VeriFlora, the eco-label for cut flowers sold in the United States, has just announced that it has certified two more flower farms. Now there are six farms in the US, Ecuador, and Colombia that have met VeriFlora’s standards for environmental and social responsibility.
They’ve also announced that they’re working with other certification programs to try to align their standards so that a farm that qualifies for one program can automatically be certified as having met at least some of VeriFlora’s standards.
What most people don’t realize is that while a flower certification program is new to the United States, such programs are common around the world and generally fall into two categories: those that certify flowers grown in a particular country (for instance, the Colombian growers’ association has its own program to certify its members), and those that certify flowers for sale in a particular country at the retail level. As you can imagine, no two programs have the same standards. Some are stricter than others.
For example, customers in the UK can buy Fairtrade flowers, which could be grown in Kenya and certified not just through the Kenya growers’ association program, but also through the Fairtrade program. Same goes for customers in Switzerland, who can buy flowers certified through the Max Havelaar program. If those flowers came from, say, Ecuador, they might also be certified through the Ecuadorian growers’ association program. Maybe that farm also participates in VeriFlora and Fairtrade.
As you can imagine, it can be confusing and expensive for flower farms to get certified through all these different programs. Trying to align these standards can make it a little easier for everyone. The key, however, is making sure that the standard does not get too watered-down in the process. What are the requirements for maternity leave for pregnant workers? What about mandatory overtime? What pesticides will be banned? What water conservation standard will be followed?
I’m betting that a lot of these issues will shake out over the next few years. Meanwhile, another piece of good news: Organic Bouquet has established a wholesale division, making it possible for any florist to order organic or VeriFlora flowers for their shop. I’m starting to see VeriFlora flowers at grocery stores–I saw them at La Montanita in Albuquerque recently–and I bet we’ll see florists delivering more "green" bouquets in the years to come, too.