MeadowSweet is based in Southbourne in Bournemouth, Dorset and is in its second year of operation. Sophie Townsend is the founder of MeadowSweet.
My mother taught me to love nature. My first memory is mum wheeling me in the pushchair down a country lane. I point to some catkins and mum teaches me what they are. I hold on to a hazel twig all the way home, enjoying watching the catkins jiggle about.
My brother and I always played outside – in our garden or on the common. We made petal potions, built bracken dens and climbed trees. In the summertime, my favourite thing was going on night-time outings with mum to watch badgers, foxes and owls, with the added treat of a mug of cocoa to warm us through when we reached home.
My interest in nature led me to go on a schools’ scientific expedition to Greenland, then to study Ecology and Biodiversity at university. I then moved to New Zealand and got work in the two aspects of nature that seemed the most fun – training as a zookeeper and a florist. As a zookeeper, I worked on New Zealand species breeding programmes, exotic animal husbandry, and carried out fieldwork in Africa. As a florist I was trained by the lovely Nicole and helped run her flower shop. When I returned to the UK five years later, I worked for the Zoological Society of London developing international field conservation projects, read a Masters in Sustainable Development and shaped the Society’s environmental management programme. After my children were born, I established a successful wedding flower business in London. When we moved to Bournemouth, I decided to combine my love of nature with my love of flowers to create MeadowSweet.
I enjoy the challenge and natural restriction of using British seasonal flowers and foliage. I believe this makes for authentic, honest arrangements that encourage us to admire and connect with nature, and therefore to care about it.
I choose to use almost exclusively British to restrict myself to what is available locally and seasonally. This virtually eliminates air-miles and helps to keep a low carbon footprint. In 2016, I used 92% British – only occasionally adding something that was in season but not local to enhance a design. In 2017, I achieved 96%. With each new year, I hope the task of sourcing British will get easier, as more growers come onboard. As well as supporting our superb large-scale British growers, I also use smaller independent growers and grow my own. Dorset and Hampshire has some wonderful natural spaces that I have permission to forage in right on our doorstep. I also have an expanding network of friendly folk offering me interesting foliage from their gardens.
With my sustainability training, I strive to make MeadowSweet as sustainable a business as possible, using card and cardboard with at least 80% recycled and unbleached paper, reusing packaging, recycling packaging, composting green waste, maintaining a low carbon footprint for the ingredients, and increasing local biodiversity and bee food!
I’d love to increase collaborations with local people and social enterprise initiatives. Please do get in touch if this is something you are involved with…
If you'd like to contact Sophie her email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org