The barn: the heart of our farm

We are clearing the winter dust bunnies in our sleepy barn to go back into full production in under two weeks!! Packaging and shipping supplies are ordered, new shears are on their way, tape guns are being refilled and twine to bunch roses is being cut. We invested in all new packaging to better protect our roses as they travel across the country and are excited to see it all come together!

We are so grateful to have this space that enabled us to get more than one million roses boxed and shipped last year. Who ever knew so many roses would go through what was a 12 stall horse barn!? It’s nearly unrecognizable as a horse barn because we’ve removed all the stalls and converted most of the space to coolers and production space. During our growing season we are busting at the seams and don’t have enough storage or room to work. There are roses literally stacked to the ceiling and all along the floor so you have to shimmy around them! Not a bad problem to have, but it makes storing them pretty tricky! Because of the age of our barn and the type it is, it lacks insulation, heating, air conditioning, good lighting, running water and cannot be sealed shut so we deal with constant dust. Everyday there’s a coating of dust that must be cleaned before we work as tractors and horses next door kick up tons of dust. Our barn has been such a great place to work and see our roses tended to with love, but it’s almost time for our next space...

We have big plans to build an 8,000 SF processing and shipping facility (disguised as a vintage white barn, of course) next winter! We will be able to order boxes and supplies in bulk and have a place to store them (thus bringing supply costs down), triple our cooler space, have designated wet processing and dry shipping areas, have a cleaner workplace that’s climate controlled and better bathrooms/kitchen for our employees. This winter we toured wineries on the central coast and took notes on how they cool large rooms for their wine barrels and keep their production rooms sanitary. Even though our product isn’t being eaten, it needs to be handled in a sanitary space in order to have the most longevity in the vase. The cleaner and more climate controlled our workspace is, the longer our roses will last as cut flowers. We can’t wait to get started on this huge project and have a modern, solar powered and efficient facility!

One thing people may not realize is that while we are technically a farm, half or more of our actual work is being a shipping business. We ship 95% of the roses we grow so more of our employees actually work with the roses off the plants than they do on the plants. An immense amount of care and handling goes into perishables. I cannot stress that enough. If you’re a florist who has ordered our roses you know how our boxes are packed and the amount of supplies and labor it takes for roses to be shipped the right way. From processing the roses coming out of the field to bunching them with twine to individually wrapping each bunch both at the stems with hydration to double layers of kraft paper around the bunch. Then carefully packing them so they're snug and well padded in the box that we’ve hand glued a heat reflective liner into with several pounds of ice, also taped into the box by hand so the ice doesn’t smash the roses in transit. All of it is time consuming and must be done in a way that allows the box to literally be tossed around from conveyor belts to planes to trucks to doorsteps (though we wish that were not the case). Shipping perishables is an art form. It’s all done by hand and must be done quickly so as to keep the roses cool. It takes dozens of supplies and the very careful hands of many people just to pack a single box. This is all why we are so grateful to be working towards our new shipping facility. Our barn is the heart of our business and a true necessity when our perishable product must arrive in great shape to our clients.

I’m reminded of when we started processing and cooling our roses in a 6x8’ garden shed in our backyard five years ago. We’re so thankful to everyone who loves our roses and has helped us go from our shed to our garage to this barn and hopefully to our new facility next year! It’s been a journey and one we could only move forward on by taking the small steps we have and learning how to do things better and more efficiently as we go. We can't wait to get back into our barn and send our roses out into the world this month!! 

David Austin Garden Roses

The world's most loved and cherished garden roses for English breeder, David Austin.

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