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Flowers With a Green Pedigree

Catherine Wheatleyr, Business Section
The Sunday Times (London)


March 21, 2004 -- The potatoes in your supermarket trolley are organic and the peas have been grown without pesticides. But look closer at the flowers in the display by the door and you will find very little that is earth-friendly.

While British consumers may have embraced organic products, spending more than £1 billion on naturally grown goods last year. In America shoppers can buy organic blooms at their local store.

Californian entrepreneur Gerald Prolman has created a new category in the eco-friendly products market by hunting down blooms grown without chemical fertilisers or insecticides, and supplying them to US retailers under his Organic Bouquet label. Customers can also buy fresh-cut bunches from his website, OrganicBouquet.com.

His business is flourishing in America where several leading wholefood grocery chains stock Organic Bouquet's range of sunflowers, roses and other fresh-cut blooms.

Last year the company had sales of $3.5m (£1.9m), about 2% of the overall American flower sector. Prolman has no plans to expand into Europe, so the British market could be ripe for the picking.

Surprisingly, the $15 price of a dozen organic red roses is almost exactly the same as the cost of chemically treated stems, even though organic farming methods are far more labour-intensive.

"We pay our farmers a premium so we cut back on marketing costs instead," Prolman explained.

"We use word-of-mouth to tap the huge, pent-up demand for eco-friendly products."

The company's biggest challenge has been to find growers who will supply organic blooms.

At present Prolman buys from a handful of cultivators in the Netherlands, South Africa, Ecuador, Colombia and California.

Britain, too, has its share of organic farmers growing blooms for sale at their gates.

But if you think they could find a wider market, then it might be time to see if you could reap rewards from this seed of a new business idea.



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Sustainable Flowers Make The Perfect Gift For All Occasions

Organic Bouquet is the largest online provider of eco-friendly and organic floral gifts. All of our flowers are grown in a manner that is not only environmentally friendly but also provides outstanding resources for farm workers and artisans. Organic Bouquet partners with select flower farms in California, Ecuador and Colombia. All of our flower farms follow stringent growing practices which are monitored by multiple certification agencies and associations. When you purchase flowers from Organic Bouquet, you are helping to improve the life of a flower farm worker, their family and the local floral community.

Our eco-friendly flower arrangements include roses, calla lilies, tulips, gerbera daisies, hyacinths, sunflowers, alstromeria lilies and blue iris. In addition to a complete line of flower arrangements, we offer gift baskets, fruit baskets, nut baskets, gourmet chocolates, gourmet cookies, plants and  wreaths. All of these products are certified eco-friendly and/or provide for environmental benefits through our participation in Carbon Offset programs.

Whatever the occasion, our flowers make the perfect gift- birthday celebration flowers, anniversary flowers, holiday flowers, or floral arrangements simply to say thank you. Sending flowers from Organic Bouquet says that you care not only about the person receiving the flowers, but also about the environment. All of our gift items are shipped nationwide to all 50 states. So whether you need to send flowers to Florida, New York, California, or Colorado, we can guarantee overnight delivery to ensure they arrive fresh and ready to put a smile on someone’s face.

Whether you are purchasing online, or through one of our customer service specialists, you can be assured you are ordering the freshest quality of flowers and environmentally friendly gifts.