Canungra’s Pretty Produce edible flower farmer Simone Jelley fueling global social media trend

Simone Jelley’s picturesque farm in Queensland’s Scenic Rim would be an Instagram hit on its own, but it is the tiny, decorative morsels she harvests that are getting the most hits on social media.

With husband Dave, Mrs Jelley runs Pretty Produce just outside of Canungra specializing in dainty, colorful, edible flowers and unique leaf mixes grown without the use of chemicals.

Global demand for the products, particularly the couple’s pressed flower portfolios, is growing rapidly with cake decorators in the United States a large part of their customer base.

Each dried flower creation is unique.

“They go onto cakes and it’s a big thing,” Mrs Jelley said.

“I grow it, I pick it, I press it or I dry it.”

The Jelleys create unique pressed flower portfolios that are used to transform cakes into works of art.(Supplied: Rebecca Brown)

The Jelleys produce about 70 different flowers and leaves, with violas and pansies the most popular.

To get the best from their plants, Mr and Mrs Jelley have fine-tuned the harvesting process.

Flowers are picked in the morning and immediately put into an air lock to keep them fresh.

That way they can be stored for any period of time from 10 days to up to two weeks.

Brisbane bayside cake creator and Petal and Peach Bakery owner Rebecca Brown finds inspiration in the flower and stem shapes of Pretty Produce foliage.

“I think the way they bend on the side of the cake, you can visualize what they were like before they were dried and pressed,” Mrs Brown said.

“It feels really connected to nature.”

Edible flower farm co-owner Simone Jelley standing in a field of flowers
Mrs Jelley loves planting new species including exotic herbs such as papalo.(ABC Gold Coast: Cathy Border)

experimentation pays off

Mrs Jelley works hard at building a rapport with her local customers such as Mrs Brown and enjoys dealing directly with the region’s chefs.

“I find that really pleasurable. We compare to menus and I can actually have these creative conversations,” Mrs Jelley said.

“I want to have that creative input and grow specifically for them.”

But sometimes chefs need a bit of convincing.

When Mrs Jelley started growing papalo, a herb native to Mexico, Central and South America, she found a bit of resistance.

“They weren’t convinced [because] It’s so volatile.”

But now, she said it was being used in chimichurri sauces and salads across the Scenic Rim.

Vivid red and green King Parrot sitting on sunflower stalk in flower field feasting on seeds
A king parrot feasting on sunflower seeds at the Pretty Produce farm near Canungra.(ABC Gold Coast: Cathy Border)

Similarly, the Jelley’s desire to experiment and expand their offering has extended to the cinnamon trees.

Traditionally, only the bark is harvested from the aromatic plants, but one day Mrs Jelley wondered whether there could be a use for the leaves.

Her efforts paid off and now the leaves are being used by a local distiller to flavour liquor.

Couple dig in for new season

Like so many other properties in the area, Pretty Produce has been impacted by the recent flooding events in south-east Queensland but the Jelleys are pushing through with their harvest plans for the rest of 2022.

Pretty Produce’s paddocks are now being prepared for winter and spring plantings.

And while the “flower farmer” sits more comfortably with Mrs Jelley than her husband, Mr Jelley has used it to his advantage, as a convenient excuse to not buy his wife flowers.

Not that Mrs Jelley minds one bit.

“He’s more likely to buy me a generator. That is love!” Mrs Jelley said.


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