Using Local Flowers Indoors to Connect With Nature Outdoors (Ben Cross)

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When Ben Cross took over his family’s UK-based flower farm, he faced an uphill battle of competing against the cheaper flower imported from overseas into UK marketplaces. His British Flowers Rock campaign looks to teach flower buyers the importance of supporting local flower farmers not just for sustainability, but for bringing a slice of their local nature inside.

In this episode Ben talks about what spending time flower farming has taught him about nature, why supporting local farmers – food and flowers – ties us to the outdoors and how bringing cut blooms indoors can increase our appreciation of the outdoors.

Some of the good stuff:

[2:27] Ben Cross’s favorite outdoor space

[4:11] How Ben became a person who likes to go outside

[5:50] About Crosslands Flower farm and the British Alstroemeria flower

[8:09] How Ben went from a Marine biologist to a flower farmer

[13:22] The problem with British flowers

[19:57] How cut flowers connect us with nature

[26:44] The importance of local blooms

[30:25] Why it’s important to be connected to your outdoor growing community

[34:00] How to connect with flowers in your local community

[40:51] Ben’s most essential and favorite outdoor gear

[42:11] Ben’s favorite outdoor space

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Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation on The Humans Outside Podcast.

Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

Amy Bushatz 0:53

There is a way to brighten up your landscape, bring a slice of the outdoors in, or tell someone you love them or think about them. No matter why you have cut flowers, you know both their value in your life and the cost. That’s because cut flowers can be a little pricey. And while purchasing those that are important can be easier on your pocketbook, it isn’t usually easier on the environment. That’s ironic because it’s the environment you’re honoring in a way when you bring cut flowers inside. UK flower farmer Ben Cross knows all about that. A marine biologist turned flower farmer, Ben traveled the world before taking over as the fourth generation caretaker of his family’s flower farm. Now he runs the British Flowers Rock campaign sharing the importance of purchasing local blooms with a focus on what he grows – the British Alstroemeria. Today Ben joins us to talk about flowers, gardening and the special connection to nature both growing and purchasing flowers brings. Ben, Welcome to Humans Outside.

BC 1:51

Hey, Amy, it’s great to be in Alaska. It’s great to be with you and the listeners. I’m obviously Ben Cross from Crosslands Flower Nursery, and we are based near Brighton, which is on the south coast of the UK. So I am nine hours ahead of you right now living the dream.

AB 2:14

So we like to start our episodes imagining ourselves in our guest’s favorite outdoor space. If we were gonna imagine ourselves chatting with you somewhere you love, where are we talking to you today?

BC 2:27

Okay, so where I’m based, I’m between the South downs National Park, which is five minutes to the north, and the ocean, the English Channel is five minutes to the south. So best of both worlds. I can go mountain biking and surfing in the same day. We’ve got loads of woodland here, the South down sort of rolling hills and then literally to the south is nice shingle pebble beach, with the wave sort of raging right now because there’s a storm outside. So I’m blessed to sort of live where I grew up as a kid. And obviously travelled around the world with the marine biology. And apart from sort of loving what I do and where I am here, in the UK, when I was a marine biologist, I went to a little island called Sherkin Island that no doubt had a pub called the Jolly Roger. And that was, you know, when I close my eyes and escape and things, it’s always back to that island where I lived for just under a year at a marine station. So I traveled all the way around the world. But as I say, in Ireland, a lot of people may have heard of Cork, southwest of Cork, there’s a group of 13 islands and Sherkin Island was one of these islands. I was stationed there. And there was cool really cool people there: artists, archaeologists, architects, that sort of very creative people. And yeah, it’s really good fun. So that’s sort of my go to, you know, if you could pick me up from the flower ranch and drop me anywhere, drop me anywhere around the globe, it would be Sherkin Island in the Jolly Roger.

AB 4:06

Very nice. So I tell us how you became a person who likes to go outside.

