House plants are so on trend right now, but have you ever asked yourself ‘are these peat-free?’
During “Lockdown”, the whole world seemed to go house plant mad. Our desire to reconnect with nature, and to nuture another living thing, while many of us were isolated, went into overdrive. Today we caught up with Harriet Thompson the founder of Harriet’s Plants to talk about all things greenery and her peat-free plants.
Peat-based products are costing the Earth
For a woman selling the plants, the rise in house plants sales is wonderful!
It means that more people are understanding and appreciating the amazing power of plants to enrich our lives. However, Harriet is more than a seller of plants, all of her peat-free house plants are grown by herself in her glasshouse in Lichfield, Staffordshire.
She is the first and only commercial peat-free houseplant grower in the UK and being peat-free is hugely important to her and the business.
For those new to gardening, peat isn’t something we’ve perhaps ever really thought about. It’s just compost, right?
No, it turns out that keeping peat where it belongs in peat bogs is a huge ally in the fight against climate change. Peat stores massive amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and when it is harvested, that carbon is then released. The link to read more about why she is peat free is as follows; https://www.harrietsplants.co.uk/blog
So how did Harriet get so passionate about peat?
Harriet didn’t always want to grow houseplants. In fact the self-confessed “naughty school girl” didn’t really know what she wanted to do at all. She was always drawn to nature and mused about being a farmer’s daughter when she was little. However, growing up in the Midlands she also longed for adventure. In her early twenties she travelled the globe and it was a chance job in a café in Tasmania that set her on her amazing journey into the fascinating world of horticulture.
The café owner was also a Peony Farmer and at the age of 23, Harriet had caught the ‘growing bug’.
Returning to the UK
Soon after her visa ran out forcing her return to the UK. Harriet brought the appetite for growing with her and enrolled in a horticulture degree at the Eden Project in Cornwall. When asked what she wanted to achieve after the degree she initially thought she would grow vegetables and solve world hunger – she’s that kind of awesome.
During her time in Cornwall she got to work in some of the most beautiful gardens in the UK including Chelsea Physic garden, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, The Eden Project and Tregoose. She now offers her gardening services to areas in and around Lichfield, Staffordshire.
During her studies she supported herself financially running little pop-up shops selling house plants and Harriet’s Plants was born. With no formal business background, at first it was a simple case of buying and selling houseplants. However, it was in these early days that she saw a gap in the market. After learning about the detrimental effect of harvesting peat, she was keen to buy peat-free. But there were simply no peat free growers of houseplants anywhere in the UK. In fact the majority of houseplants were grown outside of the UK and this didn’t sit well with environmentally aware Harriet. Even at the smallest scale of business she wanted to be as sustainable as possible.
Following her studies in 2018 she returned back home to her family in Staffordshire to set up her greenhouse in Lichfield. She knew she wanted to be a completely sustainable business and it’s been a huge learning curve for her to really see and live the sustainable life.
Her ambition is to be 100% self-grown from seed or propagated from her existing plants thus reducing unnecessary transportation. She is currently in the process of planting 100,000 seeds in the glasshouse which is a HUGE task in itself.
All of her packaging is 100% biodegradable and of course she is also peat free. Many of her peat-free house plants are grown and sold in coir pots. Where she does use plastic it is recycled from other businesses waste. It is important to her that Harriet’s Plants is the number one place to go to for sustainable, plastic free and peat free house plants.
Harriet is active on instagram and now uses her growing platform to educate more people on how to grow in a sustainable way. She posts tips and tricks to grow at home. This inspiring female founder is on a mission to be the largest sustainable and peat free commercial house plant grower in the UK.
Moving to peat-free wholesale
Now at a level where she can sell wholesale she is changing how the UK buys and grows houseplants one plant at a time. Harriet’s Plant’s has already achieved an unrivalled reputation for quality sustainable houseplants and has caught the attention of leading industry figures.
When lockdown is lifted Harriet is most looking forward to opening her greenhouse to the public. This will mean that she can run workshops and also to get on the road and meet new people at fairs up and down the country.
EARTH MONTH GIVEAWAY
If you would like a chance to WIN a couple of peat free house plants from Harriet, please sign up for our newsletter here.
The Wildlife Trusts have a petition running currently, if you would like to sign click here to call upon Rebecca Pow, Environment Minister, and Lord Goldsmith, Minister for International Environment & Climate to act at once to progress a ban on peat-based products in shops.
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