Flowers from the Farm - March 2022

Flowers from the Farm - March 2022

I confess that until relatively recently it didn’t occur to me to ask where my cut flowers came from. Despite being a climate conscious millennial, it wasn’t until I was part of a team growing flowers commercially and selling them locally that I started to ask the right questions and look behind the blooms I saw for sale here in England. There is so much else to care about, so many ways in which I try to minimise my environmental impact and tread lightly on the planet, so many competing demands and daily distractions that the provenance of the irregular bouquets I was buying was not a priority.

But I have come to see things differently, and I hope you will too. I have come to see buying British not as another climate crisis burden, but as a liberating limitation. Just as being vegetarian has led me to a whole new world of vegetable dishes that I could now not live without (I know, a vegetarian farmer, I’ll come to that in another blog), choosing to buy British and then to become a British flower grower has lead me to the wonderful discovery of the diversity that we can grow, and the diversity of the growers.

I recently joined Flowers from the Farm, the award-winning membership association championing artisan growers of seasonal, scented, sustainable British cut flowers. Flowers from the Farm is a growing not-for-profit movement with over 1000 active members from Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to Inverness. Flowers from the Farm is, simply put, a community of support and encouragement, championing British flowers and their growers.

As recently as 50 years ago, commercially grown British cut flowers dominated the UK market with imports known by traders as ‘exotics’. Today, the opposite is true: more than 85% of the flowers sold through florists, supermarkets and wholesalers are imported not just from Holland but flown in from growers as far afield as Ecuador, Colombia and Ethiopia. British-grown have become the new exotics.

Flowers from the Farm aims to reverse the trend by building awareness of the virtues of locally grown flowers and developing a network of flower growers across the country. Members of Flowers from the Farm offer seasonal flowers of garden-style informal beauty and fragrance that are freshly picked from a local field and therefore involve a fraction of the travel miles. Each arrangement will have the elegance and unique charm that can only come from small-scale, local production. We don’t choose our flowers because they’ll produce a predictable acre of identical blooms. We grow small quantities of a large number of varieties because we think they do something wonderful to arrangements. Stems may wiggle and twist, tendrils may reach and sprawl and this natural character is exactly why we love them. Our members’ floral creations are so stunningly beautiful that they make buying British a true privilege, the very top choice on sheer merit alone. Saving the planet becomes a happy by-product.

But saving the planet we truly are, one small flower patch at a time. We grow mainly outdoors without additonal light or heat and choose flowers that love their particular growing conditions. Picked fresh from the flower plot, there is no need for us to extend vase life with chemicals. We care for the soil, enrich the land, create food for bees and butterflies and generate rich habitats for soil microbes, inverterbrates and everything that depends on them, which is all life on earth.

I know it sometimes seems hopeless, but collectively there is so much we can do to put hope into action. Flowers are an essential part of the ecosystem, and across our countryside wildflowers have been decimated over the past half century. But this sad truth provides a golden opportunity and a profoundly beautiful realisation if we are open to it; that what I can do, what we can do, to help reverse the severe decline in the insect population, to give the local environment the helping hand it needs to recover and to thrive, is grow flowers. The greater number and diversity and span throughout the year the better. What a perfect gift of a purpose.


So instead of choosing between imported flowers, grown in monocultures and sprayed with harmful chemicals, that have travelled across seas to be here at the expense of the atmosphere, make the easy choice and choose British. I assure you that the limitation will be liberating and you will not be disappointed with the beauty of British grown blooms.

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