A few years ago, we purchased our first home and Gracie, the avid gardener, had an idea to plant rose bushes in honor of her grandma Grace. Initially, the goal was to grow enough roses that we could spend time together as Gracie had grown roses in her previous gardens and wanted to get back into the garden. We planted over 500 roses and as they began blooming that spring, Gracie shared images of the unique varieties and colors that were flourishing in our yard on her Instagram. Very quickly, floral designers found our roses and we started suppling designers, locally and around the country, with our roses.
The first year was pure trial and error….lots and lots of error! Our lives and house quickly transformed - the kitchen and living room became a processing, wrapping and boxing station, and we converted a small shed into a walk-in cooler. We learned about watering and fertilizing schedules; pest management and prevention; cold storage and proper shipping techniques; weather patterns and most importantly, found a new “best friend” in Mother Nature. We’re not going to lie, that year was a blur. It went by so quickly and feels like we barely had enough time to remember what we did right or how we planned to better prepare ourselves not to make the same mistakes twice. But we were encouraged! We formed many new friendships and were warmly welcomed into the floral design community. It was exciting and we were constantly thinking of how to build on what we started. We considered squeezing more plants onto our yard (we had grown to 1,200 plants at that point and maxed out most of the 1/2 acre we had) or seek out more land to expand. After considerable thought, we agreed to take the leap and found nearby farmland to lease. The passion and vision Gracie had was forming a new dream for us both.
The beginning of year two was one of those “I’d never imagine myself here” moments. It was a cold and rainy January and we were standing on two freshly-tilled acres of rich, fertile soil with 5,000 roses waiting to be planted. It was one of those surreal moments in life, as well as an exciting beginning to a new phase. Ok, we’ll be honest, it was a little terrifying too! Our production increased so great that we had to learn new ways of doing the simplest of tasks. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to develop a rhythm and our days quickly became routine. We were up early to cut roses before it was too hot and loaded our car with bucket after bucket until we ran out of room. Our cooler was back at our house, 15 minutes away, so we’d leave the car running with the AC on...or until the car battery died. At home, we raced to get all the daily orders completed in time and then back to the farm to cut more roses before the sun went down. It was just the two of us and we had to hustle to make it happen.
It was EXHAUSTING! For two years, we didn’t sleep much but for some strange reason, when we look back at it, it didn’t seem like work. Sure it was often frustrating and made us question our sanity but we enjoyed what we were doing and enjoyed being able to do this together. We often talk about part of the success of Grace Rose Farm being due to the complementary skill sets we each bring to the business. Gracie is the creative dreamer and I've learned how to either bring her down to reality or run with her vision. We had so many long conversations about life and goals - personal and professional - during our time in the fields. While neither of us ever envisioned having a life as rose farmers, we started to develop similar dreams of what our life could be if we kept developing and expanding the business. For two people who met and lived in NYC, living on a farm is about as opposite as we ever imagined life together - and we couldn't be happier or more grateful to everyone who has made this life possible.
Towards the end of our second season as rose farmers, we found ourselves in a similar situation - stay where we are and find room for more plants or begin the search for more land. The thought of moving 5,000 roses certainly wasn’t appealing but ultimately, we agreed that it would be best to find their forever home now instead of in a few years, when the plants were larger and had a greater chance of destroying their root system during a move.
A few months later, our dream became reality and we purchased a 10 acre equestrian farm in the charming town of Santa Ynez, CA. We had a lot of work ahead of us and not a lot of time but we were determined! Within a few weeks, we removed acres of horse pastures - the wire fencing, wood posts and boards, and concrete footings. Then we had to remove all the grass, till the soil, flag the location where the rose bushes will go and setup irrigation. For the following three weeks, we had a crew working at our old farm carefully digging up 5,000 roses and a crew at our new farm digging holes and planting the roses the next morning. We’re not entirely sure how it happened but within a few months, we had roses blooming for the start of the 2018 season.
Our passion for growing roses is inspired by the many creative floral friends we have made and also by our wonderful employees. We are so grateful for all that they do, the energy they bring to our farm, and the endless smiles on their faces. The quality of our roses is a direct result of the pride each of them show in their work. We are incredibly fortunate to have them part of the Grace Rose Farm family and are dedicated to working hard so they know how much we appreciate them.
As the days get shorter and winter sets in on the close of our third season, our roses slowly begin their hibernation. Our work days don’t end, but are less crazed and we look forward to many new experiences and possibilities. We're planning new rose offerings for 2019, a complete renovation of our farm, and getting ready to welcome our first visitors in spring. We are so grateful for the opportunity to continue to love what we do. It is far more than we could have ever imagined. For as long as we're able to continue growing roses for you all, we will always wonder how we got so lucky in life, and say to ourselves with a little smile, “Wow, we would have never imagined we’d be here!”