Irene Virag's Garden Party

I'm Irene Virag -- a writer, a gardener, a cancer survivor. I think ideas are like plants. They need nurturing to grow. And gardeners share both. So welcome to my blog. It’s all about what’s happening in my garden and beyond.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine to Planet Earth

You might be too late to order fair trade roses for your true love this Valentine’s Day, but if you’re a gardener – or just someone who loves the good earth – it’s not too late to learn abut Fair Trade certified flowers.

Fair Trade flowers come with a special label that lets you know they were grown under socially, environmentally and economically sustainable conditions. In these climatically challenged times, that’s a relief for a lot of us. In fact, a study by the Hartman Group found that 73 percent of American consumers believe their purchases have a significant impact on society, and they’re actually willing to pay a 10 percent premium for sustainable products. So far it’s been mostly things like coffee and chocolate.

But now flower growers are catching on. So far more than 30 growers in Ecuador, Colombia and Africa – yes, your pretty little bouquet probably flew half-way around the world to get to your grandmother on her birthday or your true love on Valentine’s Day – have signed on. Those growers represent more than one billion flower stems. When you see the Fair Trade Certified label you’ll know that the flower farms comply with rules about pesticide use, water conservation and wastewater treatment. And that their workers wear protective gear when handling chemicals and receive fair wages, child care and other benefits.

I first learned about Fair Trade flowers when I read Amy Stewart’s book, “Flower Confidential: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly in the Business of Flowers.” Click here to read my interview with her – and look for her piece on this topic in the debut issue of

According to TransFair USA, an independent nonprofit that certifies Fair Trade products in this county, you can order these eco-friendly blooms online from and 1-800-FLOWERS.COM. More retailers – and flower farms – are sure to follow since sales of Fair Trade Certified products are already a $730 million annual business.

So when you say it with flowers, make sure you’re saying something that matters. Make everyday Valentine’s Day for Planet Earth.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear iren, it is so nice to read your work again. a friend sent me the recent article from Newsday Sunday May 4th about organic gardening. The mention of Ed's name in your article was so poinant for me. I miss him so much, and he was so influencial in getting organics in front of people. I think he did a lot, and your column certainly helped the club also. But everything has it's day. I have a tiny garden here, and I picked enough stringbeans for my supper, and it was the best thing I ate in a long time. Ed loved the soil and both his grandsons are gardeners, in the organic way. They both have blogs also, and it is fun for me to read them. This garden party is fun to read and remember the beauty of all of Long Island Gardens. I am here in Racin, Wi. near the lake, and near my son and one grandson. Life goes on, however nothing will be the same for me. Half of me is gone. I feel not complete, and yet I know we were so blessed to have 62 yrs. He was a great husband a good father, and a kind and gentle man. I thank you for putting his name in print agsin. If I knew your EMail address I would correspond through that. Mine is Fondest regards to your husband, and hope your gardens, health, and carerr is going very well.
I cannot seem to pull up your newsday column on the computer. But happy I found this blog. I will put it into my favorites. Much love Louise Langlieb
3900 No Main St. Racine, Wi. 53402 Apt 223.

7/24/2008 8:03 PM  

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