It makes complete sense but is also a bit bonkers. Edible flowers are something that can’t readily be washed and certainly not peeled to remove any chemical residue like regular fruit and veg. So it makes sense to grow them organically. They are also a luxury and in a world where so many people are starving if they are to justify their place in horticulture then their production has to be putting some back.
And it does.....
Edible flowers are different from commercial flowers from florists, supermarkets and garden centres - these are sprayed with chemicals unfit for human consumption, and definitely should not be eaten. See here for more information.
Growing organic edible flowers is about so much more than simply removing chemicals from the growing process or meeting the strict standards of the Soil Association. It is about developing an understanding of the plants that we grow; working with the seasons; improving the soil structure and letting plants mature at a pace which allows their full flavour, colours and perfume to develop. Being certified organic is therefore an expensive option both financially and in time as there are no shortcuts. We grow in the soil, as nature intended, not in substrate in pots. We have polytunnels to protect from the elements and naturally extend the seasons but we don’t artificially heat these.
We fundraise for Bumble Bee and Butterfly Conservation. Each year our wild life increases. We are bucking national trends.
Every year offers up different challenges but we would not change a single thing. We live and work in the most beautiful part of the country. Our ‘office’ is now a poly tunnel with view across towards Dartmoor and most importantly we do a job that we absolutely love, working with fabulous people who are passionate about the region and about food.
We have two licences with the Soil Association. One for growing organic edible flowers and garnishes for which we are annually inspected to ensure that we meet the rigid criteria of organic certification and that the farm meets organics and ecological standards and that our land stewardship is exemplary. The second is for processing. This latter licence gives the public peace of mind that our food processing standards and packaging are both quality approved and meet the rigid standards set down by the Soil Association and Environmental Health. All our staff have Grade 2 Food Hygiene certificates.
Our electricity comes from photovoltaic cells on the barn roof. Our water comes from a natural spring and is sterilised using UV filters so no chemicals, even chlorine are present. Our waste water is filter through a natural reed bed system. Our edible flower packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable. This means our carbon footprint is almost negligible. No other edible flower specialist goes to these lengths to have such a green organic business.
We look after our staff. We pay them a living wage, we plump out their pensions and Jan even gets out of bed early every morning to make bread for the staff lunch which we provide and where we all sit around a table and chat. We are nothing without our team and they are an integral part of a forward thinking business.
We are not perfect. We get things wrong but we are trying our very best to leave this planet better for Maddocks Farm Organics being here. Jan is a Soil Association Organic Hero and has for two years been the Soil Association Fresh Producer of the Year at the BOOM Awards. She is rightfully hugely honoured that such a small business would have been so recognised.
For more information about being organic and the Soil Association please follow the link.
We have a converted organic holiday barn here on our small flower farm. If you’d like to one and stay and have a tour around we’d love to see you. See here for details.
If you are a Soil Association member then you can claim a 12% discount on all products in our online shop. For details go to the Soil Association website.