Bloomin’ Busy

Frank’s full-on flower focus – A day in the life of Frank Miaolo

• What is your name and what is your occupation?

Frank Maiolo  – horticulturalist

• How long have you been in this industry/role?

My family has been in the industry since 1988. Dad started the business off and it has grown from generation to generation.

• What studies/requirements do you need to fulfil to be able to do this type of work?

I never did any formal study, with us, as a family-owned and operated business, it was basically trial and error. Family knowledge was passed on. Nowadays you can go and do a TAFE course and study horticultural, I think it’s about two years in length.

Running your own business, especially one like ours which is very hands-on, physical and long-hours, you need to be mentally fit, mentally strong because it does take a lot out of you. Running a business, a farm, is challenging in lots of different ways.

• Describe your usual day, starting from when you get up to when your head hits the pillow (eg 7am, 10am, 12.30 pm)

Three days a week Monday, Wednesday and Friday I start my day very early.

My alarm goes off at 12.15am and I head to the Adelaide Produce Market where I sell our hand-picked flowers from our regular stall.

7am – head back to the farm in Two Wells. On the same days I go to market, we pick and grade flowers.

These are then stored in the coolroom to keep them fresh. This process generally takes all day. We knock-off around 4.30pm.

Off-market days, Tuesday and Thursday I start on the farm at 7am and finish the day at about 6pm.

These days are spent preparing the soil for planting, spraying for pests and diseases, also spraying fertiliser, and picking blooms.

We pack the truck for market on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and also on Saturdays, and drive to the market to unload it at about 3pm, ready for the early opening of the market the next day.

I usually go to bed between 9pm-9.30pm.

• What do you enjoy about this occupation?  Have you enjoyed any particular highlights throughout your experiences?

I enjoy seeing the end product. Watching the plants grow from the very beginning, from planting, watching them grow, to picking is just great.

Seeing what we’ve planned to do come to fruition and succeed, that’s the joy of it. Watching the flowers bloom is a bonus.

Many times I’ve come out to check the plants and have forgotten to turn the water off.

I find my greenhouses flooded, with water flowing everywhere. It’s like one big massive swimming pool inside the greenhouse.

• What type of changes have you seen in this occupation/industry?

There are now a lot of flowers coming in through import, which is hurting the industry in a huge way.

It’s forcing other growers to close their doors. There is a very small amount of us growers left here in Adelaide and around the country.

Thousands of tonnes of flowers are coming in weekly from all over the world and it’s literally killing the local industry.

Local growers just can’t compete. Growing flowers that are too heavy to be imported is one way we have managed to stay in the industry.

We carry nine varieties and are always on our toes as to what sells and what is going to be the next flavour of the month.

We try to grow to the season, but are mindful of also growing varieties that aren’t easily sourced from overseas.

• What advice would you give to anyone who is looking at entering this occupation/industry?

Do your homework thoroughly.

See what people are buying from interstate and plan accordingly.

Try and grow for what the demand is. Forward planning is important.

We’re always 4-5 months forward planning and then with the bulbs it takes almost eight months of forward planning before we see any results.

You need to stick at it a while before you see results. It takes a good 2-3 years before you see a strong result.

Learn from your mistakes and don’t be afraid to take risks.

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