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My guest today is Debra Prinzing, founder and creative director of Slowflowers.com. We will be talking about toxic chemicals in the floral industry and how organic and sustainably-grown flowers are grown and labeled. Debra is a Seattle-based outdoor living expert who writes and lectures on gardens and home design. She has a background in textiles, journalism, landscape design and horticulture. A frequent speaker for botanical garden, horticultural society and flower show audiences, Debra is also a regular radio and television guest. She is the author of Slow Flowers, The 50 Mile Bouquet and other books on gardens. Debra is the producer/host of the weekly “Slow Flowers Podcast with Debra Prinzing,” Debra is a contributing garden editor for Country Gardens and her feature stories on architecture and design appear regularly in the Los Angeles Times’ Home section. Her writing has appeared in top shelter and consumer publications, including Better Homes & Gardens, Sunset, Garden Design, Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Metropolitan Home, Landscape Architecture, Alaska Airlines Magazine, This Old House, Old House Interiors, GRAY and Romantic Homes, among others. www.debraprinzing.com | www.slowflowers.com

Slow Flowers     The 50 Mile Bouquet

slowflowers foliage bouquet

Bouquet that arrived from the guest during the show.
I love the foliage that looks like flowers!

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transcript

TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
Sustainable Local Flowers – Delivered to Your Door

Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Debra Prinzing

Date of Broadcast: October 07, 2014

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and this is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world and live toxic-free. Today is Tuesday, October 17th – no, October 7th. I was already thinking 2014.

I’m here in Clearwater, Florida where it’s a lovely autumn day and we just had – there’s a day in Florida, especially here in Clearwater where it stops being hot and the cold front comes down from the north. Everything cools off. It stops being humid. And suddenly, it’s cool and we start having winter. We start having beautiful, beautiful winter.

In fact, we’re going to be talking about flowers today and Florida starts blooming. Everything grows in the winter time because in the summer time, it’s just too hot. All of the plants just kind of curl up and stay cool and don’t grow and then things start happening in the fall and then we get beautiful flowers over the winter.

It’s a whole different pattern than the northern hemisphere, which I’m more accustomed to because I grew up in California.

Anyway, we’re really talking about flowers today. We’re going to be talking about slow flowers, local flowers, sustainable, organic flowers. My guest is Debra Prinzing. She’s the founder and creative director of SlowFlowers.com and she’s also the author of a book by the same name and also The 50 Mile Bouquet and we’re going to be talking right now (as soon as I introduce her) about how you can buy flowers from local, sustainable, organic producers, which are totally different than the florist industry.
Hi, Debra. Thanks for being here. Hello?

DEBRA PRINZING: That sounded like a good name.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yes, she is. We have two Debra’s today.

DEBRA PRINZING: That’s right.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: So if anybody says ‘Debra’ here, we’ll both go, “What?”

DEBRA PRINZING: Well, thanks for having me on. It’s a great topic and perfect for Toxic Free Talk Radio I think.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: I think so too. So first of all, tell us what slow flowers are.

DEBRA PRINZING: Well, anybody who follows the food world knows the term ‘slow food’, which has been around for over a decade kind of implying that we’re shrinking our transportation footprint in how we source the food we eat. We also are looking at the practices on how that food is produced.

So the parallel in flowers is really evident and it’s [inaudible 00:03:28] just recently that people are starting to see flowers as an important part of agriculture in the U.S. and consequently asking questions about the flowers they purchase and whether they’ve been grown within a 50-mile radius or 100-mile radius versus from another continent.

The slow food is sort of a nod to that idea that if we do flowers in our lives, we want to source them closely to where we live and we want them to be produced in a sustainable way.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: I totally agree. So how did you get interested in this subject?

DEBRA PRINZING: Well, I’ve been a garden writer for almost 20 years and covered many kind of consumer-oriented topics about design and growing, food and ornamentals. In about 2006, I began to meet some local flower farmers in my area, in Washington State. And then I lived in California after that, so I met lots of flower farmers in California and I began to realize that they are trying to make a living off their land and revitalize the broken U.S. floral industry.

Eighty percent of cut flowers that we purchase in the U.S. are imported, which to me makes no sense. It’s a perishable product. It’s insane.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yes.