BC 4:11

Oh, I guess as a kid, I’ve always been interested in the environment, you know, where we live here on the flower nursery. We’re outside a little village, which has just got a pub and a church and a few sort of houses. And so we’re about 20-25 minutes from Brighton itself. So we’re quite out the way and obviously I was born here and grew up here hanging out with my grandparents and parents when I was a kid and they just let you run free. Like nowadays, I mean, I don’t have kids but like, we had a big storm here in 87 and it blew down some of our old wooden greenhouses and I remember being given a bucket as a – I was born in 82 – 5 year old and I was given a bucket and I was picking up broken glass after the storms, to sort of help out. And I’ve just been kind of left to do what the heck I like and I’ve, you know, making tree houses and we’ve got woods here we’ve got fields for horses and there’s a dairy farm next door as well. So sort of surrounded by wildlife and animals. And I’ve always just sort of lived outside, you know? Yeah, yeah. So sort of a natural sort of thing, but I always love to do so.

AB 5:32

You haven’t always been the caretaker of your family flower farm. First, tell us about the flower farm. You are a fourth generation flower farmer. Man. That’s a mouthful: flower farmer. Your fourth generation at that. So tell us about your family’s flower farm.

BC 5:50

Yeah, so a little bit of history about Crosslands Flower Nursery, the sort of business side of stuff. We began growing in 1936. In the UK here in the 1930s, there was what you called the Great Depression. A lot of miners and a lot of ship builders were out of work. There was high unemployment in the 30s in the UK. So what the government did back then, was to set up over 20 areas around the UK, where unemployed families would go and work and farm the land. And where I’m based on the south coast, it was the largest one of these land settlements they call them. And my great grandparents, Albert and Louisa came from Wales down to the south of the UK, and set up and was part of this government scheme. And then my granddad joined them after World War Two, he met my Nana, who was a Pompey gal – Portsmouth, a lot of Americans might have heard of Portsmouth. She was a Pompey girl down at Portsmouth, they had my dad uncles and aunties on the settlement. And then basically, when you were part of this government scheme, I guess it was seen as a bit like a Kickstarter. So the government you know, they helped you, they gave you a bit of land and they sold your produce on behalf of you and things and people getting on well with it. We’re like — Well, why can’t we do this on our own? Why can’t we skip out the government and set up our own business and that’s what my granddad did in 1957. He moved us here to Warburton near Brighton. And obviously, after my granddad was my uncles, mum, dad, aunties, and then I came back from doing marine biology in 2011. I came back here in 2011. And now I’m here talking to you beautiful people. Yeah, so that’s a very brief history of Crosslands Flower Nursery. So originally in 1936, with the government scheme, and then set up on our own where we are today in 1957, and we’re still obviously growing and producing the flowers.

AB 7:51

So how do you go from being a marine biologist, sailing the seven seas, we sort of made it sound like hanging at the Jolly Roger, which is making me have like, very, like, adventure visualizations, right? Yeah. How do you go from doing that to back to the farm?

BC 8:09

It’s pretty easy, actually. It sounds strange. But yeah, so I did marine biology from the year 2000, to the fall of 2011. And that took me to Cornwall and Devon, in the UK where I studied it. And then I sort of lived around the world and did a lot of stuff in America, actually, in Miami, San Francisco, New York – sort of took me there. And then I did a lot in Asia as well, and mostly in Europe. But when I was a marine biologist, you know, you’re working for Shell, BP, big companies and you spend your few months or wherever you’re stationed. I lived in Sweden for a bit on an island as well. And so you’d be stationed and you’d put all your effort and energy into a seabird survey or a marine mammal survey, and then they’d still go and build a big wind farm or dig for oil or dredge for aggregate or do whatever they were going to do to damage the environment. So I kind of got fed up with working hard, living hard, and not getting a reward. So also when I went on, I didn’t really go on vacation because I was traveling around with the marine biology it was actually quite nice to come back to my favorite place here. I’m here for vacations and help out and, and things like that. And every time I came back, another flower nursery locally would go out of business and houses would be built on it and I could just see things getting worse and worse and worse and sort of I wasn’t a lot of family businesses people are forced to sort of you know, carry on with it and things like that, but it was in my blood and it just like a light bulb just I was like — No, I’m not Living for nothing. And I came back in 2011. And then it was, you know, experience and things took a while. And then in 2014 I started the British Flowers Rock campaign and then we’re in 2021. So it sounds a bit odd – marine biology and the flower nursery, but it’s all science. I’ve always loved nature and the environment and science and David Attenborough and blah, you know, all the Blue Planet and stuff. So growing flowers is a science, it’s not as easy as whacking it in the ground and watering it, you know, especially on a large, large commercial scale, where we’re supplying supermarkets and things like that. It’s, it’s a science. So that part of my brain is still stimulated with this job as it was with Marine Science and stuff.

