Slow flower: all the beauty of fresh cut flowers, without harmful effects on the environment

Il Etait Une Fleur
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The international flower industry is not exactly a thing of beauty.

Every week, 30 planes full of flowers from Ethiopia and Kenya transit through Liège Airport, to be transported by truck to Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK and Germany. Transporting and keeping the flowers fresh in refrigerated spaces has a significant impact in terms of CO2 emissions. Industrial local production in warmed and lighted greenhouses is not the solution as it generates even more CO2.

Additionally, the international trade in cut flowers is detrimental to the originating countries themselves as it uses harmful pesticides, diverts water from food crops and has poor social standards for workers.

It's time to develop a responsible and circular flower industry in Belgium and Europe. That's why Il Était Une Fleur has been instrumental in founding the Belgium Slow Flower movement.

This Belgian florist has definitely decided to swim against the flow of her industry, working with nature rather than exploiting it. She uses branches and leaves from the local business park's gardener as mulch to feed and protect her soil, and leaves unsold flowers in the field for insects and birds, cutting only the ones she will actually use in bouquets. She is also developing a partnership with Rosemarie Confetti: this Belgium-based company makes wedding confetti by drying petals from unsold flowers. The end result is a prettier, more circular alternative to rice.

She operates a short circuit supply chain and develops partnerships with local businesses. She even avoids the typical overuse of cellophane by selling her flowers at markets wrapped in old newspapers.

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In 2020, Il Etait Une Fleur (Once Upon a Flower) was founded with the aim of shifting the emphasis in flower growing to biodiversity, the local economy and beauty:

  • biodiversity is very important as 75% of our food is produced thanks to pollinators
  • the local economy has a positive impact on society
  • flowers are beautiful, and beauty is always positive.

The slow flower movement is gaining traction among consumers and florists, but supply is still too small and the infrastructure needed to scale it up must be put in place. Public authority support for this innovative form of agriculture is needed.