At Willow Creek, about an hour inland from Arcata, California, Sun Valley Floral Farms found the ideal growing conditions for some of its specialty crops.
The farm is located in a mountain canyon on a wild and scenic stretch of the Trinity River at an elevation of 640 feet. Cultivated flowers thrive alongside bald eagles, black bears and salmon.
Such a setting demands respectful stewardship. With its recent BloomCheck certification, Sun Valley Floral Farms has a stamp of approval that attests to its environmental-friendly practices at Willow Creek.
“We wanted the certification to highlight to the industry and to our community that we are committed to environmental responsibility and sustainability,” said Bill Prescott, communications and marketing associate at Sun Valley. “Getting the BloomCheck certification was just a great way to get there.”
Flower farmers seeking BloomCheck certification undergo a rigorous third-party audit to ensure they are using best practices for sustainability when it comes to water, air and soil quality; wildlife protection; and social impacts on workers and the community. That means reducing energy use, recycling water, deploying biological pest management.
Protected Harvest, an independent nonprofit organization that certifies the sustainability of agriculture operations, does the on-site auditing to ensure farms are meeting the standards.
Willow Creek is one of Sun Valley’s three growing sites in California. At Willow Creek, the focus is on specialty crops — ilex berries, cotinus, rosehips, snowberry and viburnum.
Although the BloomCheck process is thorough and demanding, the production at Willow Creek wasn’t faced with overhauling any growing practices.
“We were pretty close,” Prescott said. “A few things had to be adjusted but our farmers are always looking for new ways to innovate and improve our operations. So, it kind of came naturally. It wasn’t a struggle, but these kinds of things do take time and effort.”
For Sun Valley, the BloomCheck seal will tell consumers a lot about the source and quality of what’s grown at Willow Creek.
“Consumers want to understand how their flowers are grown, where they were grown and who grew them,” Prescott said. “As you know, 80 percent of the cut flowers sold in the United States are grown in South America. BloomCheck certification is a great way to highlight to consumers that we are operating in a forward-thinking, environmentally friendly way.”