Kilworth flower farmer celebrates Irish Flower Week
An increasing number of flower farmers are responding to the growing consumer awareness of buying local, and supplying customers with Irish flowers, avoiding air miles and other problematic practices in the pursuit of cheap flowers.
From 5th-11th July, the Flower Farmers of Ireland are holding an annual celebration of the variety and wealth of Irish cut flowers, plants and foliage. There are almost 60 farmers in Ireland, including farms like the Square Garden in Kilworth and Rockwood Florals in Doneraile.
Petra Bakker, owner of Square Garden in Kilworth, spoke to The Avondhu about the variety of Irish flowers that are available, and how consumers are becoming more aware of the industry in Ireland.
“It’s very seasonal - it’s a different palate every season, different colours. It’s not like the supermarket, all the same all the time. It’s nice to have the seasonality. It’s mainly March-October, and then at Christmas it’s wreaths and other arrangements.”
Over 95% of cut flowers sold in Ireland are imported from abroad, involving significant air miles, the use of chemicals which are banned in Ireland and in the
EU, and in some cases human rights abuses, child labour and violations of labour laws.
While it is possible to buy flowers in January in Ireland, they will come from Colombia, or from hothouses in the Netherlands. Here, in January, it is grasses and foliage that are flourishing.
Petra explains, while business is quieter in the winter, the work still goes on.
“I love the seasonality of it. We are very busy, especially in the wedding seasons, but then January is dead! However, I’m still busy putting out seeds, prepping the garden, planting.”
Britta Baranowsky, chairperson of the Flower Farmers of Ireland group, explained what Irish Flower Week is about.
“Our aim is to shine a spotlight on Irish flowers, to showcase the passion and skill of our members and the beauty of their produce. We hope to raise awareness of the increased availability of Irish homegrown flowers and educate consumers on when Irish flowers are in season. We want to encourage the public to support local by buying more Irish flowers”.
Britta said that the group’s members tend to be creative individuals, with a keen eye for design and a passion for sustainability in everything they do.
“They also tend to be resilient individuals with a good work ethic, as growing fresh flowers is labour intensive and subject to many and varied challenges – particularly the weather!”