A heartbroken flower farmer who considered “throwing the towel in” after being wiped out by flooding has been overwhelmed by community efforts to save her business.
Erin Dore considered walking away from her fledgling flower farm after successive floods and weeks of rain destroyed most of her plants earlier this year.
But the generous donation of 1,000 snapdragon seedlings and support from the Gympie community north of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast have helped save the farm from folding.
Spirits have lifted with spring and months of hard work to repair the damage and replant have started to pay off. Gardens packed with flowers and foliage have begun to bloom.
But it was a very different story in March as Ms Dore and her mother, Julie, salvaged what little they could from sodden ground.
In a social media post at the time, Ms Dore sent love and hope to fellow affected farmers even as she despaired about her plight.
“Part of me feels like throwing the towel in; so much time and all of my savings have gone into my little business,” she wrote.
“To think that I almost have to start again is overwhelming and heartbreaking.”
The former interior designer gave up her job in Sydney and founded the farm in her parents’ backyard, sinking all of her savings into the venture.
But the community rallied around them and when a major supplier rang to donate 1,000 snapdragon seedlings, Ms Dore was overwhelmed.
“I think I almost cried when I got that phone call. I was in total disbelief,” she said.
“It definitely saved our butts, I can tell you that much, because if I didn’t have those, I still wouldn’t have had an income until a month ago.
“[It] probably helped keep the business alive, to be honest.”
Julie Dore said her daughter had to shoulder a lot of stress and battled some low moments.
“Some days I think Erin found it hard to get out of bed and face it. We pushed ourselves a lot,” she said.
“We can actually see the result now, which is good.”
A determined mother-daughter team
Erin Dore described her mother as a “mud warrior” during some “pretty dark times”.
“It was very depressing — I’m not going to lie. It was really hard to look at and it was hard to come to work, that’s for sure,” she said.
“But I have a lot of really wonderful repeat clients in Gympie, so I didn’t want to let them down and there was a lot of love and support.”
The mother-daughter team have built raised garden beds for their precious dahlia collection and also have plans to build a hoop house to protect them from the worst of the weather.
“We have been ordering huge amounts of compost and composting all of the rows
“We’re getting the hang of what works here and what doesn’t and we’re just getting better and better at it.
“We do a subscription service where, weekly or fortnightly, I arrange flowers to suit a budget and deliver them to your door.”
As a small farm, the business does not have the economies of scale that larger farms enjoy, but by offering a wider variety of flowers that don’t transport well long-distance, Erin Dore has created a point of difference.
Sweet-scented sweet peas, stocks, zinnias and poppies are just some of the range that sold out last week.
“I was on my feet arranging orders for six hours straight and then I had nothing left,” she said.
“It’s just amazing the support we’re getting and I’m getting better and better at my job.”