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Blaze to Bloom

Plants and flowers grow in the blackened ground, a reminder of how close Jane Somers’ family came to losing it all.

Jane Somers can’t imagine ever working in an office again.
The former travel agent would much prefer to spend her days kneeling beside flower beds, digging up dahlias, pruning roses and planting bulbs in ground that was once scorched black.
It’s been almost three years since the Cudlee Creek bushfires ripped through the region, destroying 80% of Jane and her family’s 10 acre Brukunga property and sparking a new future in flower farming.
It was local volunteer group Hills Green Thumb Garden Club’s donation of plants to reinvigorate Jane’s property after the blaze that set off a curiosity in plant propagation and dabbling with flower arrangements.
“The donated plants were a very eclectic mix and that’s sort of where my first little bunch of flowers came from,” says Jane, owner of Big Sky Flower Farm.
“I gave them as a gift to someone and they said, ‘wow, these are amazing, you should sell them!’. That’s what started it all.”
The donated plants and flowers grew in the blackened ground, a reminder of how close Jane’s family came to losing it all.
“Eighty per cent of our property was burned,” she says. “The amazing CFS saved our house, but we did have a bit of damage.
“We didn’t have time to get our goats, horses, and miniature cows out of there, but we were very lucky we didn’t lose a single animal. Our chooks and ducks must have huddled underneath the sprinkler to survive.”
Three months after the bushfire had destroyed more than 80 homes in the area, Covid-19 emerged, bringing Jane’s 14 year career in the travel industry to a standstill.

Jane Somers.

In the aftermath of the blaze and during the pandemic, Jane turned to gardening and flower arrangements and before long, her property was blooming with dozens of species including roses, dahlias, zinnias, spring bulbs and natives.
As the months rolled by, the power of social media helped attract a steady stream of orders and before long florists, cafes and gift shops across the Hills were placing requests for her flower bunches.
“I probably wouldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for the bushfire, and Covid forcing me to do something different,” says the mother-of-two.
“I couldn’t imagine having an inside job anymore. I guess after working inside as a travel agent for a long time doing long hours to now working outside – it’s been a completely life-changing experience. I can’t imagine it any other way.”
This year Big Sky Flower Farm is set for further growth with several new developments coming to fruition.
As well as a physical expansion of the flower farm, Jane has introduced a farm gate stall selling flowers from the roadside of her Brukunga property.
She is also launching a bouquet bar for hire at hen’s parties, birthdays, and special events where guests can create their own flower arrangements.
With the expansion – which includes the planting of 35 additional rows of flowers – also comes the need for more helping hands. While Jane’s husband, Dave, lends a hand during busy periods, Big Sky Flower Farm is looking to employ local staff to cope with the demand.
Despite the business’ growth and success in a short period of time, Jane is humbled knowing her creations become displays of love, affection, and sympathy during some of the most meaningful times in people’s lives.
“Hearing about where the flowers went is something I enjoy the most,” she says.
“That’s one of the cool things about social media, where people tag you in photos of their baby shower or wedding day and I see my flowers.
“It’s just so cool and so rewarding. It sounds corny but just to see what they (the flowers) have been a part of – it’s just like, ‘oh my god, that’s something I grew!’”
Buyers of Big Sky Flower Farm bouquets can take comfort in the business’ sustainable approach to flower farming.
Jane’s arrangements are made from fresh flowers sourced from her farm, with imported flowers not an option for the passionate grower who says nothing beats buying local blooms.
“The number one thing (about buying local and not imported) is that the flowers aren’t dipped in and sprayed with Glyphosate which is a quarantine requirement for entering Australia,” she says.
“Some of those flowers can be weeks old as well. So, getting it direct from the farm or from a florist that buys from local farms ensures you are getting a fresh product and it helps support local businesses.”
Big Sky Flower Farm’s farm gate stall is located at 750 Military Road, Brukunga. facebook.com/bigskyflowerfarmsa.

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