Can it be possible? I feel as though Common Farm Flowers has been my life for EVER, and yet, in other moods, it’s existed but for the blink of an eye.
We bought this soggy patch of clay in 2004 thinking we’d be market gardeners of some sort. Clearly we knew NOTHING about gardening, or we’d NEVER have bought this clay voluntarily with the thought of growing quick turnaround crops on it. It was a green desert – acres of thick, cattle-feeding rye grasses with odd stretches of fencing criss-crossing the land.
So first we planted hedges - Fabrizio wanted a place he could call hedge world – to break up the space and make some wind breaks. Then we got pigs to work over the space we’d make into a veg patch. Then we had our first child and the pigs became sausages, and the veg was delicious…
But I quickly learned that however many cabbages I planted, I loved my sweet peas more. And soon we were selling bunches of extra sweet peas outside the front gate.
It was when a neighbour sent me a bunch of flowers through the post that I had the light bulb moment that led to the beginning of the flower farm. They were lovely flowers. But looking at them I wondered if I couldn’t do just as well, if not better, myself? Could I grow flowers here, on a small commercial scale, at Common Farm in Somerset.
I always tell people that the business they should set up, when they talk of kitchen table cash flow, should be one based on the activity they don’t give up, even when the merde and the ventilateur are a little close for comfort. And I sowed seed, even when the house was (still is!) a bomb site, and the children needed feeding, wiping, pooing, holding, and I won’t even mention the state of the laundry… even then I sowed seed. And so inevitably I had flowers. And those flowers I began to sell.
I had to learn: to cut, to condition, to look after them, to turn my flowers into hand tied bouquet, to design wedding flowers, to keep accounts, learn the difference between turnover and profit, to manage, to strategise. (On the business end of things I’d say I still have a considerable way to go!)
And I was lucky, because when we started Twitter was but a tweetling, and oh it was FUN to talk to all those other gardeners, and flower lovers, and, soon, customers – I discovered that PR and marketing could be done for free, one tweet at a time, just with a picture, with a comment, with a mention of another crop of sweet peas sown for late in the summer. Without Twitter Common Farm Flowers would never have taken off.
So this post isn’t really newsy – if news that we’re six years old isn’t enough. It’s more a thank you to all our customers old and new who keep us going, encourage us, write us lovely thank you letters, come back again and again for more of the beautiful flowers that our little patch of Somerset produces year after year, almost as if by magic.