A Fragrance Made From Urban Garden Plots

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There’s something beautiful happening in Chicago right now. Local scent development firm Tru Fragrance has just bottled its second edition of Tru Blooms perfume. The initiative forges a partnership with the city and regional nonprofits to cultivate the untapped urban gardens into lush fields of flowers that are then harvested and bottled into a limited-edition fragrance.

“We wanted to do something different that has never been approached in the fragrance industry before,” says Paul Leroue, CMO of Tru Fragrance, of the motivation behind the seed-to-scent project. “Sure, fragrances have been named for towns before, like Bond No. 9 for New York City, but we're using actual ingredients from gardens grown in town.”

The inaugural launch in 2012 was a success—not only was the product popular, but the program also promoted urban beautification and created jobs. And so it's back this year with even more garden spaces (27 to be exact) and flower varieties that have been bottled into “Fountain of Roses.” The name is a nod to the rose geranium and Bulgarian rose buds used in this year’s scent along with patchouli and lavender. All were gathered by a combination of pure harvesting and aromatic extraction that replicates the exact smell of the flower, air, and ground around it for mass production. This year, garden spaces represented include Chicago's Grant Park, Whitney Young High School, the Peggy Noteabaert Nature Museum, and restaurants like Uncommon Ground.

“The key to our program is really the partnerships we’ve created,” Leroue explains, noting his team tapped into the nonprofits the city already had relationships with to develop Tru Blooms. One of those was the Park District and Chicago Botanic Gardens, whose Windy City Harvest trains and employs young adults to grow its yield. “It’s a win-win for everybody. Nonprofits are paid to take care of the flowers for us, the city gets to beautify its open plots without cost, and Tru Fragrance has created an economic model. Our hope is that we can turn this into a replicable program every year.” And perhaps even expand into other cities for more scent options? “We've received calls from different areas around the country and we're evaluating those—if we can put the same partnerships together, then we will go for it,” says Laroue.

For now, you can purchase “Fountain of Roses” starting October 21 directly from trubloomschicago.com ($42 for 50 ml, $20 for 15 ml). If you’re in Chicago, you can also find the product at boutiques, hotels, and tourist attractions.