Every so often, you meet someone who is larger than life. What they do becomes more and more incredible the closer you look. Their passion and total dedication is inspiring. They are the best at what they do. Leslie Garcia of Peach Mountain Organics is one of those people. I am fortunate to know her as she grows certified organic flowers locally and brings them to Dorothy Lane Market. We are so beyond grateful to be able to provide our customers with her beautiful flowers.
Down a winding road in Spring Valley is where you’ll find that majestic farm called Peach Mountain Organics. As you walk through the greenhouse and fields, the vibrant colors draw your eye here and then there, while a rain-kissed fresh fragrance gently greets you. Although the local floral bouquet season started in the spring, it’s still going strong even as summer comes to a close and fall takes over. Right now, we are simply dazzled by all of the dahlias that Leslie grows with such care. These late-summer/early-fall beauties come in a variety of different sizes and together form a rainbow of luscious colors making for the most stunning bouquets. On a recent farm visit, Leslie showed us how she cares for each and every stem so delicately and told us why growing flowers is so meaningful to her. Her story is incredible.
DAHLIA CARE TIP: Cut the stems with clean, sharp cutters and use floral preservative. Always re-cut the stems and change the water after a few days
Customers frequently tell me that while they can understand why choosing organic and locally grown products for their tables makes a difference, they are less particular about why it matters when choosing flowers. So with that question in mind “why does organic matter?”, I spoke to some of our local growers, whose organic local bouquets you’ll see in our stores.
One of the first calls I made was to my longtime friend Leslie Garcia of Peach Mountain Organics located in Spring Valley. She and her husband Doug have been growing flowers and produce organically for more than 30 years. I asked Leslie why she chooses organic farming. “After I read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, I could not imagine farming any other way,” Leslie says. “It was the first book published that made a clear, meticulously researched case against the use of DDT and the dramatic and dangerous impact pesticides were having on our environment and wildlife.”
Non-organic farmers may spray and then directly sow seeds in the field. The seedling emerge in a non-competitive environment. “One of my methods is to start seeds in the greenhouse, repotting them after seedling stage, allowing them to grow and become established. Then, I cultivate the ground and set a stronger plant into the bed. This will give it a competitive edge when weeds begin to sprout,” Leslie shares. This method is a successful alternative to using herbicides but requires more labor and materials.
Nellie Ashmore of That Girl’s Flowers, another organic grower whose flowers you’ll find at DLM, agrees. “Non-organic farmers are often able to offer products at a lower price,” Nellie says. “They will use fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides that are not only less expensive but can be applied mechanically. At my farm, I use a wide variety of methods to fertilize and control pests and weeds.” She explains that fish emulsion is an excellent organic fertilizer but that it’s costly and has to be applied by hand. The same is true for the essential oils that she applies to control insects. Nellie also hand cultivates during the growing season to control weeds. So why does organic matter? Besides the reasons aforementioned, health matters, the earth matters, wildlife matters, and clean runoff from farmland matters. Organic matters because it returns something to the soil, contributing value for goods received. “Farming is not suppose to be like mining, taking resources from the land and returning nothing. If we want the land to continue to produce, then we need to nurture it, treating nature with respect and graditude”, Leslie says pointedly.