South Holland has become a prime location for Marks and Spencer this year, as three local farmers will be supplying fresh cut flowers and plants to its stores across the country.
James Lacey and Lauren Senior from L&D Flowers in Pinchbeck is cultivating M&S’ Sweet Williams, whilst Pete Hicks from Westside Nursery in Spalding is supplying pot herbs. Spalding farmer Lance Whittington is growing Alliums.
Alongside providing M&S stores with seasonal, fresh-cut flowers and herbs, both Lance and Pete will be supplying their produce for M&S’ Chelsea Flower Show Exhibit. Lance is supplying Alliums for the second year running and Pete is supplying Purple Sage for the display.
Lance said: “I’m delighted that M&S has asked me to grow Alliums for its Chelsea Flower Show exhibit. It’s a real honour to see all the hard work you put into growing the most perfect flowers put on display for everyone to see.”
Pete has been busy growing unique chemical-free herbs for M&S such as Green and Gold Sage, Lemon Variegated Thyme and Hot ’n’ Spicy Oregano.
The interest in fresh herbs has increased exceptionally in recent years, with Westside Nursery growing from zero to 500,000 units in just five years.
Pete said: “The drive in healthy eating and the rise in cooking TV shows has driven the demand for fresh herbs.
“I always encourage people to take advantage of the choice and be prepared to try something new and experiment with the different flavours and aromas herbs can offer.”
Pete and his team only supply the finest quality herbs to M&S stores and ensure each one has been handpicked for their size, shape and appearance.
When buying herbs in store, Pete recommends customers should always look out for fresh, healthy foliage.
South Lincolnshire is a popular destination for farming due to its rich soil, but also because of the amount of packers within the area. This means produce can be harvested and distributed to the packers within hours to maintain optimum freshness.
James Lacey and Lauren Senior from L & D Flowers has been working with M&S for over eight years now.
During the peak months of June and July, James, Lauren and their team crop up to 100 acres a day to ensure the flowers are picked at their best.
James said: “We’re very careful to crop the flowers at the perfect selling stage of not too closed or too open. We try to ensure that a quarter of each bunch are open flowers so the customer gets a lovely mix of closed buds and blooms, and can enjoy them for longer.”