AB 10:57

So I want to touch back real fast, that you talked about your grandparents ending up there. And where we live in Alaska is actually a similar government scheme. During the Great Depression, they relocated folks who were having a hard time from the Midwest, the people here came from Minnesota, and they stuck these guys on a train in a boat and the train again, and brought them to Palmer, Alaska, which at the time was not a US state, it was US territory. And they established a government colony. They called it a colony, and they gave them farming equipment, said, you know — welcome to Alaska have some fun. And the town that I live in is the result of that. And it’s the major agricultural center of the state as a result of that. I had no idea that that also happened in the UK, it’s kind of cool to hear that that’s a similar experience. And we’re both in the, you know, sort of legacy of those experiments.

BC 12:00

That was in the 1930s as well. It was a similar thing in the US to this sort of Great Depression of high unemployment and hard times and things. Yeah, it’s a bit like, the pandemic, I guess. Now, you know, in the UK, we’re nearly up to 8% unemployment. And before the pandemic, I think we were, like 2%, or something. So even though 8% doesn’t sound a lot, it’s, it’s been almost over 5% increase in less than a year. So it’s, yeah, it’s sort of similar to what it is now. But that’s cool that you can relate to that. If you go to Google and type in Land Settlement Association, Sidlesham was the village where my great grandparents were, there’s a whole smorgasbord of information and pictures. And if you go on YouTube, and type in Land Settlement Association, there’s all black and white videos of people growing tomatoes and picking tomatoes and veggies and all of that. It’s all out there. It’s a whole other podcast. If listeners want to research, it’s all out there.

AB 13:14

Okay, so you mentioned British Flowers Rock, talk to us. What is that campaign? Why is it needed?

BC 13:22

So right here now in the UK, over 90% of our cut flowers in our country are imported. And they’re mainly imported from Colombia, Cambodia, Kenya, South Africa, Ecuador, a small bit from Holland. So yeah, flowers have a high carbon footprint rating and the amount of plastics used in packaging them up and the amount of chemicals used in storing them – they are stored for about five weeks. So it takes about five weeks to go from a farm in Kenya, then that will get shipped in the freezer in a plane or a boat then that will go into Holland. And then from Holland, all of the UK sort of fruit, veggies, food, flowers comes from Holland into the UK, and it can be about five weeks before it’s in someone’s home. And during that time, the carbon footprint that’s been gobbled up by that system is insane. And as I say from 2011 to 2014 I tried to get government help so in the UK we have a thing called the National Farmers Union, the NFU, and we also have something called Defra, which is also a government environmental body. And I even had the local MP for the Southdowns region come out and speak to me, but I was getting nowhere, like no one was listening. No one was actually doing anything and from 2011 to 2014, I tried getting basically external help and then in 2014, again, a light bulb sort of flicked on and said why don’t I just do the best I can on my own and I just said — British Flowers Rock. And I put it on my T-shirt and off I went. And then I was doing, I still do about 50 or 60 British Flower Rock gigs a year. So that’s talking at garden shows, flower clubs, horticultural societies, agricultural events, I do the talks – RHS, the Royal Horticultural Society. So I’ve kind of just sort of done it on my own to raise awareness that people just need to look a little bit harder about what they’re bringing home in their supermarket shopping. Not just with food because with food obviously, everyone knows Jamie Oliver, The War on Waste, the Fight Against Plastics, David Attenborough, we’ve got all these high profile names, but flowers, which is a 2.2 billion pound industry within just the UK, it doesn’t have a spokesperson or anyone like Jamie or Dave to the Brits to sort of bring it to the masses about what damage people are causing and what’s going on.

