MADEC Harvest Trail Services Manager, Louann Terry, visited Maarten Blokker who is Managing Director/Owner of Blokker Pty Ltd who are a progressive flower and bulk grower specialising in year round production of Freesia, Dutch Iris and Canna Lily. Maarten took the time out of his very busy day to give us an insight into his family run business.
Our farm is located on the northwest coast of Tasmania in Wesley Vale which is approximately 15 minutes from Devonport. We have been operating our farm since we established it in 1997. We are a family business and have between 15-35 employees depending on the season. Of course, Dutch heritage helps our love of flowers! Following some research, we decided the climate in the region was ideal for growing flowers.
Tell us more about the crops you grow.
We grow Freesia, Dutch Iris, Ranunculus and more recently Sunflowers. The Freesia’s are planted by machine and have a growing period of 10-12 weeks which are then harvested over an 8 week period. The Freesia are all hand cut by our staff. All of our Freesia crops are grown in hothouses.
We grow Dutch Iris inside over the winter and outside over the summer. We start planting the summer irises in October and would expect harvesting to commence around Christmas/New Year. We plant around 1.4 million iris bulbs for our summer crop. Iris bulbs are planted by hand on a weekly basis over approximately 16 weeks. The iris crops are harvested by hand.
Ranunculus are grown in hothouses and are also planted and harvested by hand.
Sunflowers are a new variety of flower for us and we will look to expanding our crop this season.
What types of job roles do you have on your farm?
We have many roles to our business and we are looking forward to utilising MADEC in the future. We operate nearly all year round. Depending on the season and the time of harvest the employee daily tasks vary. These include planting bulbs, harvesting fresh flowers, preparing and packing fresh flowers for sale, digging bulbs, cleaning and grading bulbs and the maintenance of our crop areas and looking after our sales from a local and national perspective.
What are your peak seasons?
Our peak season will run from October through to May/June.
What advice would you give workers regarding harvest work?
Be prepared to work in all kinds of weather. Be able to work in a fast paced and busy environment to meet harvesting and sales related deadlines. It can be very hectic at times!
What advice would you give people thinking about working in Horticulture?
Its great work and very rewarding. You get an understanding of all aspects from pre-planting preparation to harvest and all tasks in-between. There is so much more to harvest than people understand when they are buying or receiving flowers.