After eight years working as an interior designer in Sydney, Erin Dore swapped stilettos for gumboots, heading home to establish Petal Head farm and florist on her parent’s historic Gympie property in regional Queensland.

Key points:

  • Erin Dore left interior design to become a flower farmer
  • 8 million more flower stems were imported last financial year
  • Flower Industry Australia says it isn’t widely known that many imported flowers are treated with glyphosate

COVID-19 made Ms Dore re-evaluate, so she invested all her savings and is now earning a living from her green thumb.

Since January she has packed the large house block with stunning flowers grown from seed, or bulbs in the case of striking hot pink dahlias, donated by neighbour Marge.

“People are just kind of amazed by the colours and the textures, so that’s what makes me really excited,” Ms Dore said.

Beautiful red, pink and orange flowers growing in a row.

Erin Dore grows traditional favourites like zinnias but has also invested in more unusual varieties.(

ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols

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“It is physically very hard work at times so it’s not for everybody, but I don’t mind that, I don’t want to sit on my bum all day.”

Heavenly scented sweet peas are another offering from the “she shed”, next to 131-year-old Stumm house, built for the late local identity, Gympie Times owner and politician, Jacob Stumm.

“We did a few markets, but we actually found that just selling from the farm, using Facebook and Instagram has been the most successful because it’s just such an enjoyable place to come and visit as well,” Ms Dore said.

A gorgeous old Queenslander with a verandah and lots of potted plants around it.

The flower farm surrounds Stumm house, a 131-year-old Queenslander originally owned by journalist and politician Jacob Stumm.(

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Time to grow

Flower Industry Australia CEO Anna Jabour said Ms Dore wasn’t alone in wanting a tree-change.

On the day we spoke she had three emails in her inbox from people looking to start flower farms to meet local demand.

Beautiful purple and pink flowers in vases.

Petal Head’s popular sweet pea posies.(

Supplied: Erin Dore

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“A lot of the public don’t realise that many flowers are grown overseas so there’s been a real pushback towards buying Australian grown,” Ms Jabour said.

Imports herbicide treated

Last financial year 209,500,000 flower stems were imported, up 8 million stems on the year before.

A woman standing surrounded by colourful bunches of flowers.

Anna Jabour, CEO of Flower Industry Australia, says more people have expressed an interest in small-scale flower growing.(

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The federal government has issued a special permit, allowing the stems of imported roses, carnations, lithianthus, chrysanthemums and delphiniums to be dipped in a dilution of glyphosate up to 5 centimetres from the bud.

It prevents them from being grafted onto local root stock and potentially transmitting exotic viral and other diseases.

An Aldi spokesperson said the treatment process was in direct accordance with the Australian Department of Agriculture’s guidance to combat pests posing a threat to Australia’s ecosystem.

Bouquets of flowers for sale at a supermarket from$25-$35 a bunch.

Supermarkets do not include country-of-origin labelling on flowers.(

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“There are government bodies who assess any risk and outline the appropriate industry-wide control measures, which we strictly abide by.”

Call for transparency

Flower Industry Australia wants consumers to be given the choice of avoiding herbicide-treated blooms by introducing country-of-origin labelling for flowers.

“There are no kudos for the flower farmers and there’s nothing telling you where they [the blooms] are from,” Ms Jabour said.

Pretty bouquets in jars.

The Petal Head farmgate shop has proved popular with Gympie locals.(

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In a statement, Coles said it made it a priority to support Australian growers and that: “the importation of cut flowers is used to complement the offering of local growers in order to meet customer demand and preference”.

A Woolworths statement explained the supermarket’s flower suppliers were all Australian-based but that it would import certain varieties at key times of year.

Ms Jabour said carbon emissions from flower miles should be considered. 

The federal government is evaluating 2016 country-of-labelling reforms and considering the “costs and benefits” of extending the scheme to non-food items like cut flowers.

Big beautiful boquets in vases with Erin Dore working behind them.

Erin Dore invested all her savings into becoming a flower farmer and florist.(

ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols

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The flower farmer offering a homegrown alternative to imports
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