The pandemic’s blooming opportunity for our flower farmers

One silver lining of COVID-19 for local growers is that at last they can compete with cheap imports.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but overall it’s been a stinker couple of years for Australia’s flower farmers. All those weddings, launches, parties and corporate events cancelled, postponed or downsized because of lock-downs and border closures and with them all those orders for dazzling, sweet-smelling floral displays.

When you buy local you’re getting fresher flowers free of harmful chemicals, with a beautiful scent.

You will delight at the beautiful display of gorgeous blooms from Jumping Red Ant’s farm. Buying these flowers helps to reduce the carbon emissions of imported product which depend on long-haul flights, freezing and the use of hardcore pesticides to get them through quarantine.

When you buy local you’re getting fresher flowers free of harmful chemicals, with a beautiful scent.  Paddocks, when they’re in full flower, provide a buffet for local bees and butterflies.

Many flowers purchasers will be shocked to learn that even many Australian natives, such as kangaroo paw and waratahs, are being imported from Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa. Roses have been flooding in from Ecuador and Colombia and carnations from China and Vietnam.

Eight years ago, according to Flowers Victoria, there were 320 commercial rose growers in Australia. This has now dropped to fewer than 20 because of the rising tide of cheap imports.  Kenya pays $100 a month to its workers; in Australia that’s approximately four hours’ work. Unconfirmed reports estimate 80 per cent of the flowers the major supermarkets sell are imported.

For Briana and John Atkin of Jumping Red Ant, the flower season is about to “wake up”. The peak season for roses and peonies starts in November. We’ll see all the bees and butterflies return.

The bees need it: in the catastrophic bushfires of 2019-20 beekeepers lost nearly a third of their colonies.   We truly hope things will improve for our local flowers farmers and our bee colonies and butterflies start to flourish again but we need to nurture these most important insects and cherish their importance to our agricultural sector.


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