By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator
We are thrilled to welcome farmer-florist Jennie Love of Love 'n Fresh Flowers to the Certified Naturally Grown community! Love 'n Fresh Flowers is now the only full service florist offering 100% Certified Naturally Grown flowers.
For those uninitiated with this game changer, Jennie Love is known as a true leader and educator in the sustainable flower field. She is the President of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, as well as an instructor at the legendary Longwood Gardens. Jennie is renowned for her stunningly seasonal and often unconventional arrangements, as well as her thorough workshops for both the curious public and seasoned professionals.
Her teaching farm exists on five acres of preserved green space in Philadelphia, showcasing some of the city's best blooms and most innovative floral design - in an unexpected location.
All of her groundbreaking work is dedicated to the health of the earth and her community. As Jennie puts it,
This Certificate speaks to our deeper commitment to growing in a truly sustainable manner, focused first on nurturing Nature and second on the production of crops. Turns out if you put Nature first, she helps you grow even better crops!
Jennie Love is building momentum toward a flower industry where passionate farmer-florists grow extraordinary blooms and thriving businesses without the use of synthetic chemicals, and with an unwavering commitment to seasonality for even the pickiest clients.
We are honored that Love 'n Fresh Flowers is now a dedicated member of the CNG community.
In fact, Jennie was so jazzed about gaining her certification that she published a blog on her website about what joining CNG means to her. In case you missed it during the holiday hubbub, we've decided share some highlights of the post with you below.
Do you know a flower farmer who would be a great fit for Certified Naturally Grown? Direct them to CNGfarming.org/flowers
Here's some of what Jennie Love wrote on her blog on December 18, 2019:
"Christmas came early this week when our farm received its official paperwork for Certified Naturally Grown flowers! I was giddy to get my hands on that Certificate! I’m really delighted to have completed the rigorous certification process for Certified Naturally Grown flowers, joining a thriving community of small farms and apiaries dedicated to growing with Nature, rather than fighting and controlling it.
"So what is Certified Naturally Grown? Certified Naturally Grown provides a much-needed complement to the National Organic Program (NOP) run through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). While the NOP is an important program that primarily serves medium and large-scale agricultural operations, Certified Naturally Grown is instead tailored for direct-market farmers producing food and flowers for their own local communities. Our flower farm has been using organic growing practices from the very start, never relying on synthetic chemicals and other inputs to grow our beautiful blooms. However, we did not pursue becoming Certified Organic through the USDA since the process was just too costly and too bureaucratic to be worthwhile for Love ‘n Fresh Flowers.
"It’s one thing to not spray chemicals, but it’s another entirely to adopt holistic practices such as planting hedgerows for wildlife habitat, maintaining a diverse farm ecosystem, selling your crops locally rather than shipping across the country, committing to water conservation, keeping a close eye on energy consumption, and treating farm workers well, including paying a livable wage. Industrial monoculture farming is not sustainable, no matter how many of the “words” you can put on the label. So, in my mind and heart, getting Certified Organic wasn’t good enough.
"This past summer, when I learned about Certified Naturally Grown, a grassroots movement started in 2002 by small farmers to hold each other accountable to a much higher standard of sustainability on all levels, I knew I’d found my tribe and that getting this certification would mean a lot to me. I wanted to verify that all the practices I’d adopted at our farm were truly in line with Nature. Going entirely no-till in the fields and hoop houses this year was a huge step forward and has been the catalyst for cracking wide-open so many assumptions I had about farming. Through the detailed certification process for Certified Naturally Grown, I learned even more. I now firmly believe small, sustainable, and thoughtful farming can save our planet. (More on that topic sometime this winter when I’ve had enough time to collect my thoughts into a comprehensive essay.)
"Here are the practices we have always been committed to here at Love ‘n Fresh, but are now verified through our Certified Naturally Grown flowers designation:
- Committing to absolutely no use of synthetic chemical pesticides, fungicides, or fertilizers. Ever.
- Employing holistic practices that work with nature to address pest, disease, and nutrient challenges, minimizing use of even approved sprays, treatments and amendments in an effort to always grow with the least amount of human interference.
- Investing in our soil, water, wildlife, and air with ecological practices such as conserving water, planting cover crops rotating crops, preserving hedgerow buffer strips for wildlife, and protecting pollinator habitats.
- Using organically produced seeds whenever possible and never using chemically treated or genetically modified seeds.
- Providing animals with a healthy environment and sufficient room to grow and thrive.
- Striving to enhance the positive environmental impacts of production and minimize any negative impacts, and continually improving the sustainability of the entire farm operation.
"One of the things I liked most about the certification process for Certified Naturally Grown was that I was asked to come up with and declare new initiatives for the coming growing season to make my farm even more sustainable. So, for the 2020 season, I will work hard to get solar panels installed on the new barn to power our floral coolers and install a water catchment system on the barn as well to collect rainwater for irrigation. I’m so excited for the coming growing season! I can feel the farm coming alive in a whole new way!!