NZ: Flower farmers forced to bin harvest due to restrictions

Under Alert Level 4, New Zealand flower growers aren't able to sell or distribute their goods. This means months of work and beautiful flowers are going straight into the bin. And as Level 4 lockdown in Auckland continues to drag on, a group of flower growers wants change.

On Saturday, Auckland-based flower grower Aila Morgan Guthrie took to her Instagram page to voice her frustration. "I've just finished my harvest for the day and this is only one days' harvest. It's going to be the same tomorrow and the same after that and we've still got two more weeks of Level 4 lockdown and we can't sell them. Is there anyone out there in government or with contacts to the government that can help us figure out how we can advocate for flower farmers in Level 4. We're one of the only businesses that have perishable goods that we can't sell." 

The video shows a trolley full of what she describes as 'perfectly, imperfect sustainable flowers' all going into the compost because under Level 4 restrictions cut flowers, the flower buds, and bulbs industry are not allowed to trade.

Her post started a discussion amongst flower farmers and got them thinking about what they think needs to change. Christy Ralphs, owner of flower growing business Nourish Gardens convened an online meeting with 28 other growers from across Auckland. She said the longer the lockdown goes on the more concerned she becomes about the industry's survival.

"We can't just close up shop and minimize our costs. We have to continue production if we're still going to have a business at the end of a lockdown and so we are essentially producing a perishable product, they just have to be chucked so it's a waste product."

Ralphs said she believed they could operate safely under Level 4 by supplying flowers to essential businesses that are already open. "We would certainly be looking to operate and under some industry safety standards of COVID-19 protocols to make sure that we are operating in a safe manner while we are harvesting and processing flowers. And then delivery and handing on the flowers would all be done contactless, which we are used to doing anyway."

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