By Justine Scouller, Farhill Flowers, FFTF Wales Co-ordinator
Whilst exhibiting at RHS Cardiff this Spring I was approached by a lady who worked for LANTRA and who was interested in adopting FFTF’s model of connecting flower farmers in a country beset with communication problems.
Wales has come a long way but despite EU money for road building schemes, it is still a large country where it takes an inordinate amount of time to travel from one part to another. Our 17 FFTF members in Wales don't get to see each other very often, as even to meet in a central location can mean a 2 - 3 hour drive for some. Also, remote farms often suffer from terrible broadband speeds and there are a huge amount of places where there is no phone signal at all.
Lantra were interested, and had money to spend. As FFTF Wales fitted their criteria for supporting rural businesses in areas of deprivation, they offered to finance a programme of workshops, visits and seminars. The group put on their thinking caps and we produced a list of things we all thought would help our businesses.
The first of these took place on the 16th and 17th October when Fiona Pickles (Firenza Flowers), Flowers from the Farm member and top floral designer, came to the Lantra offices in Builth Wells to deliver a two day workshop for Welsh members.
Fiona demonstrated creating a large urn design and an asymmetrical bridal bouquet, and she also spent a long time talking to each of us about our businesses: we were encouraged to think long and hard about where we each stood, business-wise and where we envisaged being in the future. In addition, she generously shared her insights into social media use and photography.
Thank you to Fiona for making time to visit Wales and thank you to Lantra for funding both workshops. We hope to arrange something else soon.