Sustainability certification is such an important industry issue that 18 producers, wholesalers and suppliers have united to form the VeriFlora Sustainability Council (VSC) as a vehicle for communicating brand and market differentiation. The establishment of the council demonstrates the increasing importance of sustainability in floriculture from seed to store.
"The council was conceived out of an unwavering commitment on the part of its founding members to lead our green industry to still greener places," says Ted Johnson, board chair and president of FreshBlooms, a division of Delaware Valley. "Toward that end, we must find the right balance of practices that benefit the environment and workers while advancing economic well being."
The VSC has two missions: Sharing knowledge about the implementation of the best sustainability practices and promoting the VeriFlora seal with flowers and plants as a reminder that materials were grown in accordance with the strictest environmental, social, economic and product quality standards.
Annie Gardiner, founding executive director of the VSC, expects the council’s formation to stimulate sales in cut flowers and nursery plants grown in the United States and abroad.
"The council offers a mechanism for working collaboratively to meet the needs of consumers who are looking for a compelling message to motivate a sustainable purchase," she says. "Council members receive a host of benefits in sustainability marketing, networking, information and education."
Besides Johnson, the council’s board of directors includes the following industry people:
• John Campbell-Barmmer, vice president of Gemini Floral Partners
• Bruce Brady, business development manager of The Sun Valley Group
• Scott Fulton, vice president of sales and marketing of B&H Flowers
• Tom Leckman, CEO of Sierra Flower Trading
• Dave Pruitt, general manager of Ball Tagawa
• Andrew Reitz, director of sales and marketing of the Latinflor Group
• Xavier Serrano, president of the HOSA Group
The council is funded through membership, merchandising and educational fees. The eighteen founding members provided the startup funding for the council. A Web site dedicated exclusively to the VeriFlora Sustainability Council is part of that funding and is in the process of being built. It can be accessed here.