From the farm gate: artisan flower farmers

As you may have noticed…there’s a very exciting renaissance going on for field grown flowers in Australia.

I am super excited to introduce you to a group doing awesome things for small artisan flower farmers and for the flower lovers and  designers who seek their blooms.

And this innovative group has big plans.

Think ‘farm gate’ or ‘cellar door’ type visitor experiences, flower ‘trail maps’ and other food and wine tourism style concepts.

Called Consortium Botanicus – it’s a collaborative project, resource and directory to connect and promote micro-scale slow flower farmers and those who want to source sustainable, ethical, in-season florals.

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Image: Crofters Fold Estate

It’s currently focused in the Daylesford Macedon Ranges but in time, will be throughout Australia.

These flower farmers who are passionate about holistic, field grown flowers have been inspired by what’s going on in the U.S. – especially by Erin and her team at Floret Flower Farm.

The New York Times recently reported America being “in the midst of a floral revolution.” The same is happening here….

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Image © Ingalls Photography from In Full Flower

The idea to collaborate rather than compete was hatched over a cuppa when rose farmers and sparkling wine vignerons Danielle and Ashley Wren of Crofters Fold Estate in the Macedon Ranges got chatting with Sandy McKinley and Rob of Acre of Roses in their neighbouring Hepburn Shire.

“Our region has many hardworking, well-established, small-scale flower farmers who haven’t traditionally got a mention among the media exposure that food and wine farmers attract as part of the slow food and eat local campaigns,” says founding member Danielle.

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Little Triffids flowers

“Provenance matters when it comes to flowers and, indeed, some flowers are edible too so they play an important and historical part in apothecary, gastronomy, naturopathy, agritourism, and agribusiness.

“So, Consortium Botanicus will help flower farmers connect and get a level of exposure that helps them sell their beautiful flowers and build and sustain their businesses.”

“We hope to get some funding to continue to develop our online flower farmer map so that flower farmers can connect with florists, designers, stylists, and DIY brides and grooms who share our ethics and want to source local and in-season blooms.

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Image: Little Triffids Flowers

 

Another aim is to have micro slow-flower farming included in the curricula for horticulture and floristry – education across sectors and supply chains about the importance of local, in-season and sustainable scale – it’s amazing what can be achieved even on half an acre if you adopt permaculture, holistic and lean-farming or micro-farming methods.”

As a founding member of Consortium Botanicus and a 2017 Agribusiness Fellow at Melbourne’s International Specialised Skills Institute, Danielle hopes to use her Fellowship and collectively with the Consortium’s members to not only raise the profile of micro slow-flower farming in the region and Australia, but to encourage artisan flower farmers to think about opening a farm gate to visitors and clients for direct sales – much like there are open gardens and cellar doors.

“Ultimately, we’d like to see more flower farms open their farm gates so that visitors to our region get to enjoy food, wine and flowers!” says Danielle.

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Mannerim Stables, Bellarine Peninsula

Many other flower farms are leading the way and already do this well:

  • Lavandula in Hepburn (Summer)
  • Mannerim Stables in Bellarine Peninsula (Spring)
  • Spring Hill Peony Farm in Spring Hill (coming up in November)
  • Romswood Peony Farm, Kerrie (coming up in November)
  • Post Office Hellebore Farm
  • Ashborne (Winter)
  • Dahlia Farm in Winchelsea Late Summer/Autumm)

– and there are many doing the same in other regions and states across Australia, which the Consortium aims to raise awareness of and build a strong audience for.

Check out his awesome drone video of Lavendula Farm in Hepburn Springs

 

Danielle hopes Consortium Botanicus will encourage flower farmers to develop and maintain quality visitor experiences that translate to good flower sales, educational opportunities about seasonality and ultimately sustainable prices for flower farmers and immersive enjoyment for flower lovers.

Consortium Botanicus also hopes that flower lovers will stop to think about where their flowers come from and choose to help support their local low-tox, slow-flower farmers!

“We have a great opportunity to help raise the profile and importance of micro slow-flower farmers, both culinary and cut-flower, who sell their produce to restaurants and the wedding and events markets as well as, where suitable, to visitors and flower lovers.

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Jenny Parish with her Dahlias – Another one to visit in late Summer/Autumn is the Dahlia farm in Winchelsea. 

The relationship of flowers to the things we enjoy most is vital: Biodiversity > Flowers > Pollen + Nectar > Bees > Edibles > Harvest > Culinary + Visual Pleasure.”

Some flower farmers also offer floral design services to those seeking to have mindful, ethical weddings and events can get a truly paddock-to-posy service. Consortium Botanicus also highly values florists and floral designers who choose to source local in-season flowers whenever they can.