AB 16:17

I don’t have statistics on hand, like this problem in the US, although I have to imagine it’s similar, if not worse, because the US is so much larger. But um, you know, so I want listeners who are in the US just to think about this as a US problem too. Because even though we’re not talking specifically about the US, there’s no vacuum here for this. And this is without a doubt an issue in the state side as well. So with that in mind, um, tell us, have you felt successful in your campaign? Is it working? Or is awareness being raised?

BC 16:57

Yeah, ‘m doing gigs like this speaking to like, like, every day someone will follow me on Instagram who wants to join me and help me in whatever way they can. Like, you know, you’re doing tonight, every little YouTube guest spot, podcast guest spot, just getting out there, the more followers that follow me, it’s just spreading it out there. And a lot of American flower farmers do follow me. And basically, we have representatives that sell us the roots, obviously, again, for people listening. We specialize in one type of flower, which is the British Alstroemeria or Peruvian Lily, I think it’s a very common flower in the US.

AB 17:46

When I looked it up, I was like — Oh, I know exactly what that is.

BC 17:49

It’s probably in your supermarkets. So basically, we get the roots delivered to us but it’s illegal for us to divide them and sell them on. So it’s all like growing under license. And the breeders basically breed them and we grow them and nurture them. And the breeders, they do go over to California, California in the US was a big flower hub for America. But slowly but surely, a lot of growers in California, especially again in the 70s 80s, early 90s failed just because of the cheap imports coming from the south, from Colombia, to you guys. So I know it is a problem in the US because I speak to the breeders that sell me the plants because they travel all around. So they go all the way all the way around the world. So I’m always keeping my ears and eyes out for what is going on in other parts of the world. But then again, there’s loads of local growers and smaller farmers and larger farms in the US growing flowers. So in the UK, we have a website called Flowers from the Farm where the general public can log on. And it’s got a big map of the UK with lots of little flowers on it. And that points to where all the flower farms are. I’m not sure if there’s anything like that, that you guys can use.

AB 19:14

I will look and if there is something like that, I will include it in the show notes. We will do a little research on your behalf and see if we can drum up something along those lines. Okay, so listen, I know that saying this is like a self fulfilling prophecy. But I’m not a very good gardener, in part because I have not tried and in part because I won’t dedicate the time or patience, like I just I was not immediately successful and then I gave up. Okay. So I have no perspective on this because of that, but I’m going to ask you this question, right? Because you do have perspective. Do you think gardening and growing flowers connects you to nature in a way other things can’t or don’t?

