Friday, July 10, 2009

Buying Local: How it Works

The Baltimore Sun ran an article Thursday about how local grocery stores are trying to get on the Local Produce band wagon. What they're finding though, is that buying local is logistically difficult for them. They are used to having things shipped to them from all over the world-easy-peasy. Buying Local, whether it's produce or flowers, doesn't exactly work that way.

For us, buying locally grown cut flowers for weddings and events starts with building relationships with farmers. We visit them at the farm, at the markets, at conferences and at other events. We learn about what types of flowers they grow and how they grow them. We keep track of what they have available when and how the weather effects what's available.

Next is placing the order. Marina says it's like a puzzle. She makes a "wish" list of what flowers she thinks would work best based on what the bride/client likes, what the wedding colors are, what the style is and what she thinks is in season. Then she sends it out to the farmers. The farmers respond (by email, fax and phone or in person when we see them) to let her know what they have and don't have. Marina adjusts her order accordingly. This back and forth could go on for days.

When figuring out the order, we also have to figure out how many farms we have to go to, if we can pick up at a local farmers market, if the farmer can deliver. Often times Marina or I drive to the farm and actually pick the flowers with the farmer. That's the most fun and best for the client, because we can see what the farmers have growing. Maybe they didn't mention that they would have some little gem; maybe they only have a few stems, but that would be enough for the bride's bouquet; maybe they have something they didn't think would be ready earlier in the week. This is one of the true joys and benefits of buying local.

Dave Dowling of Farmhouse Flowers picking ranunculus for a bride's bouquet.

Finally, we have the flowers and we get to work. Unlike traditional florists, we never know what we're going to have until we have it. There is no recipe. No arrangement or bouquet ever looks the same. Each time we come to "work", the creative process is in full swing. We have to figure it out again and again. But that's the beauty of it. Creating something new and unique and beautiful each and every time.

So for us, buying local makes all the difference!

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