I started my career in 1984 in the packing sheds and greenhouses of Central Florida working as a laborer. As most workers on a small farm in the 1980’s everyone wore multiple hats and learned to weed, feed, compost, pack boxes and distribute the nastiest of agro-chemicals in our bare feet. Why get your shoes dirty or shirt wet when you could set them aside?
It was during this time that I had my first thoughts on the effects of synthetic chemicals on the environment and workers in the horticulture industry. I watched our head agronomist die at an early age of 68 from toxic chemical exposure. I remember he taught me how to control weeds around the farm using a salt water mixture to protect the local ecology surrounding our farm. These seemed like interesting directions to take from a man whose skin seemed to be falling off his face from years of overspray in the greenhouses. He rarely wore protective gear and seemed to always return to the packing shed soaked in the chemicals that would eventually end his life. There had to be a better way.
He knew the effects synthetic chemicals had on the environment and the workers exposed to them. While working outside the greenhouse we used soapy water to fight aphids and salt water to kill weeds, but inside the greenhouse it was all business. He always discouraged me from living a life of a greenhouse manager. Spraying pesticides, fertilizing and staying up all night during freezes was all I ever wanted to do.
After the farms I spent 20 years in various segments of the floral industry including a truck driver, store merchandiser, salesman and ultimately a business owner. I’ve had an exciting career and interestingly enough, after 25 years it’s only getting started.
Today I find myself in a position where I can affect the environment, the floral industry, the people on the farms of South and Central America and I can apply my industry experience to promote change. Growers are much more aware today of the effects that chemical use has on the environment, but more work needs to be done.
Sustainability is a slippery word, one that has a different meaning for different groups. I see it as a destination we must always reach for, stretching further each day towards perfection. Being sustainable is not just about our company, it’s about our partners, our industry associates and our customers. A sustainable product is more than just one farm and one plant; it’s about an industry, a country and a global understanding.
I’m often asked now if I feel this eco-friendly or green movement is a fad that will slowly fade away. My answer is always that all plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables and livestock were grown or raised for 1000’s of years organically, only in the last 100 years have we discovered synthetic chemicals and begun to over use them. As we’ve destroyed millions of acres and polluted millions more this phasing out of synthetic chemicals and returning to natural methods prove that synthetic chemicals have been a brief but damaging fad that hopefully will never be repeated.
As CEO of Organic Bouquet there is a sense of pride and inspiration each day I walk through our office doors, or walk the rows of a farm in California or Ecuador. Every product we buy and every supply partner we choose offers a story of responsible commerce, environmental stewardship, social awareness and people that matter. I’m inspired by our work, I’m passionate about making positive change to an industry I love and an industry that loves to make the right decisions for the earth and its workers.
I’m very thankful to all our staff, supply partners and customers for helping make a positive change in the lives of so many, from the people in our office to the workers at the farms, to the wildlife surrounding each farm we partner with, we are making a difference.
Thank you for visiting our site and being part of the success of a company that matters.