Behind the Celebration: Flowers

We’ve grown accustomed to giving flowers when celebrating with friends and loved ones, but have you ever wondered about the people behind these spectacular blooms?

Meet Michael and Femke Licciardi, the owners of Wandin Valley Flowers on Melbourne’s eastern outskirts.

Q: Why did you become a farmer?

A: Michael and Femke

We became farmers to carry on generations of farming on both sides of our families. Femke’s, my wife’s father and generations before him grew flowers in Holland.

Arie Van der Spek, her father, was also one of the first people in Australia to grow Alstroemeria commercially. My family also has a farming history, growing vegetables for generations, back in Italy.

Q: Did you grow up dreaming of having your own farm?

A: Michael and Femke

Yes, we both did. With farming being in both of our families for so long, we dreamed of carrying it on to the next generation.

Now our children Sophie and Gianni, who work full time on the farm also dream to have their own farms.

Q: Is it a family affair?

A: Michael and Femke

Yes, very much so. We work as a family unit, and it just works well for us

Our daughter Isabella is a florist and works with us part-time here.

Q: If you weren’t a farmer what would you be?

A: Michael and Femke

Fem would be a florist if not a farmer, and for me there was never really any other option.

I was always going to be a farmer!

Q: What makes your product so special?

A: Michael and Femke

Our product is so special because of our attention to detail throughout the growing-to-selling process.

We take much pride in our product and product quality, and brand our products with our own unique striped-printed sleeves.

At Wandin Valley Flowers we grow a select few exclusive varieties that you can only find on our farm, as well as always trialling new varieties of Alstro.

Q: What’s your farm doing to combat climate change?

A: Michael and Femke

Alstroemeria itself is a very sustainable crop, some of our varieties have been in the ground for 20 plus years and are still abundantly producing!

We recycle our water, and when possible we use organic sprays and products.

All of our stem off-cuts and discarded leaves are also collected and turned into mulch here on the farm.

Q: How do you use technology on your farm?

A: Michael and Femke

We have automated windows in our plastic houses, which work on a thermostat, opening and closing when the weather reaches set temperatures.

Hydronic heating throughout the plastic houses also provides frost protection for the crops during winter.

When it’s summer, we have circulation fans in the plastic houses to encourage air flow.

We also have some old-school methods too. All of the flowers are hand-picked and hand-bunched. This helps us keep an eye on the quality of our products before they go out the door.

Q: What’s your favourite flower or bouquet?

A: Michael and Femke

It would have to be Alstroemeria! You can’t beat the vase life of Alstro haha!

The Charmelia variety of the Alstro is beautiful, it is a ‘truss’ variety, meaning the flowers grow up the stems in multiple little flowers on a singular floret.

This makes it quite unique to standard alstro, and its vase life is extraordinary.

Q: How do we get our hands on your products?

A: Michael and Femke

We sell our flowers to many wholesalers (at the markets) throughout Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Adelaide, so our products can be found in many stores nationally.

Just keep an eye out for the striped sleeves!