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Can Local Flowers Save the Earth?

From farm-to-table restaurants to bike commuting and city-wide composting, Portland is known as a national leader in sustainable living. Lesser known, perhaps, is that the Rose City is at the epicenter of a sustainable local flower movement.

Presented by MoMo Flower Farm By Mo McKenna February 12, 2020

The local flower movement focuses on connecting people who love flowers with local flower farmers. The goal is to reconnect consumers to the seasonality of flowers—a connection we’ve lost with the advent of the global floral industry. One can find almost any type of flower any time of year in the grocer’s aisle or by dialing a toll-free number, but the negative environmental impacts of the global cut flower industry are staggering. From soil and water pollution due to spraying pesticides and fungicides to the increased carbon emissions from flying and shipping cut flowers across the globe and the massive production of plastic and foam waste, the floral industry contributes substantially to climate change and environmental degradation. But it doesn’t have to.

Our region offers near-perfect conditions for growing flowers and we are home to hundreds of flower farms. Here at MoMo Flower Farm, the connection between flower lovers and the flower grower is as close as family. With our Seed to Centerpiece offering, we consult with people who are getting married or hosting big events before the season even begins to choose seasonal flowers together. MoMo then grows the flowers from scratch, maintains them throughout the season, and harvests and arranges them for the wedding or event. We don’t just complete a transaction; we lead our clients on a flower journey.

A love story told through flowers...Dayna and Matthew McKinney married at Domaine de Broglie in the Dundee Hills of the Oregon Willamette Valley wine country in September 2019. The couple selected flowers in advance of the season and 100 percent of their flowers were grown at MoMo Flower Farm specifically for their wedding, ensuring their flowers are as unique as their love.

We met Dayna and Matthew in the fall of 2018. They were planning a fall wedding in wine country, and they wanted the day to be relaxed and joyful. With much of her family coming from Hawaii and his based in Oregon, it was important to them that the day center on building lasting relationships between the two families.

At the first consult, we gathered details on colors, desired look and feel, and we talked about favorite flowers. Dayna loves peonies, but given that peonies bloom in May and June in the Pacific Northwest, we looked for alternate options to give her the romantic look she desired while keeping a low carbon footprint for the event.

Choosing to go local and meet and build a relationship with a flower farmer creates a more personal experience for the couple - one that is entirely unique. Dayna and Matthew’s parents and extended family were amazed at the bounty of flowers that can be grown locally, and that the couple had helped to create the design from its inception a year earlier.

We love offering this kind of consultation with couples. We help them understand what flowers can be grown in the Pacific Northwest, when they will be blooming, and what kinds of alternatives we can use. We opted for an in-season blend of white and blush dahlias, snapdragons, cosmos, heirloom carnations, yarrow, feverfew, and heavenly smelling eucalyptus.

Using sustainable methods means working with nature to control pests. Here, we see a beneficial praying mantis looking for its next meal while offering protection to a dahlia bloom.

Buying from a local flower farmer can also have a positive impact on our local ecosystem. Since we grow organically (though we aren’t certified), we maintain plant health through sound practices and creative problem solving. In 2019, our dahlias suffered a lot of pest pressure and we were fretting about all the little holes in their petals. Fortunately, through a local growing community, we learned that using organza bags over the bloom prevents pests from eating them. And we rely on natural predators such as praying mantises and lady beetles to help abate pests.

Let’s be honest, we aren’t going to save the world by doing just one thing—we are going to need to change a lot of habits to reduce carbon emissions and preserve ecosystems. Choosing to buy local flowers is just one way to make a difference, but with blooms this gorgeous, what do you have to lose?

If you or someone awesome you know is getting married or having an event, get in touch with us by visiting momoflowerfarm.com.

Mo McKenna, in her element, flowering the 2019 Portland Monthly Cowabunga Food and Wine Festival held at Rossi Farms. McKenna co-owns MoMo Flower Farm with her husband. Their 5-acre flower farm is located in Clark County. She is passionate about growing flowers, eating good food, and building community.

Image: Jason DeSomer


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