BC 19:57

Yeah, I mean, number one, if you want to go down this, scientific papers that prove gardening or just being outdoors, let’s say, is good for your mind, body and soul, right? I mean, in the UK, we didn’t really talk about mental health very much. But that pandemic has really raised that amongst everyone. Doesn’t matter if you’re women, boys, girls, what, whatever is going on in the UK, not a second goes by in the news on our news feeds where people are saying all the mental health of the school kids because they’re not going to school, and the mental health of nurses because they’re under pressure and the stress and the strains. And you know, people used to go — I’m a bit stressed, I brush it off, man up, you know, carry on our battle through it. But now there’s this sort of thing. Now this is a big problem. And there’s scientific papers dating back a long time, that the work that I do is good for your mental health and your physical body. I mean, I could lose a couple of pounds. Sure, but I don’t go to a gym. I’ve never been to a gym in my life. But I’m, I’m lucky that my life is healthy because of what I do. You know? So, yeah, it’s just so good for you. You know, it’s unbelievably good. And, and there’s little things like, obviously, leading up to this podcast, I was looking at the questions and things and it made me realize, you know, just, we’ve got like, almost like a resident robin, you know, the bird, the robin, they’re very social birds. People think — are they just on Christmas cards? But actually, in the UK, they’re here all year round. And they’re very sociable. And you just hear the birds in the greenhouse or outside. And, you know, you just see, obviously, the lady birds on the plants and the insects and just basic stuff when you’re doing some weeding, or you’re doing some crop maintenance. And you’re, you’ve just got that connection with all the little things, not just the big things like round here, we’ve obviously got, you know, the cows, the sheep, the deer, you know, the buzzards, the big, big birds and stuff like that. But it’s all the little things when you’re actually focusing on a leaf or a flower, it really zones you in, you know, you’re just working in amongst, I don’t know, an acre. And it’s just you and the plants and what’s living on it. It’s, it’s quite cool, isn’t it? I don’t really think about it, because it’s I take it for granted, which after so many years, you would be gearing up for this podcast, it was like, it’s pretty cool to say that.

AB 22:43

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Okay. So you have, you know, you spent all these years as a marine biologist, working outside, you know, and working with a different kind of animal in a different kind of natural setting. And now you’re doing this in the garden in the flowers. How do those two things differ in terms of the experience of being outside, like in an experience of connecting to nature? Do you think that the experience of connecting to nature, in gardening and with flowers is different from how you did it when you were studying marine life?

BC 23:16

Yeah, I mean, similar in a way that both jobs are quite so low. Both considered to be unsociable jobs to ordinary people that have a nine to five and work for the bank holidays, they work for their day off, or they work you know, but as I say, I mean, I’m lucky that I’ve just kind of live. I never feel like I have a job when people go — oh, Ben, what’s your job? What do you do? And you go — well, it’s a lifestyle. It’s just like farming, but instead of sheep or potatoes or mushrooms, it’s with flowers. And they go — well, what do you do for fun? I’m like, but I enjoy what I do. And they can’t comprehend, it doesn’t compute. It doesn’t mold into their sort of thing. But I guess for me, obviously, I live where I work. So that’s a big difference. When I was doing marine biology, you could get a phone call in the middle of the night and go right. Ben, you’re going to Nigeria or you’re going to Tanzania. And it’d be like — right, okay, right, let’s go. So there was that bit of sort of anxious sort of anxiety and build up and then once you got there, it was all chill, and it was all good. So there’s sort of a bit of a stress free thing in a way where I know I can just roll out a bed and I’m here. So I quite like that. Now, whereas when I was younger, I liked the whole spontaneous sort of thing about that.

AB 24:54

Yeah, no one’s ever called me and said — pack your bags you’re off.

BC 24:57

Yeah, but that’s what it was like. You didn’t know how long you’re going for, what it was going to be like when you got there, what were the sleeping arrangements, where are you going to be staying, what you’re gonna be eating, what diseases are out there, what jobs am I going to need, what animals are out there. But I quite enjoyed that and sometimes you’d be living on a boat for three or four weeks. So you like, you know what the crew like and you know you need to get on. You need to be like a comedian, you need to get on with everyone from the when you’re given a presentation to BP or Shell or whether you’re on a fishing boat with some real tough nuts, you know, you’ve got to know who you’re working with that day and adapt to there, because you’re going into their zone, this is their thing. You can’t go in all corporate and all this, you got to muck in and do stuff, but I enjoyed all that. I’ve always sort of been a practical sort of person.

AB 26:46

Okay, we talked earlier about imported versus local blooms and a little bit of why that matters from an environmental standpoint. I’m thinking about the way I feel grounded by experiencing things that are native and unmovable in the place. I live by mountains or as we were chatting before the podcast about the moose in my yard. Okay. There’s something like very settling about knowing that those things exist, and that they’ll never change. Right? So I’m wondering if there’s something important about understanding or using local flowers versus imported flowers beyond that environmental impact. Do you think that there’s an importance to having something that you know, is local, and a part of your local sphere? In the experience of putting those flowers in your home? Or in your world?

