Yesterday I posted a reel on Instagram about Tansy, a cut flower we buy every summer. It’s bright yellow color and herby scent is something we all look forward to for designs. A lot of people consider it a weed, but I have several farmers who cultivate and grow it for sale. Is that even a thing? A cultivated weed? After I posted it, some growers commented that they were growing it and that they loved it. Other growers pointed out that it was a harmful invasive in their area as well as poisonous to cattle. Ugh!
My interest in getting educated about invasives began a few years ago when I posted a picture of bull thistle we were using in wreaths and someone commented that it was invasive. While I had a general understanding of what an invasive was, I didn’t know why it mattered to me as a designer. The thistle was dry when I bought it. It had been foraged from a grower’s property. I wasn’t really sure what the issue was, but i didn’t buy it again. Then came “news” that designers shouldn’t be using bittersweet because it was invasive and if you composted it, the seeds could spread. I’m sure this just came from social media or the ASCFG facebook page. So we ditched bittersweet. I listened with interest to the Sustainable Flowers podcast e[isode on “the Ethics of Foraging” and as a result stopped using autumn olive. All of this learning was very piecemeal and honestly while I made some changes to what we were buying and using, I didn’t fully understand the issues.
All this to say I basically know nothing about invasives and the issues for growers and designers. I’m committed to learning because we care about the earth and biodiversity and want to be educated representatives of the products we’re selling to our customers. So my true learning begins today. I’ve bought a couple of books, I’ve reached out to experts to pose my questions too, I’ve downloaded some podcasts and I’m committed to talking to growers and designers alike to learn more. I’ll keep you updated.