24 May 2023
When Petalon first started, we knew we were heading in to an industry that was typically unkind on the environment. While in our early days of being a one-woman show based in East London, there wasn’t too much we could do to tackle the way the billion-dollar cut flower industry worked, we knew there were things we could do to help our small business do good in other areas. And that idea has underpinned everything we’ve done at Petalon – when you can do good, do it.
The fact of the matter is, in order for our business to operate and continue to employ people all year-round, we do need to import flowers. We’ve spoken about this in detail here so to plagiarise ourselves for a moment:
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.
Over the past few years, we have become carbon neutral, we have achieved B Corp status, we’ve committed to donating 100% of our profits to UK conservation, we’ve moved to Cornwall and started growing our own flowers, where we have significantly improved the biodiversity of the soil of acres of land and where we run the farm on solar power and our vehicles on vegetable oil diesel. Since writing the above mentioned blog post we have indeed set out what we achieved to do and now offer our customers a British-only bouquet and for the first time ever last week, we offered this as one of our main signature bouquets. That means we imported half the amount of flowers we normally would. This was always our endgame when we moved to Cornwall – to grow our own flowers so we could reduce the carbon footprint of the flowers we offer, as well as do whatever we can to reduce our impact on the environment in all other aspects of our business.
Reading back through that earlier blog post from February 2021, we had a swell of pride; at that point we didn’t think we’d be able to offer a full bouquet made up entirely of things we’d grown ourselves and were talking to other UK growers to help us combine our offering with theirs to create a whole bouquet. The year after, in 2022, we were able to offer not one but two different, entirely homegrown farm bouquets as part of our Field Flowers offering and this year, we’ve been able to offer one of our homegrown bouquets as one of our signature bouquets. A pinch-me moment.
When importing flowers, we have to make our best educated guess on the numbers we’ll need throughout the week which fluctuates depending on various factors; whether people have been paid, whether people are on summer holiday, a cost of living crisis… and once you’ve ordered on the auction, those numbers can’t be changed. Hence you may have received one of our ‘oops we over-ordered’ emails, offering discounted bouquets so we have zero wastage. The benefit of using flowers straight from our field, aside from the obvious environmental one, is that we can be more reactive to numbers as we take orders throughout the week. This of course comes with its own challenges as we can’t ever guarantee how many stems of each flower will bloom on what day. As with anything we do here on the farm, it’s a bit of an experiment and what better way to learn than to throw ourselves right in at the deep end.
For now, we’re super excited to be offering another homegrown bouquet for one of our signature bouquets for the second week running, as well as supplementing our other signature bouquet with some of our homegrown flowers. But why stop there? If the field allows, we’d like to be able to offer farm bouquets in not just two but four different colour palettes and eventually even have both of our signature bouquets as entirely homegrown while we’re in season. We can’t help but think back to our first days of Petalon, when all of this would’ve been beyond our wildest dreams, and be proud of what we’ve achieved so far.Back to blog