BC 27:45

Yes, I had two examples. This evening, here in the UK, where it’s it’s Valentine’s Day here in the UK next Sunday, the 14th. And two guys came in, one of the guys delivers some of my flowers, and another chap was just from the village. And they both phoned me up this evening said — Ben, Valentine’s Day is coming up, we really want flowers from you, because they’re local. Our wives have been to some of your British Flower Rock talks. There’s traceability. You know, at the end of the day, flowers are supposed to be fresh, romantic. And that’s why we give them to people to say I’m sorry, or get well or get better and all this. And what’s romantic about not knowing where they’re from all the chemicals and garbage that have been sprayed on them, all the plastics, maybe the not so good working conditions that people have harvested the flowers, and then the massive carbon footprint going around the world? It’s not so romantic. But it is romantic if you’ve got traceability and they go — all these are grown from Ben, and you can look him up on Instagram and he shows you how he grows them. And there’s that connection to the grower and what’s in your house. And you can see everything in between. You can see the greenhouses, you can see how I water them and look after them, harvest them and process them and all the good stuff. So I think it’s massive. I mean, you know, I use my local butcher because I want to know where my meats come from and what it’s been fed and what fields have been in and is it sustainable. I use my local fishmonger that catch only line caught fish from Little Hampton, a little shift boat village near me, you know, a little dock there. So it’s just like food and flowers. We consume them and we should talk about them at the same level in our heads and yeah, governments and politics because I did some work with the University here in the UK. And even flowers coming from Holland emitted 10 times more carbon than my flowers. And just think like, okay, you might buy a car in the US. It’s made in Germany or China or something. But that’s gonna last you maybe 10-15 years. But if you buy flowers that have come from Ecuador or Africa, and they’re gonna last, what, five days in your home? Wow, that is a massive cost for five days. So definitely, I mean, I see it all the time with my customers, they really value the traceability. And the connection, the connection. Yeah, yeah.

AB 30:25

As you were explaining your experience with these two customers, I was thinking just about that, about how I like to buy local farm food, because I like to meet the person who grew grew it, you know, and know that I’m a part of this big cycle of life here where I live, that I’m eating something that came from somewhere that I can literally touch, you know, and that I’m buying it from somebody who took care of it, before it was put on, you know, in front of me, and then I’m putting that on my plate. And it is, it is a very grounding experience to be a part of that local cycle. And that local system, sustainability, I guess, is the best word for that experience as a community member, but also a community member of the local natural world. So not just the community of people, but the community of, you know, the earth here, that I can that I can be a part of that it’s very, it’s something it’s a part of being outside and experiencing outside I haven’t really thought a lot about. So I’m glad we’re talking about it now.

BC 31:35

And yes, rewarding isn’t that you’re giving back? It’s your little thing, and you’re giving back and it’s rewarding for everyone. Yeah, exactly.

AB 31:42

So okay, we are talking about being outside, but your business is built on people bringing flowers inside. So sometimes you can’t be outside, sometimes you have to be inside like we are right now. What’s the case for bringing flowers inside consistently? You know, like, how does doing that connect you back to nature and the experience of being outside? As a flower grower, what do you see?

BC 32:10

Oh, it’s the same I guess, for the people we supply, especially through the winter months, where you might have people that have large gardens, but they don’t have any flowers, or they can’t get outside. So we have obviously the pandemic at the moment, and a lot of people are stuck in flats, and they don’t even have a balcony. So it’s bringing that outside, inside. But to give that outside vibe and positive vibes, you know, if you just put a plant or some fresh flowers or something into your lounge or home, man, to lift the air. You know, I noticed that when I go into people’s houses, or restaurants or bars or cafes, hopefully when they reopen. You know, I notice that, because I am working outside all the time, if I go anywhere that’s got nice plants and foliage, and they’ve actually thought about what they’ve got in their business offices or wherever I’m like — Oh, this is cool. And the people working there were like — what was he talking about? But I’ll say — Oh, that’s a nice plant. You know, it’s just, it’s that connection, isn’t it? Yeah, it’s bringing that outside vibe inside, especially through the winter months, or when people can’t grow them as a hobby. You know, there’s people like me that grow in large quantities for them.

