When I was a little girl, I owned a Venus flytrap.
I was very intrigued and delighted with my little pet but a lack of knowledge on how to care for for the plant lead to its rapid demise (no Google in those days). More than 30 years later I spotted a small Venus flytrap in a local nursery and bought it for my daughter Ella. Ella’s joy at her new friend quickly turned to despair. “My Venus flytrap is bored and lonely,” she proclaimed. “It just sits around all day waiting for something to happen.”
Clearly we had a situation on our hands so we started looking for a friend for the lonely Venus flytrap. Visits to the local nurseries yielded nothing but undeterred Ella trawled the Internet and identified a grower in the Cape. We were stunned by the wide variety of amazing carnivorous plants that were on offer most of which we didn’t know even existed. Spontaneously we purchased a large number of carnivorous plants. The lonely Venus flytrap was now a party animal!
Many of the friends that visited us back in Johannesburg also wanted their own collection of carnivorous plants and so we tentatively placed our first smallish order. We invited local children and friends to help us pot our plants at our ever first planting day. The children happily abandoned their cellphones and iPad’s and had the best day ever working with nature. It felt very special.
But it was definitely not plain sailing.
We quickly realized that keeping a few plants on a sunny kitchen window sill was very different to cultivating hundreds of plants outdoors. We needed to protect the plants against wind and hail so we bought some small, portable sun tunnels.
It was a disaster!
We seemed to lose more plants than we sold. The plants were miserable. So we tried a few small green hothouses to house the plants but the results were still disastrous.
We realized that either we needed to take Jozi Carnivores seriously and invest in a proper sun tunnel or shelve our enterprise altogether. In an act of immense courage and bravery we installed our first proper sun tunnel in a slightly unused corner of the tennis court.
With trepidation we placed the depleted stocks in the grand new tunnel and waited expectantly.
BUT NOT FOR LONG!
2 WEEKS LATER
The plants were ecstatic and they grew magnificently. I suddenly realized that almost anyone can be a carnivorous plant farmer.
Our thirsty bog plants needed lots of water and lots of plants need lots and lots of water. Why did we not think of this before? We decided to install our first JoJo tank to capture the summer rains. Carnivorous plants love rain water as they need water that is free of the chlorine and minerals found in tap water.
It was a brilliant move and we were instantly rewarded by the mother of all storms. Our water problems seemed to have been solved.
However more orders and more plants meant we soon needed even more rain water and so an even bigger JoJo tank was installed in the early part of 2013. Triumphantly, we managed to collect 3500 litres of water to see us through the dry winter.
We survived our first winter in fantastic shape. Our plants were looking better than ever and we were beginning to develop a presence in one or two local nurseries. We also worked on developing a range of care cards and branding for Jozi Carnivores. We installed a second sun tunnel to increase our production capacity and we installed our third JoJo tank giving us a rain water capacity of 6500 litres.
We appeared at several wonderful Christmas markets including the Bryanston Organic Christmas Night Market and also the St Johns College Christmas Market in November 2013. We were always so warmly received and it felt fantastic showing South Africans a range of plants they were often unaware existed.
We needed to continue the journey and so Jozi Carnivores joined SANA, the South African Nursery Association. We appeared at our first trade shows in March 2014 and although it rained solidly, the trade was so enthusiastic about what we were doing. We felt cautiously optimistic.
We also did a trade show in August 2014 where we revealed our new corporate branding.
Just as we were settling down for a quite winter with hopes of well-earned rest, we received an unexpected call. A major international Orchid Show, The World Orchid Convention was being hosted in Johannesburg at the Sandton Convention Centre in September 2014. They needed a carnivorous plant exhibitor and vendor for the show. This was massive! Way to massive actually but with the same ferocity displayed by our feisty plants, we took on the challenge. This entailed installing two additional large tunnels at a satellite venue and getting more stock.
Orchid Convention Posters.
In spite of all the stress and drama, Jozi Carnivores was a hit at the Orchid Convention.
In 2016 we developed a new look for the Jozi Carnivores brand that that incorporated the use of colour-coded pots and care cards to help consumers identify their plant species and take the best care of their plants.
It really is carnivorous plants for dummies! But it works.
In 2017 re revealed our new look to the trade at the SANA Trade Show and we were honoured by a visit from Keith Kirstin.
In 2017 re revealed our new corporate look and gifting range to the trade at the SANA Trade Show and we were honoured by a visit from Keith Kirsten.
Just like our plants, Jozi Carnivores continues to grow and evolve. We have attended many incredible shows like the Johannesburg International Flower Show, The Linden Market, Hobby-X and Kamers. We are also keenly focused on conservation and education and the Jozi Carnivores School Programme teaches children about evolution, conservation, organic gardening and rainwater harvesting. It is amazing to see the excitement of the learners when they dissect a carnivorous plant or feed a squiggly bug to a Venus flytrap .
And then 2020 came along
Just like that, everything came tumbling down. The nurseries closed, the shows stopped and children stopped attending schools. Jozi Carnivores along with the rest of South Africa went dormant as we waited for the pandemic to pass. We realised that just like our plants, we needed to adapt or die so we shifted our focus to on-line sales, on-line education and promotion of our new Kyalami nursery site where social distancing is easy and serves as a fantastic outing in nature. We are now looking forward to sharing the 2020-2021 season with you.