Meet The Surf Coast Locals: Kylie And Katie From Robertson’s Farmgate
Kylie and Kate Robertson from Robertson’s Farmgate grew up on their family’s delightful Surf Coast farm before heading off to university and moving into the heart of inner-city Melbourne.
Kate headed up the Coles marketing team for 12 years, while Kylie worked as a teacher at St Catherine’s in Melbourne.
Fifteen years ago, Kylie returned to the Surf Coast to work in the family business. Her sister, Kate, followed five years later. Now their delightful farm shed is a hub for beautiful homewares, farm-fresh blooms, rustic floral arrangements, gorgeous hampers and lovely potted plants. They also offer floral design and crown-making workshops for special occasions.
2021 will see them move out of the shed into their brand new purpose built building that will offer everything they already do, but with a new cafe and fabulous outdoor area.
I sat down with the lovely sisters for a chat about their exciting new plans.
How did the flower business start?
Our father, Andrew, and mum, Helen, ran the property predominantly as a sheep and cattle farm. They also grew lucerne and hay commercially. Forty years ago, Mum, who was also lecturing in commerce at university, threw 400 David Austin garden roses and hybrid tea plants into the ground. The rich fertile soil meant she ended up with buckets and buckets of flowers. Mum used to give them away to the locals. Then a friend asked her to provide the flowers for her son’s wedding and a floral business was born. Helen is still the head of our family business. She’s still the fastest picker in the garden! And the old shed where we keep the beautiful blooms and homewares, used to be the stable where we kept our horses as kids.[blog_banner]
And what was it like for you growing up here?
We had an idyllic childhood, full of wonder and delight. We had horses, chooks, lambs, magpies, and puppies, because Mum bred Border Collies. We even rode our ponies through the farmhouse! During the eighties and early nineties, we also experienced the realities of growing up through the drought. We used to take the ute to the supermarket and get the offcuts of their lettuces and cabbages to feed our animals. Looking back now, we realise just how hard that time must have been for Mum and Dad. However, even then, we were surrounded by our lovely community. Mum and Dad used to throw bush dances in our big shearing shed, to raise money for Farmers Aid.
Just researching the market?
What drew you away from the city and back to the family business?
We’ve both always loved the farm. In the back of our minds, we both knew one day we’d come home and carry on our parents’ legacy and build something for our families. Kylie was pivotal in those early years, helping to grow the business to where it is now. So now, alongside our beautiful farm-grown roses, we’re the preferred florist for many Surf Coast businesses and brides. We get a huge number of tradies coming in because the shed isn’t intimidating. They can come in their work boots and park their trailer in the paddock. We’ve got an amazing customer base with lots of loyal customers who love that we’re also the grower. Over the past decade we’ve begun to stock blooms from all over Australia. However, we deal farmer to farmer. So we are dealing with wonderful flower growers, and supporting our neighbours locally, who grow beautiful natives and dahlias, as well as bloom growers right across Australia.
And what are your plans for the future of the business?
We’re nearing the completion of our new building, which will have a cafe and a big lawn area. We’ve got a real passion for beautiful food and lovely wine and we also want it to be a space to engage our wonderful community. A hub for families and kids to come together, or for people to take a floral workshop in a beautiful purpose-built space. It’s an honour to help people choose the perfect bloom. We love our brides to come and walk in the garden, to choose the colour of their bouquets and centrepieces. At the other end of the spectrum, we also sadly deal with a lot of sickness, grief and bereavement. One of the biggest things through the COVID-19 lockdown was so many people couldn’t see their loved ones so they sent flowers. People dictated moving messages and we’d often end up in tears!
And for Christmas 2020 you sold the most wonderful Christmas trees!
We felt like Santa every day! It’s so magical seeing the kids so excited at Christmas time. We can’t wait til our cafe opens in the New Year and we get to expand our offering some more.
Well, we wish you girls and your family a successful and positive start to 2021, and hope you have the most wonderful holiday period, with a lot of visitors to Robertson’s Farmgate.
Find out more about Robertson’s Farmgate at their website: robertsonsfarmgate.com.au
Photo credit: Robertson’s Farmingate Facebook page