Approximately 5 acres of our farm is committed to growing flowers. Over the course of a year, we grow 100 varieties of annuals from seed, we have 70 different spring/summer/autumn flowering bulb varieties, 300 Australian and South African native shrubs (15 different varieties), 60 different Dahlia Varieties, 75 Rose Bushes and a good number of flowering perennials and shrubs for foliage in the garden.
We do have 4 unheated polytunnels which we use for more delicate crops and to extend the growing season a little. Apart from that, everything is field grown, seasonal and non-certified organic.
Over the course of the past years, we have witnessed a welcome shift in the food world. Away from mass produced and highly processed food that has hardly any resemblance with it’s original ingredients anymore, toward more sustainable, locally produced “real” food. Many people pay more attention to what they eat and put great emphasis on sourcing as much of their food as close to home as they can. We have all heard of “slow food” and the term “like grandma used to do it”, referring to old fashioned, but tried and trusted ways of cooking and preserving without additives.
Here at the farm, we are hopeful this shift will happen in the Flower Industry as well. In fact, in some countries it is already happening. There are great movements in Britain and the US toward a more sustainable production of flowers.
While the Australian Flower Industry is not as import-oriented as the rest of the world (about 80% of flowers sold in Ausralia are grown in Australia), there is still a strong focus on monoculture greenhouse production. Often growers focus on just a few species and grow them all year round in climate controlled greenhouses.
We grow an enormous variety of flowers throughout the year, and this is part of the reason we love our job so much. The biodiversity on the farm means it never gets boring and there is always more beauty to discover in some corner of the property. For us, it is also important to play a part in preserving this biodiversity, by focussing on rare and heirloom varieties that are increasingly hard to source in Australia due to quarantine regulations. Some of these rare varieties are grown separate from the main crop now in order to be able to save the seeds for future generations.
We think it is just as important to know where your weekly bunch of flowers came from as it is to know where your vegetables were grown. Would you not want to touch and smell, bury your nose in those fragrant stems that you just bought? In buying organic or organically grown flowers you can do just that. In fact, those local flowers are more likely to have that heady fragrance that -say- a bunch of garden roses or freshly picked freesias are all about. I have seen Stocks at a (local) flower shop without even a hint of a scent. Greenhouse produced, long stemmed, hybridised Tea Roses are available all year round but wouldn’t you rather have a freshly picked bunch of heirloom garden roses that may only last a few days but is all the more endearing for it on your table?