DEBRA PRINZING: So the farmers that I met just really inspired me to tell their stories. They’re really committed to sustainable practices, the permaculture to trying to have good pollinary sources for the insects on their land and they’re also growing beautiful flowers that the consumers would want especially the wedding industry that’s sort of driving this whole thing.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: I looked at your website, SlowFlowers.com and I was really surprised to see how many resources you have there. And even, I live in Florida, there were a half a dozen places that I could go to not just right down the street from me, but within driving distance like I live in Clearwater and you had one in Sarasota and I just thought about going to Sarasota. But if I was getting married, Sarasota is not that far away that I couldn’t hire that florist especially if one has these values.

It was very encouraging to me to see. We’ll talk about some of those later in the show as we talk about your website and all that’s available.

So tell us more about the floral industry. You called it ‘broken’. I think that that’s probably a good word. And I think that flowers are such a lovely thing and such a natural thing and I know that I’m always happy to have fresh flowers sitting on my desk.

DEBRA PRINZING: And if you’re a gardener or you live next door to one or you have one in your life, probably you know that the practices that were used to grow this flower that you can – it’s like the true 50-mile bouquet or the true slow flower bouquet is one from your own yard.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Right, right.

DEBRA PRINZING: But not everybody as you were saying about Florida, you’re just starting to get into your happy garden moments.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yes!

DEBRA PRINZING: Not everybody has that.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: I can’t even go out in my garden in the summer time because you can’t breathe, it’s so humid.

DEBRA PRINZING: That’s tough. I know. And that’s why so much foliage has grown in Florida because the foliage industry is ideally suited for the growing conditions in Florida. That’s a wonderful, little secret.

But the broken part of the industry really dates back to 1991 when the U.S. government enacted the Indian Trade Preference Agreement. That was our so-called ‘war on drugs’. The policy then lifted trade duties on flowers from South American countries. And that was sort of a blank check to let Columbia and Ecuador and other countries in South America boost their floral production and dump that product on our marketplace and American flower farmers could not fight that wave. It’s been scary battle ever since.

And mainly because even if the flowers aren’t labeled organic in the U.S., they’re grown under EPA regulations, which are very strict and they’re grown of course with U.S. labor standards, which are very much – you know, they’re not perfect, but they’re better than what we see in a lot of other countries.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Well, tell us, I do want to hear about the EPA growing standards. We talk about organic in this show, we talk about sustainability. You mentioned permaculture. We talked about permaculture. I would really like to know – I’ve had people on that talked at length about the organic food standards. So if there are standards that have to do with growing flowers, let’s talk about them.

DEBRA PRINZING: Sure! Well, of course the word ‘organic’ has basically been co-opted by the USDA. They have the power to give that designation to a food grower who meets their standard. So ‘certified organic’ with a capital O, that’s what you see in food.

There are something like 850 flower farms in the U.S. that have certified organic designation from the USDA. Many of them are food farmers who grow a small portion of flowers either for farmers’ market sales or CSA boxes, which is kind of a bonus. If you get food in your CSA box, you might get some zinnias.

But in general, it’s really tough for commercial cut flower growers to get that USDA designation because let’s face it, food production is often a monoculture. Flower production, usually, there might be a hundred varieties of flowers that’s farmed. So there’s sort of crop by crop need for handling pests and diseases and most flower farmers I know can’t financially justify getting that organic designation.

They use the word ‘sustainable’ and many of them are using organic practices such as crop rotation and beneficial insect and insecticidal soaps and that kind of good gardening practices that anybody who gardens would do. There are EPA-approved chemicals I guess you would say. A lot of them are going down intensity over the years just because I think EPA is getting pressured to approve less harmful chemicals. So you really have to – it’s sort of invisible. You really have to talk to the farmer and the grower and ask them what their practices are unless they are certified organic.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Right. We need to go to break, so we’ll talk more when we come back.

DEBRA PRINZING: Yeah! Sorry, yeah. Go ahead.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: It’s okay. My guest today is – you’re listening to – argh, let’s start over. Jeez! I usually do this much better. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Debra Prinzing. She’s the founder and creative director of SlowFlowers.com and we’re talking about the floral industry and how you can get less toxic flowers. We’ll be right back.

