September news from the farm
I like a nice full stop.
Blink! No, I haven’t missed it, but it is time to hug the end of summer, spend as much time outside as possible, keep dowsing oneself in Vitamin D, breathe in the fresh, cool air of late summer mornings, and make the most of still light evenings. Our flower farming season officially comes to an end on 30th September, although we never quite finish with such a ruthless full stop, but all of a sudden there are only thirty days left before I officially down snips for the season. And as ever it’s all gone too fast.
When we started growing flowers for sale in 2010, we would sell as much as we could for as long as possible. Now we’ve rationalised our sales window to between 1st April and 30th September I find I enjoy my work much more. Yes, there are flowers between 1st October and 31st March, but the ready-steady-go feeling with a kick off on 1st April, and the finish line-in-view feeling of 30th September means that we grow more efficiently, we can be clearer about the amount of crop we’ll have, and use our cropping season to the max knowing that there will be time to slow down and reflect and plan and share what we’ve learned once the evenings darken and the mornings slow.
Taking more time out is useful too. Regular short breaks at my parents’ house in Cumbria have made me focus on what kind of flower farming venture suits us best. These repeated times out mean Fabrizio and I have realised that what we really love is a tiny wee business: we don’t want to expand and have lots of employees because then we wouldn’t do the growing, harvesting, floristry – we’d be divorced from the creative practicality of what we do.
We’ve worked out exactly what is ‘enough’ for us (a word used to lightbulb effect for me by my friend Jane Lindsey of @snapdragon.life when she dropped in for breakfast with another intelligent and ability promoting woman @vivgroskop after lockdown one summer day) and then we work out what we have to do to make that ‘enough’ given the time and potential product available. We’ve found that working this way we need to work less, but much more efficiently – so my new year’s resolution for 2023 which was ‘Do Less Better,’ has, to an extent come to fruition this year. Having a full stop to our season at the end of September is part of that.
I read an article over the bank holiday weekend in the Times about women in their fifties running hell for leather away from corporate life despite healthy financial offers. Why? Because they may be experts in their field, but they don’t necessarily like the way that field is managed, don’t necessarily want the salary they’d be paid to perpetuate those systems, and have worked out that they too can see what their ‘enough’ is and that if people like me can make a living growing flowers, or like Jane Lindsey creating with dye and fabric and garden art, or like a good number of other people who have stepped back from the ‘more for the sake of more’ type business model which makes the value of the business itself the thing to cheer, rather than the livelihood the business can make for the individuals who created them, then they can do the same.
And so I’m glad my season has this full stop, and I’m looking forward to a final fling month of wedding flowers, dinner party flowers, hen party flowers, a fun three days of floral retreat here at the farm with lots of students cutting everything that’s left and creating glorious with it.
And because I know that the desire to avoid the ‘more for the sake of more’ business model is a quiet revolution happening gently and without fuss I have lots of small business workshops to encourage people to seek out the really important questions they must ask if they too are to do less better and still make a living: Lifestyle Business, Social Media for Small Business, and for people who see that growing flowers can be good for their environment, their own mental health AND their financial pocket, we have career change flower farming days online and at the farm, as well as a second Flower Farming Intensive three day workshop in October.
And for fun and good, useful, straightforwardly presented information, see our autumn demos – plenty to choose from for autumn creativity, planning winter decorations, and prepping for a spring full of flowers.
Meanwhile, if your budget is tight for workshops and demos our YouTube club will shortly have three hundred members enjoying lots of extra tips and tricks with most of our regular YouTube clips, as well as our Live At Five sessions most Thursdays during term time between 5pm and 6pm UK time. We have a post on the community page on YouTube where club members can pop ideas for lives at fives and we are going to work through them through the winter.
And of course, all our YouTube clips are there for everybody as well as good old Instagram too. Though I woke up one morning to find my blue Twitter bird had turned into an aggressive X so I’ve sadly left Twitter which I did used to love. However, in the spirit of DO LESS BETTER that’s probably a good thing.
So to all I wish a happy late summer friends (and happy spring time if you’re in the southern hemisphere!) Let’s relish these last summer days, bathe in the sunshine, plant out our biennials, sow annuals for next spring, plant bulbs by the thousand, and keep cutting the dahlias and cosmos to keep them flowering. I’d give them a little feed now if I were you – they’ll thank you for it after the wet summer we’ve had.
I’m up at Mum and Dad’s house as I write this and the sun is calling Dad and I out. We’re going for a drive over to the fells the other side of Windermere. Meanwhile Mum is in the garden with her friend and garden help Carol, weeding and cutting back, and loving this late summer weather.