The Flower Growers of Mississippi are launching the first of many Flower Festivals this weekend at the Renaissance at Colony Park to spark awareness for an agricultural market they say has gone largely unrecognized. 

Donna Yowell, a leader of the Flower Growers and the executive director of the Mississippi Urban Forest Council, said that statistics show that Mississippi growers are missing out on market. 

“In Mississippi, 90 percent of cut flowers sold are imported from other countries. Of these flowers sold, probably 80 percent could be grown in-state,” Yowell said. 

Information on the Society of American Florists’ website estimates that as of 2012, 64 percent of fresh flowers sold by dollar volume in the United States were imports, overwhelmingly from Colombia. While nearly 80 percent of imported flowers come in through Miami, California growers claim the lion’s share of the domestic market with roughly 76 percent of commercial flowers grown domestically. 

“This is an established market that state agriculture could take advantage of,” Yowell said. 

Yowell and the Flower Growers hope to spread this message by establishing the first ever Mississippi Flower Festival on Nov. 24 at Renaissance. She said they chose the shopping center for its “beautiful landscaping.” 

Participants will be able to shop a large selection of flower-related vendors including art, jewelry, and books. The event will feature live music and Mississippi gardening personality Felder Rushing. There will also be a variety of children’s activities including crafts and educational exhibits for all ages on growing, selling and marketing flowers. 

Each participant will also receive 50 free daffodil and tulip bulbs. 

“We wanted to do one in the fall because now is the time to plant a lot of flowers,” Yowell said. “We hope to do three of these a year. One in fall, another in spring and one later on in the summer when everything is in full bloom.” 

The event is free and open to the public. 

For more information, visit the Flower Growers Facebook page.