Sarah Hawkless has been running Emerden flower farm for the last few years and started on her parents’ farm in Stratford. She now supplies local florists as well as shipping flowers. Local reporting is vital to a thriving and connected community. Help us keep telling Taranaki’s stories by making a contribution.

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To the untrained eye, Sarah Hawkless’ flower farm is beautiful, with a variety of pink, purple, and orange blooms standing tall.

But at this time of year it shouldn’t look so good. It should be far more harvested, the 29-year-old said.

“I’ve wasted a lot of flowers this year, but it looks pretty, it looks like what people think a flower farm should look like.”

Hawkless is completely self-taught and started her business, Emerden, four seasons ago on her parents’ Stratford farm. She took over a paddock and planted four rows of flowers.

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It was messy and there were plenty of mistakes, but Hawkless persevered, joining flower grower groups on Facebook, and continues to learn, she said.

Now based on her parents’ Tikorangi farm, she grows around 80 rows of flowers, taking up two acres of the 10 acre property and is busier than ever, harvesting twice a week. Hawkless started out with four rows of flowers and after a lot of trial and error, she now has roughly 80 rows. The business continues to be a family affair, with Hawkless’ mum packing and sending flowers off in the busy periods and her dad helping with building and maintenance.

When she first started, Hawkless wanted to sell flowers directly to people but said that has been a slow process.

She has started a concept called Petals on the Porch where for $18 you can pick up a bouquet from her doorstep but her main customers are florists.
“Nobody needs more flowers than a florist.”Hawkless’ plan is to eventually open up the farm for people to visit and sell other things, such as seeds, but for now she’s focused on the flowers.One flower in particular, ranunculus, has become an obsession, and a sign of her perseverance.These are typically grown from corms, which are like bulbs, and over in Europe and North America there is a bacteria that is killing all the old olive trees and ranunculus could be a carrier for that.For that reason, the Ministry for Primary Industries does not allow the corms into New Zealand.“But I thought no, there has to be a way to get them. So I discovered a lot of them are growing from seed originally, so I harassed the Italian breeder and got them to sell to me because apparently the seeds aren’t a carrier, so they are safe to get in." Ranunculus are a pet project and Hawkless imports the seeds from Italy because you can’t bring the corms, or […]