March 2013 Newsletter

 The British Flower Collective

Welcome to the first newsletter of The British Flower Collective  (previously known as The Flower Co-Operative).
As this is our first newsletter to non-members I feel it only right to tell you a bit of background on us........

Way back sometime in 2010 (I think?!) I tentatively contacted Cathy (from Brecon Blooms) after seeing her on Twitter. I was in the infancy of BareBlooms and I could already see how it would be valuable to be in contact with someone near (ish) me that appeared to be doing the same thing. I never thought Cathy would respond to my email, thinking I was trying to be competitive, steal her ideas, etc so I was rather surprised when I got a very prompt reply saying ‘I was thinking exactly the same and was going to contact you’.
I already knew a few other small scale growers so we decided to meet up in nearby Hay on Wye for a coffee and flowery chat. To cut a long story short we so enjoyed having someone else to talk flowers to and let’s face it have a good old moan about work, the weather, etc that The Flower Co-Operative seed was sown. Initially we just tried to get together as regularly as possible to chat (over cake, of course) and found it hugely uplifting to have someone in the same boat as us to bounce ideas and frustrations off of.

2011 saw BareBlooms being asked to hold a stall in the market square in Hay on Wye during the Hay Festival. Now I’ve done stalls before on my own and I will admit to detesting them. It is no fun being on your feet all day, usually in the rain with no one to go on a coffee and cake run for you or to look after the stall whilst you have a toilet break, etc. So I decided to ask The Flower Co-Operative girls if they would like to do it with me. Running a stall with other like minded folk is a different kettle of fish, and I found it a lot less stressful.  As it was over a few days we were able to work out a rota so we could share the hours and work. Despite the weather being atrocious we still had a great response from the public and this time we were able to hand out not just our own business cards but also cards promoting The Flower Co-Operative, which people were very interested to learn more about.

2013 sees us returning for the third year in a row, this time as The British Flower Collective. A date for your diaries, 25th, 26th, 27th May, and this year the sun will shine, oh yes it will!!

So why after three years have Cathy and myself decided to change the name?
The British Flower Collective members now stretch from the Scilly Isles to Fife (and we are rapidly filling in the spaces in between). As we are no longer based solely around the Welsh borders and Brecon Beacons it seemed only right to take the Co-Operative in  a slightly different direction.

Our members are not just growers of British Flowers but also Florists who are advocates of British, Seasonal Flowers and a lot of us are both! We don't ask our Florist members to be exclusive users of British Flowers (although they do have to be passionate about them) we do however ask them to make sure they never pass off their work as being exclusively Homegrown, Seasonal, British Blooms unless it is.

We also felt that there was a lot of confusion between people mistaking ourselves and the Flower Growers Co-Operative; Flowers from the Farm, which we only became aware of last year, two years after we formed The Flower Co-Operative. It is against our ethos to compete and especially with a Co-Operative who have the same aims as ourselves. The more people we have out there promoting British Flowers and educating the public about Seasonality the better.

So, less about us and the changes and decisions we have made and more about our members.......
We have revamped the website and added a section to help inform the public about what flowers and foliage are in Season when. 
We have just set up a Pinterest board for all our members to Pin examples of  their work onto. 
You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter where you can keep up to date with what our members are up to. 
We also have a few new members who's details are in the process of being uploaded to the website:
Toria – Flowers from the plot 
Victoria – The Flower Garden at Stokesay Court 

This month’s featured member is Scented Narcissi

Scented Narcissi have obviously been very busy seeing as Narcissi are in season at the moment. The beginning of this month seems them having a charity week with donations from their boxes going towards the Marie Curie campaign.
You may have seen their FaceBook competition recently which we shared. Keep an eye out for more competitions from them in the future, which we will obviously help to share through FB and twitter. Also for every 50 people that sign up to the Scented narcissinewsletter via their website a name will randomly be selected to receive a free bunch of flowers.
Scented Narcissi were also recently featured in the online magazine Amia. At the moment there is an offer for a month’s free readership. Which if you take it up you’ll be able to read all about Scented Narcissi and what they get up to. Jan the editor of Amia is a strong advocate of supporting British Flowers.
Some of you may be aware of the exhibition ‘Floriculture – Flowers, Love and Money’ going on at the Garden Museum in London at the moment. Scented Narcissi sent flowers up to London for the exhibition which were handed out on the opening night, which was on Valentine’s Day. As Selina said “it was really great to show how our flowers are still being sent up to London in 2013 just as they were in the 1800’s". The exhibit is about the growth of the flower industry and how cut flowers have provided inspiration for the various Arts.  It follows the story of how the trade in flowers has changed from small scale and local to today’s huge import situation. It explains both sides to the debate including the new movement for ‘fair trade flowers’ and the “revival of a new generation of eco-aware, creative growers”. As you see, it really is relevant to us. I hope some of you get a chance to get to London and see it. It is on until the 28th April. I hope to plan a trip this month.

The Scented Narcissi girls preparing to send the blooms up to London for the exhibition.

 I look forward to interacting with some of you Monday night for #Britishflowers hour on Twitter between 8-9pm.
Chloe (BareBlooms) and Cathy (Brecon Blooms).

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