Family campaigns to fund flower barn at 'paradise' site
- Credit: Alice Tatham
Zanna and Jonny Hoskins have transformed a one-acre paddock they bought near Axminster in 2012 into a paradise of flowers and wildlife using permaculture.
Now they are two thirds of the way to raising £40,000 to build an environmentally friendly flower barn so that more people can enjoy this wonderful garden.
The flower barn, at Wootton Fitzpaine, will provide cool storage for cut flowers and foliage, thanks to the eco-friendly construction (timber frame with hemp and lime walls).
This will increase production as well as enable courses for small groups to be staged. The building will include an office, washing facilities and somewhere to make refreshments, bringing real benefit to everyone who works at the site, especially volunteers, some of whom are elderly.
This will allow Spindle Flowers, formerly known as Champernhayes Flowers and Foliage, to operate more easily throughout the year, supplying flowers and foliage to leading florists as well as local floristry and wholesale. Spindle focus on cut stems with variety, scent, shape, texture and freshness, the kind of stems you won’t find in a supermarket.
The family lived on site with three children in caravans for two years, using off-grid technology for water and electricity while they built up Spindle Flowers, which requires long hours with early and late shifts for cutting.
Residential planning was refused and they moved to Lyme Regis in September 2020 after gaining permission for the newly designed barn. This required a rethink about the business.
Zanna’s floristry is sought by people wishing to create an event or something special for a loved one, especially if they share her principles of sustainability. More and more people are buying British flowers as awareness grows about the environmental damage of imported flowers.
Zanna has developed her own style and you may have seen her installations and arrangements in the area. She has been renting a unit for the past few years on the St Michael’s estate in Bridport opposite the Red Brick Café.
As well as attracting attention as a florist, Zanna has become a sought-after grower. Flower farmers, florists and hobbyists come to her for advice, and she runs courses as well as offering consultancy. Her flowers and foliage have been enjoyed far and wide, including in Salisbury Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and fashion shoots for major brands.
Zanna is an active member of Flowers from the Farm, a multi award-winning, not-for-profit, co-operative of British cut flower growers founded in 2011.This includes her position on the diversity panel, which has successfully campaigned for more inclusive entry routes into flower farming, attracting more diversity through its Diversity Scholarship.
Jonny is a performer and a university teacher as well as a keen gardener and environmentalist.
He said: “Thank you, everyone. It has been a dream to work sympathetically with the land in this way and to see it develop over the years. The biodiversity is incredible and the surroundings feed your soul.
“This building will be amazing and if we can raise the full £40,000 we will be able to offer courses later on this year. It is wonderful how much people enjoy our place and Zanna’s work. I am really proud of what we have achieved.”
Zanna said: “We have been totally blown away by the response. People clearly believe in what we are doing and they are getting right behind it.
“We are incredibly grateful for all our supporters, and having a building will make an enormous difference to everyone involved. We want people to take an interest and to get on board with the British Flowers movement, and it is so nice to be able to generate work for people locally as well as to bring them beauty and nature.
“Please take a look at our campaign page, whether or not you choose to pledge. There are rewards and a chance to win a place on one of my courses, as well as lots of information about our project.”
Donations can be made up until Friday, April 16 on the crowdfunder website, using the search term ‘flower barn’. The fundraising total stood at £31,522 earlier this week.