First of all I would like to say a big “thank you” to the Association and current board for adding a Canadian region. The local flower movement is blooming in Canada and we are so excited to have board representation! The Canadian growers will still look to their local region for growing and timing, but now also have a collective group to voice the unique hurdles that international borders create.
I will put on my Canadian geography teacher hat and give you a brief overview of Canada. We will start in the east with the beautiful Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, known for rich red soil and lupine growing wild! A great destination spot for summer travel and I’m sure you all have heard of Anne (with an E).
As we move west we enter the higher populated provinces of Quebec and Ontario. All of Canada is considered bilingual but Quebec has a large French-speaking population. Montreal and Toronto are the large metropolis cities. Mississauga is the home of the Ontario Flower Growers Auction, a Dutch-style flower auction. There will be an opportunity to visit this in August. Prince Edward County has a happening local/100km scene and it is a great tourist destination. The Niagara region is full of great wineries as well as many great flower farms.
The Prairie Provinces are Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Growers there are TOUGH! Most are in zone 4 and lower but are still determined and able to grow with a very short growing season. Most land parcels in the prairies are thousands of acres filled with grain crops. I am so glad that there are growers who are able to have small farms and making flower farming work in the prairies.
British Columbia is on the west coast. It is everything the west coast is supposed to be—tempered winters and lush growth because of lots of rain. It is Canada’s Pacific Northwest Growers in lower BC are usually among the first to have outdoor production in the spring and can continue longer into the winter.
The Northern Provinces are Nunavut, Yukon, and Northwest Territories. I don’t know of any growers up there but I give them credit if they are. The Alaskan growers amaze me!
When I say I am from Canada I always hear “Wow, how cold is it there?”, “How long is your season?” and occasionally “Do you live in an igloo?”. Our hardiness zones range from coldest in the north, 3-4-5 in the lower part of the prairies, 5-7 in southern Ontario and the Southern Maritimes, to 7-8 in the west coast. I am in southwestern Ontario. Our zone is 6a. St. Thomas is straight north through Lake Erie at Cleveland. We normally count on our last frost date around May 10 and the first frost around October 15.
Back to my flower farmer hat. I am excited to join an awesome group of “‘flower geeks” like myself on the board. I hope that in my three-year term I am able to make a mark for Canadians in this association. We are strong and mighty and love growing amazing locally-grown blooms for our customers. The Canadian membership is growing just like the rest of the new members. I hope all members will enjoy my articles and learn something from a north-of-the-border flower farmer.
In August there will be a tour of some great Canadian flower farms. Start planning for your quick summer getaway. The presentations focus on growing, designing, and business. A great lineup is already in the works. If you plan to drive, there will be an opportunity to do a drop in visit at some other farms along the route. Remember to get your passport ready and if the exchange rate stays the same your money will go further on
Canadian purchases. The host site is only a 25-30 minute drive from one of the natural wonders of the world, Niagara Falls. This is a great chance for a much-needed break in the busy season. We are really excited to have the ASCFG come to visit Canada.
Please be sure to follow our farm on Facebook (www.facebook.com/harrisflowerfarmpasturedpork), Instagram (harrisflowerfarm) and our website www.harrisflowerfarm.ca. Also make sure to introduce yourself at ASCFG events. I’m excited to take a bigger role in this awesome association!