We’re celebrating the power of communities at our RHS Chelsea Flower Show exhibit

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Co-op is proud to host its first exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year, Communities in Bloom. Campaign and content manager Serena Smallman explains how the power of community is woven into the garden’s design, as well as what you can do to support your own community.

We want to celebrate the amazing communities across the UK at this year‘s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The importance of community has never been more important which is why, with the support of Co-op Members, we’re able to tackle issues that people care about and, together, make things a little bit fairer.

It’s the reason we’ve used community as the central theme of our garden design. The Communities in Bloom exhibit showcases the power of communities: the way they bring people together, create a sense of belonging and drive positive social change.

Communities in Bloom

So, how did we come up with the design for Communities in Bloom? The garden is founded on three core pillars:

1. Fair play

We have a responsibility to empower young people to play a part in shaping their own future. Our centrepiece is a children’s playground, where communities naturally come together, with a rainbow design to reflect the energy and vibrancy of children playing. The artworks around the exhibit are by students from Co-op Academy and primary schools across the UK to express their hopes for the future.

What flowers have we used? An amazing array of Fairtrade roses and carnations from our growers in Kenya.

2. Fair access to food

Ensuring communities have fair access to food is vital, and many of the projects we support are helping to provide more sustainable solutions for local communities. That’s why we’ve included a picnic area and allotment where you’ll find lots of seasonal fruit and veg, to represent fairer access to food.

What flowers have we used? British sunflowers, gladioli and snapdragons, as well as gerbera and Fairtrade hypericum. And we sneaked in some seasonal vegetables, too.

3. Fair access to wellbeing

We’re partnering with Mind, SAMH and Inspire to bring communities together to improve mental wellbeing, and have launched new community services across the UK to help people build resilience. We think it’s important to sometimes just take a breath, slow things down and make time for yourself. Our garden design includes a contemplation bench for visitors to do just that!  

What flowers have we used? Look out for British favourites such as hydrangeas, delphiniums and Peruvian lilies.

Flower power

Where we can, we’ve used Fairtrade and British flowers to support communities at home and around the world. Did you know we were the first UK supermarket florist to use 100% Fairtrade roses sourced from Africa? Plus, every Fairtrade flower sold supports the flower farmers, pickers and their communities.

This has allowed us to support brilliant community projects, like the construction of a new library and the renovation of 25 classrooms for 850 pupils and their teachers at Maua Primary School in Naivasha in Kenya. In 2020, Co-op sold over 41 million Fairtrade flowers and generated over £300k in Fairtrade Premium.

We’re also proud to support amazing local growers here in Britain. These partnerships have helped us add to our range of British seasonal flowers with stunning new blooms, including roselilies, scabious, safflowers and everlasting flowers.

Supporting communities

We’ve always believed in the power of communities, and we want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to do their bit. Sign up to become a Co-op Member and every time you buy Co-op branded products and services, 2p for every pound spent goes straight into your Co-op Membership account, which you can choose to donate. The same amount is also given to local communities. Since 2016 our members have raised an amazing £70 million and counting.

Gold award

On its very first exhibit at the Chelsea flower show, Co-op is so proud to have won a prestigious Gold award for its garden titled ‘Communities in Bloom.

The garden received excellent feedback across all measurements, including the health, colour and quality of its plants, the level of complexity to the display including its props and originality, and its overall impression and impact.

The team was particularly proud to have received a high score for the way it communicated its poignant messaging  through the garden design and signage. The creativity, time and patience taken to create a message of hope, that when communities come together, they can change the world around them for the better, was brought to life successfully and recognised by the judging panel with this award.

Serena Smallman
Campaign and Content Manager | Community & Shared Value

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. So thrilled to hear about your garden. As always the coop is number one for its ethics.

  2. Would loved to have helped with this, especially as a Member Pioneer I’m involved with communities all the time and I’m an avid Gardner!

  3. Great to see this finally happening, over a year after the original design was submitted.


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