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Just over a month ago staff and supported employees at Endeavour Foundation Industries were celebrating planting a bumper crop of Mother’s Day Chrysanthemums, hoping to break previous sale records when the flowers bloomed this May.
Today they are counting the costs of the possibility of losing the crop after flood waters have wiped out many of the plants.
“It’s not looking good,” said Endeavour Foundation Industries Bundaberg manager Geoffrey Atwell. “A good 75 per cent of the crop is absolutely drowned.
We face losing the entire crop. That’s more than $45,000 worth of sales, which would have gone toward supporting people with a disability.
That money could really make a difference in the lives of people with a disability.”
The service’s supported employees – people with a disability who are offered training and employment opportunities through Endeavour Foundation Industries – along with volunteers and staff, had planted 6,000 seedlings in late November, which was double the usual amount.
“We’d specifically planted an extra 50 per cent of seedlings so we could have a bumper season,” Geoffrey said. “Now we stand to lose it all.”
Geoffrey said the farm had been upgraded last year, with improved drainage and lighting to ensure premium flowers.
The new drainage didn’t stand a chance against the torrential rain which has bombarded Bundaberg. Chrysanthemums are the traditional Mother’s Day flower.
The proceeds from Endeavour Foundation’s sales help the organisation support more than 3,350 people with a disability throughout Queensland and Sydney.
For more than 20 years the Endeavour Foundation farm has brought a smile to the mums of Bundaberg by growing Chrysanthemums.
But unless the weather drastically improves there may not be any to sell this year. “We’d need a miracle to salvage the remaining crops,” said Geoffrey.
“We’d basically need for the weather to be perfect from now until May. Seeing as we haven’t even hit February – typically the wettest month – I don’t know if that will happen.
“We might have to look into alternatives such as planting a different crop that will flower in time, and hope the public accepts that it’s not the traditional Mother’s Day flower and gets behind us.”
Along with losing the Mother’s Day Chrysanthemums the service looks to also lose much of its cherry tomato crop.
“The weather conditions meant we couldn’t get to the tomatoes to pick them so a lot of them have over-ripened and gone rotten on the vines.”
While the flood has wiped out much of the farm’s crops, Geoffrey said he was grateful that’s all that was lost.
“These are the worst floods in a long time so I can only be thankful that all of our staff, supported employees and volunteers are safe and well,” he said.
“A few of our staff members have had their homes under water and in other parts of Queensland people have lost their lives. Our thoughts and wishes are with these seriously affected people and their families. We’re doing what we can to help affected staff.”
Endeavour Foundation offers several services to people with a disability in Bundaberg, including accommodation, education, lifestyle and employment opportunities.
Endeavour Foundation Industries Bundaberg, which includes the farm, provides training and employment opportunities to 72 people with a disability. In addition to growing Chrysanthemums, supported employees grow and package vegetables in the service’s accredited clean room, manufacture trophies and collate mail for customers.
Jo Glover, Media and Communications Officer
Phone: (07) 3908 7257, 0429 065 440
Fax: (07) 3253 7271