We’re taking a brief break from our green groom theme to celebrate Vegetarian Week with this post on edible flowers. Over to Tara…
Seeing, smelling and eating colour – The joy of edible flowers
I love talking, thinking about and eating good food! And, I don’t think I’m alone in that. Planning the gourmet aspects of your wedding day can be exciting, and challenging. After all you want to get it right, because for many, the feast is the favoured part of a wedding celebration, and you want everyone to enjoy what they eat.
One of the most wonderful things about communal festivities is the ritual of sitting and eating together, so basic, so ancient and yet so intimate. But what about adding something really unique and unforgettable to the veggie fare? What about the idea of eating the flower arrangements?
Sushma Windsor is the founder and director of a flower shop with a difference. Her company Lettuce Flowers provides fresh, seasonal living floral displays for weddings and events. Many of the flowers and plants are edible. This makes for a delightful multi-sensory experience. As guests admire the beauty of the scented bouquets on their tables, they can simultaneously savour the taste of those same coloured petals in a delicious edible herb and flower salad.
Lettuce flowers use only seasonal plants grown in the UK for their wedding flowers, which eliminates the need for carbon heavy transportation and required by traditional cut flowers flown in from far off places.
Then at the end of the event, guests can take the flower displays home with them to put on their windowsills or re-plant in their own gardens.
As Sushma says:
“Our displays say that you care about sustainability and symbolise perpetual growth as they make perfect keepsakes”
We recently contacted Sushma to find out a little more about her inspired approach:
Where did the idea for Lettuce Flowers originate?
Back in 2008 my husband proposed to me. We decided we would have a simple ceremony with a wedding picnic with all our friends and family to enjoy a day out in our lovely county of West Sussex.
We chose a local venue which has a very strong ethos on nature conservation. We also decided we could not use cut flowers and especially not non-seasonal.
The estate manager was delighted when we offered to donate the growing wild flowering plants we were going to use for our day on the picnic tables and around the grounds. All the food arrived with edible flowers in various colours and the guests were thrilled to see the bees and butterflies flying on the wild flowering plants. So much so that they all took them home and asked for planting instructions.
How did this experience develop into a thriving business?
The following spring, I kept getting calls from my family and friends telling me how they loved seeing the plants come up again and how much it reminded them of the edible flowers on the food. This sparked an idea for both of us, what if we could combine the plants with edible living flowers and keep them seasonal?
After months of research and relentless negotiations, we found nursery suppliers who specialised in herbs, salads and edible flowers.
“We thought: Imagine how wonderful it would be to use Lettuce Flower arrangements for an event or send them to your friends, when they can use the plants in their cooking and garnishes.”
What ethical considerations lie at the heart of the business?
With my background in sustainable and ethical clothing, I wanted to ensure similar principles applied to this new business of events and gifts. Our search continued and we found some wonderful options for compostable containers, including a beautifully hand crafted heritage trug made in Sussex.
Armed with the knowledge of the UK cut flower industry worth over £2 billion, of which 90% are imported from Kenya and Columbia, where the land water could be used for food production, we decided it was the right time to offer UK customers a seasonal and slightly quirky alternative to intensively farmed cut flowers from abroad.
Longevity through living plants makes complete sense.
Cut flowers have to be thrown away into landfill: most local councils do not consider them as part of garden waste. Unfortunately this will add to methane gas production as the flowers decompose in the landfill.
We recently joined Positive Impact on a challenge to make us do things in a better way as we always put environment at the heart of everything we do. Lettuce Flowers should be certified ISO20121 by the end of 2013.
Can you describe some of your most memorable events?
Our first event was a wedding followed by an Italian restaurant launch in Isle of Dogs. The reaction was simply of intrigue and we saw how people wanted to touch, feel, rub, smell and taste the arrangements. A multi-sensory reaction was not what we expected, but were thrilled to learn from it. We started to offer a recipe inspiration and care instructions with every arrangement and the feedback has been very positive.
At a recent business presentation, we took some canapés made using herbs and edible flowers to show how food can not only look beautiful but inviting. Needless to say, not only was all the food polished off, but the general consensus was that it was much more engaging than expected. So when we say, ‘Grow don’t throw’, it should conjure up an image of Lettuce Flowers edible arrangement and not an ordinary bunch of unseasonal cut flowers.
You’ve recently started an online service, was this something that was in demand?
To date, we have adorned dinner tables at Gala nights, Award ceremonies, birthday celebrations and weddings and without exception they all wanted to know if we had an online service they could use to send Lettuce Flower arrangements to their friends and family.
Early this year, we started our online shop to cater not just for the main calendar dates, but also for people to say thank you, a birthday or a ‘get well soon’ wish to their friends and family. We want people to be excited about using seasonal plants and get creative with cooking. Children may be intrigued if they see their parents using edible flowers, and who knows, it might just plant a seed for the future, in those tiny busy minds!
Tara is a writer for the marketing and communications consultancy, We Are All Connected
- Sign up to our Ethical Weddings newsletter
- Follow us on Twitter @ethicalweddings
- Join us on Facebook