When I was a little girl, I had a Venus flytrap.
I was very intrigued and delighted with my little pet but a lack of knowledge on how to care for it lead to the plants rapid demise L. (No Internet in those days). More than 30 years later I spotted a small Venus flytrap in a local nursery and bought it for my daughter who shares my passion for plants. 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 them. 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 hail and wind 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 with an equally horrible result.
We realized that we either needed to take Jozi Carnivores seriously and invest in a proper sun tunnel or shelve it 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!
The plants were ecstatic and they grew magnificently. I suddenly realized that almost anyone can be an accidental, urban carnivorous plant farmer.
2 WEEKS LATER
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? Carnivorous plants love rain water that is free of the chlorine and minerals and so we installed our first a JoJo tank to capture the summer rains.
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 much more rain water and 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 so that we had smaller plants in the pipeline 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 and again 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 for the show as well as a vendor outlet. 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 colour-coded pots and associated 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.
Jozi Carnivores is now keenly focussed on conservation and education. We have developed a schools programme that teaches children about evolution, conservation, organic gardening and rainwater harvesting. It is amazing to see the excitement of the leaners when they dissect a carnivorous plant or feed a Venus flytrap with recently captured squiggly bug.
We have just completed our SANA 2017 Spring trade show with our lovely new look. We also revealed our new gifting range to the trade.
A visit from Keith Kirsten to Jozi Carnivores at SANA 2017.
This year will see us focussing strongly on on-line sales and digital marketing campaigns in addition to the popular markets and nursery sales.
Spring 2017 here we come.