In this article extract taken from the April issue of The Country Smallholder magazine, Helen Babbs visits a smallholding flower farm with stunning seasonal bouquets.
When Sara Redman and her husband Richard bought their six acre smallholding in west Wales, back in 2015, they weren’t expecting to grow flowers.
“We wanted to live somewhere rural, and we were just going to be ordinary smallholders and have a few animals,” Sara recalls. “But I’ve always liked growing flowers, and then a friend suggested I could do it as a business.”
Enchanted by the idea, Sara spent a year planning, and in 2017 The Flower Meadow sold its first bouquet at the local Country Market.
Today, The Flower Meadow grows and sells hundreds of bouquets, as well as flowers for weddings and other special occasions.The typical make-up of a bouquet changes with the seasons. “In the spring, there’ll be daffodils, anemones, lots of different willow for the fluffy catkins,” Sara describes keenly.
“In summer it changes to sweet peas, cosmos, lupins, roses – loads of options; then in autumn the dahlias, chrysanthemums and grasses come into their own. All the flowers are grown here, with organic methods – I don’t buy any in.”Sales are now mainly via a subscription system, plus some at local farm shops.“People choose whether they want weekly, fortnightly or monthly bouquets,” Sara explains. “I cut and make up the bouquets, then go out one day a week to deliver, or people can call to collect from the gate.Generally, they travel less than ten milesfrom farm to vase.”
Advertising remains mainly word-of-mouth, although TheFlower Meadow now has a website and social media pages too. “We also have anopen day in June,” Sara notes, “which we advertise in the local papers. We do tours of the flower meadow, and have exhibits by local craftspeople. It’s always well attended, even last summer when it poured with rain!”
OUT IN THE MEADOW
This floral profusion all comes from the half-acre, sloping field behind their farmhouse, which has a big polytunnel and five, 150ft long flower borders.
“These are five feet wide, so I can reach the middle from both sides,” Sarah explains. “I aim to plant everything where they will be happiest, so if the conditions don’t seem to suit, I dig up the plants and move them. As it’s on a slope, the soil varies quite a lot. At the top it’s shaley and dries out fast, which is good for the dahlias as I don’t have to lift them overwinter, but at the bottom of the slope it’s really quite wet, so we have more willows here.
”The polytunnel is home to the early spring bulbs, and then sweet peas in the summer. “I’ve tried them outside,” Sara notes, “but they just don’t like the wind.”
In total, she grows around 20different annuals, and 30-40 perennials, all in sizeable quantities. “I have over 200 dahlias!” she exclaims. “Then there are lots of herbs, too, like rosemary and mint, which are nice to put in bouquets, and lots of grasses for their texture.”
Image: Sara Redman in the polytunnel
This article extract was taken from the April edition of The Country Smallholder. To read the article in full you can buy the issue here.
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