The project was started when Brendan Maye was employed as Managing Director of Cosmopolitan Cosmetics UK (CC) - the fine fragrance division of Wella UK. One of the brands in the portfolio handled by CC was Yardley. This had been bought out of receivership by Wella and then added to the CC fragrance brands such as Gucci, Dunhill, Ghost, Anna Sui, Escada etc. Brendan had worked for Yardley previously and recognised that the brand has become very old and dusty. Through the work Brendan was doing on the other fragrance brands he recognised that the brand could not be revived by advertising alone as consumers would not accept that Yardley could modernise. Brendan felt that people needed to witness the beauty of Lavender to accept that it is a relevant fragrance for today. Brendan approached the board in Germany with a proposal to buy a farm and revive lavender growing under the Yardley brand in Surrey - its traditional home in England. This was rejected as the board felt that farming was not the core business of Wella!
At the same time Brendan read about an interesting collaboration between Downview prison and and environmental charity called Bioregional Development Group. They were working together to clear unused allotments in Carshalton and had planted 3 acres with English Lavender. Brendan was impressed by the venture and agreed to sponsor the project to assist its development.
In the subsequent 2 years Brendan again made the proposal to the board of Wella to buy a farm but the idea was rejected until the board finally accepted that the idea would not be dropped. So Brendan received the go-ahead to get involved in Lavender growing but was still prohiited from actually buying a farm.
Brendan approached BioRegional Developement Group and ask them to lease a farm to grow Lavender. Together they found 25 acres of original lavender growing land opposite Oaks Park on the borders of Carshalton and Banstead. The land was managed by Sutton Council.
in 2002 Bioregional leased the land from Sutton Council and Yardley sponsored the planting of the lavender. In the first year half the field was planted with the English Lavender variety called Folgate. However unexpectedly Magpies and Crows pulled all of the newly planted plugs out of the ground destroying almost 70,000 pulgs. Brendan decided that the project should continue and the following year half of the field was again replanted with Folgate but this time to protect the plants a thin layer of agricultural fleese was laid over the plugs. This was successful and in 2004 the second half of the field was planted with 2 further varieties - an English Lavender called Maillette and one Lavandin called Grosso.
In 2005 Wella was bought by Procter and Gamble. One of the first decisions that P&G took was to sell Yardley. The acquiring company had no interest in the sponsorship programme choosing instead to focus on export business for Yardley. At this point Brendan was managing the integrated Fine Fragrance portfolios of P&G and Wella with many new licensed fragrance brands such as Lacoste and Hugo Boss to manage. BioReginal approached Brendan to explain that the project was unsustainable without sponsorship support. Brendan initially declined further involvement but on a subsequent discussion agreed to acquire the project from Bioegional as a personal investment.
Having made the commitment to acquire the project from BioRegional two issues were clearly evident. the first was financing the project and the second one was resourcing it. To alleviate the cost Brendan agreed to buy the project over a three year time line. For the resourcing of the project Brendan’s wife Lorna was reluctant to get involved initially but came to the rescue and soon became the leading face of what was to become Mayfield Lavender. It was Lorna’s heroic commitment during the summer of 2006 and 2007 that sustained the project. She quickly learned how to manage and harvest Lavender as well as all the logistics of co-ordinating the distillation and the product sales from the field. In 2007 Brendan was given additional responsibility by P&G to include Italy Holland and Belgium as well as the direct management of the UK and Irish business. The extensive international travel and the compromise that it entailed in trying balance the business pressures and simultaniously to have time for a young family led Brendan to decide to leave P&G in Decemember 2007.
Brendan and Lorna now work together to nurture and build Mayfield Lavender and are committed to the organic management of the field and are very proud of the fact that the field sits on the exact spot where lavender was grown in the 18th and 19th century. Since the lavender is grown without the use of herbicides or pesticides they are also following in the tradition of the original lavender growers.
“Our aim is to develop an environmentally sustainable business that can prosper without costing the Earth! As well as following the principles of organic farming as set out by the Soil Association, we are encouraging biodiversity on our field; we have allocated significant perimeter land for the wild seeding of native flower species and as a consequence the field is thriving with a rich variety of flowers and wildlife.
It is our hope that the work that we are doing will be appreciated and supported by the public. If we are succesful it is one of the few projects where there is a geniune benefit for everyone.”
The field is at the junction between Croydon Lane and Carshalton Road.
Check out their website for more info - www.mayfieldlavender.com.
Beautiful work Balwant! I love the inclusion of the girl walking! That is a very nice touch to the photo! The processing is wonderful, the purple rows are so nice, leading your eye to the girl! I love this one!
The two last photos were beautiful, this one is gorgeous!
Very clever composition! I don't repeat what Linda said, I agree with her! I just want to add the nice balance with the lavender rows cut by the horizontal lines, the one where is the bench and the other with long branch of tree at the top of the image.
Splendid image! Annie!
Hi Balwant, this one is very nice. Great light on the rows of lavender. The inclusion of the woman is great... gives a good sense of the size of the lavender rows.
I also like the huge tree limbs framing the top of the shot.
Very nice shot.
Have a nice weekend my friend