ROSES & ROSES is an enormous organic rose farm in Cayambe, Ecuador, with seven hectares in production, owned and operated by Maria Gloria (Magoly) Espinosa, a beautiful Ecuadorian, whose family held the land for over four centuries. In Ecuador there are 720 rose farms that ship first quality long-stem roses world-wide. But in this country, only four are organic. That makes the farm a brave, green sanctuary.
What about bugs, disease and fertilizer? When the farm switched over from conventional treatment, several plant enginers quit, because they could not imagine a large operation without chemical support. The community of workers is happy because all the symptoms and effects of chemical poisoning are absent. The business takes good care of employees; they are highly valued. The packing room felt spacious and cheerful. There is a soccer field outside the dining hall. The greenhouses smell minty, with only slight rose fragrance. I savored the moist earthy air.
Magoly took us on a tour. As a rose-lover, I was enchanted. There are shamanic herbs at the entrance of each greenhouse and many plants with essential oils placed throughout. Mint is planted and the ends of the rows, a special herb provides a barrier along the walls of the giant greenhouses to keep ants away. Each walking space between the rows is grass, mulch and herbs. Small birds do some damage, but are tolerated.
We walked down the rows topped with plentiful blooms named Anastasia, Pink Finesse, Malibu, Proud, Circus, Forever Young (red), Esperansa, Ambiance, Latina. A yellow rose, Fiesta is loved by the Russians – who are good customers of many varieties. Bloody Mary was changed to Freedom and sold lots more.
The roses are not bred for smell, because they travel better with less scent. There’s a beautiful rose called Finesse, with “three hearts” inside the bloom.
Israel and Holland provided original rootstock, now the farm grows their own. We visited the greenhouses with fresh grafts onto the rootstock, saw plants that were just getting started. In another building I stood by a towering red rose. Amazing.
Workers spray roses with the same fungus that is used to make yogurt, also use 87 tons of sugar cane residue for organic material. They have a kind of distillery with a rich rose-spray tea that keeps bugs away. For fertilizer, fermented tibicos, a mixture of molasses and fungus plus iron (from horseshoes) is made and stored in a room of black barrels. All the water used in the farm is recycled.
Small teabags cover the blooms from moisture of the spray, or in the case of the red roses, from blackening sunburn. The structures are plastic translucent sheeting which create a beautiful light. The high ceilings are ventilated from the outside with long horizontal openings.
There are walls of trees around the greenhouses to prevent the wind from damaging structures. As I write this in our friends’ house several hours south, thunder and black clouds and wind accompany a cool rain. An hour ago I walked here in the high altitude equatorial sun. This is the climate that roses love.
The flowers at this Ecuadorian farm are some of the most beautiful and sought-after roses anywhere. When carefully picked and wrapped, they can last up to three weeks. This place blends productive capacity with nurture, in the best sense of the word. Imagine if every flower grower farmed with this conscious and careful approach!
For general information on the subject of “organic roses from Ecuador”: <http://www.5min.com/Video/Ecuadors-Fair-Trade-Organic-Roses-516997727>