Here on The Oak Tree website I only ever bother reviewing books that I find genuinely useful. There are so many gardening and farming books out there that I don’t really see any point in criticising poor ones. I’d prefer to just draw attention to the useful ones! The publishers Green Books often seem to bring out interesting volumes, so if they publish a book on a topic that interests me I’ll always take a look.
It just so happened that the evening before I heard about the upcoming publication of The Flower Farmer’s Year by Georgie Newbery I had been looking at her website, and dreaming of attending a Flower Farming course with her. She’s a long way from The Oak Tree, and the farm was too busy at the time to seriously plan a trip down to Somerset, so I had reluctantly abandoned the idea. The timing of her book could not have been better!
We’ve been growing cut flowers here at The Oak Tree for a couple of years. Flower shares are an ever more popular option in our veg share boxes and I had been planning to branch out into selling flowers beyond the farm community, but had never quite found the time to do so. Also, if I’m honest, I wasn’t really confident about the best way to go about preparing, packaging and marketing them.
A couple of years ago a lady came onto the farm via the hedgerow to ask if she could buy some of our sunflowers for her daughters’ wedding (we said “yes”!) and we had lots of fun preparing the flowers for Eric and Rose’s wedding this year. The dream of offering local Low Carbon Flowers from The Oak Tree for weddings and other special events has been growing ever since!
Georgie Newbery’s chatty, friendly and approachable book is just what we need to help us make the jump into expanding the cut flower venture here at The Oak Tree. Previous books we’ve looked at are either written for the (rather different) US climate, or are for the amateur gardener seeking to grow cut flowers for the house. The Flower Farmer’s Year gives advice targeted to our mild, dark-in-winter climate, and also gives practical advice on both preparing flowers for sale, and most importantly of all perhaps, how to actually sell them!
We all instinctively know that the story behind cheap supermarket year-round flowers isn’t pretty, but I hadn’t realised just how chemical-infused the “conventional” flower industry actually was until reading Georgie’s book. I feel better prepared to explain the environmental benefits of locally grown flowers produced without chemicals now: a genuine addition to our Low Carbon range of produce.
So look out for news on how to order Low Carbon, Suffolk grown flowers from The Oak Tree for your wedding, or other event, here soon. Thank you Georgie Newbery!