It’s so inspiring to see people in our industry diversifying. And luckily for us, Jasmin Piggott’s dream to diversify her farm brings stunning native flowers and foliage for everyone to enjoy!
Poodra Springs Native Flowers sprung up in late 2018 on the back of a really bad drought on Jasmin and Wayne Piggot’s farm in Miltalie on the Eyre Peninsula. “We didn’t have a crop and I was sick of looking at a bare hill every time I looked out the window, but the scrub was still alive. I kept thinking about the onion weed growing and wishing we could make money out of that,” Jasmin laughs.
“I really love flowers — particularly proteas because Wayne gave me one when he proposed — but I knew they needed a certain type of soil, so I started doing research into soil conditions. I thought, even if we couldn’t grow a cereal crop in these conditions, natives could still grow. After the drought, we got mains and once I knew I had a back-up water supply, I went ahead looking at costs, infrastructure and looking into suppliers.”
By 2020, Jasmin had begun with annual plants, and 2021 saw her getting natives in the ground —sourced from South Australia wherever possible. And with few connections doing the same thing, Jasmin relied on a lot of research. “To start with, I was Googling everything! There was a fair bit of literature (a lot of it based in New South Wales), and I made phone calls to people who were in the industry and I asked as many questions as I could,” she says.
Although Jasmin planned to start by selling a small amount of wholesale stock to a local florist, she found that her original vision changed as she got her hands dirty. “I realised how much I enjoyed cutting and making bunches myself and supplying flowers for events, so I decided to go directly to customers myself.”
The connection with flowers allowed Jasmin to then delve into her love of events. “I could imagine people one day walking down our flower rows on their big day. It was my five-to-ten-year plan to host events on our property once natives had grown and they were all big and beautiful — but people were ready to do it straight away. It was a real eye opener — I didn’t expect them to want to see it so soon,” Jasmin says.
While the ultimate goal is to one day build an event centre on the side of a hill on their farm, where you can see Wallaroo and all the surrounding farmland on a clear day, Jasmin is making great use of their huge timber pergola to hold events sooner than expected.
“We can seat around eighty people and we’re already hosted a few Ladies’ Days, the local ‘Chicken and Chablis’ group, and the Year 12s had their graduation here last year. We’ve got our first wedding booked for April, and we’ve had private groups come in for bouquet-making workshops and farm tours,” Jasmin says.
Fitting it all in with running the farm, being a wife and their newly opened quarry has been quite the juggle, but Jasmin wouldn’t have it any other way. “We don’t like to sit still, but I’m loving it. Wayne steers clear of the events but helps with everything else, and our kids, Chase and Bella, love helping out! We’ve also had lots of family and friends giving us a hand, too!”
As for challenges, Jasmin has faced them head on — and with good nature. “There are the physical demands — getting set up, and we deep ripped the rows, rolled out the weed matting by hand, put in drippers by hand, planted every tree by hand — and then the weeding and mowing and all that takes a lot of time and a lot of muscle power — the sheer volume of work is definitely not easy,” Jasmin says.
“We try and keep everything as chemical-free as possible and we had bugs on some of the young plants and snails, which set us back a bit, but bigger than that was when we were away for a week and about 400 sheep got into the annuals and natives. They gave everything a really, really good prune, so that set us back about 18 months on some of the rows. But I try to think of the positives — hopefully, the good pruning will make them stronger in the end,” she laughs.
But the biggest challenge, as Jasmin says, is one that many new business owners face. “Self-doubt is by far the biggest challenge. Asking myself if I can do this… if people will like what I’m doing… if they’ll actually buy tickets to an event I put so much work into… all of that! It’s been a big push to get past that side of things!”
These days, Jasmin has started building up her network of native flower farmers, who she messages when she has questions and shares her learnings, but a lot of it has been trial and error. “It’s a different climate and soil type over here to most native farmers, so I’ve planted a big variety to see what will grow. It’s a long-term investment and can take a good five years to build up, but I’ve tried to make sure I’ve got the biggest window possible of seasonal flowers. It won’t always be the same ones all year round because that’s not how they grow, but everyone seems happy to have what’s growing at the time and it’s a good way to showcase what’s seasonal. Every bunch is a little bit different and unique!”
And diversification is also leading to a more sustainable management of the family farm, as Jasmin explains. “Like many others, we’re trying to leave the farm in a better position by looking after it and adding to it so it’s there for our kids and the next generation. Part of that is understanding that chemicals have a role in managing the farm, but also looking at how we could do things differently or better.”
Reflecting on picking her first protea off the farm, Jasmin has a message for anyone with a dream: “Talk to each other and if you have a dream, put it out there. This was my crazy little idea and now it’s happening!”
Jasmin’s also thrilled that women in agriculture are being recognised for the hard work they’re doing. “It’s not just a male dominated thing now and it’s so good to see diverse businesses coming out of things like drought. It was my mental health thing to be out in the garden when things were stressful — amongst the greenery, getting my hands into the dirt in a different way to farming, and it was what I needed, but it’s become so much more now.”
To soak in some of the beauty of Poodra Springs Native Flowers, follow them on Facebook, Instagram or get in touch with Jasmin directly.