With Valentine’s Day approaching, why not think about switching to locally grown flowers?

We spoke to two local flower growing businesses, who are championing English flora…which means you might have to ‘branch out’ from roses this Valentine’s Day.

First up, we spoke with the lovely Tif from Chippy Flower Farm

Hi Tif, tell us about your business

Chippy Flower Farm grows a wide variety of lovely and unusual flowers and foliage for cut flower arrangements on a two acre field plot in Little Tew. The farm was set up in 2021 with the aim of offering locals a more sustainable alternative to imported cut flowers. We opened last May and have been blown away by the warmth of the response and support from the local community in our first season, for which we are really grateful. The farm, run by a small team of growers and florists, now cuts thousands of seasonal flowers and foliage stems a week during the growing season, which we make into posies, bunches for kitchen tables, gift bouquets, or leave loose in buckets for customers to take home and arrange themselves. We also supply flowers and greenery to floral designers in the area for weddings and events, and offer buckets of flowers in agreed colour palettes for couples wanting to do DIY wedding flowers.  

Most of our flowers are grown from seed, although the farm is well stocked with trees, shrubs and perennials as well which are tougher against weather extremes and give us a more interesting mix of material to pick from, too.

Chippy Flower Farm is a proud member of Flowers from the Farm, a growing national network of flowers growers aiming to get more seasonal British blooms back into vases across the country.

How do you help your customers to live greener lifestyles? 

Our flowers are locally grown, obviously. They are also grown in their natural season (hence no roses for Valentine’s day – ours won’t be blooming until June!).  We don’t use peat, harvest as much rainwater as we can, and power the operation by solar.  We farm using “no-dig” regenerative farming methods to protect the health of the soil. We don’t use pesticides so are developing a thriving ecology on the farm which is now full of bees, birds and insects.

How can our members buy flowers from you?

The best way is to order them is on our website (www.chippyflowerfarm.co.uk).  We won’t have fresh flowers again until our first crops get going in a few weeks’ time but are offering potted bulbs and blossom stems for now and from Mother’s Day in March we’ll have bunches of narcissi, anemones, ranunculus, and tulips and then a flowery bonanza of beautiful scented blooms all the way through to November. Many of our customers have a weekly subscription and collect a bucket of whatever is flowering best on the field each Friday.  

Flowers are picked up from the Flower Hut on the farm (or can be delivered by arrangement) and the easiest way to find us to put “Chippy Flower Farm” into Googlemaps which takes you right to the farm gate.

Next up, we turned the same questions to Jess from Buckingham Flower Farm – you might recognise her from Deddington Farmer’s Market.

Hi Jess, tell us about your business

I grow flowers and foliage on an acre of land in Buckingham. The flowers are grown as cut flowers and I sell to florists, the general public and I also provide flowers and arrangements for weddings and run various workshops throughout the year.

I was a wedding and events florist for 12 years before I started growing and I am now entering my 3rd year of growing flowers. During my time just doing floristry I became more and more aware of the harmful chemicals used and the air miles and energy used to provide imported cut flowers. It just does not sit well with me anymore to use imported and out of season blooms so I started growing my own and soon took on a quarter acre plot and this year we have upped our space to a full acre.

How do you support your customers in living greener lifestyles?

Educating my customers about the benefits of purchasing locally grown flowers is hopefully helping them to make greener choices. Not only are they helping their local economy but they are reducing their carbon footprint and they know that when they smell their bouquet of flowers, there will be scent and they will not be breathing in any harmful chemicals either.

In my workshops, I teach how to create arrangements without using any harmful floral foam or any single use plastics at all, from full church archway arrangements to small table centres, they can all be created without foam and from British seasonal flowers. 

How can our members buy flowers from you?

I attend the Farmers Market at Deddington once a month and from April-October my flowers can be purchased Thursday-Saturday at my farm gate. Bouquets and arrangements can also be preordered for collection, Just call or email. My 2023 wedding calendar is already booking up but I do have availability for DIY wedding flowers and full bespoke packages too. A list of workshop dates will be published soon on my website but that is still being constructed but follow me on Facebook and Instagram for regular updates.

