Ag officials urge buying local for the holidays

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hawaii has a lot of beautiful flowers that are available year-round. But we still think of evergreens and holly when it comes to Christmas decorations.

“I guess we’re kind of conditioned,” said Eric Tanouye, Vice President and General Manager of Green Point Nurseries of Hilo. “We’re all to blame for that. We’re looking for that certain look that maybe we grew up with.

But Hawaii’s agriculture community wants us to consider buying local plants and flowers. “Our locally produced flowers and plants make beautiful arrangements that could be used for holidays. Home settings, entertaining, at the office,” Tanouye said.

Tanouye was among those at the first annual “Buy Local for the Holidays” event Sunday at the Department of Agriculture’s plant quarantine branch facility near Sand Island. Floral designers from around the state were on hand, putting together flower arrangements. The public was also invited to create their own small floral arrangements to take home.

Organizers said there were two big reasons to buy local. First, export orders for Hawaii’s cut flower industry have fallen during the current economic downturn, and buying local would create a homegrown economic stimulus. Second, it would prevent invasive species from entering the state.

Flower Arranging Finds a Younger Audience –

Flower Arranging Finds a Younger Audience

THE first time I bought flowers for myself was about five years ago at the Greenmarket in Union Square, in the midst of the hottest, dullest days of summer. Feeling very alone that afternoon for a reason now forgotten, I stood admiring some tulips. For $8 they could be mine. I was in my mid-20s and it seemed like such a luxury to buy myself flowers for no reason, no occasion. But that day I had the money in my wallet, and soon I was carrying the tulips home. I stuck them in a glass pitcher and watched them bloom, until their stems bowed and swept the tabletop and the petals all dropped off.

Over time, I became a regular flower buyer, at farmers’ markets on weekends or at the bodega on the way home from work. The bodega tulips were often the color of margarine and just as engineered. I loved them anyway.

Yet arranging flowers was something I avoided. As with baking sourdough bread or building bookshelves, I was too intimidated to try, especially since buying individual stems can be expensive. Easier to buy a bunch of the same flower, or two or three kinds at most, snip their stems and plop them in water, all while handling them as little as possible.

It turns out that I am not alone in wanting instruction: flower-arranging classes are on the upswing. Established institutions have long offered programs in traditional arranging, but newer schools, with a natural, free-form aesthetic, have begun popping up across the country, part of a swell of enthusiasm for things homemade.