TNWC South West Roadtrip Day 8: final visits to Greens of Devon, Organic Blooms and Church Farm
Charlie / 18 June 2013
I have finally come to the end of my TNWC South West Roadtrip. I have travelled hundreds of miles, stayed in numerous homes, B&Bs and hotels, and met over 15 businesses who are all listed on the directory. It has been exhausting but amazing. If you would like to catch up on my travels, just click on TNWC Roadtrip for all the posts.
So yesterday I set of from the north coast of Devon, travelled into the county to Greens of Devon, then up the motorway to Organic Blooms, and across into Wiltshire to Church Farm for my final visit of the trip. I hope you’ve liked following along, and enjoy this, my final post on the (first) TNWC Roadtrip.
Greens of Devon
My first stop of the day was to Greens of Devon and are one of my lovely edible flower businesses. With the resurgence in British, locally grown, seasonal flowers, their edible brothers and sisters are following suit. I’ve personally been interested in edible flowers for a few years now, so it’s really nice to see more couples incorporating them into their weddings.
After getting embarrassingly lost in the centre of the local village, I finally found the entrance to the plot of land where Greens of Devon have a small vineyard and grow their edible flowers. Janice and Ivan started out by planting a vineyard, before beginning to grow salad leaves and a few edible flowers for restaurants and shops. Edible flowers soon took over, with two polytunnels and a small outside patch now growing a wide variety from nasturtiums and violas, to cornflowers and more unusual varieties.
I’ve featured a number of ways that you can use edible flowers previously on the blog – they can be used to decorate wedding cakes and cupcakes, chocolates, cocktails, ice cubes, sandwiches, and even ice lollies. The only limit really is your imagination and how long the different flowers last when cut.
Whilst the way Greens of Devon grow their flowers is similar in many ways to the other TNWC flower farmers I visited, it was fascinating to wander around looking at the flowers in a different (edible) way. There was just time for a cup of tea and a piece of lemon cake topped with flowering thyme, whilst enjoying the peace and quiet of this pretty valley.
From Devon I headed into South Gloucestershire, to the four acre plot of Organic Blooms. If you’ve been following along with the TNWC Roadtrip you’ll know I’ve visited a number of flower farmers this week – whilst all of them are doing the same thing, growing flowers, each of them has been different and unique.
Most of them have been run by individuals, families, or friends, but Organic Blooms is run as a social enterprise. Set up by Jo who specialised in social and therapeutic horticulture, Organic Blooms supports around 25 to 30 trainees each week who have disabilities and support needs.
It was after attending a friend’s wedding in 2006, that Jo realised she could be growing all the flowers that were on the tables, and so started trialling cut flowers. It turned out they were a perfect match for their trainees as they can be involved in all aspects of the business, from sowing seeds to helping process online orders.
One of the first things I noticed at Organic Blooms is how organised and neat the flower beds are, with one type of flower in each bed surrounded by wide paths of wood chippings. When I mentioned this to Jo, she explained that it’s necessary to enable their trainees to feel more independent in their work and reduce decision making. For example, by having clearly defined flowers beds, it simplifies weeding because the trainees can easily identify the weeds from the plants.
Jo told me that not only do the brides and grooms love seeing the person who is sowing the seeds for their wedding, but the trainees love meeting the brides and seeing the reaction to their hard work.
At Organic Blooms they also host workshops, run by Wendy who is trained as a florist. When I visited yesterday, she was running a floristry skills workshop, that I cheekily got to gatecrash and snap some pictures of the arrangements they were creating.
By complete coincidence it was lovely to meet the very sweet Lauren, who’s beautiful wedding was featured here on Love My Dress, who used The Natural Wedding Company to help plan her wedding, as well as creating her own version of my wedding stationery!
Finally it was on to my last visit of the entire TNWC Roadtrip, which was to wedding venue Church Farm in Wiltshire. I had seen the beautiful photos of King’s Meadow – the beautiful spot where you can hold your wedding – at Church Farm on their website, but on arrival it was truly more lovely than I’d imagined.
Named after an ancient shield found in the meadow, dating back to the time of Richard the Lionheart, King’s Meadow is a beautiful seven acre wildflower meadow, surrounded by trees and hedges. When the meadow is flowering, paths are mown through the wavering grass to an open space suitable for marquees.
Kate and Will, who live at and run Church Farm, describe it on their website as an ‘idyllic’ wedding venue – and if you visit whilst looking for a wedding venue, I’m convinced you’ll leave agreeing that it is an appropriate description. As well as the wildflower meadow for your marquee or giant tipi, there is a woodland glade suitable for outdoor blessings or ceremonies, a small camping field surrounded by willow edges for your guests, and even a shepherds hut for your wedding night.
In order to preserve the specialness of Church Farm and ensure that they provide a high quality service for each wedding, they are only hosting between six and eight weddings a year during the summer months. Kate told me she wants the venue and the meadow to be a space for whatever you want your wedding to be, and they are there to ensure that it all goes smoothly.
Clover the shepherds hut is a wonderful addition and I can’t imagine where you would rather spend you first night as Mr & Mrs after a wedding at Church Farm. It is in it’s own secluded field just off the meadow, it has been restored and decorated in a natural and minimal way, with beautiful vintage furniture. On your wedding night, Kate lines the path with lanterns at night and fills it with a jug of garden flowers, champagne and chocolate.
The morning after your wedding you and your guests can choose to have breakfast provided by Kate and Will, which arrives on a trailer with chocolate croissants, pastries, tea, coffee and even hangover cures! You can simply roll out of your comfy bed in the shepherds hut and either eat your breakfast in your own secluded spot, or join your guests in the meadow.
There is so much more I could tell you about Church Farm and how beautiful it is, but I will instead encourage you to go and visit yourself if you are considering it for your wedding.
Where I’m Going Today…
Home! To my lovely husband, Buddy the dog and my three bunnies. And my own bed.
If you’ve missed any of my visits, do catch up by clicking on TNWC Roadtrip for all my blog posts. If you’ve emailed me whilst I’ve been on the road I promise to get back to you as soon as I can, and I will hope to be back on blogging as normal shortly.
Images: The Natural Wedding Company
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