= COMMERCIAL BREAK =

DEBRA LYNN DADD: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Debra Prinzing. She’s founder and creative director of SlowFlowers.com and we’re talking about flowers and the floral industry. Debra, can you tell us just about some of the toxic chemicals that are used. Obviously, there’s probably pesticides being used within the floral industry, but are there any other chemicals that we might not be thinking of?

DEBRA PRINZING: Oh, yeah! I mean, one of the biggest ones is formaldehyde. I’m really frustrated to see what’s happened at the floral industry. This is at the flower shop level. You know that green brick of foam that maybe sometimes comes with your arrangement? Well, that is pre-carcinogenic. It’s been around for 60 years, but the generic name is ‘floral foam’. There’s three or four manufacturers who have produced this in the U.S.

It doesn’t break down on landfills, it’s not biodegradable and a lot of people have skin or lung issues if they’re working with it daily. I mean, if you’re just getting it delivered to you once a year from your great aunt, it’s probably not going to hurt you, but it’s still going to go to the land fill.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Well, formaldehyde, just recently, there was absolute official proclamation that formaldehyde causes cancer. It’s not in question anymore. It causes cancer. That just came out like two months ago.

DEBRA PRINZING: That’s tragic, but it’s also good that that statement is out there because finally, the floral industry is putting their heads up and saying, “Okay, maybe this isn’t such a great product.” Yes, it holds that when you punch a stem into that brick of foam. It doesn’t budge. So designers think that they must use it.

But I just interviewed a woman who has developed a plant-based 100% compostable alternative to the foam. It’s just being introduced to the market this fall. It’s made of cocoa fiber and red algae as sort of its plant component. It’s called floral soil. And if anyone wants to read about it, there’s an article on my website, DebraPrinzing.com that I can send you the link to.

It’s exciting because she’s like an outsider. She’s come out as a life scientist saying, “There’s got to be a better way to meet the needs of an industry than to use chemicals.” There’s that whole green chemical movement that’s behind it. It’s very exciting.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Right! Right, right. Yes, that’s very good.

DEBRA PRINZING: Yeah, it’s good for you and your home and it’s also good for the environment. I’m predicting by next year, we’ll start seeing florists making a statement to their consumer saying, “I no longer use foam. I’m using green practices.”

DEBRA LYNN DADD: I think that that’s really good. I’m very encouraged to see how much it’s developed since – well, I started 30 years ago talking about toxic chemicals in consumer products.

But really, looking at it from a consumer viewpoint, I can say to people, “Well, here’s this one product that doesn’t have toxic chemicals. And here’s another one product.” But one excited about is whole industries looking at where are the toxic chemicals and the industry itself moving in a direction of being less toxic as you’re talking about.

DEBRA PRINZING: And even things like just how the flowers are packaged. It’s not using plastic, but using cellulose fiber-based products. That’s the waste that we’re seeing. And of course, a lot of it is synthetic, maybe not technically toxic, but it’s going to sit in a landfill and not biodegrade.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: So if you had delivered to you from an ordinary florist, a dozen roses in a box with ribbons on it and all of that, are there any chemicals used like preservatives or something like if you were to open the box and take a big whiff, are you getting a big breath of chemicals?

DEBRA PRINZING: Well, that’s a very – I can just picture that in my mind because that’s like the classic gift of flowers that we’ve been conditioned to think as expression of love. First of all, those roses were more likely than not grown in South America. At Valentine’s day, only about 3% of roses sold are domestically grown. The rest of the year, that might move a little a few points. The rose industry has been completely dominated by countries near the equator.

They may call those roses sustainably grown. There are some of these eco labels that are coming out of South America and that might…

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Oh, wait! Let me just interrupt you for a minute about that because I do see those labels in places that I shop and I was just thinking about the different…

DEBRA PRINZING: One is called Veriflora, yes.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: I was just thinking about the difference between an eco label in a foreign country versus the whole concept of the 50-mile bouquet.

DEBRA PRINZING: Mm-hmmm… right! And when I a country or an industry in a different country decide to come up with their own eco label, it’s really hard to know what they’re considering is green. A lot of them have more of a fair trade component to them like, “We give workers lunch breaks” or “We allow people to bring their children to after-school childcare,” which are all great things, but you really have to dig deep to find out what that label means.

