|British Cut Flowers by The Real Flower Company|
I love flowers. I’m one of those people who always has flowers in the house, however I had an odd moment not so long ago. It was as if I had been somehow unveiled. I had thrown down a pack of unseasonal Kenyan grown green beans one of my children had added to the trolley. “We’re not eating those," I said” they are out of season, flown in and who knows what the people who picked then got paid.. now put them back and lets get a local cauliflower instead!”
I arrived home with my shop and unpacked. When all else was put away I turned to my treat. The flowers. I unwrapped the packet and as I was throwing it the bin I noticed in tiny letters grown in Kenya. It was January. How could I not have noticed? How could I not have questioned? How far had they have been flown? Oh they clocked up a sorry carbon trail. I was horrified that despite considering myself to be a seasonal local All British supporting consumer I hadn't applied it to flowers !
As I researched I discovered that one of the main problems is flower miles. We import over 80 per cent of cut flowers. The flowers that I bought were probably picked in the morning, packed into energy-intensive refrigerated planes and flown over 6,000km — or 3,700 miles and sold to me the next day.
I was fairly upset at my choice and took it up with my local florist, but as it turns out flowers flown from Africa, she said often use less energy overall than those produced in Europe. She referred me to a study that showed that the emissions produced by growing the flowers I bought from Kenya, where it is warm and sunny all year round, and flying them here could in fact be less than a fifth of the carbon footprint than those for flowers grown in heated and lighted greenhouses in Holland.
Then there is an argument that says that by trading with developing countries that we will Kenya for instance there are thousands of people, mostly women, who rely on us buying their flowers for their livelihoods, but on the other hand I read that the Kenyan people are now no longer growing their own food as they grow flowers for export instead. That can’t be right.
A report from FIAN says that “for many workers, their insufficient wages constitute a violation of their right to feed themselves and their family" knows Sophie Vessel from FIAN Austria. "Moreover, they are exposed to highly toxic pesticides and do not benefit from any proper protection, which violates their right to decent working conditions” adds Alena Věžníková from Ecumenical Academy Prague.”
Reading deeper it turns out that in India, Columbia and Ecuador, many of the workers suffer from work-related health problems. There is no regulation of pesticides and certainly substances that we wouldn’t dream of using here because of the impact on the environment and on our own health are being used in developing countries as floriculture increases.
|British, ethical, sustainable, seasonal cut flowers that smell divine by The Real Flower Company.|
It turns out as I googled that there are lots of artisan flower companies in the UK producing flowers and I called Gorgie Newbery of Common Farm Flowers. She grows and sells British cut flowers as well as running courses on growing your own flowers to cut, and when I asked if we were limited she laughed "there are so many british flowers to choose from and there are british flowers all year round." She rattled off a list "Roses, Azaleas, Carnations, Cornflowers, Honeysuckles, Delphiniums, Daisy, Iris, Sweet Williams, Freesia, Fuschia, Gardenia, Gladioli, Hollyhock, , Heather, Iris, Jasmine, Larkspur, Lilac, Lily-of-the-Valley, Lupin, Marigold, Orchid, Peony, , Rhododendron, Stock, Sweetpea, , Tiger Lily. Daliaha, Sun flowers, Asters, Love in a mist, Cosmos, Cerinthe, Ammi, Orlaya, poppies and sweet peas to name just a few."
So it's not like we are not spoilt for choice!
I was talking to Chantal Coady of Rococo chocolates about flowers earlier today and she told me that she really loves the flowers from The Real Flower Company. " if anyone wanted to send me flowers I'd love them to be from The Real Flower Company. They are glorious with beautiful blowsy British blooms and they are scented. It's as though you have walked out into a quintessentially English garden and cut yourself a bouquet and the fragrance is amazing."
The Real Flower Company really sets the standards. Based in West Sussex they opened there first shop in London in July 2008 within the fabulous food hall in Selfridges on Oxford Street. They now offer same day delivery in London (by the greenest form of transport - a delivery trike- to many postcodes!)
Of course I couldn't afford to buy myself a bouquet of these every week - but my point is the same. They produce, grow and supply British flowers all year round. and for those of us who are on a budget you can easily grow your own. I've bought some incredibly beautiful looking Sweet pea Prima Ballerina from Thompson and Morgan. - "gorgeous, lightly scented blooms ideal for cutting and are bred by one of the world’s leading Sweet Pea breeders. Each stem averages 4 blooms in a unique tricolour of lilac, purple and cream enhanced by intricate veining on each flower." and at just £1.99 I shall get them in the garden as soon as it stops raining !
In the meantime I think we need to face up to the fact that buying imported flowers is not helping anyone. It seems appropriate to write about this as a food lover because as we are having a food revolution so many us are now looking at our food in such a positive way. We support artisan producers, farmers markets, organic, sustainable, seasonal and local. We take such care as we consider the provenance of out food. Many of us have taken it step further and keep chickens, grow vegetables and even cure our own bacon. It’s time we do the same for flowers. Buy British Flowers and grow your own.
Let’s take a stand.