FLAG April/May 2016 Extension-A Fern Family Business

David Register’s grandfather planted his first fern alongside his Volusia County cattle and citrus operation in the 1960’s. After a severe freeze devastated the orange grove, the foliage operation was expanded, and in 1986, a cooperative of local growers was formed.

FernTrust, Inc., located in Seville, Fla., is a leading processing facility that ships ferns worldwide. It is one of the largest fern producers in the U.S. and is the only processing facility to be completely refrigerated.

“We found that two to three degrees in temperature can make all the difference on the shelf-life of foliage,” said Register, Executive Vice President. “Through our FernCool® process we are able to increase the vase life on the customer’s table.”

FernCool® is a patented FernTrust process that consists of a ‘dipping bath’ for the ferns before they are packed and shipped in refrigeration. Another exclusive process to FernTrust is ColorFresh®. Ferns are colorized to compliment any seasonal decorative color palate.

Register says that one doesn’t usually put farming in line with high fashion design but this is the one business where the two worlds collide. “We deal with artists and designers from all over the world, it’s important to get their feedback on the products they work with.”

Each fern is carefully arranged by hand into a beautiful bouquet that can be dropped into any vase. Foliage is used in set designs, banquet halls, special events and holiday bouquets.

A 5th generation farmer, Register couldn’t be more proud of the family-run business. “It’s totally a family effort,” said Register.  His brother, two sisters-in-laws and his daughters help run the company and want to see it successfully evolve to the next generation.

Register loves working with plants and people. He says that he is very lucky to have a job that lets him do both. “I can literally travel anywhere in U.S. and have a friend.”