Sustainability is a huge buzz word in the industry at the moment and there is a lot of negative press around imported flowers. By understanding the Dutch MPS certification we can buy from growers with high environmental standards, so that even imported flowers can be responsibly sourced.
The certification is graded from A+ to C. Growers must gather monthly information on crop protection agents, water, energy, waste and fertilisers. This must be submitted to MPS every four weeks; after 13 months reporting and an audit, certification and grading are awarded.
MPS Certification was instigated by a group of Dutch growers 25 years ago and is now run by a not-for-profit company and has been active in over 50 countries worldwide, North America being the latest to join the scheme. It measures and rates things such as pesticide and fertiliser usage, energy and water usage, recycling and social-economic benefits for employees.
Pesticides are rated using a colour coded system:
Black = banned/illegal.
Red = usage is detrimental to certification and discouraged.
Amber = limited usage or the level of grading is impaired.
Green = the safest chemicals allowed for use and allowed without detriment to certification.
White = Biological control which benefits higher certification.
Water and energy usage are monitored and ebb and flow benches, heat curtains, water harvesting, water/energy recycling and biomass/geothermal heating are all things that benefit towards a higher certification level. Providing education, healthcare, housing, childcare onsite and fair wages are all weighted to higher certification which is hugely important at the farms in Africa and South America.
MPS certification status is listed on many wholesalers' web shops and if you look for those that are A or A+ rated you know that you are buying flowers that have been grown with the highest environmental standards to the fore and a huge amount of investment in better practices by the growers. It is a huge undertaking for growers to be part of the scheme and taken very seriously. The extra work in the constant recording, record keeping and costs associated with being part of the scheme only underlines the commitment of the growers taking part. Audits and sampling are done independently to check and verify records submitted by growers so that there can be no fudging of data.
As a florist you can rest assured that, by buying flowers with the highest MPS status, you are supporting growers who are serious about investing time and money in sustainability in their businesses and who are willing to go the extra mile to achieve this in this very stringent scheme.
Many of the biggest growers that are household names for florists hold the A/A+ status. Holstein gerbera, Meijer roses, Zentoo Chrysanthemums, Marginpar Ethiopia are all part of the scheme’s top rated growers, no surprise to those of us who love using their flowers
So next time you shop, have a look at the MPS status of what you are buying and know that you can have imported flowers with the highest sustainability values.
Viv Bradford trained in west Germany in the late 1980s before returning to the UK, where she has pursued many roles in the industry from running retail premises, teaching floristry, working in wholesale, business coaching florists and running an award-winning studio florist specialising in weddings. Viv also created and runs Facebook groups Flowerphiles for experienced florists and The Floristry Geek for students and those new to the industry which concentrates on educational content.