The last stop on the Tour de Fleur led me from picturesque town of Daylesford where I had been sleeping like an angel at Lunar Love Nest to a little spot with a name that the Google maps didn't even attempt to pronounce......have a crack yourself, it's Korweinguboora. Ironically, it's an indigenous word meaning "place of many springs" referring to the many underwater springs and waterfalls in the area and let's just say it's certainly had a lot of water from the sky of late like my other farm visits.
On route to another flower field, I happened to bypass an honesty box when buckets of stunning red and white waratahs caught my eye. A lucky, quick stop saw me meeting the purveyors of Leonard's Hill Honesty Box who were there doing some running repairs on the structure. Janice was excited that I pretty much bought ALL the waratahs they had, complimenting her on the quality of her harvest. She was happy her blooms were going back to a florist shop in Geelong to be enjoyed by some city folk, so we exchanged numbers for future flower deals.
Not much further along, I pulled into Loganberry Farm where the honesty box game was instantly elevated. Like a gingerbread house that's good enough to eat, Amanda's little scallop edged roadside stall was filled with all sorts of farm goodies like fresh cut lilac posies, eggs and raspberry canes. I can't imagine anybody passing in a car not slowing down for a closer peek, her property is on a busy country highway with pink flags out the front to herald the farmgate sales.
Amanda and I had connected online a couple of weeks earlier, she replied to my request for a visit saying she was "only tiny, still finding our way" but first impressions told me she was well on her way. A little sign at the gate explaining that they were a "regenerative farm" started a lengthy conversation about what that meant exactly and an enlightening tour to see how effective this farming method was.
First sight of her growing area was not unlike other flower farms, rows of weed matted soil, fenced for vermin, growing frames and cover hoops, but the real difference was in a little white vintage caravan off in the distance.
This retro abode houses Amanda's happy hens who are squeezing out 300 fresh, organic eggs everyday that are sold in the local town and at the farmgate. This might not sound very innovative, but that chicken coop gets rolled around the property (with a mobile fence that follows) and those hens peck, poop, scratch and eat all the weeds underneath them all the while putting all their henny goodness back into the soil that will be planted out later to grow flowers. Those feathered girls are regenerating the soil and when that patch of earth has been worked over by their claws and beaks, the caravan gets hooked up and relocated to another patch where a crop of flowers has been harvested.
I've got to say those chickens looked happy in their caravan and I'm sure they think they're on the ultimate road trip to the next flower paddock like we imagine our coastal road trips to Far North Queensland.
Amanda has a broad range of flower varieties in the ground and the burst of overdue sunshine in the next couple of weeks will take her well mulched patch from beige to rainbow bright in no time. There are sweetpeas, dahlias, peony roses, hybrid tea roses, sunflowers, zinnias, snapdragons, tulips, lilac and delphinium, all those old English favourites. She's worried about the sunflowers that are not showing any signs of life just yet, but I'm confident the work her henny friends did to that earth months ago will reward her with happy blooms soon.
Lots of the chat with Amanda was about prices and selling to florists, she understands that she can't undercut the florists she sells to by under pricing at her farmgate. She's always thinking about what she needs to sell for to make a profit herself, but equally committed to selling wholesale to florists at a price where they can make a profit too. She knows there are spend limitations from the travellers who stop at her honesty box and diversifying her avenues of distribution of her flowers is the same as not putting all her eggs in one basket and we know she couldn't put her 300 eggs a day in one basket either!
Amanda splits her time between her own flower farming journey and running a gardening business the rest, so as you can imagine her own private garden around the house is pretty special and another work in progress. She must have sensed my love of her happy hens, she wouldn't let me leave without gifting me 4 dozen organic eggs collected that very day from the caravan gals.
Two more flower growers, two honesty boxes on the same busy highway. One basic and simple, the other pretty and alluring. Both successful in getting flowers out of their paddocks and into travellers cars. Both working honestly for the honesty payment.
Looking in my boot at my haul of waratahs and eggs, I wound up the last leg of the Tour de Fleur with a heart full of farmgate joy.
There wasn't going to be a Part IV to this blog, but I stayed in two of the most gorgeous Air BnB's which meand another edition is coming so I can tell you all about those!