Pretty Produce owner Simone Jelley to replace award-winning edible flowers with vegetables to help vulnerable community members

AN award winning Canungra flower grower has come up with a community-minded strategy to keep her business active during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNSELFISH ACT: Simone Jelley will swap her flowers for fresh produce in a bid to help elderly people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Katherine O'Brien.

UNSELFISH ACT: Simone Jelley will swap her flowers for fresh produce in a bid to help elderly people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Katherine O'Brien.

Pretty Produce owner Simone Jelley plans to grow vegetables in place of edible flowers, package them into boxes and make them available to those doing it tough.

The business normally sells edible flowers to high-end restaurants and cafes but strict new laws on social gatherings has forced many of their clients to close their doors.

The flowers that would have been sold will be pulled from the farm's garden and replaced with an assortment of fresh produce.

Ms Jelley has a history of helping the community, having offered a similar service to the elderly on Macleay Island when her business was based in the Redlands.

"We are now developing veggie boxes and fresh nutritional leaf boxes for people," Ms Jelley said.

"We are getting in things that are highly nutritious and easy to grow. We are also going to be offering a range of seedlings for people to be able to grow at home.

"We are currently grabbing all the equipment to wheel that out. I think that in terms of growing food you are in a really good position as people are really conscious of wanting to know who is a food grower in their local community."

Ms Jelley said the business stopped receiving orders for edible flowers about two weeks ago, forcing them to lay off a staffer that they had employed just days earlier.

"We saw the writing on the wall that we weren't going to be able to offer that," she said.

"We have a group of people that I've got on my books that, fingers crossed, I can contact as soon as things come back online."

Ms Jelley said she was focused on getting the vegetable box project off the ground.

"The elderly, those over 60 who are falling into the group of greatest concern, are sitting at home, probably without fresh produce because they are terrified to go out in case they pick up the virus at the local shop," she said.

"We ourselves will do deliveries but also we are hoping to leave the deliveries at the farm gates and people can come and collect them so there is no cross-over of contact."

COLOURFUL: Simone Jelley lives life among her flowers. She will replace some with vegetables to keep her business active during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Katherine O'Brien.

COLOURFUL: Simone Jelley lives life among her flowers. She will replace some with vegetables to keep her business active during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Katherine O'Brien.

Ms Jelley said the business would struggle to recoup lost revenue during the coronavirus crisis but had established a strategy to keep the farm operating.

"Everybody seems to think it (the virus) will be around for six months but we all don't know," she said.

"Six months to me is a full season and a half or a two season cycle.

"The advantage of doing what I am doing is I can get stuff in and just be ready with multi-purpose plants, those that offer both a leaf and a flower. I am trying to think through things intelligently."

She hopes to be able to sell edible flowers again once the pandemic is over.

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This story Flower grower's unselfish act during COVID-19 pandemic first appeared on Beaudesert Times.