5 February 2021

Homegrown flowers and transparency

It’s no secret that the cut flower industry isn’t too kind on the environment. From Holland to Italy, to Israel to Kenya, flowers are grown and imported all over the world, just like a lot of our food. This is why we make such an effort to reduce our environmental impact where we can at Petalon.

In order for us to offer bouquets all-year round, in the quantities that we need, we have to import flowers from places where they grow through winter in heated glasshouses or warmer climates. We work hard to reduce our impact on the planet in all other parts of our business; our packaging is all recyclable or biodegradable, we donate 5% of our profits to bee conservation and plant a tree for every 100 bouquets we send, we use a carbon-neutral delivery service, the farm buildings are powered by solar, our vehicles all run on vegetable oil diesel and we now grow a selection of our own flowers.

When we moved our family to Cornwall in May 2020, the additional space meant we were presented with the opportunity to start growing, so we could supplement our bouquets with flowers that weren’t imported, but grown on our own doorstep. This was not only an exciting adventure for us, having never grown our own flowers before, but it was something else we could do towards our efforts for reducing our impact on the environment.

At Petalon, our focus is to provide our customers with unusual and interesting flowers in an affordable and considered way. With our own farm, we’re in control of what we grow, so we’re able to source unusual flowers that you can’t buy on the Dutch auction, which we know our customers will love. The majority of the flowers in our bouquets are imported, but by supplementing our bouquets with some of our more unusual homegrown flowers, we’re able to reduce the carbon journey of our product, as well as making our bouquets extra special with exciting varieties that are hard to find.

So why not work towards using only homegrown or locally grown flowers, we hear you say? Well, firstly, we have limited space where we grow in Cornwall – to be able to grow the amount of flowers, in enough different varieties, so we could offer full, interesting and varied bouquets all year around, we’d need fields and fields and fields of flowers. Then there’s the issue of climate and season – space aside, it would be pretty difficult to continue our business through the winter with only British-grown flowers and we’re not in the position to be able to only trade for 6 months of the year and then have 6 months off. It’s about finding a balance between purpose and values and how to keep a business going.

We always want to be transparent about how we do things at Petalon and that means letting you know that we’re not perfect. But we are trying to do what we can within our means and plan for what we can continue to do better in the future. We believe it’s important to not let perfect get in the way of trying to do some good.

Just like recycling and using less plastic, or trying to eat local produce – everyone doing it imperfectly has a far greater impact on the environment than fewer people doing it perfectly. Imagine if all florists in the UK were able to supplement their bouquets with some locally grown flowers. Not to mention that if the flower industry stopped trading globally immediately, the consequences would tumble economies, many of which are female-led – growers, pickers and packers would lose their jobs.

That being said, we’re not ones for shirking responsibility – when it comes to the planet, real, lasting change requires an effort from everyone but this doesn’t mean we take our responsibility to the environment any less seriously. If there’s an economical way, in the future, that allows us to offer only British-grown flowers, we’re all for it. We’re already in discussions with other growers in the UK to see how we can use their produce to offer a British-only bouquet as another offering for our customers.

No one’s perfect, and that’s alright, but if we can all try to be better, then we believe that’s when real change happens.

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