Since 1996, Lodi and Yucca Pameijer have experimented with different Australian native and wildflower crops, farming methods, and processing systems to enable them to harvest the best flowers. Located near the town of Maleny on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, they started growing flowers conventionally until they came across a Sustainable Agriculture course in 2009.
“We learnt about the Nutri-Tech Solutions Sustainable Agriculture course, in which Nutrition Farming® is taught, and decided to attend,” Lodi remembers.
Since converting to Nutrition Farming® and growing their crops using more sustainable practices, Lodi and Yucca have noticed a pattern of rejuvenation amongst their plants, including their Christmas Bush which has returned stronger and healthier than ever.
“Most of our Christmas Bush is 25 years old and if we had continued farming the conventional way they would have been long gone by now.”
“Four years ago, a customer asked for certified organic Kangaroo Paws, so we decided to undergo the 3-year certification process. The transition was simplified as the majority of the inputs we were using were already approved for organic farms”, Yucca explained.
Their 8.5-acre property has rich clay loam volcanic soil, and they focus on growing certain species, including:
Kangaroo Paw: a popular cut flower which, more recently, is also found in high-end cosmetics, being linked to skin regeneration, skin firmness and brightness. Top of the Range Flowers grow Kangaroo Paw flowers mainly for the cosmetic industry and they are produced with the utmost respect for the environment. The long stems are individually selected, hand-cut, and cooled prior to further processing offsite.
Christmas Bush: a staple flower during the Christmas season in Australia. The plant begins with small white flowers in September, and once the bees have visited, the tiny petals close over the centre of the flower and the bracts enlarge and turn red in the sunshine over a couple of months. The plants seem to be impacted by global warming as they have been flowering early in many recent years.
“They will soon need to be called November Bush – can we move Christmas?”, jokes Lodi.
The couple encourages customers to place their orders early in Spring for Christmas Bush as they always sell out of this popular product.
Moringa oleifera: renowned for its health benefits, Moringa leaves can be eaten fresh in salads and stews, dried and crushed for tea, or milled to powder form to add to smoothies and meals. Nutritious and packed full of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories, Moringa is used for a variety of health conditions and the seed oil is becoming popular in cosmetics. What’s more, the plants can grow in inhospitable environments.
Lodi and Yucca have had some challenges in weed management and hired three employees who love working on the farm to help weed all the growing beds, among other duties. They have also found different techniques to reduce the weeds.
“If we cut the grass very short around the edges of the bed, the kikuyu grass doesn’t have such propensity to climb over the bed. We also started planting our crops much closer together to shade out most of the weeds and to help control them,” explains Lodi.
Their increasing concern for the environment and climate change over the past 15 years has led the couple to find solutions to offset their carbon footprint and they have installed a solar PV system on their shed which produces more electricity than they use. As equipment needs to be replaced, they are swapping to electric/ battery-powered options when possible.
Top of the Range Flowers was awarded the Australian Flower Industry Magazine’s ‘Cut Flowers and Foliage Sustainable Production Award of Excellence’ in 2015, and their business continues to flourish.
Find more about Top of the Range flower on their website: topoftherangeflowers.com.au