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Marin Independent Journal

Woo lover with organic flowers

February 4, 2006
Annie Spiegelman

ECO-ENTREPRENEUR Gerald Prolman has found his way straight into this Master Gardener's heart! His innovative floral company grows flowers without one iota of nasty, gnarly pesticide, fungicide, herbicide or synthetic fertilizer and distributes them worldwide. I love this idea and wanted to share it with you - and it's a nice gift for Valentine's Day. Fresh, fragrant organic bouquets could score some of you guys nice points with the ladies. The world's first online organic florist, Organic Bouquet, is headquartered in Marin. The company is committed to the highest environmental and social standards.

You may be asking yourself why we need organic flowers if we're not eating them. Good question, but the answer requires a little background. The fair trade movement is growing fast, as more and more concerned citizens worldwide are becoming increasingly interested in the work conditions of farmers and the farming practices that preserve the environment for future generations.

Seventy percent of all flowers sold in the United States are grown in Colombia and Ecuador, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. On average, each rose grower in Ecuador uses three poisons to kill worms, four to kill insects and six to control fungi. Many of these chemicals are tightly restricted in the United States because of their threat to human health.

Nearly 60 percent of the floral workers surveyed experienced symptoms of chemical poisoning such as headaches, dizziness, handtrembling and blurred vision (Environmental Health Perspectives 2002). Many of the workers are exposed to these chemicals in greenhouses where more than 100 chemicals are regularly used in enclosed spaces. As Prolman says, "Organic flowers are not about us. They are about the health of workers and the planet itself."

Just like organic produce, organic flowers are grown and harvested using the same techniques I've been talking about during my preachy rants about sustainable farming, mulch, cover crops, compost, integrated pest management and water conservation. Prolman and "his people" have helped convert 20,000 acres of farmland in five countries to producing organically. By doing so, they have eliminated the use of millions of pounds of chemicals. (According to the EPA, world pesticide use exceeded 500 billion pounds in 2000 and 2001.) But it goes well beyond this. The term "organic" tells you something about the conditions under which the product was grown. It does not, however, promise the crops were grown under fair labor standards or in a healthy work environment.

Prolman's company, Organic Bouquet, is certified by Veriflora, the new eco-label certification standard for the floral industry, which was masterminded by Prolman. When you purchase flowers that are both "organic" and "Veriflora," you are not merely supporting sustainable farming but are also reassured that field workers receive overtime pay, health benefits and are working in a safer, chemicalfree environment.

Whenever I find another successful, socially responsible company, I have a brief glimmer of hope for the world. In that moment of optimism, I decided to purchase some flowers. I didn't really need them, but I knew I could write a better article if I had an actual organic floral bouquet sitting on my desk.

I ordered a bouquet of roses online from the "charitable bouquets" section. The cost was competitive - a dozen roses sells for $39.95. The 'Versilia' roses were a stunning pale peach, looked great for more than a week, and a percent of my purchase was donated to Heifer International, a humanitarian organization working to end hunger worldwide. Organic Bouquet donates proceeds to many charitable organizations including Project Hope, Care, Working Assets and Amnesty International.

You can go to or phone 1-877-899-2468 to order. Click on Valentine's Day bouquets where you will find breathtaking rose bouquets and/or artisan boxes of organic, fair trade chocolates. (I ordered some of those, too!) So, let's recap: Guys, start ordering Valentine's Day flowers before you hear those two cringe-and-flinch words dreaded by most men, "couples therapy."

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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.