Rose farm closes doors

Tablelands Advertiser - - NEWS - An­drea Falvo

A MAREEBA rose farmer has made the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to close her busi­ness after her crops were com­pletely de­stroyed by an ae­rial spray be­ing used on a neigh­bour­ing prop­erty ear­lier this year.

Nicole Dixon-Mills and her hus­band, Alan, have owned Mareeba Roses for 12 years.

The cou­ple have had it tough over the years, hav­ing to com­pletely re­build and re­plant in 2011 after their crop of 20,000 roses was de­stroyed in Cy­clone Yasi.

After get­ting back on their feet, the cou­ple faced another hur­dle in Fe­bru­ary when their thou­sands of rose and ger­bera plants were drenched in ae­rial spray be­ing used on a neigh­bour­ing pad­dock.

“It was just be­fore Valen­tines Day and they poi­soned ev­ery­thing,” Mrs Dixon-Mills said.

“My hus­band and I were in the green­house that morn­ing and we got sprayed.

“We got re­ally sick and we were vom­it­ing for 16 days straight.

“The crop duster, which was based out of In­n­is­fail and Tully, wouldn’t tell us what the chem­i­cals were when we rang him and he just told us ‘don’t worry we sprayed you or­ganic’.

“Had he told me what it was, we could have known it was poi­sonous for the flow­ers, stopped the har­vest­ing then and there and hosed them down and we could have saved our crop.”

Mrs Dixon-Mills said she had con­tacted sev­eral gov­ern­ment de­part­ments but had no luck in find­ing out what the chem­i­cals were or re­ceiv­ing com­pen­sa­tion for the dam­age to her crops.

She said the dam­age to her farm cre­ated a huge im­pact on her fam­ily’s liveli­hood, in­clud­ing al­most los­ing their home.

“I went from pick­ing one whole col­d­room a day of roses to one bucket,” Mrs DixonMills said.

“After the crop dust­ing and Mother’s Day, I copped so much crap be­cause peo­ple know this is the rose farm and they’re drop­ping in but we didn’t have the flow­ers.”

Mrs Dixon-Mills has now ob­tained a ca­sual job for the Depart­ment of Health and re­cently found out that she will be able to keep her house, which she said “is the best Christ­mas present ever”.

“When I look back I’ve en­joyed my time,” she said.

“I feel sad – I’ve met so many won­der­ful peo­ple and I’ve buried some won­der­ful peo­ple too.

“I love do­ing flow­ers and I like help­ing peo­ple with their wed­dings and things like that, so to lose that side of things is very sad.

“I’ve got my last wed­ding to do this week­end and then that’ll be it. It’ll be sad.”

Pic­ture: An­drea Falvo

Nicole Dixon-Mills has made the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to close down her Mareeba rose farm after her crops were sprayed with chem­i­cals and de­stroyed by a pass­ing plane ear­lier this year.

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