Is love sustainable? We think so, especially if you express it this Valentine’s Day with fresh flowers or a gift certificate for seasonal bouquet deliveries from a local sustainable grower. In this article, we feature two women-owned businesses that are paving the way with local and sustainable flower farming, Jennie Love from Love N’ Fresh Flowers in Roxborough and Cassie Plumer, the force behind Jig-Bee Flower Farm and American Street Flower Market in Kensington.
A pioneer in urban flower growing, Jennie Love grew up on a fifth-generation family farm in central Pennsylvania. Starting with her mother’s kitchen garden, her interest in flowers later took root as a volunteer at Weavers Way farm at Awbury Arboretum, followed by a two-year intensive program at Longwood Gardens. “That was where I received my floral design training and studied the science of flowers,” said Love.
You will not find any roses or gardenias in Love’s five-acre flower farm in Roxborough. “They don’t grow well in Philadelphia’s humidity and heat,” she said. What you will find is a dazzling array of organically grown seasonal blooms, including Parrot tulips, sweet peas, bleeding hearts, poppies, sunflowers, foxgloves, peonies, antique hydrangeas, zinnias, dahlias, amaranth, mums, and more. Her Certified Naturally Grown Blooms grow in a field supported by natural rain and sunlight, instead of in a hothouse under plastic and artificial light.
Featured in the New York Times and Martha Stewart Weddings as among the nation’s top floral designers, Love’s artistry is her unique approach to floral arrangements. Referring to her approach as “earthy elegant, ” Love’s design philosophy emphasizes arranging flowers as if they were still growing in the field and using vintage containers, eschewing anything fussy, stuffy, or boring.
“Our farm, like most farms in the mid-Atlantic region, is dormant right now in the depths of winter. As such, we do not offer flowers for Valentine’s Day. However, a popular Valentine’s Gift is a gift certificate for our Porch Petals Prescription service, which delivers flowers, starting in April to the recipient’s door each week come spring. Gift certificates to our workshops are also a popular Valentine’s item,” said Love.
What makes locally grown flowers better for the environment? “The ecological tax that the international flower industry imposes on local economies are the sins of the global flower industry,” said Jennie Love, the aptly named owner of Love ‘n Fresh Flowers. “The flowers for an FTD bouquet generate enough rubbish to fill a curbside trash can which stays in landfills for decades to come.” Add to that the environmental burden of chemicals, water demands, low wages, and shipping.
Fiercely dedicated to the mission of keeping her flowers as local as possible Love limits her delivery radius to the neighborhoods of northwest Philly, including Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Roxborough, Wyndmoor, Glenside, Ft. Washington, and Ambler. Her bouquets are also available, in season, at Weavers Way in Chestnut Hill and Mt Airy.
Kensington in Bloom
On a formerly vacant lot in Kensington, Cassie Plumer has created Jig-Bee Flower Farm, offering sustainably grown flowers for area markets, weddings, events, and wholesale, plus a special bouquet offer and seasonal flower share, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
“My husband and I bought a building on American Street in 2012. There was a vacant lot next door and we wondered what to do with it,” said Plummer. “I took a workshop from a flower grower in Vermont and learned about sustainable practices from the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. As a result, Kensington is now a major distribution center of sustainable flowers, available throughout the city.
Plummer also runs the American Street Flower Market, an agricultural cooperative in Kensington that partners with local farms to sell locally grown flowers and foliage. The flower market is located at 2137 N. American Street started as a “pop-up” and will soon be getting a more permanent location at Next Fab’s new location, also on American Street.
For Valentine’s Day, Jig-Bee is partnering with Katie Legazpi from Feel Goodies Philly to offer specialty tulip bouquets ($45), along with locally-made sweets, including cookies and cakes. The flowers and sweets can be purchased online and will be available to pick up on Sunday, Feb 14th from 10 am to noon. Jig-Bee’s bouquets of specialty tulips ($45) are grown in Plummer’s basement. “These aren’t your regular tulips. They are double tulips in beautiful colors,” she said. Bouquets can also be pre-ordered on their website and will be available at the American Street Flower Market, 1800 N. American Street, where you select from pre-made, hand-tied bouquets or make your own bouquet.
Their flowers are also available at Vault & Vine in East Falls, Petit Jardin en Ville in Old City, Riverwards Produce in Fishtown, Kensington Community Food Coop, and Mullica Hill Flower Company in Mullica Hill, NJ.
Or delight your loved one with a Jig-Bee Seasonal Flower Share, delivering a series of four bouquets to their door. Are you head over heels? Jig-Bee offers a discount for a full year of monthly flower deliveries. Flower Share Bouquets are also available for pick-up in the following locations: Fairmount/Art Museum, Center City, Navy Yard, South Philly, Kensington, and Collingswood, NJ.