I think one is called Rainforest Alliance. One is called Veriflora. But the bottomline is when flowers come into Miami, that box of roses they just described, they come right down the street from you, they land from Miami International Airport and even if they are labeled sustainable, they are inspected for bugs because the only thing that customs are looking for are pests that could be damaging to U.S. food crops.

So because of that, most of those flowers had been drenched or sprayed or fogged with fumigant to keep the bugs dead, to kill the bugs.

So regardless of what their practice is, they still have to get sprayed to enter the U.S., which is kind of contradictory to what their label is. That just to me is the opposite of showing love.

And you notice when you get those roses, what do they smell like? They have no fragrant.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: That’s right. I told the story before about how the first time I ate an organic orange and it actually smelled like an orange, I used to think prior to that day that what I was smelling when I smelled an orange was an orange. No, it was fumigant.

DEBRA PRINZING: Oh, my goodness. Right, right. It’s that sort of almost like a metallic or moldy smell that you can’t quite picture.

Well, the reason that the roses don’t smell at all is that breeding has gone so far in long-stemmed roses, but they are bred for – I don’t know if this is actually a term, but shipability. So the fragrance disappears when you’re breeding for sticker petals. The whole idea of sticking your nose in a bouquet to smell it is so old-fashioned now. Either you really have to buy organic flowers or flowers from a boutique kind of artisan grower who’s growing heirloom varieties that do have fragrance.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yes! And we’ll talk more about this when we come back.

DEBRA PRINZING: Great!

DEBRA LYNN DADD: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and my guest today is another Debra, Debra Prinzing. She’s the founder and creative director of SlowFlowers.com and the author of Slow Factors and The 50 Mile Bouquet. We’ll be right back.

= COMMERCIAL BREAK =

DEBRA LYNN DADD: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Debra Prinzing, founder and creative director of SlowFlowers.com. So Debra, I know that in your book, Slow Flowers that you – it looks like a beautiful book. I haven’t seen a copy, but it’s the kind of book I would like. I know that you would go through the seasons and talk about celebrating the seasons in different ways so that it’s not just like when you go into a florist, you see the same thing no matter what time of year it is. This is a whole different approach to how we think about flowers. So tell us more about that.

DEBRA PRINZING: Oh, sure. I mean, it’s really what our grandmothers did and what our parents might have done, this whole idea of clipping flowers when they are naturally blooming. It’s very parallel to food. When you mentioned the orange, I was thinking of my example like that, which is the difference between a tomato right off the vine in the middle of summer where it tastes like summer, it’s like the real flavor versus the shrink wrapped grocery store tomato in January.

Similarly, I think people are given all flowers all the time as a choice and so we’ve forgotten perhaps what their true blooming season is unless you’re a gardener and gardeners are more conscious and observant of that.

It’s really become an interesting aspect of choosing flowers in our lives so that if we want to live in the seasons, then we maybe are willing to take something that’s perhaps a little – like for me, I live in Seattle, it’s twigs and conifers in the winter. I don’t have a lot of exotic blooms to play with. To me, it’s almost like a meditation practice. It helps me be conscious of where I am in the cycle of the year.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: In the cycle of the year, the cycle of life. It’s just like eating seasonal foods. It’s like bringing the outdoors in in whatever the season is in whatever is going on.

DEBRA PRINZING: Right! It might be a little dish of – I don’t know, pods that you’ve collected on a walk or something like that.
Now, of course, we all cheat. That’s what house plants are for. So I’m not saying that people have to completely deprive themselves of floral beauty. You could have an orchid indoors or some kind of beautiful begonia, something that’s naturally happy in your indoor environment because it’s a potted plant, it’s not a cut flower.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Right! One of the things that I love to do – I don’t do it so much anymore living in Florida just because we have other flowers growing in the winter time. But when we lived in Northern California, every winter, I would force narcissus paperwhites.

DEBRA PRINZING: Right! Perfect example.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: It was just a thing that I did. Those were my winter flowers.

DEBRA PRINZING: And that fragrance is pretty amazing, right?