Lastly, we spoke to the team at Bunch in Bloxham

Tell us about your business:

Bunch is a flower studio in Bloxham run by florist, Melissa Dinwiddy. We use locally grown, chemical-free flowers in all our work. We pride ourselves on working with local flower farmers as opposed to using imported or British flowers from further afield. We do this because it reduces our carbon footprint, helps us to eliminate single-use plastic from our work, and means that we have access to seasonal blooms that are naturally grown and offer a beautiful scent that you just don’t get from imported flowers. We also love working closely with our local flower farmers through the seasons, filling our buckets with the freshest cut blooms.

We try to consider our business’ impact on the environment in everything we do, from repurposing hessian coffee sacks to wrap our bunches, to the aprons worn in our workshops that are made from recycled plastic bottles. We have eliminated the use of floral foam in our work and opt for compostable or reusable floral mechanics. We like to use our workshops as a platform to pass these skills on to others and inspire people to opt for British flowers.

Our business was established in 2014 in London, we since moved to the Cotswolds in 2017 where Melissa has been running the business alongside her young family in Bloxham. We typically travel within an hour of Bloxham across the Cotswolds for workshops and event styling, and occasionally travel to London still.

How do you help your customers to live greener lifestyles?

In 2017 we opted to only use British flowers in our work. The carbon footprint of imported cut flowers is always going to be higher than that of a locally grown bunch. However, it’s not just these stats that need to be taken into consideration when looking at the impact on the environment; a single flower requires up to 10 litres of water to produce, and when grown in a drought-ridden place like East Africa, it just doesn’t seem right to be using the water to produce flowers and not food. This, alongside the chemicals used to grow imported flowers, the single-use plastic wrap, and the temperature controlled conditions used to import them long distances have led us to no longer use these cut flowers in our work but instead turn to local growers.

Last year we set up our first honesty box flower stand in Bloxham, making it easier for local residents to have access to locally grown paper-wrapped flowers, and it was really refreshing to see the demand for this type of bunch. In the 2023 flower season we are looking to offer this type of stand in more locations.

We teach sustainable floristry techniques in our workshops and pop up in venues across the Cotswolds, inspiring people to not only use locally grown flowers but to arrange these in an environmentally friendly way. We also look for alternative ways to source materials; for our Christmas wreath workshops last year we worked with the Bloxham Biodiversity group to source foliage. We cut this from local gardens in Bloxham in return for a charity donation that meant we were using surplus greenery that was destined for the compost heap. We sourced fern from Warwickshire Christmas trees, buying imperfect Christmas trees not deemed fit for sale. We are still learning and always looking for new ways to approach the sustainability impact of our work.

Melissa is the ambassador for sustainable church flowers in the region and is a point of contact for churches looking for help with how they can be greener in their floral arrangements, e.g. sourcing locally grown flowers and eliminating single-use plastic from arrangements. We also create 100% compostable farewell flowers, working with families looking for greener funeral arrangements.

How can our members buy flowers from you?

Our bunches can be purchased at www.bunch-uk.com, fresh flowers are available March to October and dried flowers all year round.

Our honesty box flower stand will be filled with locally grown bunches from March to October and can be found on Courtington Lane, Bloxham. Follow our instagram @bunch.uk to keep up to date with our latest news.

You can contact us via email hello@bunch-uk.com to discuss bespoke arrangements, flower workshops, styling for private or corporate events, and farewell flowers.

We offer floral styling and workshops for private or corporate events, whether it be a hen party weekend or corporate away day, we tailor our styling and workshops to meet our customers’ needs in the most sustainable way.

We also offer bridal party flowers for weddings and work with our local flower farmers to provide DIY buckets for couples who are looking to style their wedding themselves, but would like help with the more technical arrangements found in the bridal party flowers.