A new grant is helping a budding industry in Florida take root. The $50,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will pay for new equipment and marketing for wildflower growers, who are currently harvesting and cleaning tiny seeds as they build their young industry.
Now, with rising gas prices and shrinking water supplies, wildflowers provide a low-impact alternative for landscaping lawns. State transportation officials are gunning for the locally produced seeds to replace grass along highways — mowing is expensive.
For years the state has planted wildflowers along highways, but they usually don’t grow back so they’re replanted annually. Now the focus is on getting wildflowers to reseed themselves — something locally produced seeds help with — and preserving existing stands along the roadways. Areas with flowers require less mowing and can save money — it costs about $250 to mow a mile of highway.