How Colombian Florists Make Valentine’s Day Possible


Happy Valentine’s Day from the Boundless team! Valentine’s Day is a time to show your appreciation to the loved ones around you, often in the form of gifts, like cards, chocolate and flowers.

But did you know that the majority of Valentine’s Day bouquets in the United States are made by Colombian farm workers?

In the early 1900s, most Americans purchased flowers from local growers, but in the 1960s the agricultural flower industry migrated to Colombia, due to the country’s long daylight hours and low wages minimum for labor.

In 1980, Colombia became one of the the world’s leading flower exporterssecond only to the Netherlands, with 80% of flowers going to US markets. Today, Colombia’s floriculture sector produces $1.5 billion in exports each year.

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Despite the industry’s growth, working and living conditions for Colombian flower workers are poor. Women make up 65% of Colombia’s floriculture workforce, and many report working more than 80 hours a week to meet the high demand for flowers. Work-related injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and rotator cuff tears, as well as workplace harassment are common.

In the 1990s, Colombian labor organizations began “Flower Workers Day” to protest against harsh working conditions and minimum wages on the biggest day of the year for the floral industry: February 14.

International human rights organizations, such as Witness for Peace (PAM)have been pushing for Colombian florists’ grievances to be heard and to raise awareness in the United States about where our flowers come from.

“Often, we don’t know how these flowers get to our local Walmart,” says Evan King, former WFP program director. “When people go to the store and buy flowers in Colombia, we want them to know exactly what that means. »

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