Last week, we paid a visit to Silver Lake Farms here in Los Angeles, and were greeted by the kind and captivating Tara Koller — the founder and grower behind Los Angeles’ only organic flower farm. Given an off-the-grid address and not sure what to expect, we wound our way through the hills of east Los Angeles, eventually stumbling upon a plot of land tucked away at the top of a hill just north of Downtown. On it laid rows of spring flowers, just sprouting up in their vibrant hues and emitting the most delightful of scents.
Contrary to common knowledge, most of the flowers bought and sold in Los Angeles (and throughout the United States) are the product of overseas growing. They’re shipped to North America, incurring enormous transportation, energy and storage costs, and result in a sizable carbon footprint for something that exists naturally just beyond our front doors. Interestingly enough, the Andean Trade Preference Agreement was the catalyst for this shift, which addressed the War on Drugs in the early 90’s by encouraging the growth of flowers on farms that were being used to harvest coca leaves in areas like Columbia and Ecuador. Flash forward a decade, and big cities like Los Angeles and New York lost their local flower industry to overseas farming, which unfortunately, also often includes the use of pesticides.
Tara, among other farmers, florists and gardening gurus, are now making strides towards reigniting the flower movement in the States, implementing organic and sustainable practices along the way. Similar to the way we’ve been taught to question the sources and practices behind our food over the last few decades, Tara is pushing to do the same with flowers; working with the seasons and creating a strong sense of community. Needless to say, the visit was enlightening, and we’re working on a fun project to showcase more of Tara and her story here on the site. Meanwhile, you can visit Silver Lake Farms to see their work, sign up for their flower CSA (if you’re local to LA!), and learn more about the slow flower movement.