Just on the south side of Elmwood Golf Club is Russell Mains, home to The Country Garden Company. Founded nine years ago by Amanda Fawzi, we caught up with Amanda to discover more about this growing business …
Amanda’s background was in healthcare – but she “always loved to grow things“. How did the business come about? Amanda explains: “Following a career break, I decided to start flower farming.” She was hoping to grow flowers and sell her Scottish produce to shops and florists close to home, but that plan didn’t quite work out. She adds: “Looking back, I was a little ahead of the seasonal, local trend. The local florists still preferred to import from Holland.”
She then persuaded a few florists that she admired to teach her – and she became a florist in her own right. The Country Garden Company launched in 2011 and made the move into floristry a year later.
Why the career step change? “I’m not 100% sure. My interest in local and seasonal food made me think about the provenance of our cut flowers. There wasn’t so much a light bulb moment … more many flower bulb moments combined!” Amanda adds: “I have always had a huge love for sustainable business, for growing things – just about anything – and a real passion for British-grown flowers.”
And then it grew …
Once she began, her reputation grew – as did the requests from customers to do more and more. She explains: “In traditional style, we have always sold from our farm gate. Then we started deliveries and directly for collection. Now we sell online – and we also offer a huge range of props, including furniture, trees, house plants and linens for weddings, parties and events.”
What makes the business special? What is The Country Garden Company’s unique selling point? “Sustainability” says Amanda, adding: “We are florists and flower farmers who have totally embraced being sustainable. We grow the huge majority of our flowers and foliage, sourcing the rest from other local growers. Importantly, we never use floral foam. That’s a real no-no for us and our customers!” The business has been completely free of floral foam (aka oasis) for three years and they have worked hard to develop different ways of ensuring that their designs remain fresh: “The moss that we use as an alternative in some cases, is largely gathered by ourselves and forms part of a woodland floor management system. The moss that we do source is bought only from trusted and reliable colleagues.” And they go the extra mile: all their plastics and wire mesh are continuously recycled – and when it comes to their natural burial flowers, they contain only moss and twine as a base to ensure they comply with the natural burial ethos.
Yes, sustainability is their mantra. It has been the foundation of Amanda’s work in this field from Day 1. She says: “It was a dawning horror at the environmental and social impact of the cut flower industry that led to the creation of our business – and real belief that we could do so much better.” That hard work and belief has significant environmental benefits: “Not only are our flowers not flown 1000s of miles in refrigerated containers, but they are pesticide free, plastic free and so fresh that we dont need to use chillers or flower food to sustain them.”
The attention to detail is everything. Amanda says: “Our entire growing process is carried out with sustainability in mind and the careful custodianship of our small piece of land.” That includes several bee hives and always ensuring that some of their field is nurtured as a wild meadow. She adds: “A typical flower in one of our arrangements has been grown by us from seed. It is then grown on in a biodegradable pot – is sustained as naturally as possible – and has not been subjected to pesticides or non natural fertilisers.”
She describes their floristry style as “loose, wild and romantic” adding: “We love the quirky and unexpected. It is essential that we work with nature and natural forms to create stylish, luscious and unusual arrangements – arrangements that are full of colour, texture and fragrance.” As a result, they’ve become a firm favourite with wedding and event venues in the local area.
Today, Amanda’s unique know-how has helped to grow the business to employ three permanent staff and two freelancers. She puts her success down to the support she has received, saying: “I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by supportive and positive people all my life – parents, teachers, my husband and our children.” Amanda adds: “Building this business from literally a handful of seed packets, delivering bouquets and arrangements that truly delight our clients and customers. I am very proud of that achivement.”
Different times …
We know all remain under a variety of Covid-19 restrictions just now, but as with all those featured on our Blog, we ask what would be recommended for a visitor to Cupar – someone visiting for the first time, or for the first time in a long time. Amanda says: “Enjoy the numerous great quality cafes!” We agree and can’t wait for them all to be fully open when the time allows.
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