NZ: Why life is blooming good for Country Calendar couple

Supported by their families, Gemma and Ben McDougall took on a new challenge two years ago. The couple, who run a dairy farm in Kimbolton, Manawatu, added a flower farm to their agricultural business.

“It has been a big, big learning curve,” says Gemma. “I’ve actually got a nursing degree – kind of similar I guess, I have to nurse things.” Gemma was inspired to start the flower farm in May 2019 after her mother died from bowel cancer in January that same year.

Gemma says her floral therapy has definitely helped with her grieving process. “But I just keep expanding,” she says. “Now I’m running to keep up with kids and flowers.” The couple has two children who they say love being out on the farm. “They’re pretty handy with the flowers, to be honest,” says Gemma.

Their business offers both fresh and dried flowers and the varieties they grow are a mix. “I have honestly got a real fruit salad in the paddock. There’s a bit of everything so that I can do lots of mix boxes for florists, and some of the things that aren’t typically seen at auction.”

“It helps to extend my season of fresh flowers and helps to stop any wastage, but I think this year the trend will be a mix of dried and fresh. We’re starting to see it already in some of the weddings that are going on.”

The couple converted their woolshed into a drying room to accommodate the developing appetite for dried blooms. As well as florists, Gemma also sells her bouquets at Cheltenham General Store in Manawatu and they can also be bought online through their business website, Ataahua Blooms Flower Farm. She also offers workshops for people who want to learn how to style flowers.

“People really like the experience of coming out and seeing the flower farm and being able to pick their own things.” The Ataahua name was chosen to honor Gemma’s Māori heritage through her mother. Fittingly, the name means ‘beautiful'.

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