Millions of dollars worth of SF flowers wither away as coronavirus shuts down a perishable industry

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The pile of flowers lay clustered in a brilliant, lifeless display, an 8-foot-tall heap of thousands of blooms gone to waste. The multicolored confection of Gerber daisies loomed over Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers. On a visit to one of her farm partners in Watsonville, the assortment of discarded flowers struck a chord with Stembel. They reminded her of the $150,000 worth of product — roses, calla lilies, tulips, orchids, eucalyptus and wax flower — her own company had lost. Now, they were all destined for the compost bin. Just two weeks ago, San Francisco’s shelter-in-place mandate forced Farmgirl Flowers — a nonessential business — to temporarily shutter their 30,000 square foot warehouse in Potrero Hill. The potential for recovery has become an industry-wide floral quandary.


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