It starts & ends with soil
Agri-Phoenix Feature: Lucy Poppi
Name: Lucy Poppi
Place: Home Hill, Townesville
Organisation: Oh Poppi
Nestled in amongst the towering cane fields of Home Hill is a micro flower farm. The primary goal is to grow seasonal, local flowers in a natural setting, so they have the uniqueness of field grown flowers: curvy stems, discoloured petals and so on. Growing flowers in an open field is challenging - in an open field in North Queensland it’s even more challenging. The last year or so has been a steep learning curve and there is no sign of that curve flattening anytime soon. My main focus is soil biology and insects (bees and beneficial insects).
My love of flowers and all things botanical was seeded in my destiny long before I started growing flowers. I grew up on my family’s tropical fruit farm in Forrest Beach, North Queensland. My mother, a former florist, was also an avid gardener and our home featured arrangements in every corner, and plants in every room.
In 2017, my husband and I moved to the Burdekin to lease his family's cane farm, making him a 4th generation cane farmer. The property we moved to was quite run down. We went to work to transform what was a plot of overgrown trees and weeds into a landscaped yard. Before we knew it, we were bed forming 250sqm of our 118 acre farm and dedicating it to open field cut flowers.
This tiny plot of blooms was first created due to the lack of locally grown flowers for North Queensland florists, specifically Townsville florists. On just 250sqm, 4,000-6,000 plants can be grown in peak season, providing flowers for my event and wedding business, Oh Poppi. One day I hope to supply other local florists also. High density, multi-species production requires sustainable farming approaches with an emphasis on soil health.
Through research, attending workshops and networking, we've begun educating ourselves on how to restore and maintain the soil biology of our land. We are now applying many of the same principals we have applied to our micro flower farm across the cane fields. This includes minimising tillage, reducing synthetic fertiliser input, monitoring soil moisture for irrigation, planting cover crops, exploring multi-species cropping, planting specific varieties to attract beneficial insects and more.
The main thing we have learnt - it all starts and ends with the soil. It's so important not only to look after our land but to respect it.