Tuesday, September 1 , 2015, 11:14 pm | Fair 68.0º




Sending Flowers for Valentine’s Day? Share the Love with Local Growers

Buying locally grown bouquets, marked with 'CA GROWN' license plate symbols, helps pump money into the local economy

A study by the California Cut Flower Commission found that each year, the industry has a $10.3 billion impact on the economy, and that 92 cents of every dollar spent on locally grown flowers goes back into the local economy.

A study by the California Cut Flower Commission found that each year, the industry has a $10.3 billion impact on the economy, and that 92 cents of every dollar spent on locally grown flowers goes back into the local economy.  (California Cut Flower Commission courtesy photo)

By Kevin McFadden, Noozhawk Contributor |

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s a good time for California consumers to wake up and smell the roses — or daisies, tulips and orchids.

Kasey Cronquist, executive director of the California Cut Flower Commission, recently sat down with Noozhawk to discuss the growing importance of educating consumers about the origins of the flowers they purchase for that special — or not-so-special — occasion.

“Right now, 80 percent of the flowers sold in the U.S. are grown in South America, particularly Colombia,” said Cronquist, who has been executive director of the commission for the past two years. “So instead of that money being pumped back into the local economy, a good portion of it goes out of the country.”

A recent study by the California Cut Flower Commission found that each year, the flower industry has a $10.3 billion impact on the economy, and that for every dollar spent on locally grown flowers, 92 cents goes directly back into the local economy. That statistic is particularly important to note for Santa Barbara residents, since Santa Barbara County provides more than 50 percent of California’s overall production value — making it the largest flower-growing region in the country.

“Our growers are hoping that people will take into consideration the fact that buying locally grown flowers actually provides a big boost to our economy,” Cronquist said. “In general, consumers can help the flagging economy by simply paying attention to where a lot of the products they buy are coming from.”

Each bouquet of locally grown flowers is marked by a California license plate symbol that reads, “CA GROWN.”

Each bouquet of locally grown flowers is marked with a
Each bouquet of locally grown flowers is marked with a “CA GROWN” license plate symbol. (California Cut Flower Commission courtesy photo)

The commission, a state agency funded by a state-mandated assessment on all California growers, launched a campaign in November to help garner support for the struggling industry. “Hint cards” were created, which are wallet-sized cards that perforate off and drop not-too-subtle hints that someone would like to receive flowers.

The messages on the cards say things such as, “Not because you have to,” “Not because you’re sorry,” “Just because” and “I dare you to buy me flowers.” The cards are the right size to leave under a pillow, stick to a mirror or drop into someone’s pocket.

“The hint cards come with the bouquet, and the flowers themselves act as a vehicle for the campaign, which hopefully allows flower lovers — especially women — to receive local flowers all year long,” Cronquist said. “It’s just a fun, engaging way to get the word out there.”

On March 6, the commission will launch a Greenhouse Tour Program in Carpinteria. The public can visit greenhouses redolent of local flowers and learn more about the flower-growing process.

Cronquist said that while he’s hopeful that raising awareness and educating the public will provide much-needed support for California’s flower industry, he realizes that the commission faces an uphill battle.

“This is an industry that is under siege right now by a ton of import pressure,” Cronquist said. “There are currently four local families with kids that are in the process of taking over the family growing business. With so much market share dominated by South America, I wonder sometimes if they are going to have a future in this industry.”

— Kevin McFadden is a Noozhawk contributor.




comments powered by Disqus

» on 02.12.10 @ 11:36 AM

Come to the 2nd Annual Carpinteria Valley Greenhouse Tours, hosted by the Santa Barbara County Flower & Nursery Growers Association on Saturday March 6th!  Check out the website for more information at: http://www.carpinteriagreenhousetours.com

» on 02.12.10 @ 01:18 PM

One of the best ways to insure you’re buying flowers from
a California grower is to purchase them at one of our many farmers markets.  I bought a dozen long-stem roses
of high quality Thursday at the market in Carpenteria.
The price was $10, a good buy at any time of year.

Many farmers who participate in these markets are
hurting this year. The recent wet weather, while beneficial in the long run, has made harvesting of
berries difficult. So give them a Valentine, too,
by patronizing our farmers markets.
this year. So I guess this is a pitch

» on 02.12.10 @ 01:56 PM

Are the cost of CA flowers competitively priced with the South America flowers? People want value for their dollar.  That’s the bottom line.

» on 02.12.10 @ 02:06 PM

Fabulous story - and no Kevin and I are NOT related :) I love flowers and would like to be sure I’m buying local at all times - hey we’re in the Garden of Eden… need not look far to find gorgeous gerbera, orchids and others..

» on 02.12.10 @ 05:00 PM

The bottom line is that South American product has unseen added costs - there are no pesticide restrictions, no fair labor practices and the flowers imported are sometimes used to smuggle in illegal substances. Wouldn’t you rather have your money stay here in California? To support our local economy, state and country…even if it costs just a bit more…

» on 02.12.10 @ 05:05 PM

Eileen: Everyone wants value for their dollar and that’s exactly how big box stores like Wal-Mart exist and the flower industry could be no different. Personally, it makes more sense to spend the extra dollar or so and support local growers. The US is the poorest “wealthy” nation - it’s pathetic. We should pay ourselves first and worry about keeping money here instead of paying everyone else for what we’re capable of producing on our own soil.

» on 02.13.10 @ 11:57 AM

I prefer to buy local. However, in support of Eileen, I think most people will pay “a dollar more” for something for the principle of it. But we’re not talking about a dollar more. I see flowers that are $8-$10 (or less if it’s on sale) and I think “Oh, maybe for that low price I’ll buy some today”. But when the same type of flowers are $15-$18, I don’t do any impulse buying of flowers. For special occasions I usually buy what I’m looking for and try to keep it local.

» on 02.13.10 @ 01:42 PM

You need to advertise exactly where locally we can go to buy CALIFORNIA GROWN flowers (other than the Farmers Market) so we can make that choice.

» on 02.13.10 @ 05:40 PM

Three places that I know you can definitely find local flowers are Vons, Safeway, and Pavilion stores. That is by no means an exhaustive list, but those are the initial three stores that have joined the “hint card” campaign… just fyi!

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