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Casey Hartnett, Choki:

The potential of value added flower farming on Island of Flores

Even though this Portuguese island is named the Island of Flores, logistical problems make it challenging to create a fresh cut industry. However, Casey Hartnett sees opportunities for the flower industry anyhow. "We can create high value added floral products and attract high end tourism."

The Island of Flores, discovered in 1452, was named for its abundance of wildflowers supporting the ideal climate for flowers to grow in a pristine natural environment. Today, the potential for sustainable value added flower farming is available but the export potential is not being addressed. Non-profit organization Choki is currently working on a project to establish economical sustainable businesses with flower farming being one of them. "I am not a fresh cut expert and logistically fresh cut could be problematic. However, I do think we can create essential oils and other high value added floral products with Flores as our credibility. The entire island is designated a UNESCO reserve with flowers already growing here from all over the world, there is nothing in the world like Flores", says Casey Hartnett, founder of the organization. 

Pictures of Flores courtesy (Frederic Fournier)

According to Hartnett, there is little industry on the island. "Thirty years ago, most Florentinos grew their own food and produced their own products with pride of the island and their efforts. Over the years, however, due to migration from the island and its remote location, the island has witnessed massive neglect. Currently, most items are imported with the only economy being cow farming. However, this is a total failure economically and destroying the ecosystem of the island in the process."

Choki is a non-profit organization and is founded with the mission of protecting the cultures and traditions of the most valuable places left in the world. As The Island of Flores is a part of the global network of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, they are carrying out several projects over there. "Our goal is to create economical sustainable businesses where the success of the business has a direct positive correlation with the health of the environment, culture, and community and propose these kind of businesses with flower farming as a core." 

Hartnett stresses the potential for growing flowers on the Island of Flores: "As it was historically explored and named of flowers, the islandís export should also be known for beauty and flowers. "It has a sub-tropical climate with many flowers from all over the world growing wild here. Hydrangeas are our weeds." Even though Flores logistically may not be suitable to export fresh cut flowers, Hartnett is convinced of the potential of value added flower farming. "Flower farming can not only be for the production of oils and other value added products but as a means to beautify and attract high end tourism with public gardens throughout the island, which creates an additional by-product of income throughout the community."

Area with potential. "Quarry to repurpose to an art park/garden"

In order to realize this project, Hartnett is interested in speaking with growers and bulb suppliers for their expertise and interest in collaborating to contribute to the beauty of Flores and its sustainable economy. "The idea is that we, together with growers and suppliers, create gardens that hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world will experience. The grower or supplier can leave a legacy of beauty and sustainability that will directly benefit those who visit and the community in unparalleled beauty."

For more information
Casey Harnett

Publication date: 3/28/2017
Author: Elita Vellekoop



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