I know I am about to walk a fine line here, but I encourage you to walk it with me.
Recently, it was brought to my attention that BloomNation was nominated to Martha Stewart’s American Made contest. BloomNation is a new, online network of “artisan florists” that supply “handcrafted bouquets” to local and regional markets. Martha Stewart’s American Made contest is an annual competition created by Stewart to “honor and support a growing population of those makers who create beautiful and useful products, pioneer new industries, and improve their local communities.”
I do want to acknowledge Stewart for using her immense platform to feature American Made products. She doesn’t have to do this. In fact, the naming of the Certified American Grown flowers program was inspired, in part, by Stewart’s American Made initiative. She was onto something, and the Certified American Grown program is like-minded in its intent to bring focus to locally grown flowers here in the U.S.
That is what makes BloomNation’s nomination for Stewart’s ”American Made” an opportunity. It highlights an important perception and awareness issue that faces American flower farmers every day.
American Made doesn’t mean American Grown, and yet we see this implied communication, messaging and marketing that associates imported flowers with the “Made in the USA” or “American Made” claim appearing at many retailers right now throughout our country.
I’m not going to point fingers here, but I will simply point out that the origin of the flowers used in a bouquet or design is just as important as where it was designed or where it was “assembled.” Origin matters. The economic activity and jobs generated by our local farms are just as important as those found in retail and wholesale operations. In fact, we should be advocating for more of these jobs and farms growing here in this country.
Enter Certified American Grown.
This program was created to help consumers and the floral industry identify, understand and more deeply appreciate those floral designs, bouquets and arrangements that are actually created with flowers grown in the United States. Many people assume that a flower bouquet or arrangement from a local shop or studio would include flowers also grown here. However, for many reasons, including the lack of enforcement on origin-based labeling at our ports of entry, 74 percent of Americans have no idea where flowers come from today. The result? Approximately 80 percent of the flowers now sold in the United States are imported, primarily from Colombia and Ecuador.
So, while BloomNation’s “American Made” claim may be technically accurate (in that the flowers are physically assembled by BloomNation member florists), it seems to misrepresent the spirit of the affiliation of what is “American.” If all of the flowers in an arrangement are imported, can it still be considered “American Made?”
Since the launch of the Certified American Grown program in July, we’ve continued to see the interest and opportunity to further the support and cultivate the network of farmers, florists and designers who are committed to not only being a local source, but providing local, American Grown flowers.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Please leave your answer to the question above in the comment section below.