No story feels better to share today – International Women’s Day (Wednesday, March 8) – than that of two women inspired to grow food sustainably and adopt a largely self-sufficient model of living, all while raising two children and publishing a book, The Edible Flower.

On a 7ac farm in Co. Down, organic gardener Jo Facer and chef Erin Bunting have used their experiences running supper clubs, cooking and growing schools to produce a book bursting with flower-centric food recipes and growing tips.

The gardening tips in their book, how-to guides and recipes for small plates, mains, desserts, baking, snacks and drinks all look to serve as a guide to connecting to the earth, the seasons and a more sustainable way of living.

But while the couple’s recipes were inspired by the seasonal produce they grow and the wild food they forage from their local shores and hedgerows, they weren’t always found in the garden or the kitchen.

Facer and Bunting lived together in London for over a decade where, Facer said, they lived the standard reality of “jobs and salaries and commutes”.

“Then we decided that it was time to go and find somewhere with space and greenery and soil,” she said.

This decision led them to their farm in Northern Ireland, where they have run The Edible Flower business for over six years.


Speaking to Agriland, Facer explained that the roles of chef and grower were essentially pre-determined; with Bunting’s training as a chef, it made sense for her to be the business’ head cook.

The link, she said, between her growing the food and Bunting cooking the food is what draws customers to their operation.

“I’ve always thought there was a nice synergy there. I feel like that’s why lots of our customers like what we do,” she said.

“It’s that connection between the growing and the cooking and the eating.”

Bunting agreed, and said that they have always been eager to give people an insight into “that kind of life and that kind of story”.

“We grow it all from the farm we work on, so people are coming and eating food that has been grown here on the land,” Bunting said.

“They can literally see where its grown when they look out the window of our house.”

Despite being happy and content with their new rural lives, Bunting said she always knew she wanted to write a book about it and wanted to share what they were doing with other people. This synergy served as a sort of inspiration to what the book would be about.

“We thought there was lots of potential there, because you always have books about growing things and you have lots of lovely cookbooks but, we thought, there was an opportunity to combine the two and bring them together,” Facer said.

The Edible Flower seemed like such a good place to start.”

From courgette flower tacos to lilac panna cotta, the couple looked to prove that edible flowers are more than just a garnish, and can play the role of an incredibly versatile ingredient in anyone’s kitchen.

‘It just makes life more joyful’

The couple wanted a book that captured the “wider scope” of both the growing and the cooking of things – the ethos of their wider operation.

Facer said that reconnecting oneself with food, where it grows and how it grows can make you oblivious and unaware of the issues going on in the wider food supply chain.

“Because so much of what we do here now, through supper clubs, the veg-box scheme and volunteer days where people come and help us, is about reconnecting people with food that is growing here and reconnecting people with the seasons, we sort of chuckle at the big things like the lack of tomatoes in the shops right now,” she said.

“Just through doing what we do, our lives have become so easy because we just eat seasonally and it’s not a hard thing that you have to think a lot about. It just makes sense that when you have shedloads of courgettes; you eat courgettes.

“And then by the time November comes, you’ve had enough courgettes, and then by the time June comes around you’re thinking: ‘Gosh when will those courgettes be ready?’, and then those first courgettes of the season are amazing.

“By not having stuff some of the year, it just makes life more joyful, more varied, when you get it again.”

Facer said the couple are extremely passionate about growing food in a sustainable way, which was apparent during Agriland’s conversation with them.

“We believe passionately about growing food in a sustainable way and looking after the land. It feels like there’s this massive opportunity to grow food locally and by bringing people in on that journey, hopefully you can make it add up,” she said.

The Edible Flower

Even if you don’t have access to land to grow vegetables, Bunting said it is still possible to be connecting to nature and land. Using flowers as an example, she said:

“Flowers have quite short seasons, like a month or six weeks, so if you are trying to tap into that kind of seasonality and you don’t have access to growing your own vegetables, you can help by just being aware of what flowers are out at certain times of the year.

“It does help you kind of reconnect to what’s going on in the earth and in the land at that time.”

Facer and Bunting’s cookbook – The Edible Flower – will be published tomorrow (Thursday, March 9).