The two biggest flower selling days in the year – Valentine’s Day (14 February) and Mother’s Day (March) come too soon in the year for most Irish flower farmers.
For those of us who only sell flowers grown on our own farms, it is an annual challenge – what can we offer loyal customers on a day when your seeds are, at best, seedlings?
The sowing season for our annual flowers commences in February and, assuming no late frosts, we should have flowers in the field from May. We also have a polytunnel and bulbs grown in there should deliver some beautiful flowers in late March. But no matter what we do, we will struggle to have any volume or range of home grown colour for Valentine’s or Mother’s Day.
As a relatively new business trying to build a loyal customer base, we hate saying no to customers looking to treat their loved one in February. We could import flowers from abroad but we are passionate about sustainability and selling only home-grown flowers is our point of difference in a crowded market. We could never hope to compete on price with industrial scale operations so we have to offer something unique that our customers value and appreciate.
This challenge has forced us to think a bit creatively about how to deliver a Valentine’s gift for our customers.
In 2021, we approached talented local artist Kate Kos and asked whether she would consider a joint offering. She painted a picture of one of our Tara Hill bouquets and we paired it with a bouquet of flowers delivered later in the year when they were available. Kate kindly agreed and painted the most beautiful painting for us. We limited the offer to 30 signed and numbered prints, which brought some exclusivity to it.
So if someone is looking to treat his or her partner on Valentine’s Day, they can present them with a beautiful limited edition Kate Kos print. We enclose a handwritten note confirming that a fresh “Whole Farm” bouquet will follow in the summer months.
The beauty of this package is that we are offering flowers to customers in a sustainable manner. We do not have to compromise on our key principle of only using flowers grown here on the slopes of Tara Hill. The offer was a little bit different, which generated some media interest in our fledgling brand. We also enjoyed partnering with a great talent – Kate Kos.
Based on a very successful debut last year, we have again teamed up with Kate for 2022. This year we have expanded the range to showcase three different views of Tara Hill from Kate’s collection.
As a business we have to continue to innovate and create new marketing ideas to work with the seasonality of our product.
Happy Valentine’s Day 2022. If my dreams come through, it will move to June next year.