No matter where you’re from or how old you are; a rose has long been the traditional symbol of love. To better understand commercial rose production, photographer Markku Sario and I visited Trebol Roses Farm, accompanied by Rosana Malo, founder, and owner of Trebol Roses farm, and her husband, Juan Carlos Velez.
I began my visit by asking why they decided to grow roses.
“Well, my family has been in the exporting business since 1910. My great-grandfather sold Panama Hats; my father had a dairy farm. I recently graduated with a degree in economics, and my husband was studying for his MBA in Business Management. We considered our options, and the idea of establishing a rose farm came to us,” said Malo.
They began their research in 1996, by visiting rose farms in Ecuador and Colombia, paying special attention to soil conditions, latitude, and available transportation.
“We spent two years looking for the right place,” said Velez. The land they decided on turned out to be right under their noses: it was the family dairy farm near Cuenca. Today, 12 hectares of the 120 hectares of the Malo family’s farm is designated for growing roses.
We started with one greenhouse. We now we have 12, and sell close to 500,000 stems monthly, worldwide. We employ 150 workers. 75% of which are young Ecuadorian women from the countryside of Cuenca.” said Velez
The founders’ family is committed to providing a living wage, and incentives that motivate the employees. Medical care and labor security that protects the workers are included in their contracts. “As a result, many of our employees are now economically empowered and independent through their work at the farm,” says Velez.
“In the beginning, all the workers came to the farm by walking, after a while, they came riding a bicycle. Then, they came on motorcycles. Now, I don’t have enough parking spaces for all the cars,” said Vélez, very happy and proudly.
Several factors make a farm ideal for rose production. Ecuador’s equatorial location has no drastic seasonal changes, allowing a year-round growing season, with little wind. Abundant sunlight and fertile soil provide nourishment. The availability of an abundance of pure mountain spring water is essential.
Breeding perfect roses is an art that requires growing and nurturing experience. That’s the reason why the family works hard to train and maintain their workers.
“We do our best to keep all workers happy. They are our family,” said Malo.
Each one of the 12 greenhouses is solidly built. The rose beds are designed for optimal growth and maintained with green-level organic products, controlled temperatures, and recycled fertilizer.
“We preserve and care for nature by using only organic products, natural spring water, and 100% recycled fertilizer made from the waste of our roses, and from the dairy farm,” said Malo.
When the rosebuds are ready, they are hand-cut by specially trained personnel.
“We spend a lot of time and money researching various rose species that are perfect in our soil and the that the clients will enjoy. We farm breeds 20 varieties of roses, with both trendy and classy colors for every style and need,” says Malo.
After cutting, the roses are instantly hydrated and cleansed with natural solutions to prevent infection. The next step is classification, in which the roses are graded for quality of blooms, head size, color, stem length, and health.
The packaging process that follows is both delicate and exacting. The roses are wrapped in micro-corrugated cartons, and the foliage is covered with a cap to prevent dehydration or physical damage during transportation. Each bunch is identified with a bar-coded label that identifies variety, size of stem, processing date, number of stems per bunch, and the initial of the person who packaged them. Once wrapped, the roses are moved to the cold room for temporary storage until transport to the customer.
“We work very hard in the details and in the process to give to the customer, beautiful, high-quality roses, each time,” said Malo.
Trebol Roses earned Flor Ecuador certification several years in a row in recognition of their commitment to providing fair labor practices, sound ecological processes, and for donating of a percentage of their income to Community Charities through the Tomebamba Rotary Club.
To learn more about their services, or to place an order, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org or call to 805-259-3630. The farm is located 40km north of Cuenca.