Looking ahead to 2023 with Wye Valley Flowers
The new year is going to be a busy one for Jo Thompson. She shares some of the changes afoot at her flower farm in Gloucestershire.
2023 will be our 4th growing season at Wye Valley Flowers, and we have lots of exciting plans in place. At the moment we grow flowers on just under an acre, set within a 13 acre eco-farm and glamping site located between the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean. We harvest rainwater, use an air source pump, avoid chemicals and pesticides, as well as using the waste from our guest composting loos as a mulch on our flowerbeds. We are open from Mother’s Day through to mid-December and run workshops in our Flower Studio throughout the year.
Expansion may seem a little crazy, considering we haven’t experienced a ‘normal’ year yet: we have been in either a pandemic, a lockdown, a drought, micro-wedding fever, or an event catch-up year – and now we find ourselves in a financial crisis. However, the interest in seasonal, sustainable British flowers continues to rise despite the financial pinch, and weddings, birthdays and anniversaries will keep on coming around.
We have 3 planned changes at WVF this year. The first and probably most exciting for us is the conversion of our old dairy into a shop – ‘The Potting Shed’. We are on schedule to open the week before Mother’s Day, just in time for our busiest day of the year. The aim is simply to make it easier for our customers to buy our flowers. Although we already run a small farm gate stand and honesty box for bouquets, we will now be able to offer the kind of ‘make while you wait’ service you might expect at a high street florist.
A shop will allow us to advertise regular opening hours, have an outlet next to the flower farm where potential customers can see more of what we offer, and we’ll also be stocking local artisan produce. Inspired by the grassroots campaign Just a Card, which encourages support for artists, makers, independent shops and small businesses, we plan to sell a range of lifestyle products for every pocket, including gift cards and items useful to our glamping guests. This project is certainly a risk in the current economic climate, but our minimal overheads will mean we can hit the ground running.
The second development we have planned is a PYO field for the summer, filled with favourites like cosmos, dahlias, sunflowers and zinnias. Visitors will pay just for what they pick, and the great family photo opportunity is free! There is a lot of bureaucracy involved in setting up a PYO, but our field is already allocated for tourism use and we open for LEAF Open Farm Days so we are used to having the public on site and we love sharing our space.
Finally, in February we are launching a monthly seed subscription, having been through licensing with the Animal and Plant Health Agency to allow us to package and market seeds. Subscribers will be able to buy a one-off box as a gift, or have a regular monthly delivery. Each box will include a range of bulbs and/or seeds, along with instruction cards and an invite to our monthly grow-along videos – all sustainably and beautifully packaged. For each box sold we will donate £1 to Perennial, the UK’s only charity dedicated to helping those who work in horticulture.
It’s going to be a busy year, but we are looking forward to meeting lots of new visitors to the farm and spreading the word about British grown flowers, Flowers From The Farm and our lovely local group of growers the #LedburytoLydneyFlowerCollective.
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!