Individuals, Entrepreneurs, Policymakers, Councils, Chamber of Commerce, Teagasc
Like food, flowers often come from far flung places, are mass produced and often chemical laden. There are no guarantees that the flowers you purchase are free of pesticide residues and workers’ rights are also an issue in the industry.
Many flowers could be grown locally and organically in the open, in polytunnels or under glass. Heating required by any flowers grown indoors can be from local renewable sources. There are commercial opportunities at a local level, if work is done to change consumer values and spending habits. Some initiatives, which if promoted, could lead to many local jobs:
• Local flowers for the main celebrations (Valentine’s Day, weddings, wedding anniversaries, Mother’s Day etc.)
• The 50-mile bouquet (that all flowers be sourced from with a 50 mile radius).
• Floral art (transforming streets and roads using flowers).
• Council policy on flower growing could be adopted to improve biodiversity for bees and to enhance communities. The policy also needs to protect hedgerows and public spaces against pesticide use by Councils.
In conjunction with other sections of this document on polytunnels and on co-operatives, many jobs could be created in this sector.
When imported flowers are the only viable option, buyers can still choose organic and fair trade. Many people make positive purchasing choices for food regarding quality and responsibility to producer and planet. However, purchasing choices in other sectors including flowers are less conscientious, partly due to lack of awarenes. Environmental / sustainable education is important to head more in the sustainable direction.
There are a number of relevant certification bodies which regulate more sustainable practices that aid purchasers make in making better choices.
Wild Bunches, Bluebell Cottage, Carrigane Road, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork