Meet the three Yorkshire commercial flower growers who have joined forces to supply local florists

Three Yorkshire flower growers have come together to offer a more consistent quality supply of British-grown blooms to florists.

Jill, Jan and Suzie are all from farming backgrounds and were growing flowers commercially in separate businesses before they decided to collaborate

Flowers by Season includes farmer’s wife Jill Smith, of West Binnington Farm, in Staxton; farmer’s daughter Jan Falkingham, of Castle Farm, in Wressle; and former garden centre owner Suzie Rush, of Kilburn.

Jill set up Binnington Blooms as a diversification enterprise growing flowers on her family’s dairy/arable farm in 2013.

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Jan Falkingham is a landscape architect and has a degree in agricultural business management. She established Field and Bloom to grow flowers for cutting on a commercial scale on the family farm south of York and has been growing since 2015.

Suzie is an experienced grower based near Thirsk. She has been working in horticulture since 2007 and began growing cut flowers in 2016.

The trio all grow their own flowers and have individual markets that sustain their respective enterprises but Jan said their united approach was to better meet the demand that is currently on the rise.

“My interest is in growing flowers and what I really wanted to concentrate on as my main market was selling to florists.

“It became apparent when I started talking with florists that they sometimes struggle to source locally-grown flowers because there isn’t enough supply.

“When they find somebody they are happy with unfortunately the grower may not be growing sufficient quantity to able to supply them with everything they want. That’s when I started thinking about finding people in a similar position to me who would benefit from collaboration.

“The three of us all have flowers to sell and want to sell to florists. By pooling our resources we can hopefully better meet their requirements.

“The ultimate reason for Flowers by Season’s existence is to make it easier for florists to source local flowers in Yorkshire.”

Suzie said that although there are bigger, more well established wholesalers in the country selling British flowers, it is the range of Yorkshire-grown that is their group’s unique asset.

“Our huge range is what makes our flowers slightly more interesting for florists. We are all professional growers and while we grow such as tulips that the bigger commercial growers also supply, we offer such unique flowers from really different scented varieties to the more twiddly stems that are in demand from florists.

“Our picking of flowers from our fields and then our ‘in water’ delivery to the florist is something that they also particularly like, keeping the flowers as fresh as possible. It’s a bespoke service that brings about a better relationship.”

Jill’s father grew flowers commercially on Jersey when she was a child and had been a farm secretary for 30 years.

In the past eight years she has increased her numbers and range of flowers markedly and is now picking 25,000 stems a year.

She said that the recent increase in demand for British flowers had been particularly accelerated over the past year.

“There are now a number of florists who are looking to source wholly British and we are very much wanting to be able to supply them in the quantities they need.

“The three lockdowns have propelled that even further forward. While there haven’t been the weddings, people have been sending flowers to each other whilst they couldn’t meet and up and down the country people have found out that sending freshly picked, seasonal British flowers is a unique and special gift.

“I couldn’t believe the number of orders we have received in the past year. I still have my market stall at Wykeham Farmers Market every Friday, I provides bunches for local shops and buckets of flowers for weddings but anything that any of us sells to florists all goes through Flowers by Season.”

Different areas, different land and weather conditions can also offer increasing varieties and that’s why the women have not made their combined business exclusive to the three of them.

Suzie said they are looking to develop relationships with other likeminded flower growers in the county.

“Like Jill, I have my own individual markets of weddings, plug plants and an online shop, but Flowers by Season is a business that we are aiming to grow substantially and that means involving others. We already have a couple of other growers.

We’d like to help more growers move up to larger scale growing because that way it also helps us continue meeting what looks as though it will become an even greater demand in future.”

The key to the new business, so far as Jill is concerned, is that it’s all in the name.

She said it is their ability to provide quality flowers from each of their respective areas.

“Everything is seasonal, right through from narcissi in spring to the perennials we cut in summer and the annuals along with dahlias. We’re already providing increasing quantities each year and we drive each other on for quality.

“When you work on your own you might tell yourself a certain bunch of flowers looks great, but when you work with others like Jan and Suzie it makes you up your game. We are all extremely aware of the need to maintain our quality.”

Jan said the bespoke nature of what Flowers by Season offers is the attraction for many Yorkshire florists.

“We also sell to florists who want to purchase a bit of locally grown, but we are finding that more and more are wanting to go wholly British or Yorkshire grown.”

Although the team is Yorkshire based and their immediate area of coverage is Yorkshire, for large orders they say they can arrange delivery nationwide.