Nikki Davey might describe herself as an accidental flower farmer, however, her success has certainly been no accident. SOPHIE BALDWIN tells her story.

Hard working, innovative and always thinking outside the square, Nikki Davey was recently awarded the 2023 Vic AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award after creating Grown Not Flown — a digital marketing platform to connect consumers with local flower farms.

The initiative came after Nikki realised it was a tiresome process to search, source and connect with local flower growers.

The platform now has more than 5000 users across 30 countries and 1100 global flower farms.

The app enables small-scale producers to connect directly with their consumers who prioritise shopping locally.

“One of the main things we wanted to do was to remove the need for micro- and small-scale growers to have to build and manage their own websites,’’ Nikki said.

Nikki also recently hosted her first ever design and business online masterclass in collaboration with The Ivy Institute, which saw participation from 400 people from eight different countries.

“’The growth within the platform is really exciting and has really blown us all away, it’s been a whirlwind,” she said.

Located at Glenmore, 70km west of Melbourne, Nikki and her partner Sam Baff and sister Toni grow a variety of flowers including proteas, Leucadendron, waratah, pin cushions, eucalyptus and kangaroo paw.

The flowers are all climatically suited to the region and are grown on north-facing slopes.

“We do get some light frosts but that doesn’t seem to bother the plants too much,” Nikki said.

“Waterlogging is not normally an issue because of the sloping ground, however last year’s extreme wet weather did shock some plants and we lost around five per cent.”

Nikki said revegetation of the property is always ongoing and has been a focus for the property since 2019.

“We consider ourselves accidental flower farmers by proxy.

“My cousin Jayde and her husband, Hayden, bought a farm in 2019 that just so happened to have an established but very neglected wildflower and native flower farm on it.

“They were only days away from bulldozing their flower paddock when they noticed the flowers were blooming and decided to get a consultant out.”

It turned out flowers are a viable business and they’ve been expanding ever since.

‘’It was Jayde who convinced us to trial flower farming, and because they often describe themselves as accidental flower farmers, and so I guess we are too by proxy,” Nikki said.

The decision to start the flower farm and a fledging truffle business were all part of a family succession plan which has seen the 121-hectare property diversify away from beef and cropping.

“Our parents Deirdre and Russell wanted to retire and we decided we wanted to hold on to the property and take over and here we are,” Nikki said.

While they are expecting sporadic harvests over the next three to five years before flower supply becomes consistent, they are expecting to deliver their first full harvest of wildflowers this year.

“We will look to do a roadside stall and potentially some farmers’ markets in the future, and also have people come to the farm for an experience and pick flowers themselves.”

Meanwhile the truffles will not hit maturity until 10 to 15 years.

“Truffles are definitely a long-term investment for the business.’’

Nikki is quick to point out the property is still in its infancy and a long way from a visual delight.

“’We’ve got vast fields full of trees that just look like little shrubs at the moment.”

The family have a long-term plan for success with diversification at the core of their business.

They will continue with a small scale Angus-cross beef herd, flower and truffles with bigger plans to one day a build an events centre on the property.

“We have 300-degree views of the Melbourne skyline and with cattle grazing the pastures, wildflowers and tree plantations it will one day be a beautiful place to hold events,” Nikki said.

She said being involved in this award has given her confidence in herself and her business.

As part of her success, Nikki received a $15,000 grant to support her project as well as an opportunity to undertake a professional development course of her own choosing.

“As a self-funded start-up, often progress can be very slow so this grant will be an absolute game-changer for us and what we hope to achieve over the next 12 months.

“It has been a significant financial investment to get the app up and running.”

Later in the year Nikki will represent Victoria at the national AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award announcement in Canberra.

“I feel so incredibly grateful for this opportunity to share our Grown not Flown story and platform with everyone, and to help promote and raise awareness around flower miles, slow flowers and the benefits of supporting local.’’