Seattle, WA (October 2012)
– On Oct. 1, 2012, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $101 million in grants to support America’s specialty crops producers, including $138,000 awarded to the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farm-to-florist cooperative of flower growers in Washington, Oregon and Alaska.
The goal of USDA’s 2012 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is to promote and increase opportunities for specialty crops producers and to stimulate agriculturally-based community economic development.
Administered in partnership with the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the multi-state grant will fund several new SWGMC programs. A major initiative will train key industry stakeholders in methods for achieving high quality cut flower production with emphasis on season extension, marketing techniques and sustainable growing practices. Funding will also assist the cooperative in providing Washington and Oregon floricultural producers with reliable volume sales opportunities to Puget Sound area supermarkets and chain stores, aiding the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative in building a self-sustaining marketing program for large scale buyers.
According to SWGMC President Diane Szukovathy, the Federal and State support provides critical resources to expand and improve the domestic cut flower industry in the Pacific Northwest.
“Washington is the second-largest cut-flower growing state in the nation and Oregon is the fourth-largest,” she said. “In February 2011, the independent flower producers and small family flower farms of the Pacific Northwest created a central marketplace for the floral community, strategically located in the heart of Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. We provide wholesale customers with regular access to high quality, locally grown cut flowers. The farmers have self-funded the cooperative to date, without government support. Now, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program grants will provide much-needed seed money to help improve our distribution and marketing efficiencies and meet the growing demand for locally and sustainably-grown floral products.”
Rianne Perry, WSDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program administrator, noted: “This project supports Northwest flower growers’ sustainability and provides consumers with opportunities to buy local, high quality cut flowers. We are pleased to include this as one of the 25 projects we were able to fund to support Washington’s diverse agriculture, including floriculture.”
About the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market:
Overview: Washington is the 2nd largest cut flower growing state in the nation. From 1998 – 2009, cut flower producers increased from 52 to 88 and bulb growers from 15 to 56 according to the USDA Floriculture Crop Survey. Critical to the ongoing success of the cut flower growers is the creation of a central market for the floral community in the Puget Sound region. The central location provides customers with regular availability to locally grown cut flowers. Plus growers gain distribution efficiencies by combining delivery of plant material to shared customers.
In February, 2011, growers from Washington, Oregon and Alaska formed the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative. Shortly after forming the co-op, the Georgetown space was leased to house the market year around. The grand opening of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market was May 18, 2011.
Vision: To cultivate a northwest floral industry that values and supports local growers.
Founded: February, 2011
Grower Members: 18 (10 from Washington, 6 from Oregon and 2 from Alaska)
Wholesale Hours of Operation: Mondays 6-12, Wednesdays 6-2, Fridays 6-2
Customer Profile: retail and studio florists, event planners, restaurants, and grocery stores.
The market is open to the public from 10-2 on Fridays only.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Why did you form the Growers Co-op?
The Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative was formed to create a central marketplace for local flower farmers to sell directly to the floral trade in the greater Seattle area throughout the year. Over time, the SWGMC is committed to providing production resources, promotion and distribution solutions to its members.
80% of cut flowers sold in the U.S. are now imported. The importation of foreign plant material from Columbia, Ecuador and throughout the world has created an increasingly competitive marketplace that has significantly reduced overall farmer profitability, and homogenized the flower varieties offered. Over the past five years, consumer demand for high quality, local and seasonally diverse floral products has steadily climbed, yet until SWGMC opened for business last year, such products were not available in the Seattle area on any consistent basis.
Is the market wholesale only?
The market is set up mainly to serve wholesale buyers with high quality floral products. Our customer base includes studio florists, shop owners, stores, caterers, restaurants, event planners, venues, designers and other professionals. Professional buyers pay a $35 annual buyer’s card fee.
Beginning June 1, 2012, the market opened to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays, with retail pricing and a $5 entry fee. The market’s board of directors recently made this decision to answer a strong level of interest from the public, and to help growers sell surplus product.
Where is the market located?
In the Georgetown neighborhood located just south of downtown Seattle. We are 15 minutes from downtown Seattle and easily accessible from I-5 via the Michigan/Corson Street exit. Our address is 5840 Airport Way South, Suite 201, Seattle, WA 98108
What kind of flowers and plants do you offer at the market?
The market offers a wide variety of professional quality cut flowers, foliage and potted plants year round, including peonies, roses, calla lilies, Asiatic and oriental lilies, orchids, blooming branches, and specialty bulb and perennial crops. With a few seasonal exceptions, all of the flowers/plants offered for sale are locally grown, ensuring the freshest possible product for our customers.