are receiving precious flowers, a dream grown from seed, by a flower farmer…a flower shepherd. Your decision is making a difference. Thank you.