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I used to work in business. I worked hard in my career, gradually climbing the corporate ladder to become head of HR. I thought I’d made it and I’d be happy, but I wasn’t. I hated Monday mornings. I looked out of the window and dreamed of standing in the sunshine. I missed my family thanks to long hours and trips to other offices. I became fed up of listening to colleagues grumble about work, their managers and the company policy on this, that or the other.

I was convinced I needed to work outside, and that my love of gardening could be turned into an income from flower farming. I wanted to be close to nature; to connect with the environment around me. I was becoming increasingly concerned about the state of the world, about climate change, the loss of habitats and wildlife and the poor mental health of society. Flower farming would answer all of these and the idea for my business, Nature’s Posy, was born.

So I saved hard and with a supportive, if not slightly bemused, husband in agreement I quit my job in March 2019. My plan was to farm flowers from my garden whilst I found my feet, using my savings to pay the bills and not have to worry about selling anything.

My first year was a challenge. Although I didn’t need to sell, I was stressed about not selling. In my head I needed to have a successful business from day one. I tried taking jam jar posies to a farmers market which didn’t work that well. I bought in compost that was contaminated with herbicides and killed my dahlias and sweet peas. I became depressed comparing my little enterprise with other people’s successful farms. I wondered if I was completely nuts.

But I persevered. Through a random chain of events in October 2019 I found a farmer who was prepared to rent ½ acre of land to me. After the ensuing horribly wet winter, in March 2020 I finally signed the paperwork and could start working on my new growing space. That was when the hard work really began!

Debbie of Nature's Posy works in the field at her flower farm carrying empty seed trays back to her trolley after planting out flowers in her cutting beds.

Debbie found half and acre of land to rent and learned to love knee pads!

Debbie's top tips for would be flower farmers

The less than flowery truth

Flower farming is not for the faint hearted. I’ve had to put up fencing, learn about irrigation, get up at the crack of dawn to harvest, heave literally tonnes of compost around and buy knee pads to save my bruised knees from stony ground.

Up your game

Flower farming is not gardening. Flowers have to be a professional standard. Some wonky stems are OK, but not short, twisted, all over the place stems. You’ve got to be prepared to compost anything that doesn’t make the grade.

Flowers aren't 'free'

When you are running a small business, there are set-up costs – even on a small scale like mine. Fences aren’t cheap. Neither is a lorry load of compost, nor a few thousand seeds, tulip bulbs etc etc. Your time isn’t free either!

Be prepared for long hours

Running a small business requires more hours than you ever thought possible. Doing the accounts, marketing, social media, and so on takes a lot of time and is a bit frustrating when all you want to be doing is growing flowers.

It takes time to build a business

Time to grow things, time to build a customer base and time to work out where you want your business to go. Because ultimately you have to make your flower farming business profitable.

It can be a lonely road

Being your own boss is awesome. But only if you’re kind to yourself. You need to give yourself a good appraisal every so often. Being part of a like-minded community like FFTF is an invaluable help in keeping you going.