care about the workers, too. I've looked them in the
face. I can't be unconcerned about their health or
jobs or children. If those flowers were grown
organically, there would probably be more jobs, and
It might not be possible to grow all types of
flowers organically, especially not types foreign to
the tropics. It might not be possible to specialize in
acres of a single flower. The crops might have to be
mixed, rotated, varied.
grown that way could cost more, though maybe not,
because the additional labor would be offset by fewer
expensive chemicals. Flowers might not come to us as
predictably in as great a variety at all seasons. This
is one of those many situations where something comes
easy and cheap to rich folks because it costs distant
poor folks a lot, not just in lousy wages, but in
health and in the debasement of their local resources
and environment. That kind of cheap, however beautiful
and predictable and convenient, I can't enjoy.
The other article that came my way was about
growing our own flowers. It was excerpted from the
book "Step by Step Organic Flower Gardening" by Shep
Ogden. Ogden once asked the rose gardener at the
Brooklyn Botanic Garden whether he uses chemical
sprays to take care of one of the world's most
important rose collections. (It's commonly believed
that roses are hard to grow, requiring constant
dusting and spraying.) The rose curator said no, he
didn't use chemicals. Why not? Ogden asked. "I love
roses," was the answer. "I want to be here still
enjoying them in twenty years."
and sprays have a nasty habit of not staying where we
try to put them," says Ogden. "I have known very few
gardeners who actually follow the complete, detailed
directions on pesticide labels. To do so, you would
have to spend your days in a rubber suit or
doublewashing clothes and telling the children to stay
off the lawn or away from the flower garden.
I'd rather spend my time in the garden handpicking
insects, as archaic as that might seem."
can't imagine why anyone would use pesticides on his
or her own property. They're not only hazardous,
they're unnecessary. I grow all kinds of flowers, I
have knockout bouquets from early spring daffodils to
post-frost asters, and I don't use sprays. But Ogden
says the average suburban gardener applies lawn and
garden chemicals at per-acre dosages six times those
Talk about intimate connections! Who would want
their dogs, cats, kids, or selves to live in that kind
of toxic haze?
commercial flower growers around me use pesticides,
usually minimally and apologetically, but not so much
to save a threatened crop as to save work. Believe me,
I sympathize with that motive. Farmers' time and money
are always pushed to the breaking point. I'm willing
to push them less by paying more for flowers grown
without poisons. I do know farmers, in both tropical
and temperate zones, who produce flowers on a
commercial scale that way. I know it can be done, and
so does Shep Ogden, because he does it.
Says Ogden, "This knowledge stops the swindle, the
con whereby efficient, manual, and humane methods were
replaced with expensive, high-tech mechanical and
chemical methods. It frees us to go back out into the
sun and the wind, to listen to the birds and enjoy a
quiet moment observing the daily drama of the insects,
... rather than accommodate ourselves ... to the
clamor and stench of industrialism."
"I'm sorry, but organic gardening was here long
before the merchants and their machines, and we
organic gardeners will still be here long after the
oil is gone and the world has quieted down again."
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