Marjolijn Fliek of Raket & Distels

Marjolijn Fliek: Organic and sustainable flowers should be the starting point.

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When looking for a pretty bunch of wild flowers in Rotterdam, you don't have to go far from home. Or actually: your flowers don't have to travel far. Marjolijn Fliek sells the pretties bouquets under her label Raket & Distels, and grows them on her land in Rotterdam.
I am meeting with Marjolijn at her sales point Spullen voor in je huis, where you can buy some of her bouquets each weekend. "I picked these flowers last evening at my land and created the bouquets only this morning. I sell my flowers as fresh as possible. That gives me some pressure. The summer is my peak period. All my plants are blossoming then, so I have to spend a lot of time on my field to care for them and pick my flowers." 

That makes your work very seasonal. "Yes, so my work rhythm adjusts itself to nature. During the winter months I won't be busy with work, when we usually have less energy and shorter days anyway. I like that."


Isn't it unique that a florist grows her own flowers? "That is not very common, indeed. When you would ask florists about the origin of their flowers, they will look up surprised. You will probably get the same look when asking which flowers are in season. Nowadays all flowers seem to be in season, as they are sold everywhere throughout the year. We therefore have no idea anymore where our flowers come from, even the florists don't." 


And where do you flowers come from? "My field is just outside of Rotterdam, close to Zevenhuizen. I have about 1000 m2 of land at an organic farm. I am growing flowers there since two year and I am still learning more and more about my soil and what flowers and plants grow there good or bad. My plants also grow in the open air, so that is a very big variable to take into account as well. During a hot summer like this one, my plants are blossoming much earlier than last year. I have to adjust to that, so I already started drying my flowers much earlier as well." 


Do you sell your dried flowers after the flowering period? "I sell some dry bouquets in the summer months as well, but most of them are sold in fall and winter, indeed. I can make some bouquets with berry branches or other beautiful things still growing around us, but I will not have any fresh flowers from my field. As I never import flowers from other countries, I only have my dried flowers to sell then."

That is very sustainable as well
! "Yes, absolutely. You can enjoy your dried flowers much longer and my flowers never have to travel from far."


Do you wish to promote sustainable flowers with your local and dried bouquets? "No, I never had the plan to promote sustainability or to raise any awareness for this cause.  I just want to sell beautiful flowers. And I want to grow them in the way I believe all flowers should be grown, so in an organic and sustainable way. It always sounds strange to me when we promote something as "sustainably produced" or "organic food". Shouldn't that always be the starting point anyway? In my opinion it should actually be mentioned, if a product is not organic or sustainable." 


What are your favourites? Hedge mustard (raket) and and thistles (distels)? "My favourites keep changing and I love so many different flowers. Thistles are special to me, as my husband used to buy me all sorts of them. I liked the sound of the combination with hedge mustard (raket). It doesn't sound to cute or romantic, what I wanted to avoid. My logo - designed by my husband - is cool and straightforward as well, except for the curly &-character." 

But aren't hedge mustard and thistles weeds? "Yes, they are. Very pretty weed and there is much more of that! Do you know wild carrot for example? You can find them everywhere at the side of the road. I love them! I don't just grow or promote weed, but I just love how some of them are just as beautiful as the expensive and exotic flowers. It makes me happy to see someone passing by with a bunch of self-picked weeds!"


I know the flowers of Raket & Distels from your sales point Spullen voor in je huis. Where can we find them as well? "I used to have many sales points and I sold flowers to florists as well, but I now only sell my flowers at Spullen voor in je huis. But you can find them as well on the tables of Het Nieuwe Café. And Breakfast in Rotterdam uses my edible flowers in its dishes, though the restaurant scene is not something I wish to divine in deeper. I wish to focus more on the weddings I provide flowers for. I have already done many weddings, and this late summer is a busy wedding season for me. Wild flowers are very popular with brides, so I have a wedding pretty much each weekend!" 


How do all those brides know where to find you ? "Wedding planners already know me quite well, but most brides just find through instagram. I want to start building my website further, so I can show there what kind of pieces I can create. Brides may find me through instagram, but my other target audience won't likely find me that way. It may sound strange, but I would love to create more funeral pieces. The arrangements I made for funerals before, were very special to me. I love the emotion that is involved with both funeral pieces as bridal bouquets."

Editor

Maartje Verheijden

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