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Agrícola da Ilha - The history of a family of entrepreneurs and their saga of love for daylilies

In 1987 the daylily was considered in Brazil as a plant that had no value in landscape architecture. The Hellen species, which is the most common in the southern region, was planted close to the walls of houses, just to fill in undervalued spaces, without arousing the interest of flower and gardening lovers.

At that time, Dario Bergemann had a career as an accountant of a traditional textile mill of textiles for beds, bath and tables in Joinville, Santa Catarina, and he was worried about facing a future that offered no professional prospects. He discussed his doubts with his family and friends - he wanted to find new challenges, an undertaking - but he did not know which way to go.

Despite the fear of leaving a stable job, the idea remained in his mind until an opportunity arose. A friend and neighbor, who was a gardener was about to retire, and wanted to share his knowledge and portfolio of clients to another professional.

Without any money, but with the support of his wife Neusa and his son, Dario volunteered to learn the techniques of gardening with his friend, assuming the small business. The time had come for a change and the beginning of the Agricultural Island Company's business trajectory.

The start of the undertaking

The Bergemann family armed themselves with courage and determination to face the first adversities. Amongst other situations, the day to day of the gardener included cold meals - outdoors, a shock for those accustomed to the office environment.

Dario, however, kept the dream alive, and when his forces were put to the test, turned a disappointment into a great idea.

Agrícola da Ilha was contracted to plant an all yellow daylily garden. Dario bought the seedlings from the usual supplier and awaited the results. When they bloomed, he said that in addition to the yellow daylilies there were other colors, and they had to be replanted.

Receiving different colors of seedlings was a continuous problem for the company. The daylilies were not produced on a large commercial scale in Brazil and the supply of pure seedlings was uncertain. While he redid the customer´s garden and calculated the losses, Dario realized that the solution was to ensure the quality of the products and services by producing the seedlings himself. He would focus his efforts on the daylilies, both the need and the market opportunity - not much competition between the producers of a plant that had a huge landscape potential and it also offered low maintenance requirements.

By then (1990) there were only five species of daylilies in Brazil: Hellen, Flore Plenum, Harriet, Sophia and Amalia. There was no reference literature available or a glimpse of the diversity of species.

Then a marathon began for the Bergemann family: to understand the production process, obtain scientific knowledge and establish contact with other professionals. Critical to the success of this venture was a partnership with the Instituto Agronômico de Campinas, located in São Paulo, in the person of Dr Antonio Fernando C. Tombolato, a researcher dedicated to daylilies and other ornamental plants.

Meanwhile, Neusa, Dario's wife, received an inheritance of land where the Agrícola da Ilha was established. In an area of ten hectares fields were created for growing daylilies and other company products - grass and agapanthus -. Later the business diversified and the company and went ahead to carry out Ecosys ornamental pond projects.

This was a landmark decision for genetic improvements

On a trip to the United States, Dario further expanded the business possibilities for Agrícola da Ilha due to the encouragement he received from North American producers and American Hemerocallis Society. Due to a true passion for daylilies he noted that this country inspired him to produce new species and create a garden to show its use in landscape gardening, and still form a circle of Latin American collectors.

He brought 120 species to be used as matrices in cross breeding, and the first to be grown in the Agrícola da Ilha fields was the Barbara species. Since then the company has continued to invest in genetic improvement and expand the catalog of Brazilian species.

The result can be seen in more than 60 varieties, ranging from diploid and tetraploid, with or without borders, ideal for landscaping small gardens, isolated clumps or large areas. Currently the company sells about 300 thousand seedlings/year, making it the largest producer in Latin America.

Spreading the beauty of daylilies

To spread the awareness of the species and ensure the consumer market, the company participates in trade fairs, exhibitions and conferences, considering increasing its activities and to collaborate with the development of the floriculture sector.

In 2002, Agrícola da Ilha inaugurated its own disclosure vehicle, the Brazilian Daylily Festival, held annually on the property. The event is open to the public that love nature and landscaping professionals, where one can also visit the gardens and production fields.

Each edition of the festival presents innovative concepts for landscaping with daylilies, exposing isolated species or large formations to the delight of all types of observer, and species allied to other tropical flora. And there is a specific area for collectors of rare species, especially those from the U.S.

In the 11th Brazilian Daylily Festival, held during the flowering season between October 2012 and February 2013, Agrícola da Ilha presented the 69th species that was developed in their fields. The "Boa Vista" is the resulting of cross breeding between the species Green Spill and Sonic Bloom.

The new species are named after personalities that stand out for their scientific contribution or the performance in favor of the development of Brazilian landscape gardening, and other people linked to literature and botany. Family, Friends and the cities that promote the quality of life through flowers are also honored.

Currently the event receives about 20,000 visitors from all over Brazil and several countries in the Americas and Europe. This is an important increase to tourism in Joinville, known as the "City of Flower´s" due to the culture of residential gardens brought with German immigration in the nineteenth century and the Flower Festival that has been held for 74 years.

The company remains open all year round for families seeking a place of recreation close to nature. And even landscaped gardens lovers can enjoy the gardens at different times.

Present in its initiatives such as the revitalization of parks and attractions, it is a partner of municipalities, government agencies, educational institutions and associations. Dario Bergemann, his family and staff contribute to the environmental education that children receive in public schools, researchers and students from universities for the development of scientific and educational activities.

All this has the main objective of making more people aware of and fall in love with the Daylily.

Company Name: Agrícola da Ilha – Comércio de Plantas Ltda. Address: Rua Tenente Antonio João, 4.257 - Bom Retiro - Joinville (SC) - CEP: 89223-100 - Brazil Phone: +55 (47) 3473-0628

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