DEBRA LYNN DADD: It is. I just love it and it was just such an experience to – and it was something that I really learned how to do. I’ll just give a tip for any of you who don’t know how to do this. The best way if you want to force a bulb in the winter time is to get a vase. You can take your flower vases that you’re not putting cut flowers in and put some pebbles down in the bottom, about an inch or however many you want actually.

And then what you do is you put the bulb down just so that the roots are going down into the pebbles and then the sides of the vase will hold up the stem as the bulb grows. And then you have a narcissus that looks beautiful in this beautiful vase. It stands up instead of falling over.

It took me a while to learn that, but it’s like the best trick.

DEBRA PRINZING: Well, and the way you described it also makes me remember what I like about that technique is that you actually see the roots as they crawl through the pebbles. There’s something kind of organic about that to realize, “Oh, wow! This is a living plant that has roots.”

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yes. And you just see it, the roots growing down into the pebbles and you see the stem come up and you see the bud and you just go through the growing cycle with it and you have these beautiful fragrant flowers. I try to plant them around Thanksgiving and then they’re blooming around winter solstice and Christmas. It’s just a delightful thing to do.

So being floral doesn’t always mean having cut flowers. It could mean doing something like forcing a bulb. And amarillas is another gorgeous thing to grow in the winter time. So even though there might not be winter flowers outside your window, they certainly could be inside.

So we are coming up in a couple of minutes on the break, but until we get there, tell us like just season by season some examples of how flowers change by the season and what you might be looking for.

DEBRA PRINZING: Sure! And obviously, it’s such a regional and local distinction of where you live, which is really kind of what we love and celebrate about our country. You can have tropicals in Florida and you can have – I don’t know, the prairie plants of grasses in the mid-west. You can have flowering trees in spring in Washington D.C. So we have these touch stones of place and time through plants that often, our earliest memories of childhood have to do with – a plant, playing under the lavender bush in my grandmother’s garden, that sort of thing.

I really do liken it to meditation, a sort of a conscious observance of nature. So what anyone can do is once a month even, take a walk, look at what’s blooming in your neighborhood. And if you live in a city, go to a garden center and look at what’s blooming in the pot of plants that they’re selling. You’ll start to reintroduce yourself to the conscious choice of living in the season. It’s a fun practice.

When I did the book, Slow Flowers, that was my goal. I designed a bouquet every week using what was growing in my own garden or what I source from local flower farmers. It took a discipline. It took a discipline to say, “You know what? I’m going to have a quiet bouquet in January because it’s a quiet month and a lot of stuff is dormant.”

The vivid craziness in August, I can hardly wait for that, but I want it to happen when those dahlias are in the field blooming and those sunflowers are in the field blooming, not a January where you would expect a sunflower, it would seem out of place.
So that’s the inspiration for that book, but anybody can adopt that. I have a friend up here who decided to do 100 days of bouquet. She posted a photo on her Facebook page every day for 100 days, which I think is an amazing discipline. But sometimes, it was just a dish of a single camellia that was floating in water because that’s all she found that day. it doesn’t have to be some over-the-top bridal bouquet.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: I love hearing you say all these things because one of the things that we talk about a lot on the show because it’s one of my favorite subjects is re-orienting yourself to nature as opposed to just living within the industrial world.

DEBRA PRINZING: I love it, yeah.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: And what we’re talking about here is using flowers as the medium through which you do that. By bringing your awareness to what’s going on out in nature and bringing that inside, it shifts the way you think.

We need to go to break. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Debra Prinzing and we’re talking about slow flowers. We’ll be right back.

= COMMERCIAL BREAK =

DEBRA LYNN DADD: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is another Debra, Debra Prinzing, founder and creative director of SlowFlowers.com. I am on her website now. I’ve been looking around in her website because I actually love to buy flowers. I used to grow flowers in California when I had a garden there.

DEBRA PRINZING: Oh, wow!
DEBRA LYNN DADD: Moving to Florida, it’s a whole different way of growing – different things grow at different times of year, different kinds of soil. It’s a whole shift. But I used to go out into my yard and just cut my flowers. That would be my ideal. But I’m also always looking for local places to buy local flowers as opposed to going to a florist. And actually, the more I learn about the floral industry, the less I even want to have florist flowers.

