Flowers With a Difference

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare

Photo by Jordan von Trapp

It’s Valentine’s Day season, and roses are often the flower of choice for bestowing upon our loved ones. On the other hand, many other flowers make an equally perfect gift for Valentine’s Day or any occasion, including our local tulips, provided by von Trapp Flowers.

For the last few years, Emily von Trapp and her parents, Tobi and Sally von Trapp of the von Trapp Greenhouse, have been able to supply Hunger Mountain Co-op with 95% of the flowers we sell. “When you buy a bouquet of flowers grown and arranged by von Trapp Flowers, you are buying fresh, local and beautiful blooms that are sustainably grown only 20 miles away from the Co-op,” Emily says. “We source the highest quality bulbs, seeds, and tubers and grow them using sustainable growing practices in Waitsfield, Vermont. Our flowers are planted in compost that is amended with organic fertilizer, and grown without the use of dirty things like pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, making them safe to have in your home. The only thing we want in our soil is soil, organic nutrients, and beautifully growing flowers, of course . Our goal is to bring more beauty into the world to share with our neighbors, and in doing so, we are committed to only using clean ecological growing practices.”

Emily notes that, while their flowers are not certified organic, she follows many organic growing practices. “We are also committed to sustainable harvesting and packaging practices in honor of Mother Earth, this beautiful place we call home,” she adds. “The paper sleeves that protect our blooms are 100% recyclable.”

Von Trapp Flowers strives to offer their beautiful blooms year-round and they employ some innovative growing techniques, especially during the winter. At this time of year, Emily says, she is focused on the growing of one of her favorite flowers, the aforementioned tulips.

“One of the sustainable and low impact growing practices we use involves something we created called a ‘Snow Bunker.’ Essentially, an above ground cold storage box that is designed out of a frame of pallets. Once the frame is complete, it is filled with hundreds of crates of planted up tulips. We then harvest lots of snow, the best cold storage natural resource, and pack it all around the frame, creating a thick layer of insulation that will keep the tulips insulated from low temperatures, and also keep the temperature low enough that the bulbs remain in animated suspension. These crates of tulips will hold in the cool storage of the snow bunker for months, allowing for significant season extension that will give us the very last tulip blooms of the season.”

If roses are still what you seek, we have those as well. At the Co-op, our roses come from Ecuador, purchased through a company called One World Flowers, located in Colorado. One World is a Fair Trade USA licensed importer and distributor of Fair Trade Certified flowers.

Since they began in 2007, One World has focused on working with only Fair Trade Certified farms to sell flowers that are environmentally sustainable and also promote social justice and economic development in farming communities. For every order, the company pays a 10% Fair Trade Premium back into a workers’ fund located on the farms they work with. Also due to the Fair Trade certification, there are 100 chemicals banned from being used to grow the flowers. The farms are also encouraged to work towards organic practices while using all-natural growing methods.

Additionally, Over 300,000 women are employed by flower producers all over the world. Frequently, they are exploited to keep costs low for American and European consumers. Workers are often subjected to sexual abuse, human rights violations, exposure to toxic agrochemicals, and extremely dangerous working conditions. In many cases, they are not paid for overtime hours and are lucky to be paid fairly for regular hours worked. Fortunately, Fair Trade certification changes all of that.

Most conventional flower growers use about seven times the chemical applications that would be applied to conventional food crops. Therefore, our Certified Fair Trade roses are safer for you the consumer as well as less toxic to the workers who grow the flowers and the environment as a whole.

Because of the high levels of chemicals used in most flower production and the documented abuse of flower workers, we always try to source our flowers locally. When we have had to source flowers from anywhere other than von Trapp Flowers, they have either been Fair Trade Certified, as is the case for the roses, or when Emily had gaps, some conventional tulips from Ontario, Canada.

You can find our Fair Trade Certified roses at the Co-op throughout Valentine’s Day week and Emily von Trapp’s gorgeous flowers year-round.

Photos provided by Emily von Trapp