Wholesale Growers Market
Washington is the second largest cut flower growing state in the nation. According to Diane Szukovathy, President of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative, flower farmers are a special breed.
SZUKOVATHY: We’re part of agriculture and we’re also caught in the world of beauty and fashion, and providing a specialty product.
At a meeting of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, of which Szukovathy is a board member, a round table discussion about meeting the growing demand for local and sustainably grown floral products, while facing import competition, prompted the formation of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative in 2011. SWGMC is made up of flower growers in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.
SZUKOVATHY: We opened our doors in April of 2011 and started selling to florists and wholesale buyers. We did $300 thousand in sales through the different farms that first year. And this year I think we’ve probably doubled that.
Szukovathy says that the SWGMC started to expand what it wanted to do, but realized that in order to stabilize its business it needed to move more volume of product by accessing the grocery market.
SZUKOVATHY: So I wrote for this grant with the specific request, both that we help to educated all kind of flower growers in Washington and Oregon on how to grow cut flowers, and how to do season extension so we could have more to offer at more times, but also so that we could be a really competitive provider of local floral products.
Tomorrow Szukovathy talks about the Specialty Crops Block Grant Funding recently awarded to the SWGMC by the USDA.
I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Ag Information Network.