As everywhere, the COVID-19 crisis has also hit the flowers and greens industry in the United States hard. Growers, propagators and traders are feeling the impact of decimated demand,
event cancellations and shop closures, but amidst all this, there are also feelings of hope, in the knowledge that we're all in this together, and we'll get out of this situation stronger.
Flower farming community pulls together
As President of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, Jennie Love says she's been incredibly inspired by the ingenuity and flexibility of small-scale flower farmers as they pivot their sales channels in response to the COVID-19 crisis. "Examples have been previously wholesale-only operations quickly developing an online shop and delivery route for retail, contact-less sales so they can continue to get their flowers sold even as all their wholesale florist customers have been forced to temporarily close", she shares. "Others who typically sold a great many stems at farmers markets that are now closed due to restrictions on gatherings have worked hard rapidly to set up farmer hubs that continue sales through an online portal and then gather orders for customers to pick up in one spot. Other ASCFG members are picking up new accounts with grocery stores in order to sell bouquets through those outlets which are allowed to remain open as essential businesses while so many of our cities are under shelter-in-place orders. I believe it is times like this that show the true spirit of farmers of any kind. We are a gritty group who, thanks to Mother Nature's fickle temperament, knows what it's like to face challenges head on. I'm deeply inspired by my fellow flower farming community!"
Debra Prinzing is seeing much of the same taking place in the Slow Flowers community, which has some membership overlap with ASCFG. "The COVID-19 crisis has coincided with the start of North America's spring flower harvest and the beginning of wedding season for many florists. The reality is -- flowers keep growing. And our members have to react creatively to find new channels to sell their flowers. Pivoting to grocery is a smart way to move those flowers, because grocery stores are considered essential services in every community. I think there is potential for flower growers as well as florists to expand their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and bouquet subscription offerings, and I've also seen a number of growers roll out new product offerings, such as cut flower seedlings collections for home gardeners."