Not to put too fine a point on it, but overall it’s been a stinker of a year for Australia’s flower farmers. All those weddings, launches, parties and corporate events cancelled, postponed or downsized, and with them all those orders for dazzling, sweet-smelling floral displays. On a scale of 1 to 10, artisan flower farmer Danielle White, who with her husband, Ashley, grows peonies and roses on their 12-hectare property, Crofters Fold Estate, near Kyneton in Victoria, gives 2020 a “three”.
But on the sparkling morning that we speak, the spring growing season now underway, the 54-year-old has a burst of optimism. She’s been negotiating with a sister farm to sell her unsold roses for fermentation into rose water. She also helped form an association, Flower Industry Australia, to link small flower farms like hers with larger greenhouse growers to promote Australian-grown flowers to florists and supermarkets.
"Actually, this has been more of a four out of 10 year,” White says, reconsidering. In case you're tempted to dismiss floristry as just a bunch of petals and stems, the industry – at least until the onset of COVID-19 – generated $1.6 billion in revenue a year and employed 6,300 Australians.