Bernie Kay’s parents discouraged him from working on the land – so he became a policeman.
However he still had a hankering and, whenever and where ever he could, Bernie turned his hand to growing things.
Thirty-five years ago Bernie left the police, took the plunge and started growing flowers.
Now he grows gerberas and anthuriums under 1.3 hectares of cover in Ramarama, south of Auckland. He also grows irises on 4 hectares of land outdoors.
The greenhouses are heated using cleaned-up waste oil.
The flowers are grown hydroponically in beds of coconut fibre imported from India and Sri Lanka.
Bernie says he has seen the nature of flower buying change in the past three decades.
He says some men used to be reluctant to buy flowers.
“It wasn’t the thing to do. Now you see them quite often. There’s one particular drain layer, a big guy who comes in in his truck. He’ll get an armful of flowers for his wife, his daughter, his mother and his mother-in-law.,,, you would never have seen that years ago.”
Thinking that retirement could be around the corner, 69 year old Bernie says he’s loved his choice of career.
“See, I don’t look on it as work. And, as had been said, when you find the job you love you never have to work for the rest of your life, and that’s not bad is it?”
Bernie Kay and his Gerberas.