British Blooms Making Sussex Proud
Ben Cross is a 4th generation grower who runs Crosslands Flower Nursery in Walberton near Arundel and is on a mission to challenge the UK’s dependence on imported flowers.
More than 90% of the UK’s cut flowers are shipped in from overseas at considerable cost to the environment. Crosslands is one of the last nurseries in Sussex to buck this trend – supplying florists and wholesalers nationwide with millions of British Alstroemeria stems every year.
During Lockdown many of Ben’s customers stopped trading, leaving him with thousands of unsold flowers. He responded by teaming up with a supermarket to donate them to frontline NHS workers.
Having quickly adapted to the new market, Ben has now developed a letterbox delivery service in partnership with another local business, Beachtown Blooms, in Littlehampton.
Ben’s passion for British flowers is quite literally written all over him – he wears a t shirt emblazoned with the slogan ‘British Flowers Rock’ which is a campaign he has been doing since 2014. He gives over 50 British Flowers Rock talks a year at Garden shows, Flower Clubs, Horticultural Societies and more.
He is keen to pass this message on to the next generation, taking part in a NFU/DEFRA initiative called ‘Farmer Time’ which pairs farmers with junior schools. He has also set up apprenticeship schemes for horticultural students and gives his ‘British Flowers Rock’ talks once a year to the new students. More recently he has created schools videos for the lockdown learning initiative.
Ben is at the forefront of the drive for sustainability, working with universities to research the environmental impact of imported flowers. These studies found that the carbon footprint of imported blooms is ten times more than for flowers grown in the UK.
The greenhouses at Crosslands are heated by a sustainable biomass boiler which Ben installed in 2013. All his flowers are sold in recyclable and re-usable packaging and they are grown without chemicals because Ben uses biological controls for pests and insects in his greenhouses.