In the run up to Small Business Saturday, we are supporting local small businesses by sharing their stories with you.
In true 'stubborn Guern' style, when Jamblin Flower Farm founder Dee set her sights on creating a sustainable flower farm she wasn't going to let a global pandemic or the impending whirlwind of becoming a first time parent slow her down.
Together with her husband Jacques, she has worked tirelessly over the past few years to bring us seasonal blooms which are 'grown, not flown' here in Guernsey, without the use of any pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers. And they both do this alongside their day jobs! Find out how it all started 'by accident really' and read about some of the highlights and challenges along the way.
It all started a little by accident really! The opportunity to buy the field behind our cottage and letting a friend cut flowers from our garden for her wedding, combined with an urge to promote sustainable growing on island and highlight the horrendous environmental impact of imported blooms. That and the fact my husband wouldn't let me fill the field with more animals!
I made the decision that this was something I wanted to pursue sometime in 2019. I booked a three day course on a British flower farm and then found out I was expecting a couple of weeks before going. Of course, in true stubborn Guern style, I had set my sights on pursuing the flower farm and continued on with my plans despite the impending whirlwind of becoming a first time parent. That was probably the stupidest, yet the best decision I've ever made. It was an interesting first season as our son arrived just as the flowers started blooming, mid-pandemic panic.
I think my favourite thing is that I can still go out and frequently be stopped in my tracks and totally humbled by something in the field, whether it's a particular flower, the presence of a new insect or just the literal buzz created by growing chemical free. It's thrilling. I also have a love / hate relationship with the challenge of being totally at the peril of the weather. It keeps me on my toes!
This year we took on weddings for the first time we flower one family wedding and ended up flowering seven! It was a stomach churning combination of nerves and excitement and I loved it. I don't think there's any comparison for the calm I feel when I'm flowering for an event, it's strange, because generally on the lead up I'm nothing but nervous.
Winning the award for Best Conservation Project in Guernsey at the Insurance Corporation Conservation Awards 2022 was also pretty wild! I'm still a bit speechless about that.
But the summer of 2022 was hell on earth for growing, coping with the relentless heat and almost constant drought. I was up until 11pm most evenings just keeping things alive! Not an easy task when you have an early rising toddler in the house. Somehow we made it through our fresh flower season semi sane. It’s safe to say I've been a bit of a lazy creature in the evenings since we closed our fresh season at the end of October.
I love how entrepreneurial our island is! Everywhere you look there are passionate start ups, and the variety is so thrilling. I think Guernsey has always been an entrepreneurial island, but I think it was really magnified by COVID. That's one of the real positives to take from the pandemic. Just think about all of the hedge businesses that popped up out of thin air, and they weren't just half hearted attempts at breaking boredom, they were seriously impressive little businesses, a good deal of which have continued and grown ever since!
I also love the word of mouth aspect to island life. There is no greater compliment than a chain of flower gifting, one person receives flowers, who sends a bunch to someone else, who then sends a bunch to someone else. That's really special.
I’m not sure if I should share this, but I managed to kill every single vegetable plant I grew this year! This was purely due to the fact I couldn't keep up with watering.... But the burning sense of shame remains!
In my defense, we do have extremely busy lives! I combine my work on the flower farm and my family committments with my 'proper' job as a communications officer, and my husband Jacques runs Sangan & Co, a local joinery and upholstery company specialising in restoration and reuse.
Top of the charts for us will always be Les Bourgs Hospice, for the absolutely amazing work they do, and incredible atmosphere they have created in what is stereotypically regarded as a place or time of sadness. We are also huge fans of The Pollinator Project. It's such a great charity, and one that's really pushing for positive change. They're a great bunch!
We love that the beautiful blooms from Jamblin Flower Farm continue throughout the winter months with dried flower bouquets. The authenticity of knowing that the flowers are dried naturally on the beams of Jamblin cottage, with no chemical dyeing or artificial drying processes and no air miles, makes them all the more special.