A SMALL crop nursery on the Atherton Tablelands is expanding its production to provide hardy seedlings suited to the harsh tropical climate to customers across North Queensland.
Over the past three decades, Flourish Plants at Mareeba has grown from a small mum and dad operation to become a major player in the domestic and commercial markets.
The business is blooming and now services clients from the Torres Strait to Rockhampton and west to Mount Isa.
Flourish Plants director Elaine Duncan said the business had shifted over the decades from initially working with small crop farmers on the Tablelands who were transitioning from the tobacco industry. Three years ago they separated their garden centre and wholesale business and rebranded themselves as Flourish Plants.
"In doing so we also created our own branding of plants called Selections where we put together ranges of plants for the domestic market mostly," Ms Duncan said.
A recent opportunity arose to grow commercial blueberry crops for a large corporation, which would provide ongoing work in years to come.
"In 2018, we successfully fulfilled a trial producing blueberry plants for a national corporation," Ms Duncan said.
"The plants were adjusted to the local climate, faster growing and higher yielding due to vegetative bud growth induced through our highly effective growing systems.
"We've now been offered a contract to produce blueberry plants but we couldn't house that many plants in our nursery."
Ms Duncan successfully applied for a $115,000 state government grant to establish a germination chamber and new shade houses.
"Having a germination chamber at Flourish Plants will allow us to grow commercial quality seedlings from start to finish.
"We will have quite a large volume of blueberries and the plants get replaced every three to four years, so the work is ongoing for our business.
"As other larger corporations look toward investing in the region, we firmly believe more opportunity will come from successfully doing this."
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said he was pleased the government could support the business through the Rural Economic Development grant scheme.