We had the most wonderful evening last Friday night. We celebrated the official opening of our Toowong Flower Market and felt so blessed to be surrounded by such a wonderful community. Thank you so much. I've included the most part of my speech below for those that may be interested in my journey to date,  and what ignited my desire to start Farmgate.

Oh boy, has this been a journey! For those who are not familiar with my story, I grew up on a flower farm on the NW Coast of Tassie with my brother Rob and two sisters Missy & Pip, and my parents Jan & John. 

My brother Rob and sister Pip are third-generation farms on the same property that my father grew up on and it was my parents who diversified into flower farming in 1982, over 42 years ago. It’s not an easy path that my family has chosen, but it is one that they are completely dedicated to and love dearly.

I’ve always had a deep appreciation for what they did as a living. But it was after reading an article in 2016 about the increase of cheap imports and the impact on the livelihood of our Aussie flower farmers, the biosecurity risks, labour standards, and over usage of chemicals that every imported flower has to be sprayed with that jolted me into gear because it is something that many farmers are still struggling with today, and in many cases has put them out of business.

I was in a fortunate position because I knew that things could be different. Not only did I yearn to connect back to my family and farming roots, but I also knew that people would appreciate this connection of buying directly from the farm.

It was close to 5 years ago, after being in the corporate world for 20 years that I decided to start Farmgate. It was a big leap to leave the security of my corporate job and get up each Saturday firstly at 4 am and then as I grew 3 am to sell flowers at the farmer's market! A little crazy. And I think a few people did wonder how long this would last – even me. But I was on a mission, and I was super passionate about it. Not only did I want people to experience the joy of what I grew up with, which was amazing freshness and exceptional vase life but exquisite varieties. 

After rallying my family, I rallied other growers in northern Tasmania. Our growers are some of the finest growers in the country, growing in the most beautiful part of the world, and I wanted them to share their stories and for you to ‘know your flower farmer’ and to experience what I had been so lucky to have in my life.

But it is only with the incredible support that we had from the Jan Powers Markets and the beautiful community in New Farm that we were able to continue doing what we do.

So why this? Well it was November last year that a few stars aligned, which made us think about taking this leap. We needed a new space, we wanted a permanent location, and we wanted to make it easier for our customers to buy beyond Saturday. And this opportunity at The Cat & Fiddle Market came up at the perfect time. I had no idea how to go about creating a retail space. But I did have Kirby helping me out on a Thursday who happened to be a stylist for commercial builders. So, this also gave me the confidence that we could create something quite special, so we forged ahead.

Kirby helped us design and procure some of the beautiful elements you will find in the store, which includes the reclaimed bricks for this amazing herringbone floor. But it was my incredible husband Greg who brought our vision to life. He created this floor. He spent every day for 5-6 weeks working on complicated engineering projects in the office during the day and then spent his evenings here in the store cleaning, laying, grouting, and sealing every single brick by hand, and then once that was done continued to build the wall and all the cabinetry you see. So, cheers to Greg you are truly amazing. We wanted people to feel as though they were transported to a little piece of Tasmania. I am so proud of what we have created together and grateful to have you by my side enabling me to grow Farmgate.

And to my family and friends – my children are here I love you so much - thank you – it is only with the amazing support and encouragement that we have been able to keep going.

And to the beautiful community that we have here at the Cat & Fiddle Market. From the first day I visited this centre, we were warmly welcomed. So many locals have popped in to say hi and wish us all the best. I have also been blown away by so many familiar faces from New Farm and our old Milton Market days popping by to say how excited they are and reassuring us that in time we can build something like we did in New Farm which they love so much.

I love what flowers do for us. There is this innate love for nature that we all have, and I love the emotions that flowers stir in each of us. And when we have flowers in our homes it is food for the soul and really does make a difference to our well-being.

I love it when my customers come and tell me their flower stories or the memories that our flowers evoke for them. It is something truly special that shifts our moods.

So, I have spoken about where we have come from and what flowers do for us. Many people have asked what is in store for the future of this market. Our opening days and hours will remain as is until we build and establish ourselves. They are Thursday, Friday, Saturday and again Monday. We open early mornings so you can pop in before work and then close just after lunch. Quite a few people have been popping in and purchasing in the morning and then leaving here to collect on their way home from work. The cellar is open until late each day, and you can collect from there.

It is the same format as a farmers’ market. Our stock comes in direct from the farm and our aim each week is to sell out to maintain freshness. Over time we will get more frequent deliveries but we will also continue to be at New Farm on a Saturday.

We are a market and not a florist. But we do have some florists that work closely with us, and we have a couple here tonight. So, if you do have additional floral needs let us know because we have some special collaborations with them. We have also got some fun workshops that we will be running here as well. So, stay tuned. And yes, we home deliver in beautiful gift boxes. At the moment everything is Tasmanian grown apart from the foliage because it’s what I know, love and trust. But that does not mean it will stay like this. We have given some local growers a go too – one of which is here tonight – Jamie.

So tonight, let us raise our glass and celebrate the spirit of community, perseverance, kindness, gratitude, and of course our farmers. Thank you all sincerely for your support, and encouragement, and for being a part of this incredible journey, we are only here because of you. So, here is to ‘knowing your flower farmers’ and to more flowers, in more homes, more often.

Thank you and enjoy!



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