How this Walberton flower nursery has adapted to lockdown

Ben Cross from Crosslands Flower NurseryBen Cross from Crosslands Flower Nursery
Ben Cross from Crosslands Flower Nursery
In a normal year, Crosslands Flower Nursery in Walberton would supply florists and wholesalers, as well as supermarkets, with millions of freshly cut flowers.

But since the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK and most florists and wholesalers closed their doors, owner Ben Cross has had to come up with new ways to get his flowers to people’s homes.

The nursery specialises in British Alstroemeria, also known as the Peruvian Lily, and produces millions of stems right throughout the year.

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Mr Cross said of the flowers: “They don’t know it’s a lockdown. A lot of businesses can stop buying in their products, but for me, the flowers are still growing.

Ben Cross from Crosslands Flower NurseryBen Cross from Crosslands Flower Nursery
Ben Cross from Crosslands Flower Nursery | Mimi Connolly

“It’s not like you can stop because the product is always coming through.”

He has teamed up the owner of Beachtown Blooms in Littlehampton to set up a nationwide letterbox scheme so that people can get flowers delivered directly to their homes.

Mr Cross is also directly supplying care homes, local charities and NHS members through a Facebook group at a reduced rate.

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And around Mother’s Day, a collaboration with a supermarket meant that frontline NHS workers received some of the nursery’s fresh flowers alongside their food orders.

Mr Cross said: “I think we’ve adapted fairly well and a lot of people seem to be enjoying the service.”

Demand for freshly cut flowers was high, he said – pointing to examples of people sending them as gifts for birthdays, to those who have been unwell, or to their partners who the lockdown has prevented them from seeing.

“There’s all these scenarios where flowers are becoming really important,” he said.

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“They are very good for mental health and a bit of joy and colour in these days of quarantine and isolation.”

Mr Cross, a fourth generation farmer, said that – with the pandemic resulting in more people buying locally – it was a good time to raise awareness of his British Flowers Rock campaign, which he launched back in 2014.

“Over 90 per cent of cut flowers in the UK are now imported,” he said. “Obviously the environmental and carbon footprint of that is gigantic.”

He hopes that, even once the pandemic is over, the letterbox delivery scheme will continue and people will be more aware of the importance of buying British flowers,

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Find out more by searching @CrosslandsFlowerNursery on Facebook.

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