Buying local for Valentine’s Day

Baby Rose

There are more ways to buy local than just food. This Valentine’s Day, why not try fresh Ontario flowers?

The perfect example, say Ontario flower growers, are potted miniature roses – ideal for the upcoming Valentine’s occasion.

“The potted roses you see at your florist or at the grocery store are all grown by farmers right here in Ontario,” says Jamie Aalbers, Director of Research with Flowers Canada (Ontario).

Not only are you reducing your carbon foot print and supporting local farmers, it’s also easier on the pocket book. A 4 inch pot retails for around $5.99 and a six inch pot for approximately $10.00, which is much less expensive than cut roses.

valentines2Ontario used to be a major producer of cut roses but after two decades of strong competition from countries like Columbia and Ecuador, there are only two Ontario growers still in that game. Now Ontario’s rose production is focused on the Sweetheart or miniature rose.

“In Ontario we’re great at growing sweetheart roses, which have shorter stems and smaller heads,” says Aalbers. “But consumers prefer long stems and large heads when it comes to roses and we can’t compete on price. Our environment is also not as ideal up here.”

An added-bonus for socially conscious consumers is that you know exactly what you’re getting. There is no worry that your beautiful Valentine’s Day flowers are being produced by underpaid workers in less than ideal conditions, as has recently been claimed about flowers coming to Canada from countries like Columbia.

“There are great local products you can buy if you are at all concerned about imported flowers,” says Aalbers. “With Canadian-grown flowers, you know that the labour is regulated and that only approved products and methods are being used to grow them.”

And it’s easier to buy local with flowers than it can be with food. All potted plants have a care tag, says Aalbers, that will identify whether they are grown in Canada or even Ontario.

Tulips

Bouquets of Ontario-grown cut flowers – like the sweethearts but also gerberas, tulips and alstroemeria among others – can easily be picked out by the “Pick Ontario” sticker on the sleeve.

Pick Ontario is a promotion program launched about a year ago by flower growers to help consumers buy local cut flowers and potted plants.

gerbera1Ontario produces 55% of all of Canada’s flowers, followed by British Columbia and Quebec. There is a large concentration of Ontario growers in the Niagara area, but you will flower growers in most parts of the province.

Canada’s flower production is worth close to $1.5 billion per year to growers ($800 million in Ontario alone), making it the third largest agricultural sector in the country by farm gate receipts.

All images courtesy of Flowers Canada (Ontario) and Pick Ontario.

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