“It all helps small flower farmers survive. Often they are family-run businesses who put a lot back into their local communities.” Together, with the growing demand from clients for ethical, local, in-season flowers for edibles, weddings, events and styled shoots, it makes for collaborative and sustainable businesses and that’s always good for regional communities.

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Image: Danielle White from Spring Hill Peony Farm

Some of the established flower farms in the Daylesford Macedon Ranges region include: paddock roses, peonies, lavender, dahlias, natives and mixed cut-flowers as well as foliage and edibles like nasturtiums, saffron, pansies, sweet peas, zucchini flowers, floral syrups, floral waters.

Unlike some countries, like Ireland and the USA, where a huge percentage/majority of their flowers are flown in out-of-season from overseas, Australia has a strong flower industry. Consortium Botanicus’ focus is on micro-scale slow-flower farming and the benefits it has for agribusiness, agritourism and the local economy.

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Danielle and Ashley Wren of Crofters Fold Estate

Get involved

Consortium Botanicus invites all micro slow-flower farmers from anywhere in Australia to register their farms on the Collective Directory http://www.consortiumbotanicus.com.au/collective-directory-submission

Get Social

Insta: @consortiumbotanicus

FB: /consortiumbotanicus

Web: www.consortiumbotanicus

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Crofters Fold Estate

Ethics

Low-tox, low carbon footprint, local, in-season, holistically farmed.

We are big supporters of the movement to ‘mindful weddings and events’ – eco-conscious weddings and events – our flowers fit perfectly with this movement.

A bit more about Consortium Botanicus…

“Our flower farms embrace and celebrate the varieties that best-match the seasons and soils of our local environment and micro-climates. By choosing to buy local seasonal botanics you are helping support local farming families, local villages, regional agricultural heritage and build a local floricultural future.” Danielle says.

The flower farmers, farmer-florists + florists/designers featured in our Collective Directory will be part of Consortium Botanicus’sustainable + seasonal flower renaissance. They will be included because they’re committed to growing, using and promoting local, seasonal, sustainable slow flowers.

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Image: Crofters Fold Estate

Our Florals Are Truly Fresh

Imported flowers are cut well-before they arrive in your hands. Preservation chemicals and climate control are used to artificially prolong quality and vase life during importation. Our locally-grown florals, foliage and herbs can be cut in the morning and at your event that evening or the very next day.

Our Florals Are Responsibly Grown

We strive to produce our florals and foliage using responsible farming methods like integrated pest management, diverse cropping systems, companion planting and low-input, natural fertilisation programs. Our farms encourage important biodiversity and soil health.

Our Florals Smell Better

Many commodity-type flowers have been bred for uniformity and artificial stem strength for long-distance travel, often losing their natural fragrance in the process. Our locally-grown seasonal florals are produced naturally and come in a wide range of colors, forms, and scents, just as Mother Nature intended.

Our Florals Are Real

We don’t produce clone-like botanics. We celebrate the beauty and quirks of Mother Nature’s miraculous art. This also helps reduce waste. We refuse to discard hundreds of flowers because the stems are not exactly ‘to spec’. We grow real florals for real folks.

We Support Small Farmers and the Local Economy

The production and sale of locally-grown cut flowers contributes to the local community’s economy and employment and encourages creative entrepreneurs, young and old, to value agricultural and floricultural practices and the environment.

We are Supported by local Florists and Floral Designers

Local, mindful florists and floral designers who source, use and promote locally-grown in-season cut flowers wherever possible, help build and strengthen the local economy.

Our Florals Are Fairly Grown + Traded

Joining together to support one another helps us, in turn, support fair and sustainable farming, supply and trading practices: a fair price for the growers, the florists, the stylists and ultimately our customers. Paying a little more for quality helps everyone grow.

Our Florals Make You Feel Better!

Flowers reduce stress and improve mood. Flowers connect people to a time, a place, a person, a season, an event. They become part of your story. Healthy, truly-local florals make you feel even better.  They are a feast for your eyes and food for your soul.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. fierceblooms says:

    Full of admiration for the idea of Consortium Botanicus – I belong to an organisation in the UK called flowers from the farm which is a not for profit group of small British flower growers – obviously we’re at different times for growing but the philosophy is just the same! love it

    1. The Flower Press says:

      Thank you! Yes such a great idea and brings lots of benefits!

    2. The Flower Press says:

      Oh my goodness your comment slipped through, apologies for such a slow reply! Yes, it’s so wonderful all these supportive groups starting up! I just looked at your wonderful blog! Great source of inspo!

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