The Small Farms cover story in August was about a young entrepreneur who had a blooming good idea that had won her the 2023 Vic AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award. A month later, she took out the national title. So let’s revisit her story.
Nikki Davey jokes she’s not a natural farmer. She can’t fix a fence and she doesn’t like going outside on a windy day.
Instead it’s her ingenuity and bold vision for sustainable produce that has earned her the national Rural Women’s Award.
Nikki, from Glenmore in Victoria, is a co-founder of Grown Not Flown, an app that connects consumers with their local flower farms.
The digital platform is designed to reduce “flower miles” from imported blooms, while also supporting rural and regional economies.
“Simple solutions can have a huge impact,” Nikki said, while accepting the AgriFutures award at Parliament House in Canberra.
Nikki became an “accidental flower farmer” when she and her partner took on her parents’ farm in 2019 and decided to diversify their income by growing truffles and perennial wildflowers.
But connecting with customers was not easy at first, she said.
“There was no technology dedicated to assisting micro and small-scale flower farmers, producers, within Australia or globally, so we built the platform,” Nikki said.
“We went global really, really quickly.”
Since its launch two years ago, Grown Not Flown has attracted 3500 users in 30 countries, with listings for more than 1000 growers.
Nikki said she hoped the platform would encourage consumers to celebrate the origin of their bouquets in the same way many embrace local food.
“Everyone loves a story and love to be connected to the producers and the growers and the faces behind the farms.”
Nikki said the award felt like recognition for the challenges she has faced as a female founder working across both the agriculture and technology sectors, and emphasised the value of small-scale growers and their contributions to local economies.
“We have an opportunity to change the way we shop for seasonal and locally grown produce,” she said.
“Grown Not Flown is all about supporting local — local communities, local economies.
“We truly believe that the future is small — but in the best way possible.”
Along with the title, Nikki receives $20,000 from award sponsor Westpac, in addition to $15,000 she received as the Victorian winner.
These funds will support her to develop a Grown Not Flown knowledge hub so that flower growers can tap into tips, tools and best practices.
This is the second successive year Victorian women have been acknowledged in the national honours, with Bendigo woman Kimberley Furness awarded the 2022 National Runner-Up title for her efforts to profile and celebrate female-led businesses in rural and regional Australia through her work as founder and publisher of OAK Magazine.
The runner-up prize this year was awarded to Michelle Leonard, the director of regional arts and music program Moorambilla Voices.
Michelle, who was born in Coonamble, western NSW, runs musical workshops for children in rural and remote parts of the state, culminating in tours, recordings and large-scale choir performances.
The classically-trained musician said the award acknowledged the power of art in revealing the enormous potential of small communities.
“I thought initially I was creating an exceptional artistic vehicle and a choir and that I would be able to reach an artistic goal,” Michelle said.
“But it has become significantly more than that … regional children and youth and communities are capable of excellence and we should demand that in every single turn.”
Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said rural Australia owed a lot to women, including the establishment of the Country Woman’s Association and the distance education program School of the Air.
“They are all testament to the grit and determination of rural women,” he said.
“When we’re planning the future of rural and regional Australia, we need women at the table.”
Other state finalists were recognised for their work in sustainable construction, youth re-engagement programs, grief support, Indigenous food education, and environmentally-friendly pet products.