From Macedonia to Melbourne came a hard working road to flower growing success
Anyone who has frequented the wholesale flower market would be acquainted with Fidrim Halit. The larger than life flower grower has a loyal legion of florists and buyers who visit his stand for an all year round reliable supply of quality flowers, banter and a cheeky sip of grappa.
Macedonian born Fidrim Halit migrated to Melbourne with his wife Zanije in 1998 and settled in Dandenong. He worked for a vegetable grower specialising in Chinese vegetables before purchasing his own farm in 2001 where he put his family honed farming skills into practice. Juggling his job with the vegetable grower, Fidrim started his farm off with Sim carnations, which he tended to outside of his working hours whilst also managing the fruit and vegetable growing business where he started. At one stage he had half a million plants and was the biggest producer of carnations in the area. Over the years, more lines were added to the farm to cater for supply of all year round seasonal flowers including Gypsy (our flower of the month, read more here), Stock, Snapdragon, Asters, Gypsophelum, Kale and Delphinium.
Fidrim remembers the early days before technology replaced hard labour and he and his wife Zanije spent countless and arduous days picking and hauling their crop from the fields to the main shed for bunching. As the years rolled on, hard work has paid off. Today the Halit business has grown to occupy 13 acres in Devon meadows and a further 5 acre property in Cranbourne. The Cranbourne property houses chrysie, disbuds, stock and sims and there is over 8 acres on combined properties undercover and 90% of them are humidity controlled. Irrigation is via dams on site and pumped to the prop houses through a 5 drip system (T-tape) which was developed to ensure all plants and their root systems are completely moistened. Fidrim grew up in his parent’s corn and bean production business which was a key driver behind his desire to have his own business. Getting the business to a successful marker has been a massive undertaking with the Devon Meadows property redeveloped from the ground up by the Halit family. Formerly a chicken farm, concrete and asbestos was removed from the property to make way for extensive field propagation and hoop houses. Over $3.5m was spent in sheds, equipment and cool rooms. All seed and stock is locally sourced, grown and produced.
With over 22 years in business in Australia, Fidrim often reflects over his time here and how the flower industry has changed. Observing the lack of younger generation involved in family businesses within the industry, he counts his blessings that his 17 year old son Liron has joined the business, where they trade at the Melbourne Wholesale Market at Epping 6 days per week. It’s a lifestyle that has taken its toll on Fidrim who intends to hand the business over to his son in 8 months time.
“If my son had no interest in continuing the business, I would be forced to shut down” says Fidrim. “Unlike many others, I am very lucky. This business was once a dream that turned into a reality and can grow even further with Liron’s direction and ideas”.
The father and son duo are regular faces at the flower market and both share a love for people, quality, service and fast cars. Asked whether Fidrim will miss the faces he has come to service over the years, the answer is that he’s looking forward to retirement but plans to add to his impressive fleet and occasionally pop in to see his old friends with his sights set on a retirement present – a new Maserati.
“My first car was a Ford, and I’ve been gradually upgrading. I need something to reward me for all the hard yards!” Fidrim says.