Updated: Feb 10
FOR PLANET AND PEOPLE
This blog is part of our series bringing to your attention people or projects that we want to cheer on as we develop a culture of mutual support and encouragement at Planet & People. Our interests are broad - women in business, environmental living, the climate crisis, educating the next generation. It’s all worth shouting about!
Sustainable flowers for the one you love.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Flowers in Feb just in your head,
Sustainable blooms are the way to woo!
Jess says: I was at a conference last year full of flower farmers and florists that support and encourage sustainable and British blooms, Flowers from the Farm. The speaker asked a packed auditorium (imagine that!) who provided flowers for Valentine’s Day. The response was pretty limited, just a hand or two raised. Why are flowers so popular on Valentine’s Day? Valentine’s Day seems enshrined in lots of folk tales and Pagan traditions as well as captivating the hearts of the greetings card industry. On top of all this, it’s wrapped in a celebration of the start of Spring growth too. There’s something very primal about bringing live things into the house for celebrations and flowers certainly have a way of making the heart pound and allowing us to appreciate a little outdoors indoors. At this time of year, unfortunately it comes at a cost to the planet.
With all this in mind, how can we best celebrate whilst supporting sustainable enterprise instead of plundering the Planet’s resources? 90% of flowers sold in the UK are imported, however there is a growing trend for seasonal, sustainable flowers grown right here in Britain! There are many advantages in buying from a British flower farmer or florist that specialises in British flowers. You’ll not only find a huge variety of flowers on offer but if you choose carefully they will be grown ethically and organically as well as having the most beautiful scent. The British flower cooperative, Flowers From The Farm, is a really good start for finding a supplier near you. Have a look and see what you might find close by.
This week I have found out a bit more from a couple of British flower farmers/florists who are implementing planet-friendly changes on their plots:
Naomi of Wards Farm Flowers
Naomi is not just a flower farmer. Wards Farm is a 52 hectare organic satellite farm linking to a larger organic Dutchy farm across the valley near Exeter, Devon supporting a rotational system of livestock and crops.
Naomi says: “Flowers form an integral part of our system and we grow for florists, events and organic on-line companies. Encouraging wildlife to areas of the land that were once just used for single planting farming systems, we use companion planting and rotational bed systems. We grow for and use a biomass system, have solar panels for energy, have a tree and hedge planting program (48 trees to date added), do wildlife counts, have a soil erosion and run off plan, a set aside program and do an annual carbon and nitrogen survey. We have a water retention and conservation plan, have reinstated ponds based on historical map data employing a no dig system where possible to minimise disturbing natural drainage of our heavy clay soil. We have to make financial decisions and balance a working and thriving business farm in conjunction with caring for the land with which we have been entrusted. Hopefully with careful consideration we will be able to hand on a healthy and planet friendly and financially stable future to the next generation. I think that’s what pretty much most farmers wish for their land! Government policy and customer demand dictates how we farm. At the end of the day we need to be able to live and thrive too.
“Hopefully with careful consideration we will be able to hand on a healthy and planet friendly and financially stable future to the next generation. I think that’s what pretty much most farmers wish for their land”
With this in mind, I don’t supply to the Valentine's flower trade as February is not a seasonal fresh growing time for abundant flowers generally in the UK. We do however offer dried and preserved stock harvested in our season. There are options out there and Cornish flowers are now coming into their own. Do you really need to buy roses with no perfume flown all the way from Kenya? Or would a beautiful bunch of British daffodils and narcissi be received just as joyfully? (much cheaper and less carbon hungry too). It is customer behaviour that ultimately dictates what happens in farming and I would encourage folk to consider their choices for a healthy planet and people for the future.”
“Do you really need to buy roses with no perfume flown all the way from Kenya? Or would a beautiful bunch of British daffodils and narcissi be received just as joyfully? (much cheaper and less carbon hungry too)”
Jess says: These are the sorts of attitudes and approaches which we really encourage you to support. Mindful and proactive farmers like Naomi are the future. In supporting them, consumers are voting with their hard-earned finances, educating their children and paving the way for a cleaner, greener way of living.
We also contacted Kathryn who not only farms a small cutting patch in her garden but is a regional coordinator at Flowers From The Farm and encourages churches across the UK to use more sustainable floristry techniques.
Kathryn Hurst – Camomile & Cornflowers Ltd
Kathryn says: “I believe that when you receive flowers they should be as nature intended, naturally beautiful, slightly wild and wonky, and very fragrant. I try to recreate a snippet of my garden, for all my customers at Camomile & Cornflowers. I love to include herbs, dried flowers, feathers, blossom, catkins and seed heads as well as traditional flowers and foliage. My business, Camomile & Cornflowers, specialises in only using British flowers and foliage all year round – mostly grown by myself in Worcestershire – if I don’t have enough I pick from a couple of local growers or in Winter months I buy British flowers from wholesalers in Cornwall. This means that no two floral arrangements are ever the same.
My cutting patch is just a small part of my three acre garden – I don’t use any chemicals relying on companion planting to deter aphids and caterpillars. We protect seedlings with little tunnels. If I have to support any plants I use metal stakes and twine rather than plastic netting.
“I believe that when you receive flowers they should be as nature intended, naturally beautiful, slightly wild and wonky, and very fragrant”
When packaging my bouquets, for Camomile & Cornflowers, I wrap the flowers in paper and tissue with raffia and twine and put them in jam jars, old tin cans or vases depending on the size of the bouquet. I use seed paper gift tags and business cards and make my own organic bamboo silk ribbon. I also dry excess flowers for the winter months and for real flower confetti.
Like many florists I no longer use floral foam which is a single use plastic and when it comes into contact with water it breaks into little sharp pieces that harm marine life.
Just over a year ago I joined forces with Candy Connolly (Shane Connolly’s - florist to the Royals! - wife) to set up Sustainable Church Flowers which encourages environmentally friendly floral arrangements in the Churches of Great Britain. Together, we provide tips and guidance for people who arrange flowers for churches, church yards and
Jess says: So, what have we learnt from all this? The bottom line is that we need to think carefully when we make purchases, be mindful shoppers, be planet-friendly in our choices. Use this as a chance to be a change maker, turn your backs on eco-unfriendly traditions and you may find that there are even better things out there, for planet and people!
As a small flower grower and designer myself, at Farleigh Flowers, I have learned a great deal from fellow growers and florists, including The Good Florist and Sandford Blooms and applaud all their efforts to encourage a lighter footprint when it comes to luxury items like flowers. There are plenty of alternative options out there, and although not yet mainstream, they are often far more exciting and may just be the extra special touch that you’re looking for when it comes to matters of the heart. Go wild, support British flowers this Valentine’s Day!
Each month's Planet Action Kit includes content for 'Plant For The Planet', usually seeds and compost plugs. This month's PAK includes sweet peas sourced locally and sustainably. They provide colour all summer as they can be cut and come again! Available to order now.
FOR PLANET AND PEOPLE is a weekly blog conversation by ‘Planet & People’ to reflect our values and behaviours and encourage open conversation on topical eco-issues.
We are the creators of 'Planet Action Kit', inspiring kids to LOVE the Earth. PAK is an educational resource and subscription activity box providing personalised learning resources engaging budding planet-friendly kids. The activities focus on the four main themes: Love, Observe, inVolve and Enjoy and are centred around matters of environment and sustainability.