Supporting Organic Flower Production in Ecuador
Organic Blooming is an Ecuadorian company that produces and exports organic calla lilies. Founded in 2003 by Ecuadorian entrepreneurs John Kenyon and Juan Escobar, the business owns a farm with approximately 200,000 plants currently in production. The farm has achieved organic certification, and the company is committed to the application of environmentally sound agricultural practices, to the furthering of biodiversity in the area, and to a socially responsible attitude regarding its employees.
Farmer Profile: Jasmin Flores and Gonzalo Collagazo
It seems that Jasmin Flores was destined to work in the flower business. After all, her last name means “flower” in Spanish, and her first name is, coincidentally, a type of flower.
And perhaps it was, indeed, fate, because Jasmin and her husband Gonzalo Collagazo have been co-managers of Organic Blooming’s farm for the last six years. In that time, their lives have improved considerably.
Before working for Organic Blooming, Jasmin and Gonzalo produced and sold coal, a tiring and dangerous job. Now they work in a healthy, safe environment, and Organic Blooming pays them a fair wage. With their increased income, Jasmin and Gonzalo have bought a refrigerator, a car, a washing machine, and a computer. They have also invested in a herd of cows so that they can produce and sell cheese locally.
Organic certification is especially significant in the flower industry because of traditional flower farms’ use of pesticides. Commercially grown roses contain 1,000 times the amount of pesticides as food products, and one study showed that nearly 60 percent of flower workers in Ecuador have symptoms of pesticide poisoning.
But not Gonzalo and Jasmin. As Jasmin says, “We don’t have to protect ourselves [from chemicals]. Sometimes I even lick the flowers.”