British Alstroemeria and the UK Cut Flower Industry

To open their October meeting Ben Cross, from Crosslands Flower Nursery in Walberton near Arundel, came along to tell members and visitors about his mission to challenge the UK’s dependence on imported flowers and to promote British grown Alstroemeria. Ben began by explaining that more than 90% of the UK’s cut flowers are shipped in from overseas at considerable cost to the environment. They mostly arrive from the Netherlands although a surprisingly significant proportion originate in Kenya.

Ben is a fourth generation Alstroemeria grower and when his great-grandfather began in 1936 under the Land Settlement Association (LSA) there were many market gardens established. These small holdings were run as a cooperative but recruitment to the scheme ceased at the outbreak of World War II. Crosslands are one of the last larger growers left in the UK producing Alstroemeria in a full colour range all year-round, with over 50 varieties and sustainability remains the backbone of their operating model.  The added bonus is the British flowers last for at least two to three weeks in a vase and are sold at half the price of supermarket ones.

At Crosslands no chemicals or plastic are used on the flowers or the packaging and therefore the carbon footprint of British grown flowers is a lot less than imported ones. Ben is also spearheading a campaign to improve labelling on flowers sold in the UK.

Tricia Hall took to the floor after a break for refreshments to tell the Group all about a recent walk following the RSPB Pulborough Brooks Fungi Trail where she had lead a group of 14 FCG members. While exhibiting many fascinating photographs Tricia explained the importance of these adaptive organisms and the crucial role they play in their ability to digest material by breaking down organic matter, and recycling nutrients. Although the amount of Fungi found was a little disappointing members had enjoyed their walk at this interesting and vibrant time of year.

Ed Miller concluded the meeting by updating the audience with news on the planning front. He advised that although there had been many planning applications submitted on all fronts they were still mainly in the pipeline and remained undecided by Arun DC. Relatively few proposals had received approval although 3 properties in South Ferring were sanctioned for additional upper levels.