HOME GROWN TALENT by Rachelle from Merri Flowers - Guest Writer
My name is Rachelle and I am a cut flower grower based in Oakley, Bedfordshire.
I only became a full time cut flower grower in August 2019.
Before this I was an Ice Cream Consumer Researcher for Unilever for 26 years, so if you too have a dream of changing your career later in life, I’m proof that it’s possible.
I am a self-taught flower grower and together with my husband (who is also my business partner!) we own a 10-acre compact farm dedicated to growing Christmas Trees and Flowers. Our flower season runs from May to October, then naturally progresses into Tag your Own Christmas Tree in November.
We established both businesses in 2017. In 2018, we and ninety-three other UK flower growers grew flowers for a display at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The display won a Gold Medal and from then on our business has gone from strength to strength.
It’s not been an easy journey to realise my dream. When we started out, trying to find buyers for our flowers was difficult, because florists we used to buying imported flowers with perfectly straight stems wrapped in plastic in bunches of 10.
But......thanks to the likes of fabulous florists like Kirsty, we knew we had a great business idea and carried on regardless of knockbacks.
Fast forward to 2019 and attitudes changed. Big bold ‘Café Au Lait’ Dahlia were one of our most popular flowers. David Austin Roses renowned for being garden roses were highly sort after within wedding bouquets. Annuals including brilliantly blue Cornflowers, pincushion Scabious and jewel-coloured Snapdragons were much loved by the local bees and local residence too.
Alas 2020 came with the biggest challenge yet. When COVID-19 cases increased, we knew this was going to have a significant impact on our business. Wedding and Event Flower orders were cancelled. Pick Your Own Experiences and Workshops were cancelled, but thankfully flower orders from local florists flourished & our own contactless flower deliveries flourished too.
In July (we hope) to be able to re-establish our Pick Your Own Flower Experiences, whereby people can visit our farm and cut their own bucket of flowers direct from our flower plots. We continue to sow seeds, pot on seedlings, water in this hot weather and cut and condition flowers until October.
If nothing else this pandemic has made me realise that dreams can come true if you put the effort in and adapt to change.
Stay Safe. Stay Positive. Say it with MERRI Flowers.