Entrepreneur sees vast potential for organic flower industry

Gerald Prolman is a man with an organic-flower plan. The California entrepreneur is not only after a significant chunk of the $20 billion-a-year cut-flower industry in the U.S. — he’s hopeful that cultivating demand for organic bouquets will transform grower practices in Latin America and Africa, where pesticide use in flower agribusiness has long poisoned workers and harmed the environment. Organic Bouquet, Prolman’s company, is tracking to earn about $3.5 million this year — much of it from organic long-stemmed roses. He envisions notching that up to $100 million within the next five years. Some fellow floral merchants are skeptical that Americans will care about going organic with a product they don’t eat. But Prolman’s optimistic, and has over a decade of entrepreneurial successes to back up his instincts. “I believe, within [about five years] … you won’t be able to sell a flower in America unless it’s been deemed sustainable,” he says.