Flowers From The Farm
2087. Gill Hodgson
Gill Hodgson, from East Yorkshire, is a flower farmer who set up ‘Flowers from the Farm’ in 2011, a membership association which has connected almost 1000 artisan growers across the UK to share their passion, skills and experience with each other.
Having started her own flower business, Gill wanted to encourage more people to grow cut flowers for the UK market and to raise public awareness of local, seasonal cut flowers. Gill’s volunteer-led network now stretches across the UK with a founding principle of fostering friendship and sharing through meetings, activities and communication.
Gill has inspired hundreds of people to embark on careers in flower farming, an emerging new career in horticulture – often as a second or third career. She launched the organisation’s annual conference, the members’ Facebook forum and has hosted dozens of free regional members’ meet-ups at her own plot to share best practice and new ideas.
Gill has worked with ‘Sustainable Church Flowers’ to encourage the Church of England to introduce a more sustainable approach to church flowers, advocating the use of locally-grown flowers rather than imports and alternatives to non-biodegradable floral foam in church floristry.
Gill led a team of over 100 ‘Flowers From The Farm’ volunteers to secure an RHS Chelsea Gold medal for their 2018 exhibit, collaborated with the floral designer Shane Connolly to raised over £20 000 for the ‘Red Cross Ukraine Appeal’ in 2022, and was instrumental in ‘Flowers From The Farm’ supplying spring flowers and foliage from over 80 growers in all four nations of the UK for the Coronation this May.
Gill’s award comes as ‘Flowers From The Farm’ members prepare to stage the RHS Flower School at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park on 19-23 July. Gill has instilled the volunteering ethos in ‘Flowers From The Farm’ members, who will be teaming up to share the beauty of local, seasonal British cut flowers through talks and sustainability floristry demonstrations and floral installations.
In a personal letter to Gill, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“It is fantastic how you are empowering florists to use their passions and skills to help their communities grow, whether that’s by tackling loneliness, helping vulnerable people build confidence, or providing learning opportunities.
“I was inspired to hear how you have also mentored hundreds of women to start careers in agriculture, and have worked closely with the Church of England to improve sustainability in churches.”
“I was thrilled to receive this award for founding ‘Flowers From The Farm’, the national association of cut flower growers, and delighted that the importance of the cut flower industry is being recognised in this way.
“In the 12 years since its founding, ‘Flowers From The Farm’ has grown to around a thousand members in the UK and been responsible for an amazing increase in attention given to locally-grown flowers nationally.
“By making it possible for customers to source and buy their flowers locally, ‘Flowers From The Farm’ brings seasonality to the flower market: it helps the environment by cutting down on air and road miles travelled by every stem and it fills flower fields with a wide diversity of insect and bird life.
“In May 2023, ‘Flowers From The Farm’s’ members filled Westminster Abbey with fresh flowers from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England for the Coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla and proved beyond doubt that flowers grown locally, in their natural season and arranged without the use of any plastics, can grace to biggest and most majestic events in the whole World.”