Story originally published here.
For Sutton Ferneries, BloomCheck certification was a chance to complete the sustainability path the company had been on for a few years.
And it fit CEO Michele Sutton’s vision for how the company should be run.
“This is the healthy way of a running a business,” Sutton said. “This is the way we want to do it.”
Sutton had been putting the pieces in place for a sustainable operation for the past few years but had never taken the step to get certified. So, when Albertsons requested its suppliers become certified, Sutton saw it as an opportunity.
“The preparation over the last couple of years put us in a very good place to be able to go ahead and get certified,” she said.
Sutton Ferneries, headquartered in Doral, Florida, just outside of Miami, grows foliage on close to 100 acres in north central Florida and ships its products worldwide. It provides supermarkets with pre-made arrays of greens that just need flowers added for a complete arrangement.
Growers 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 and taking care of employees.
Protected Harvest, an independent nonprofit organization that certifies the sustainability of agriculture operations, does the on-site auditing to ensure growers are meeting the standards.
“Congratulations to Michele and her team at Sutton Ferneries. This is no small accomplishment,” said Kasey Cronquist, administrator of the BloomCheck certification program. “BloomCheck represents the gold standard of sustainability for the floral industry in the U.S. and they should be very proud of what it says about their farm and its commitment to excellence.”
Sutton said the certification process was very detailed and credits her farm manager with guiding the company through the process.
One of the results of getting certified was getting the entire company on board with sustainability. It took a bit of cultural change over the years to put the company on the sustainability path.
“I think the main thing you need when you go down this path is management buy-in,” she said. “Everybody has to be on board to participate and understand the practices and whatever changes you decide, all the way down to our farmworkers.”
It took a lot training, aligning of practices to standards and documentation.
“At the end of the day, you know it helps your business in general,” she said. “This is really, in my opinion, how you should run your business.”
Sutton said the certification will support its supermarket business where sustainability has become a common standard.
“I think it helps us better align with the supermarkets and their mission and objectives. And I think that it will make us even better partners with people who are looking to have a sustainable partner.”
Just as important is what the BloomCheck certification did for the company.
“We’re really excited that we were able to get to that place where we could qualify,” she said. “Our goal is to continue to build upon this platform with continued improvements at all levels of our company.”