Hurrah! it’s my favourite time of the year. The clocks have moved forward an hour so there’s more time to enjoy the outside world.
Way back in darkest February, Jane from Blue Patch was initiated into the wonderful world of the South West British Flower Growers (organised by Flowers From The Farm), at their annual get together in Cullompton, Devon. Thanks to these fortunate people who spend their working lives conjuring beauty, the UK’s floral revolution is in full swing – the industry’s now estimated to be worth 2.2 billion pounds! So let’s jump on board in 2015 and shop for British grown flowers, contributing to our ‘home grown’ sustainable economy.
The event was a friendly affair, crowded with dedicated growers and gifted florists. There were flower arranging demonstrations by The Academy of Floral Art on how to make flowers radiate ‘special’ using eco-friendly, imaginative ideas such as wrapping flowers in wallpaper offcuts and applying origami paper folding techniques to beautiful effect. You can even utilise fallen twigs to weave together floral display.
The Academy of Floral Art are specialists at training florists, embracing the latest developments in sustainable floristry as well as the majestic blooms of British plant growers. It is an independent school for all levels, from professional florists wishing to update skills to beginners keen to understand the basics of flower arranging:
‘It is our mission to teach best practice, from traditional to contemporary floristry, including ethical ideas, upcycling and recycling. Our aim is to provide each student with knowledge about these things, the industry as a whole and to nurture their individual talents in design, allowing them to grow to their full potential – and we like to promote them along the way. To date we have taught 40% of the British Master Florists in the UK. Last year we had 5 students win a place at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, all gained a gold medal with two winning Young Florist of the Year and Florist of the Year 2014.’ Says Amanda Randell, British Master Florist, Tutor at The Academy and Chelsea Gold Medalist 2014.
Holding all those British grown flowers together in lovely colours – Twool, our favourite gardening twine, we’re ‘on display’ at the Growers meeting. Designed and made by Kim with the help of British sheep – these spools make heavenly gifts for florists and gardeners alike. With all those green shoots appearing, stems can be tied back with Twool adding a note of colour and texture to your display. Twool also make bags that are non toxic, made from wool and woven in the UK – soft, natural and authentic. And talking of ‘green shoots’ by buying Twool you once again help the British economy.
Continuing with the theme of bouncing into springtime – beans come to mind. I was intrigued to discover that Hodmedod’s supply such a wide range of peas, beans and quinoa. Grown on British farms – beans and grains include fava, Black badger and Kabuki marrowfat peas. They are always searching for more indigenous varieties to cultivate and working with farmers to develop production.
If you’re curious, ‘Hodemedod’ comes from a word in East Anglia, meaning things that are ‘curled’ – in particular hedgehogs, but also referring to ammonites, snails and even conceivably beans and peas. At the end of Meat Free Week the Blue Patch team had Hodmedod’s beans for lunch – easy to cook, super healthy and delicious.
The Hodmedod’s company sprouted from a Great British Beans project with Transition Norwich. So when you buy Hodmedod’s you may well be helping create ‘green + local’ jobs as well as reducing food miles – makes them doubly delicious when you know that!
Our nearest Transition Town project is in Crystal Palace, where natural, healthy food can be found at the Crystal Palace Food Market. They focus on ‘locally sourced and sold’ and are building a ‘patchwork farm’ of growing spaces. If you find yourself in Crystal Palace, be sure to visit Wade the grain grocer – his shop is an Aladdin’s cave of organic and healthy goodness. He’s keen on refill and reuse of containers which is to be encouraged plus he has just introduced a click and collect service! We recently filmed Wade – soon to be seen live on the Blue Patch blog ‘Why I do What I Do’.
I hope you make the most of the daylight hours to be outdoors and if you are lucky enough to be gardening – keep warm!
Lastly an update on our first ever Blue Patch Foundation gift to the community – a heritage Walnut tree sapling.
We are anticipating great things even though it doesn’t look very big at the moment. It IS growing and the buds are visible to the naked eye – very much like Project Blue Patch!
Spring blog written by Julia Langley.
Blue Patch is Britain’s sustainable marketplace. We’re on the look out for potential businesses to become Promo members. If you would like to come on board please contact the team, we’d love to hear from you.
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