SOURCE: Burpee

Burpee

June 10, 2013 12:29 ET

Burpee CEO Reblooms Urban Agriculture

Burpee CEO George Ball Urges Urban Gardeners to Meet the Demand for Fresh Flowers at the Urban Agriculture Conference at NYU

WARMINSTER, PA --(Marketwired - June 10, 2013) - A beautiful bouquet of flowers is an endangered species, according to one of the nation's leading experts, as gardeners throughout America devote almost all their energies growing vegetables instead of tulips, roses and a plethora of other flowers that formerly comprised a garden.

"Most urban agriculture projects consist mostly of vegetables and herbs with a few flowers on the side," observed George Ball, a 35 year veteran of both the cut flower and vegetable business. The keynote speaker at the recent Urban Agriculture Conference held at New York University in Manhattan, Mr. Ball urged the more than 300 urban gardeners in attendance "to meet the great potential and pent-up demand for fresh flowers."

Fresh cut flowers have almost vanished from urban homes, parties and other public and private events, according to Mr. Ball, past president of The American Horticultural Society and chairman and C.E.O. of the nation's leading home gardening company, W. Atlee Burpee & Co.

"Think of cut flowers as an endangered species," he quipped, urging those attending to allocate space for flowers in whatever enterprise they undertake. "If you grow flowers in a one to two acre farm or garden you will be pleasing both customers and employees who much prefer tending flowers rather than vegetables."

The contemporary flower industry, Mr. Ball pointed out, is dominated by huge exporters from countries 4,000-6,000 miles away, whose flowers are picked "green" when the buds are not fully pigmented (much as a tomato is picked green) and shipped by air-polluting jumbo-jets to wholesalers who keep them up to a week in storage. Finally, he said, they are distributed to an ever-decreasing number of retail florists. "Today most florists are gift shops with a small cooler in the back filled with pale-colored flowers from Asia, South America or the Middle East." The consumers, he concluded, have fewer choices in flowers than they have in vegetables in a supermarket.

Mr. Ball also pointed out the latest research at Rutgers University that proves that fresh flowers in the home alleviate mild depression or other mood disorders. "Vegetables are fuel for our body," he concluded, "but flowers connect with the deepest parts of our spirit."

The conference was held under the auspices of the Horticultural Society of New York, at NYU's Kimmel Center.

Contact Information

  • For more information, contact:
    Peggy DeLaurentis  
    215-674-4900 Ext 1401
    peggyd@burpee.com