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February 25, 2021

California Pajarosa navigates a changing industry

Business at California Pajarosa Floral, one of Watsonville’s last remaining large flower growers, has altered drastically since the outbreak of Covid-19 last year.

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Already dealing with an evolving industry before the pandemic due to growth in offshore production, things came to a sudden halt at Pajarosa when the virus hit. For the first six weeks, all transportation of flowers ceased and the business could not get its product to its wholesale customers. Then demand began to plummet.

“Once trucking resumed, we were able to ship flowers, however, demand for them was only a small percentage of what is [normal],” said Pajarosa’s Paul Furman. “We lost many accounts due to them closing completely.”

California Pajarosa, which is nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, is the last remaining major rose grower in the Pajaro Valley and one of the very few left in the country. Roses were first planted on the property in 1979. In 1992, the company became the first rose grower in the state to utilize hydroponic growing methods. 

The company normally grows flowers for parties and weddings, and has lost a large amount of business due to such events being canceled and discouraged due to Covid-19. This has led to a shift in focus, concentrating on internet sales and customers who have more of an online retail presence.

Meanwhile, safety measures have increased. While the company already had a very strict sanitizing system put in practice pre-pandemic, they have now also mandated mask-wearing for employees.

Thankfully, Furman said, there is still a demand for flowers.

“Many people still find the benefit of enjoying flowers in their homes,” he said. “It has been scientifically proven that flowers reduce stress, boost your mood and memory, increase productivity and are shown not only as a benefit to the recipient, but also to the person giving the flowers.”

BLOOMING BUSINESS Roses await shipment at California Pajarosa. —photo by Tarmo Hannula

For those reasons, California Pajarosa decided last year to donate 1,000 bouquets to local healthcare workers at Watsonville Community Hospital. Furman said they appreciate the sacrifice and effort such workers have been dealing with and wanted to show their support.

“No gesture is too small, and we felt the flowers could have a positive effect on those that risk their own for sake of others’ health,” Furman said.

Looking ahead, Furman says that California Pajarosa will continue to monitor the ever-evolving flower industry both locally and worldwide. He urges consumers to look to support local growers as much as they can.

“We encourage anyone to be aware of the origin of the flowers they buy as buying locally grown flowers supports the community you live in,” he said. “Buy American Grown Flowers. Buy California Grown flowers. Buy Santa Cruz County grown flowers. The closer the origin of the product, the greater it will affect you in a positive way.”

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Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business and agriculture.

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