On a sun-swept bluff on Martha's Vineyard, a dazzling field of daylilies—over 300 varieties—sways in the breeze. But at the Seaside Daylily Farm, the beauty is more than skin deep: Instead of using the herbicides and pesticides that are common in the flower industry, the farm sets ladybugs, pirate bugs, lacewings, and guinea hens loose to eat ticks, slugs, and other troublemakers. It also grows the flowers in organic soil.
The trend toward using natural and organic methods in the flower business is catching on. A 600-acre farm managed by Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, Wisconsin, for instance, sells organically grown flowers to Milwaukee-area markets, brides, and local chefs. Manic Organics, a company in Lawrenceville, Georgia, produces organic lavender, roses, sunflowers, and Siberian lilies.
Recently, Gerald Prolman, CEO and founder of Organic Bouquet, an online organic flower store, took things a step further by creating a national certification standard. Along with a panel of 15 leaders in the floral industry, Prolman developed the Veriflora label, which signifies that a bouquet is grown using sustainable practices. Prolman hopes the label will help raise public awareness and encourage more growers to go organic. "e;Sustainable production is key if we want to preserve our natural resources,"e; Prolman says. "e;My hope is that retailers will start to insist that their flowers come from farms that maintain the highest social and environmental standards."e;