It’s ten years this month since we moved to our current site. Director and head florist Wendy Paul reflects on how far we’ve come since the dark, wintery days of 2011.
In January 2011 we completed the move to our present site in Latteridge, South Gloucestershire, having previously been on a one and a half acre plot at a local farm shop.
This was a big decision for us, but, ten years in, one we’ve never regretted: four acres and a building with a toilet… luxury! It had snowed when we started planting the front garden and laying out the new flower beds. Rows upon rows of plants we had dug up came with us and were waiting to be planted out. Our first polytunnel went up, not without an element of drama. I’ll never forget the phone call from Jo (Wright, founding director) to let me know that she had just ordered the tunnel, mentioning as an aside that she had also gone into labour with her younger daughter!
Ten years on we’ve grown bigger: we now have four polytunnels (including our fantastic four-bay tunnel funded by incredibly generous supporters through our 2018 crowd funding campaign); nine acres all certified organic with the Soil Association; a new flower studio (also made possible by the crowd funding campaign); and a yurt. The ethos of our social enterprise is the same – supporting local adults with mental health support needs and learning disabilities, using horticulture and growing cut flowers as medium to gain skills and employment. Many of our trainees have gone on to find employment outside of Organic Blooms – the ultimate outcome for us and them – whilst others work towards having meaningful, paid jobs within our own business.
The last ten years has been an incredible journey with some lows and many, many highs. The last year in particular has taught us many things as we have found ways to carry on supporting our trainees and team during the initial lockdown whilst developing new Covid-safe ways to build business resilience and continue working with our trainees safely on site. The year has highlighted how much we value support from our local community and with this in mind we are making plans to plant a PYO flowers area and to hold Saturday morning farm gate sales. Once it is safe and appropriate to do so, our gates will be open on a regular basis for people to come and enjoy our site and be outside, something we all value now more than ever.
In challenging times it is good for all of us to take time to reflect on how far we’ve come, what we’ve achieved and what we can take from that moving forward. Here at Organic Blooms we are all looking forward with hope to the next ten years. Happy New Year from us all at Organic Blooms, we look forward to seeing you (perhaps a little later than hoped!) in 2021!