We’ve been encouraging members to address their nearby garden clubs, Master Gardeners, and anyone interested in learning more about local flowers. Recently, we took our own advice, and Linda Twining and I traveled to Huron, Ohio for a meeting hosted by the OSU extension service.

After a brief PowerPoint introduction to the ASCFG, we showed our documentary “Local Flowers—Local Farmers”. I have lost track of how many times I’ve seen this film, but I was impressed all over again with our members’ passion for their farms, their flowers, and their industry. Kudos and thank you to Josie Crowson for having the inspiration to create this project, and finding the filmmakers who brought it to life so perfectly.

As wonderful as it was to watch it, even more gratifying was to hear and see the reaction of those in the audience as they watched it. I’m sure few (okay, none) of them have seen an overhead view of beautiful fields of cut flowers in Virginia or Pennsylvania or Texas, or an endless range of hoophouses in Lancaster County. They probably don’t know any florists like Ellen Frost who use strictly locally-grown flowers.

They hadn’t thought about the difference in fragrance, variety, or the lasting vase life of flowers grown just down the road, rather than flown in on jets. The oohs and aahs, and sometimes downright gasps of awe as our members’ flowers filled the screen were proof that an appreciation of what makes our flowers different truly exists.

Our next demonstration featured another page from Josie’s playbook. Gretel Adams had sent us a gorgeous bouquet from Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Columbus. It included bright anemone and ranunculus, fragrant stock and freesia, scented geranium foliage and flowers, and perfectly formed cymbidium orchids. On our way to Huron, we picked up a couple standard grocery store bouquets. We had to buy two to make the size comparable to Gretel’s lush combination. Mums, filler fern, two asters, and a lone stem of hypericum made up each of those designs.

We held these out to the audience, and Linda asked them to tell us which one had been grown in Ohio. “Not the one with the orchids.”  someone confidently stated from the front row. “There is so much variety in that one,” another attendee said. “How do you have that this early in the year in this part of the country?”

After our talk, the organizers raffled off the designs as door prizes. The difference between the delight of the woman lucky enough to win Gretel’s design compared to the stoicism of those who took home the grocery store bouquets was striking.

The attendees of this meeting were not high-end florists, or, likely, frequent customers of those florists. These were farmers and gardeners, from the middle of the country, who came to that meeting to educate themselves not only about melon and garlic production, but about what’s new with succulents, and alternatives to typical garden pesticides. They want to learn more about what’s available.

These are the consumers we need to reach with our local flowers message.

To that end, the ASCFG is launching a promotional program to continue to spread the word that locally-grown flowers are available, and that they are better. We are partnering with a marketing company in a communications campaign designed to inspire consumers to seek out and buy locally-grown flowers. The first components of this project are to develop a logo and a consumer-facing website. The logo would be simple, eye-catching and easily understood, and would be used in all ASCFG materials promoting local flowers. Members could use the logo on their website, Facebook pages, bouquet sleeves, etc.  The consumer-facing website will feature an easy-to-use flower and member search so that consumers can find flowers near them, plus stories, videos, and photographs from member growers and designers that help educate the public about local flowers.  The website will become our prime tool for spreading the message about local flowers.

As with all projects of this magnitude, it will take to time to develop and confirm specifics to the satisfaction of all involved; this won’t happen overnight.

Afraid that your membership dues are likely to increase to cover this campaign? Nope. Through careful stewardship of the organization’s funds, these projects will be completed at no extra cost to members.

We’ll be getting back to you soon with details. In the meantime, share your copy of “Local Flowers—Local Farmers”, make a bouquet of your fresh flowers, and help us spread the word!

Judy M. Laushman

Judy M. Laushman
Contact at [email protected]