DEBRA PRINZING: It’s interesting. The reason I started the Slow Flowers website really is to create a place for consumers to go to find flower farmers and florists, floral designers, floral shops who are sourcing domestically or locally because there is no standard. There’s no national standard for determining the origin of flowers. Unlike food, which has a country aborigine labeling law, which is call the COOL law, that’s not enforced in flowers. I think that’s because the mindset is, “Well, we don’t eat flowers, so why should we care so much about where they came from.”

DEBRA LYNN DADD: But the whole thing, I just want to reiterate what you said earlier about fumigating the flowers that come in from overseas. That’s not going to happen with a USA-grown flower. It’s not going to have that.

DEBRA PRINZING: Right! And that’s part of the environmental concern. I mean, there’s also the jet fuel – you know, the use of jet fuel to ship something from another continent. These problems layer and layer and layer [inaudible 00:40:48].

In some states, Debra, there are locally grown branding programs. For example, there’s a Fresh from Florida program that I know…

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Oh, great!

DEBRA PRINZING: Yeah, it’s called Florida Fresh. I know that one of the members of my site, Alvin Heckstrom and Son, which is a foliage farm in Pearson, Florida, which is north of Orlando, they put that label on all of that product. They don’t sell to the consumer. They’re selling to grocery stores and wholesalers and floral designers. I asked them to send you some foliage. Hopefully, you’ll receive it today. This will be a new challenge for you, making a whole arrangement out of foliage.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yeah, it will be challenge. But I was just thinking about that because right now, what I have in my garden is foliage.

DEBRA PRINZING: Right! Well, it’s lush. You probably have that lush tropical look.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yeah, yes.

DEBRA PRINZING: So there’s that Florida Fresh label. There are labels like that in California, in Alaska and Wisconsin, Illinois. A lot of state have it and all those labels were developed to support food farming. And now, the floral industry has kind of piggybacked on that, “Hey, wait a minute! We’re agriculture too. We’re going to use that voluntary labeling program. We’re going to put that on the sleeves of our bunches and our bouquet and our boxes and let consumers in our state know that this was homegrown, locally grown.

But if you don’t have access to that, the SlowFlowers.com website will allow you to search state by state, city by city or even by zip code to find a florist who will fulfill your request for seasonal and local flowers in an arrangement you order. And if they can’t do that – say you contact someone in New Your City in December, they probably can’t source locally. They’ll tell you that they can at least source domestically from perhaps Florida or California.

So it’s a beginning. It’s really an education tool to begin to educate the consumer and the florist that this is a concern. People want to know the source of their flowers.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: They do. And actually, during the last break, my box of foliage arrived.

DEBRA PRINZING: No kidding? Awesome!

DEBRA LYNN DADD: No kidding! And it’s being opened even as we speak. I have somebody here who’s having me open the box. It’s a big box too. Let’s see here.

DEBRA PRINZING: Yeah, Alvin Heckstrom is a third generation of foliage farm. I asked them to tell me what their sustainable practices were because they’ve been growing – actually, they’re five generations. They’ve been growing in Florida since 1928.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Oh, wait! I have to interrupt you. I have to interrupt you and tell you what he sent.

DEBRA PRINZING: Yeah, tell me!

DEBRA LYNN DADD: This beautiful, big, gorgeous, bald wreath made out of – it looks like magnolia leaves and other kind of greens that are partially green and partially kind of cream-colored. It’s just gorgeous. And then he sent four little bouquets, three little bouquets where they actually are greens put together like a bouquet. And so it has some ferns, but then it has some eucalyptus stems and different stems and different things. You could put them together in a vase and I’m going to do this. And the different colors and shapes of the stems themselves fill in for a fact that there isn’t a flower there, but there is variety.

I’m trying to figure out how to describe this because it really looks like a bouquet of flowers, but there’s no flowers in it. It has that beauty and that variety. It’s not just a bunch of ferns or something like that.

DEBRA PRINZING: I love that! I love hearing that. That’s your 50 shades of green. And now you know it’s not just monochromatic.

DEBRA LYNNDADD: Oh, my God! This is gorgeous. It’s absolutely gorgeous and absolutely high-quality. And it smells fresh. When I opened the box, it smells like live plants and the wreath is just – I mean, if I were to look at this wreath in a store, I would just go, “Oh, I want that. I want that!”

