The thought of seeking out partners, whether they are growing partners, shipping partners or marketing partners, is really scary for any farm. I sometimes miss the days when it was just Ryan, me and our many hats. Life was simpler, but also so much harder. Just as so many small business owners will attest, you find yourself in a place of "smooth" and then something comes along and forces new decisions to be made and yet another pivot. Growing roses is such a highly specialized crop and so variety dependent, so we knew we needed alliances in order to meet the growing demands of the rose industry and our customers' diverse needs. This is when I decided to look for partners that are similar boutique-style farms to ours with an excellent record of farming.
The first farm that came to mind was Alexandra Farms, the worldwide premier grower of David Austin Luxury Cut Garden Roses and fifty exceptional garden rose varietals. Alexandra Farms grows garden roses for the wedding industry, so few people outside weddings and events have had the farm’s roses in their home. While I love and cherish our outdoor garden roses, I also love and appreciate the roses from Alexandra Farms. They are stunning and we could not grow them better ourselves.
Alexandra Farms is like Grace Rose Farm in many ways. As a small, family owned business, Alexandra Farms does everything by hand. From growing to harvesting, post-harvest, packaging and shipping, meticulous care of every stem is given. Every rose is cut-to-order and Alexandra Farms was one of the first growers to adopt an eco-friendly system of integrated pest management (IPM). They use physical pest barriers in the form of organza pouches that are hand sewn and placed on rose buds as they're developing so thrips and other rose-loving pests can’t attack the rose.
So much love, care and joy is put into Alexandra Farms garden roses. They have employees who have been with the farm since their beginning, which shows that they empower employees to find their purpose and encourage them to take pride in their work. I have never been so in awe of roses as I have been since receiving Alexandra Farms roses, and this says a lot coming from someone who grows millions of roses every year! You can see the love they pour into their roses, and I know firsthand, growing roses is not for the faint of heart or for anyone who gives up quickly.
We will be taking you along as we travel to Bogota to show you the heart and people behind the garden roses. Our daughter is half Colombian, so we are equally excited to learn more about the country of her heritage. I come from a long line of people who have devoted their lives to serving people in Hispanic countries. I have a heart for Latin America and it gives me great joy personally to know that our business is directly helping families, women, children and those with a lot less than most of us, have gainful employment. My grandparents were career missionaries and the generation before mine has made an equally immense impact in Mexico and South America. My hope is to not only provide year-round work for our employees, but also for employees at Alexandra Farms. I believe we all have our causes in life, and seeing people in Latin America thrive is very important to me.
Working with Alexandra Farms allows us to support another rose farm and be part of the growing worldwide rose industry. By aligning with other farms, we are helping the efforts of rose breeders so they can continue to advance their breeding programs to bring consumers healthier, more vigorous, and even more beautiful garden roses. If there's one thing I've learned in farming, it is that it really does take a long line of people (and many, many years) to produce a single perfect rose. Collaborating is far more successful for all than trying to operate as a stand-alone business, especially when we share our customer base. The old saying "community over competition" really rings true and at year 7 of business, I am experiencing this truth.
What does this mean for our roses? Nothing! We are still growing our garden roses during our normal growing season (mid-March through Thanksgiving). Having partnerships with other farms - both domestic and international - provides more options for people who have varying preferences and needs when it comes to flowers. Our garden grown roses aren't going anywhere!
I want to encourage you to take five minutes of your time to read this blog about Alexandra Farm’s sustainability and workforce. This blog was the catalyst for us reaching out to Alexandra Farms to become growing partners and I think you will love it as much as I do!