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 Zinnia
2006 All America Selections Winner zinnia ‘Zowie! Yellow Flame.’ Photo courtesy of All America Selections.

Articles

Welcome to the first column in a series about the slow flower movement in the United States and Maine. It is time to start highlighting the great flower growing that is going on here and elsewhere. Like the slow food movement and with similar goals, the U.S. slow flower movement is taking off. Sustainable, local, small scale, seasonal is what it is all about.

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Fair bouquetLinda and Jim Mercer of Sheepscot Flower Farm in Newcastle, Maine, and Dr. Lois Berg Stack of the University of Maine talked about cut flower production and sales at the 2009 Farmer-to-Farmer Conference in Northport, cosponsored by MOFGA and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

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ZinniaGrowing cut flowers can be management- and labor-intensive, but they are a high-margin crop if managed well – and they beautify your fields. At the November Farmer-to-Farmer Conference, Barbara Murphy of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in South Paris, Nancy Stedman of Little River Flower Farm in Buxton and Don Beckwith of Meadowood Farm in Yarmouth discussed this topic.

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Leon GinenthalWhile I love roses, I have been intimidated by the idea of actually growing them myself. Oh, I see them blooming in other people’s gardens, rambling along the fences and climbing over the gates.  And a number of wild bushes are tucked beneath the trees lining our road.  Clearly they thrive on neglect – so why aren’t they in my garden?

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Daylilies at Deerwood farmBeverly and Brian Hendricks bought their small farm in western Maine’s Waterford in 2001. They had always wanted to own an old farm, and Bev smiles in acknowledgement that their early dream “to feed the world with organic veggies” was an ideal a bit beyond their present reality.

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Sustainably grown flowers are influencing the $16 billion U.S. floral industry. The U.S. organic floral market reached $8 million in 2003, growing 52% over the previous year. Sales are expected to grow 13% annually through 2008, according to the Organic Trade Association.

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Toki Oshima drawingSoon after I began to grow vegetables, I realized that flowers have a place in the same garden. In fact, I don’t have a ‘vegetable garden’ or ‘flower garden’ any more, but just ‘the garden,’ and everybody seems to get along fine. Even more, some flowers, such as marigolds, not only taste good but help their companion vegetables grow stronger and healthier.

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This colorful herb and decorative plant began its journey into our gardens and onto our tables from the land of the Incas – the cool mountains of Peru. Spanish conquerors became acquainted with it in the sixteenth century, and packed its large, wrinkled seeds to bring home with them. In turn, English bandits waylaid the Spaniards and brought the booty, including nasturtium seeds, to London in the 1590s. From there, over the next century, the colorful plant was carried throughout Europe and into the Orient.

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Snapdragons are a potential crop for Northeast growers, says N.H. Dept. of Agriculture Commissioner Steve Taylor.

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