Why Sustainability is vital to the cut flower industry

Flower growing collage from germination, growth and flowering at Field Gate Flowers.

Why Sustainability is vital to the cut flower industry.

For us at Field Gate Flowers, sustainability is at the core of our values. Our business has been built by providing local flowers grown on the banks of the River Ouse without the need for herbicides and pesticides and reduce our plastic use wherever we can.

My love of the land came from studying an Environmental Science degree in the 1980’s……. It was certainly ahead of its time then and I kind of fell into it. I wanted to be a doctor but that is another story and those A level grades were far away from gaining entry into any medical school.So off I went to Plymouth Polytechnic – my 850cc mini completely packed with my life’s possessions and a room in a landlords house (that didn’t last long as she had a parrot that didn’t stop chatting all day long…..).

Three years later, I wrote my thesis on “The effects of nitrates from fertilisers and the link to cancer”.
I remember back then taking water samples from the River Lea in Hertfordshire and analysing them in the lab back in Devon. I certainly felt like a secret agent.
This obviously set the scene of what was to come. Today I still believe that we can grow cut flowers sustainably and without the need for contaminating our soil, land and waters.

Extract taken from The Sustainable Cut-Flower Project Dr David Bek and Dr Jill Timms Research Centre Business in Society – Coventry UniversityThe cut-flower market is worth over £2 billion in the UK, with over 7000 florists. 90% of our flowers are imported, and the global industry is worth over $55 billion.
However, some parts of it have been linked to bad practices affecting workers, communities and the environment. As pressure grows to address the global Climate Emergency, a sustainable flower industry – one that endures by positively contributing to people and planet – has never been more important.Environmental concerns include:
• High carbon footprint of greenhouse heating and global transportation
• Chemical use to increase production and prolong life, such as in air transit
• Destruction of habitats/biodiversity
• Waste from plastics/other materials
• Uncontrolled wildflower harvesting
• Water use in drought-prone areas
• Contamination of land and waterSocial and political concerns include
• Low paid, precarious/uncontracted work, highly seasonal demand
• Health risks, such as fertility issues and miscarriage from chemical use
• Reduced water quality/availability • Land rights prioritising companies
• Sexual harassment/discrimination
• Poor or no maternity rights and lack of safe childcare provisionA real change has occurred, and people are now asking more about where their flowers and foliage come from and how they are grown. I am hoping that this demand will fuel the British Flower Industry.At Field Gate Flowers we are passionate about the following: –
Growing without herbicides and pesticides
Working with nature and encouraging bees and insects
Growing locally and reducing air miles
Providing employment locally.

Infograph reproduced from an RHS article in 2015  – Read the article here

So Why British Flowers?Flowers grown by your local flower farmer will be freshly picked and locally delivered, saving thousands of travel miles.Your local flower farmer grows with the seasons and is motivated not by predictable, year-round crops, but by seasonal flowers with the perfume and natural, informal beauty that can only come from small-scale, local production.Isn’t it time we thought about flowers as we increasingly do about food: valuing seasonal, fresh, locally grown, unusual varieties over mass imports?We do hope that you will buy your cut flowers from a member of Flowers From The Farm.

All members can be found here https://www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk/


Flowers from the Farm is a multi award-winning, not-for-profit, co-operative of British cut flower growers.

• over 800 active members from Cornwall to Inverness.
• members running micro-businesses on allotments and cutting gardens, to flower farmers on 6 acres or more.

• encourage more people to grow cut flowers for market in Britain
• promote British flowers
• foster friendship and sharing through meetings, activities and communication.

Today 90% of the flowers sold through UK florists, supermarkets and wholesalers are imported not just from Holland but flown from as far afield as Ecuador, Colombia, Kenya and even Ethiopia. Flowers from the Farm aims to reduce travel miles by promoting locally-grown flowers and developing a network of British cut flower growers across the country.

• seasonal flowers you won’t find in shops
• flowers freshly picked from a local field
• garden-style beauty
• fragrance
• few travel miles

If you would like to learn more about the global cut flower industry, I would recommend this book – it’s a great read.
Gilding The Lily: Inside The Cut Flower Industry by Amy Stewart.

For more information on the research at Coventry University do have a look here:-

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