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Families and Flowers

Distributed by Documentary Educational Resources, 101 Morse Street, Watertown, MA 02472; 617-926-0491
Produced by Mark Freeman
Directed by Mark Freeman
VHS, color, 27 min.
Jr. High - Adult
Agriculture, Economics, Environmental Studies, Globalization, Labor Relations

Reviewed by Veronica Maher, Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island

Date Entered: 6/21/2005

Flower growing is a huge commercial enterprise in various sections of this country. This film focuses on Encinitas, CA, the “flower capital of the world” located in San Diego County. The flower industry was first brought here early in the century by the Ecke family who in 1923 began to grow poinsettias for commercial growers. Other families of growers came at the urging of Paul Ecke, such as the Tayama Kimura family who settled there after WWII and a stay at Manzanar (relocation camp.) They grow gardenias and orchids. The Weidner family also came to raise pansies and begonias. These families remain as second and third generation small business owners facing globalization, land development and environmental problems. Director, writer, producer Mark Freeman looks at these flower producers as part of a trilogy on the social history of Encinitas.

The flower fields are beautiful but are threatened by the encroachment of million dollar homes being built for the sprawling San Diego community. The pressure to vacate the growing fields is coming from the developers and the community. Environmentalists are concerned about the water run-off from the greenhouses which contain waste from plant insecticides. Labor inspectors closely monitor working conditions. At the time of the filming the Ecke family had already moved some of their poinsettia production to Guatemala. The orchids and gardenias you see on the New Year’s Day floats mainly come from the Tayama Kimura farm. What’s to become of this growers paradise? Will the families be able to maintain their operations? Families and Flowers presents us with the issues facing these small business owners in Encinitas but it also mirrors many family businesses trying to survive in today’s ever-changing global economy.