By Brian Rudnick

Donna Beardell of Chestnut Hill with a bouquet of roses from Robertson's (Photo by Brian Rudnick)

The flower export business is big business.But beauty has its cost to both the environment and people according to “The Secrets Behind Your Flowers,” a February 2011 Smithsonian Magazine report. Because it may take three gallons of water to grow just one rose bloom, groundwater supplies become depleted.  The low-paying work is tedious and straining. In traditional growing operations, workers are exposed to the dangerous pesticides and fungicides that keep insects from taking the slightest nibble from an otherwise picture-perfect flower

At Robertson’s showcase Chestnut Hill store, Sandy Robertson says they source their flowers locally  from New Jersey,  domestically from Florida when they can and even sees growing customer interest in organically or sustainably grown flowers. Greenhouse employee  Nicole Serfass has been asking their growers about organic but believes it’s not yet economically worth it for them to invest the years required for organic certification.

“Aren’t they gorgeous?” Donna Beardell of  Chestnut Hill asks,  xiting Robertson’s with a brilliant bunch of pink tinged roses, destined for her nieces competing in a gymnastics meet. On Valentines Day, she’s hoping she’ll be the recipient.