I’ve known the FernTrust Folks for a very long time… I love that FernTrust is a cooperative of 11 farms(meet the growers here!) … most of them small Florida Foliage Farms – that specialize in certain varieties of Foliage- it’s fun to be on the FernTrust property as the different farmers bring in their harvest of different kinds of foliage- all loaded in their trucks, pickups, or even car trunks… all bunched and ready for market!
All of the Foliage at FernTrust is treated witht he FernCool Process- a patented process- that helps the FernTrust Varieties- remain fresh- and last longer than any other foliage in the market- it’s key to their success- and just part of the high level of quality they provide! Learn more about the FernCool Process here!
Ferntrust is unique- in that aspect- it gives the small co-op farms the advantage to market like a big company- and it creates wonderful opportunities for so many! Ferntrust offers over 126 different varieties of foliage- (see them here) not all are from Florida- but when you want to be Fresh on the Scene with Foliage and Fern you can Trust (their tag line)… you offer all the foliage you can.
David Register and I have been friends for a long time as well… the Register Family and my Family have been involved in the Flower Industry for generations… (my family for 4 generations- and David’s for 5) it’s in our blood… I often joke that we might bleed ‘Green’- when cut… because it’s truly our passion- to be Flower and Foliage Folks!
The Register family is a lot like mine too- in the fact- that they live on the Foliage Farms in Florida- just like my family lived on the greenhouse property in Nebraska. David’s dad James lives on property… and so does David and his two brothers- Jimmy and Mike… along with Jana, Victoria and Brendan… all part of the FernTrust Family. Jana is one of my “besties”… we talk all the time- figuring out new ways to introduce people to foliage- at markets, conventions, uBloom and just about anything we can think of! Jana is married to Mike- and their son Brendan- is the up-and-coming Monstera King… growing the Foliage of the Year for 2018-2019.
Victoria is David’s daughter- and is the name-sake of the feathery Rumohra Andiantiformis (Florida Fern or Leather Leaf) that I show off in the All Folige-Living Green episode of J Schwanke’s Life in Bloom. It’s definitely a family operation- and that’s also made up of lots of folks that are JUST LIKE FAMILY- the crews that cut the foliage- and teams that grade and package and customize bunches and boxes- and artists that create one of kind wreaths, garlands- and of course- ColorFresh- the Colorful Foliage- featured in “Living Green” on Life in Bloom!
It takes a certain type of passion to raise Foliage in Florida. FernTrust has a rich history with Agriculture in Florida- you can learn more here! Alas- Mother Nature is Queen- and while she provides the perfect climate, humidity and sunshine for Foliage production- she can slide in a ‘curve ball’ every once in a while with Freezing Temperatures or a Hurricane… which wreak havoc with Fern Farmers. I find the Freeze protection- process extremely interesting- when the temps threaten to drop below freezing they turn on sprinklers to wet the fern- and it actually freezes on the fronds- but this thin layer of ice will actually prevent the fern from freezing… it’s beautiful- and terrifying at the same time.
Florida Fern needs a bit of “sunblock” from the Florida Sunshine- that’s why – Fern grows best under Oak Hammocks- a grove of Live Oaks that provide dappled shade on delicate growing ferns. Over the years- technology has provided Saran – a black shade cloth that provides translucent shade- and keeps the fern growing strong and vibrant… but add hurricane force winds- and the Saran becomes a giant sail- and can be ripped away- not only costly but deadly to the fragile fern crop beneath to be scorched or burned by the Hot Sun Filled days that follow a typical hurricane!
Then there is the harvesting- this is not only hard work- but it’s truly an art-form. The Fern is harvested into 25 stem bunches- but here’s the artistry- each cutter- picks, grades and packages the 25 stems on the go- in the field! That means that the harvester is making a decision about each stem- choosing the best quality- the right stage of growth, the right size, cutting the perfect length- and then placing it neatly and organized into their hand- and then bundling with a rubber band… this is done in a field that maybe 85-95˚ F… and each bunch is completed in about 45-90 seconds… It’s a race… and I tried it… it’s incredibly difficult… and truth be known… the foreman that allowed me a chance to try it… said I would “be fired before my first bunch was completed”… Trust me when I say- these ladies and gentlemen have my ULTIMATE RESPECT!
Foliage growing is not for the faint of heart… and my friends are FernTrust are truly BRAVE – Courageous Foliage Farmers- that take everything in stride- working with the land- and Mother Nature to grow the most Fabulous Foliage – it truly is amazing!