Guest Blog: 5 things I learnt volunteering at Pipley Flower Farm
'Amy volunteered for me last year and has been kind enough to write a blog post about her experience. I hope you enjoy the read and if you're interested in volunteering yourself I would love to hear from you!'
Volunteering on a farm isn’t always about animals, vegetables or even fruit. I wanted to
get some experience in land-based organic agriculture so spent the last 10 months doing
something a bit different. Volunteering on a Flower Farm was one of the best things I’ve
ever done and here’s the top five things I learnt while volunteering at Pipley Flowers:
1. Nothing is more satisfying than uprooting a particularly stubborn nettle patch
Weeding the patch is an integral part of organic farming, and the size and nature of Pipley
Flowers means that the majority of weeding needs to be done by hand. Whilst a daunting
task at first - weeding soon becomes a small obsession, with Liz and myself breaking off
mid-sentence to pull up a … is that a thistle…?
2. How varied and beautiful British-grown flowers really are
The floristry industry is huge and the majority of bunches and bouquets you see in
supermarkets and florists are imported, sprayed and not grown organically. Have you
noticed that supermarket flowers don’t really have a scent? Why use pesticides and
aeroplanes when there’s so many beautiful seasonal flowers to choose from on our
3. How to make a wildlife pond and introduce a frog population
It’s not all about flowers - Liz wanted to encourage frogs and toads to the farm as they are
the perfect organic pest control solution! So we dug and lined a pond and Liz brought some
pondweed and baby frogs from home - it was an interesting wildlife project. Liz and her
husband Simon are doing a lot more than farming on their land - they have planted trees,
conserved hedgerows and woodland, planted wildflower and native grass meadows, and are
using some areas as grazing for their herd of sheep. Spending time here taught me a lot
about land use and how to encourage a healthy balance of wildlife.
4. How much better a cup of tea tastes when you’ve boiled up the water on a
camping stove by the shed, overlooking Pipley’s stunning view
A day on the flower farm is incomplete without a few well-timed tea breaks and the ritual of
boiling the camping kettle on the Tranja stove became one of my favourite things to do.
Sitting on the bench or the step of the shed and looking out at the valley view with a hot cup
of tea while the resident robins hopped about was a real highlight for me!
5. How to rotovate beds, prune to encourage flowering, make a nettle-tea plant
fertiliser - and a myriad of other useful tips and tricks
There was plenty of opportunity to learn new skills and I found I was able to get a good
practical grounding in general horticultural techniques in addition to the specifics of
day-to-day organic flower farming.
And if those perks weren’t enough I was lucky enough to take home cut flowers every
time I volunteered!
I would highly recommend volunteering for Liz - she is an accommodating, friendly and
knowledgeable mentor with an infectious passion for what she does. If you are looking to
get more of an insight into the British-grown floristry industry, learn about growing
organic, or simply improve your wellbeing by getting your hands in the soil; Pipley
Flowers is a haven for flower enthusiasts everywhere!
Although I am moving to pastures new, there could never be a greener field than Pipley
Flower Farm. Thank you to Liz & Simon who have encouraged me over the last year,
helping me to realise my potential and to chase my dreams of working in nature.
Here’s to years of friendship and flowers!