Gill Hodgson started selling her cut flowers at the farm gate in 2009 and was delighted to find that they were an instant hit with passers-by. Customers bought flowers for their homes and for their friends and were enchanted to see cosmos, sweet peas, love-in-a-mist, zinnia and many more country varieties so different from the standard types found in the supermarket.
Gill realised the massive potential for small growers to supply traditional cut flowers to their local market and, in 2011 with daughter Peggy, set up Flowers from The Farm – a nationwide network for farmers and smallholders. Members of the group run their own independent businesses but work together to promote locally-grown cut flowers all over the country.
The group is already making a difference but has much work ahead of it. Twenty years ago, over half the cut flowers sold in Britain were grown in these islands; now it is fewer than 15%. Colombia, Kenya, Israel and Holland now supply our markets with blooms that have travelled thousands of miles. Carnations, chrysanthemums, roses and lilies have become the standard supermarket fare because of their ability to travel and to survive without water for long periods of time.The public have become conditioned to expect the same varieties to be available year-round.
They have forgotten the seasons and the wide choice.
They have forgotten the joy of fresh flowers and the scent of sweet peas.
These failings offer us a wonderful opportunity because our flowers are different.
Working together we can offer an alternative.