I’ve been trying to write a book for some time now. There are piles of notebooks on my desk, colour coordinated and Post-It noted. Scraps of urgent scribbled reminders of relevant facts litter my office. I’ve been on a writer’s retreat where I met other people with similar piles of notebooks. Turns out writing doesn’t come easily. it’s like trying to do a 1000- piece jigsaw puzzle. I have all the pieces, but the box with the picture on it is missing.
In this third national Covid lockdown, it feels as if the universe has nailed my feet to the floor. It’s minus 8 degrees outside, and the farm is frozen solid. The shop is closed indefinitely. My children live far, far away and my grandchildren are just little bouncing shimmering things on Zoom. My dog can take only so many walks and my husband . . . well, he’s working on his own book, if only I would stop interrupting him with spelling questions.
When we took the key to the gate of the paddock that would become our forever home, I knew we were at the beginning of an exciting adventure. My great photographer friend Britt Willoughby Dyer agreed to visit once a month to document our progress as we gradually turned an empty grassy field into a productive paradise. She followed us step by step as we lay out our no-dig, off-grid organic enterprise. I thought we were working on a “how- to-make-a-flower-farm-from-scratch” sort of book. All my notebooks used the working title “Birth of a Flower Farm.”
But because “focus” is the only thing on offer right now, and time is on my side for once, my metaphorical jigsaw puzzle is starting to take shape. The sky is almost completed and some of the soil is finished, too. The puzzle just needs filling in with all the flowery pieces in the middle. Turns out, my notes are beginning to form less of the “how to” and more of the “why to” of organic flower farming. The missing picture on the box is becoming clearer. I’m writing a reply to the frequently-asked question “Why do you grow your own flowers when you can buy flowers at market?”
Finally, I have the clarity to see that the gloves need to come off. This book is not going to be a poetic ramble through colour palettes and favourite varieties. Other people have already done that so much better than I could. Instead, this will be a hard-hitting look at the cut flower industry today, talking about the chemicals, the processes, the air miles, the social injustices and the mountains of single-use plastic packaging that it takes to produce an innocent looking bunch of flowers. I want to shine a spotlight on an industry that puts profit over planet or people.
I want to show that we all have a part to play in this cycle. We have been the consumers afforded the luxury of blissful ignorance, but we no longer have the luxury of time. Change is in the air and this book will be a call to action.
Any suggestions for a new title welcome.