DEBRA PRINZING: Awww… Oh, well, Eric Heckstrom, the great, great, great grandson of the owner told me he was going to send you a box of goodies, but he didn’t tell me about the wreathe, so that’s exciting. They do use…

DEBRA LYNN DADD: This is going on my front door.

DEBRA PRINZING: Ah! Well, this is an example of a conventional grower who obviously, the great, great grandfathers probably were organic, but then of course like everybody else in agriculture, they moved into the chemical world in the ‘60s and now they’re trying to reinvent their company to not be dependent on chemicals.

And one of the things that Alvin Heckstrom and Son does is use botanical insecticides, so that they’re made form naturally extracted plant toxin. And so they’re not harmful to humans, but they will perhaps be a natural toxin for a pest. The term is called pyrethrin. So it’s something that luckily, the organic science world has figured out, a non-chemical treatment to control pest, which for a large farmer is an issue.

So I’m really glad that you’re holding it in your hand and you know that it’s safe to put on your front door and in your vase.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yes! I mean, really, these three bouquets that he sent, as soon as we’re off the show, I’m going to go get my largest vase and put them in a gorgeous – I’m going to mix all of them and put them on the center of my dining table because they are beautiful. They’re beautiful!

DEBRA PRINZING: Oh, good. You have to send me a picture and I’ll post it on Facebook. That would be really fun to share.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Oh, I will, I will. I will! I have to go out this afternoon, but when I come back, I’ll take a picture.

DEBRA PRINZING: We didn’t orchestrate this any more perfectly. It’s so great! But I think that that natural expression happiness that you’re sharing on the air is how most people respond to flowers. We love the way that they put a smile on our face and add some kind of sensory response.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yeah, they do.

DEBRA PRINZING: But it’s so hard to know how they were grown and where they were grown. You really have to get lucky. That’s what I’m hoping to do, just connect more consumers who want safe flowers to find people who are growing and selling them in their own community.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Well, you’re doing for flowers what I’ve been doing for consumer products all these years. I’m looking for how can I connect the consumer with the producer of safe products. And so now what you’ve done is that you’ve taken the category of flowers and you’ve done all the legwork for that. You’re just doing exactly what I’ve been doing and I’m so grateful. I’m going to put you right in my flower section so that people can easily find you and find these people who are groundbreaking, so to speak, and coming up with ways to produce flowers and make them beautiful.

I mean, flowers are beautiful by themselves. But the whole idea of having them be natural and restoring them to their natural state and their natural character and their seasonal character and not having flowers be…

DEBRA PRINZING: It’s a commodity, you know?

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Yeah, yeah, an industrial commodity. That’s the word for it. Florist flowers are an industrial commodity. Flowers of nature, they’re their own thing and each one is unique. Each place and each time has their own expression of nature in the beauty of flowers and foliage. I’m just so happy you’re doing this. Obviously, you can tell.

DEBRA PRINZING: No, it makes me – yeah, thank you. It’s so nice to talk to someone who has already pioneered this model. I do think that what you’re doing with consumer products and what I’m trying to do with flowers, we’re just seeing this cultural shift in the consumer marketplace to ask these questions in every single category. It’s happening in fashion. It’s happening in home furnishing. Maybe for some of us, it’s like, “Why did it take so long?”, but at least it’s happening.

This morning, I got an alert on my news item. There was an article on Yahoo about the New York international bridal week, which is happening next week. They predicted “organic local flowers are the order of the day as couples become more aware of their carbon footprint.” I was like, “Amen!” That’s great.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: Well, I have to interrupt you right now and just say thank you so much…

DEBRA PRINZING: I know!

DEBRA LYNN DADD: …because we’ve only got a few seconds left and it went by so fast. But I’m going to arrange this foliage and take a picture and I’m going to send it to you. Again, her website is – what is it? SlowFlowers.com and she’s also got DebraPrinzing.com. I’ve got to go!

DEBRA PRINZING: Thank you, Debra so much. I loved talking to you.

DEBRA LYNN DADD: This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. You’re welcome. Thank you. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. Be well.

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