Yesterday my friend Ben the horticulturist invited me along on his visit to Cameron’s Nursery, a five acre wholesale nursery specialised in perennials. Recently the nursery has extended their business to include an online mail-order company, Planters Patch. We were given a tour by the director, Sonja Cameron.
Sonja calls herself a farmer. Her crop is flowers, though not for florists, but gardeners. Once her customers were only retailers who order plants by the thousands, Sonja now indulges her love of flowers by making available a variety of potted blooms for the home gardener, flowers that she likes to grow herself.
While few commercial enterprises are aware of or care about their impact on the environment, Sonja’s nursery reflects her commitment to sustainability. Mindful that our world is a closed system, Cameron’s Nursery operates with minimum energy, water and waste.
It’s not all hi tech, although there are enough gadgets to satisfy any nerd. As Sonja admits, those customised plugs they use for propagation works on the same principle as what we do at home with toilet paper rolls (remember?) as a biodegradable solution. The difference is in the careful calculation of the mix and the sensors used to automate the watering system to give best rooting results. Note the chopstick they use to poke a hole for the insertion of cuttings – just as I do at home.
As Sonja said, if these plantings fail or fail to sell due to change of trends or any number of reasons, her loss is minimised by the low cost of these tiny beginnings. Clairvoyance is one quality that would be handy to possess in this business but alas it’s often hit or miss. Predictions must be made up to 24 months ahead.
All waste water are collected, tested and recycled. A ‘shandy’ may contain a mixture of dam water, waste water, tank water and when necessary, town water. However, the last is expensive and therefore a last resort. Several wifi monitor stations are placed around the property so that Sonja can access the information they collect from anywhere in the world and make decisions without having to be physically present.
We were impressed by this tight operation that allows a thriving business within just five acres of land. We love the new cultivars that Sonja has developed but alas they are not yet available and we were not permitted to photograph them. We find Sonja’s online catalogue to be so much more interesting than the mass production list and wish her all the best in this new venture.