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Dutch Couple Bets That Flower Business Can Bloom In Virginia

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Already selling eight million flowers a year, Bloomaker predicts sales will triple by 2019, so the company’s building a massive greenhouse near Waynesboro.
Sandy Hausman
Already selling eight million flowers a year, Bloomaker predicts sales will triple by 2019, so the company’s building a massive greenhouse near Waynesboro.

Most grocery store flowers come from the Netherlands or California, but a Dutch couple aims to change that pattern by building their business, Bloomaker, in Virginia.

Joep and Lillian Paternostre spent a year driving across country in an RV looking for a place to start their American flower business, and they settled on a scenic spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Waynesboro.

“We were able to reach 70-75 percent of the American and East Canadian population from this point within 24 hours," says Joep.

They also came up with a patented technique for making flowers last longer. It begins with a bulb on a small plastic platform inside a vase with an adequate supply of water.

“During shipping we put them at 35 degrees Fahrenheit and [when] they are in the stores the first tip of the flower will come in, and from there they have at least two weeks to see them fully flower," he explains.

Already selling eight million flowers a year, Bloomaker predicts sales will triple by 2019, so the company’s building a massive greenhouse. With $100,000 in economic development dollars from the state and county, Paternostre will get a spur built from Columbia’s natural gas pipeline to his greenhouse. That relatively cheap fuel will further boost his business, and, he says, could turn the region into a national hub for flower production.

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