AB 33:40

So when people are hearing this, it’ll be pretty close to celebrating Earth Day, and we’ll be in April. It’s also the beginning of growing season in a lot of places in the Northern Hemisphere. I mean, here, people here in Alaska will be well on their way that seed starts and our season of course starts later than everyone else’s. So in the southern US, people will be like — you’re just starting your seeds? What’s wrong with you? Okay, but that’s that, you know, that growing period for hobby gardeners is a really short span of time each year. So can you give listeners three or four practical tips that they can use right away to better connect with flowers year round where they are?

BC 34:21

Year round? Well, a lot of things you know, if you’ve got like maybe conservatories, or little greenhouses, or in the UK, we call them like polytunnels just to give things a head start and also just to make things go on that little bit longer, so you’re widening your growing season. But for the gardeners out there that they should know all this sort of stuff, but all those little things and even if you can find an area patch in your bit of land, which is protected from some wind and it’s a bit more sheltered, you know, just use what you’ve got. Before you start trying to buy stuff, so, but yeah, you’re always, obviously you’re always trying to get more productive for longer. So obviously, we grow in big greenhouses, but they’re also heated sustainably with biomass. So I’ve got a lot of woodland estates round where we are where the wood has to be managed. And all that managed wood goes into little pellets, which we burn, which we have to heat. So we do grow pretty naturally, we don’t have any artificial lighting or any soil cooling, but we’ve got a bit of heat, which again, prolongs our, our growing season and things.

AB 35:45

I wonder if another way would be to just make an effort to connect with your local flower growers. But like, I could go out and find the people in my area who are growing and selling peonies, that’s a big crop here. Um, you know, obviously very seasonal, but we have huge peoony farms in Alaska. And, you know, I could go out and meet these people and buy from them. And, you know, and they sell to our local supermarkets, but make more of an effort to buy directly from them and bring those flowers in, those cuts into my home. You know, when they’re when they’re in season.

BC 36:33

That is exactly what people should be doing. And peonies – they’re, they’re beautiful. We, in the UK, we only have them seasonally for about a month. Yeah, it’s about a month and a half, they usually come into season in the UK by this time, July, August, depending on how the weather is. But yeah, they’re really, really popular for like about a month, and then they disappear until the next year. But that’s what makes seasonal flowers really good. It’s like when you’re cooking, you know, you should, like Jamie Oliver does, you know cook within your seasons with what you can get your hands on locally. And it makes, you know, in the UK, the asparagus season, so exciting. And then, you know, we have the eggplant come along. And then you know, people grow loads of tomatoes, you know, all sorts of colors and shapes and things. So it makes it more exciting to actually just go with the flow and go with what naturally grows. So it’s just like, just like food, flowers. Again, we talk about it on the same level. And it all makes sense to people.

AB 37:36

We have this great farm stand, we have a lot of farm stands, I mentioned we’re the agriculture area, but what one of my favorite farm stands is, like direct, I mean, there’s the field. And then there’s the farm stand. I mean, when you go to the farm stand and say, I’d like to buy two, you know, bunches of kale today, they say great, and they stand up and they walk over and they pull it out of the ground and give it to you. Like I bought brussel sprouts there last year, and she whips out a knife and goes over there cuts the you know, cuts the stock out of there, right? Well, I mean, it’s fresh, we know that now.

BC 38:11

That is what you call pick and mix. I like that.

