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.
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.