In the wake of Hurricane “Matthew”… the Fern Capital of the world is scrambling to repair and replace acres of shade cloth that protect their valuable foliage crops!
Hurricane “Matthew” ripped a hole in the Volusia County Fern Farming industry this past week… The damages have put a tremendous burden on the entire foliage industry in this area known as the “Fern Capital of the world”… according to Volusia Farm Bureau President David Register (also President of FernTrust) concluded in an interview with the Daytona Beach News Journal…
David also posted videos on Facebook as he ventured out during the storm… showing what happens when a hurricane force winds met his shade covered fern farm. The effects of winds of this magnitude simply shredded the cloth that protect the fern below.
We documented the growing process of Leatherleaf and many other types of foliage in our Florida Fresh Documentary… and it’s undeniable- that these farms work hand in hand with mother nature to grow, harvest and deliver the BEST Quality Fern and Foliage on the earth…
An incident like this may take years of recovery… some farms are posting 40 to 60% distruction of shade materials (both Man made Shade cloth and the Live Oak “hammocks” (Live oaks provide natural shade for the delicate fern and foliage crops… where as the shade cloth “houses” provide similar cover from the damaging rays of the sun)… I’m unsure how many people are aware of the necessity of shade to provide proper cover so that the fern and similar foliage don’t burn up…
Removal of the shade cloth is a literal “death sentence” to the fern crop beneath them. The subject of “INSURANCE” comes up frequently and it’s important to note that HURRICANE INSURANCE is something that does not exist for these farms or their crops… so they are quickly seeking government assistance to see if there are any relief funds or emergency loans that can help in repair or replacement.
Add to the fact that Shade Cloth is in short supply and the skilled man power to replace the shade material is in even shorter demand… right now many farms are having to use harvesting crews to attempt to repair or replace the shade cloths… without quick repair or replacement the fern crops are in peril. There are no longer companies that specialize in the manufacturing of shade cloth or it’s installation… these farms are in a state of serious emergency!
“Many older farms may choose to close their doors… since the expense to repair or replace may not be an affordable option… or the financial resources do not exist. It’s a tough time… and Hurricane Matthew has left these farms in serious condition” – stated Jana Register of FernTrust!
When Mother Nature crashes in with Hurricane force winds… the results can be devastating! I spoke with Victoria Register- David’s daughter this afternoon.. “What people don’t understand is that we are forgoing harvesting of the crops to repair the shade material… without the shade material in place the crop will die and we won’t have fern going forward for holidays like Valentine’s Day!”… that’s the reality of the situation.
“The average cost of shade material replacement is $5000 per acre” according to Jana Register …(and it appears that hundreds of acres have been affected) … and additional costs will be incurred for installation…”but the real problem is that it needs to be manufactured”… so in some cases speed of repair is hampered by supply… in the mean time… there are flower sellers all over the world wanting all types of foliage…many varieties that are only grown in central Florida! That’s a challenge!”
Foliage is a hot trend in today’s market… and that means that people want large quantities and diverse varieties… and many sellers have standing orders… right now the Florida growers are working around the clock to deliver as much as they can while working repair the damage!
“We hope that people will be patient- and kind- while we make the necessary repairs… and work to deliver all that we can… we’re making trying to make the best of very bad situation” said both Jana and Victoria Register.
I personally learned so much about the Florida Foliage Farmers during the filming of our documentary series… and I’m fearful no one realizes the tremendous burden the damage from “Matthew” has put on these amazing farmers. It’s time to keep them in our thoughts… and help in any way that we can as they recover from this devastating loss!
The pictures speak volumes about the amount of damage… the exposed green areas of foliage are in peril… and repairs are going as quickly as possible… I’m amazed at the Positive Attitude of the fern growers… in the face of this challenge… It’s a great example of the passion that flower industry have for their crops, customers and livelihood. I will keep a watchful eye and report back as the situation progresses!
In the mean time… you can learn more about the Fern Growing Process and the work that goes into growing all types of foliage in our FREE Documentary Series- The Florida Fresh Tour on uBloom.com!