AB 38:14

So you could have that same experience with flowers, but we don’t think about that. When we think about flowers we think about well, you probably think about going outside. But you know, someone like me, typically would think like go to the grocery store, look at this, you know, semi wilted collection, hope that one of them looks good and doesn’t cost all your money. And that’s not a terribly sustainable nor rewarding way to do that. Right? Like, that’s not a great experience for me as the purchaser of those flowers. Whereas when I go to the farm stand and I watched, you know, they whip out that humongous knife and slap that sucker down. Like, that’s very memorable, right. And you better believe I enjoyed those brussel sprouts in a way that I didn’t enjoy other food because I had that experience of, you know, watching it be picked. And you know, now I’m like emotionally connected to the whole process in a way that I wouldn’t have been if I’d gone to the store. And I think we can have that same experience with flowers. Thanks so much for sharing that with us. That’s so great.

BC 39:16

Yeah, exactly. And there are flower farms, smaller flower farms in the UK where you can actually go and pick your own flowers. And a lot of people getting married, that is on offer to a lot of flower farms in the UK where couples can come they can choose the colors the flowers, they can pick them themselves and take them home so that is actually what what happens here in the UK. Just like we have still we have strawberry picking still in the UK where you just take upon it and you can go around and you know eat a couple secretly and take it home. So yeah, when I was growing up, and I think that we would go home weighing as much or more than the bucket. The eating and picking was encouraged. I think they’re banking on the fact that you can only hold so many strawberries in your stomach. Yeah, and it’s the same for Halloween, we have pumpkin fields. So your pumpkin patches where people go in and they pick their pumpkin off the vine — this is the one we’re going to carve for Halloween. So we still have that sort of nice sort of feel in the UK, very randomly, sporadically, but it’s these occasions and these events we should hold on to because that’s like my childhood.

AB 40:35

That’s great. All right, we’ve come to the end of our episode with our leftovers. We’d like to ask our guests just a couple of standard things that we talked to everyone about so if you wouldn’t mind telling us what is your favorite outdoor gear? What’s something that you just love?

BC 40:51

I love to cook outside over live fire. So it’ll be my Weber grill. Yeah, I don’t know some of you guys over there – we’ve got an American chap called Christian Stevenson, aka DJ Barbecue. You can check him out on Instagram, DJ Barbecue, and I’m a big fan. And so I love cooking outdoors over live fire. So my favorite bit of gear would be the grill.

AB 41:19

Oh, awesome. Okay, and what’s your most essential outdoor gear?

BC 41:22

So you know, I was weighing this up because you think a phone wouldn’t you? You know, if you get into trouble, you get stuck. And then I’ve also got my work boots, which, you know, I put on every day. So it’s a toss up between my boots and the phone. So, but I’d have to go with the boots because you know, you can’t go barefoot. So I’ll take that risk. And I’ll take the boots.

AB 41:51

Love it. All right. And we like to close out with our guest’s favorite outdoor moment, just sort of take us – if you close your eyes and imagine yourself just in that best moment you’ve ever had outside. Can you describe that for us? And where are you and what are you doing?

BC 42:11

Yeah, I’ll take you back to Shirken again. And there was a week where my parents came over to visit sights all I was like stoked to go and show them. I called this place Bat Alley where the trees were like all haunting. And then this big lake and I managed to get like a rowing boat. And me and dad went out on the lake on Sherkin. And mum was sort of laying down on the hill sort of looking at us and chilling out and sort of that is, was one of the best sort of moments I had on that island. Because you’re sort of, you know, you’ve been on the island for ages, and you haven’t been able to share anything with anyone because there was no phone signal there and your friends aren’t there and your family’s not there. So when my parents came out, that was quite a special thing to actually share what I’d enjoyed for days on ends and then to have them for that sort of moment was pretty good.

AB 43:05

Awesome. Ben, thank you so much for joining us on Humans Outside today. It’s been so nice to have you.

BC 43:08

It’s been good to speak to you guys on that side of the pond.

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