Organic Florist from Marin goes International
by PJ Bremier
Marin Independent Journal
Just a few weeks ago, mayors from across the world gathered in San Francisco to participate in the World Environment Day, a conference sponsored by the United Nations, to develop and sign accords on urban environmental policies such as water, energy, waste, transportation, urban design, open space, recycling, health and other environmental issues common to urban areas.
Their ambitious goal is significant because, as Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco and host of the United Nations Conference said, "Urban populations consume 75 percent of the world's natural resources and produce 75 percent of its waste."
Nearly 200 events such as a Green Cities Expo, featuring more than 100 green businesses, an organic fashion show, environmental film festival and art exhibition, and organic entrees at 100 restaurants were divided into five theme days, including one called Flower Power.
And that's where Marin's organic flower power guru, Gerald Prolman, comes in. His company, Organic Bouquet, was named official florist of World Environment Day.
He started Organic Bouquet, the world's first online organic bouquet, four years ago, pioneering the flower production that would benefit people - not just for those who enjoy having flowers in their homes but for the earth and the health of those who grow them.
Today, he works with growers in California, Hawaii, Holland, Columbia, and Ecuador to produce flowers that adhere to strict organic guidelines.
Organic Bouquet provides all the floral arrangements for the weeklong conference and produced the closing ceremony on Flower Power Day.
The company also sponsored and produced the official theme song, "United Nations, Together We Can." It was written by gospel legend Edwin Hawkins, a four-time Grammy winner who wrote "Oh, Happy Day." It was sung by a 500-member choir whose voices included gospel artists Edwin, Walter and Tremaine Hawkins, The Three Bridges, Nona Brown, and Prolman's wife and jazz vocalist, Raquel Bitton. They performed for all the mayors who walked the "green carpet" in front of San Francisco City Hall. The song was then presented to Mayor Newsome and Klaus Toepfer, the executive director of UNEP.
"It was a spectacular event," Prolman says. "The mayors, dignitaries and guests were enthusiastically clapping and singing along with great joy."
Prolman and Hawkins have been invited to attend next year's conference in Nairobi, Kenya, where Hawkins will perform with the United Nations Choir.
Organic Bouquet also organized a symposium at the San Francisco Ferry Building called "Eco-Flower Power: Sustainability Trends for the Floral Industry," where journalists, environmental and floral industry experts and international dignitaries.
"Our goal now is to support the development and market introduction of a standard that protects farm workers, the environment and leads growers to becoming fully organic," Prolman says.
It's his passion that sustainable practices in the floral industry soon become the standard, that the use of harsh chemicals is eliminated and that the well-being of farm-workers is the first priority.
It's a daisy chain, though, and people who buy flowers are part of the link. It's Prolman's hope that "the growers who take these will be rewarded by a market that supports them." Then we'll see real flower power.
For more information, visit www.OrganicBouquet.com.