After a lifetime in the blooms business, Stefanie Hofmeister knows her flowers. But when she moved to Colorado 13 years ago, she became aware of the international flower trade’s high carbon footprint. Inspired by the locavore Slow Food movement, Hofmeister founded Colorado Flower Collective to focus attention on locally grown stems.
Lamenting that “people want year-round access to seasonal plants and don’t realize the carbon footprint is very high,” Hofmeister aims to educate florists and their clients on the benefits of purchasing locally grown flowers.
“The United States had a thriving floral industry, but the war on drugs paved the way for alternative imports, such as flowers, from countries in South and Central America,” she explains. “These days, more than 80 percent of flowers are imported from Holland, South America, Colombia, and Ecuador, and are transported in refrigerated containers and trucked across the country.”
Hofmeister’s goal is to cultivate collaboration through a centralized market where buyers can purchase locally grown flowers, encouraging growth in the flower farming community and resulting in more variety and a dependable supply. This isn’t always easy, she admits, because water issues and searing sun can make Colorado’s growing season feast or famine.
Colorado Flower Collective works with 30 farms from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs to supply its twice-weekly flower markets. “We added 13 new farms, including the first from the Western Slope, and a second market day this year to keep up with the demand, which is great,” Hofmeister says. “Our Wednesday market is big and frenzied.”
Through a weekly newsletter, “The Power of Local Flowers,” Hofmeister details seasonal flower and foliage availability. Two hundred florists have signed up for the Buyers Pass Program, giving them exclusive access to an online shop and market days.
“While we only sell wholesale to florists, our flowers can be found across the Front Range,” Hofmeister says. “Banisters in Englewood and Bloom on Tennyson are two of our best clients. Boulder Blooms uses our flowers for all of the University of Colorado events. Ask for locally sourced flowers at Veldkamps or your favorite store.”