December at Churchtown Farm brings a heady mix of well organised chaos, festive celebration and camaraderie. It’s a military operation out of necessity and having done it for 20 years, we pretty much have the hang of it. However, we operate in the world of farming and every year has it’s potential challenges. Crucial to a successful Christmas season is the forward planning of people, logistics, flower volumes and of course, solid stock levels of mince pies.
Our dedicated team are spread near and far at this time of year, as we set up our temporary packing operation on St Mary’s to facilitate the speedy delivery of flowers to your door. Everything we will need, from ribbons to coffee mugs, is shipped over to the largest of the Scilly Isles so the flower boxes are easy to load onto the freight boat Gry Maritha, for their journey to Penzance. From Penzance they carry on to Plymouth on Royal Mail lorries, to be sorted, before making it onwards to their final destination.
If it helps to picture what we are up to down here, a typical day just before Christmas when we pack and send 1000’s of boxes, might look like this:
7am: flower picking begins come rain, hail or shine
7.30am: On St Martin’s we start packing up Christmas bouquets full of scented narcissi, lead by Steph, our farm florist
8am: the phones start ringing; 6 dedicated phone lines allow us to take calls 12 hours a day and process roughly 19,000 orders throughout December
10am: It’s mince pie time
10:05am: On St Mary’s our team have been joined by extra helpers to get the packing done. Soon there is a mountain of boxes that are palleted up ready to go on the ship.
2:30pm: It’s pasty time
1.30pm: more packing, wrapping, boxing and taking orders via the website, phone or post
3pm: It’s time for more mince pies
3.02pm: Back to complete the last bit of packing to make sure the flowers make it to the quay on time.
8pm: Back on St Martin’s the last of the days internet orders are checked and the labels are printed and put in waterproof boxes (lesson learnt one year, when an envelope of labels nearly ended up in the sea) ready to go to St Mary’s in the morning.
To be honest, the mince pies are consumed at just about any time of the day and we think it helps with efficiency. Of course there is also the farm Christmas party day which sees mince pie consumption lift considerably. Right, enough of the mince pies.
With all this jolly, festivity, there is always a lot of hard work to be done and we must keep a constant eye on flower levels. Nine degrees is our optimum temperature for flower growth and we are obsessed with the weather during this time. Too cold and the narcissi won’t grow, too hot and they grow too fast.
So who knew? Mince pies and pasties are the fuel that helps to keep your flower orders arriving each year. We promise to keep the crumbs out of the boxes. We want nothing but fresh flowers to greet your friends when they first open your special delivery.