Coraki couple filling a niche for organic flowers
THERE was clearly a niche in the market for organically produced flowers, because since she started growing blooms without spray or chemical fertilisers, Hannah Robertson has been amazed by the demand.
The micro-floriculturist has been cultivating a quarter acre patch on the riverbank at Coraki for her business Our Little Farm Flowers for three years.
While she says it’s only possible to grow organic on a small scale, she would like to have a full acre, to meet the requests from wedding planners, party florists, Instagram customers, a Bangalow outlet and various restaurants and bars. But the bigger the business, the more problems, such as that bane of maca and avocado farmers’ lives – the monolepta beetle – which hit the region in plague proportions last year.
Hannah delivers all over the Northern Rivers but is conscious of keeping the “flower miles” to a minimum.
In fact, green principles guide the whole business. Hannah chose to go organic firstly “to be kind to the planet”. The Coraki farm is a no-dig concern. Hannah said the worms bring all the good stuff up to the surface.
She is a follower of the “slow flower” movement that is gaining momentum in Australia, which aims to grow quality cut flowers sustainably to supply local market demand.
“The main focus for us is healthy soil, quality seed, succession planning and planting and growing for our specific climate, not forcing the flowers to grow unrealistically,” Hannah said.
“Using these methods we do not need chemical intervention and are able to maintain good healthy plants and build healthy soil.”
That way she is able to satisfy the most discriminating consumers.
“Flowers are usually grown using a lot of chemicals, then sit in a vase in our homes, and we breathe all those chemicals in,” she said.
Then there’s the personal angle: the pleasure to be had from getting her hands in the dirt.
There’s also the joy of making varieties of old cottage flowers available, such as zinnias and cosmos; dahlias and snapdragons.
Some of the blooms are edible and drinkers at St Augustine’s bar in Lismore can have black ball cornflowers or other tasty buds dropped into their cocktails.
Also edible are Queen Anne’s lace and the chocolate lace flower.
Hannah was born in Byron Bay and her six children are sixth-generation North Coasters, their ancestors “salt of the Earth” types who farmed at Casino.
She admits to being “driven” and has been researching old farming methods and adapting them, and is about to undertake some intensive training in her industry.
We are able to maintain good healthy plants and build healthy soil. — Hannah Robertson
GREEN THUMBS: Hannah Robertson and her youngest child, Albie, 17 months, in their flower garden at Coraki.
COLOUR FIELD: A wide range of flowers grow happily in Hannah’s Coraki plot.
HEAVENLY: Added flavour to a St Augustine’s cocktail.