FLOWER FARMING - CANADA STYLE

Article Published By Gill Hodgson on Aug 30 2017

     

    Canada wasn’t where I thought it was.

    The very name conjures up a picture of snowy mountains and big trees so it was a surprise to find myself in Ontario on the same latitude as the south of France.

    I had joined the ASCFG [Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers] on their August conference tour of the area: they’re the equivalent of FFTF in America and I felt so at home among like-minded people, many of whom I already ‘knew’ from social media.

    MrH left me in their friendly hands for a couple of days during our Canadian holiday: he went to explore the St Lawrence Seaway and I went to look at Zinnias.  And what Zinnias!

    Southern Ontario is surrounded by the Great Lakes and enjoys a temperate climate with heavy winter snow but no extreme temperatures. The flower farms we visited were covered with Zinnias, Cockscomb Celosia and Lisianthus all thriving out in the fields: their season was further advanced than ours with the earlier summer annuals having already died down. 

    We visited Green Park Nurseries where Kurt Vahrmeyer grows woodies on 25 pristine acres and Wendalane Farm where I felt a lot more at home among the weeds.

    We walked around La Primavera Farm marveling at the Snapdragon and Liatris and we listened to the inspirational Melanie Harrington talking about her Instagram success.

    It was surreal to be three and a half thousand miles from home seeing the same varieties of flower and listening to tales of familiar difficulties from the farmers:- the weather, long hours, pricing, raccoons .. OK, so not that last one so much.

    The biggest difference is in the proliferation of Farmers’ Markets over there: every town has a weekly market and, being so regular and so big, the locals do come to buy their fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers there.  All the flower farmers I spoke to sold their produce at their local market; some visiting two or three every week and I envied them this effective route to market.

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