Text and photo by Bartley D’Alfonso
This is where life is literally a bed or roses.
Actually, it’s a large commercial farm of cultivated roses, raised and harvested near Biblián, 40 kilometers north of Cuenca, which recently hosted its first public tour.
Three weeks ago, some 18 expats and I were treated to a wonderful half-day visit and luncheon inside the 30-acre grounds of the Trebol Roses plantation.
Originally started as a 178-acre dairy farm in 1910 (which is still in operation), Trebol is now a fourth generation family-owned export farm of incredibly large, beautiful, colorful and freshly cut rose blooms. It has 18 greenhouses filled with a combined nine million roses from 700,000 plants, spaced at seven plants per square meter. A combination of high altitude (9,676 feet); pure Andean mountain rain water; twelve hours of equatorial sunshine; cold nights; and using organic soils, compost and fertilizer, all create strong buds atop tall and thick canes (stems) which blossom into long lasting, year-round decorative flowers, available all year.
In 2016 the husband-and-wife owners Juan Carlos Vélez and Rosana Malo added an exciting new feature. Shipping thru FedEx International they created a faster farmer-to-florist direct shipping alliance called “Ecuador Direct Roses” and removed the middleman, delivering freshly cut and packaged roses to United States customers within only five days, including Alaska and Hawaii.
This guaranteed speedy service allows for a “vase life” of from two weeks and up to three weeks, much longer than the usual three or four days of shelf life.
Karla Betania Sánchez Aresmendi, sales executive of Ecuador Direct Roses, and the guide of the tour, said that “With our new service we will cut, package and ship the roses only after the order has been received, resulting in fresher and longer lasting blooms.” Karla said that Trebol Farms grows 21 varieties of roses in white, red, pink, orange, yellow, lavender, and peach, all with varying shades and hues.
Favorites include: red Freedom; yellow Brighton; white Tibet; pink Topaz; lavender Cool Water; and coral peach Zhimer. Also available are gorgeous blooms bearing hand-tinted mixtures of colors and hues. Sales manager Rosana added that in January 2019 three new varieties will be added for St. Valentine Days.
To achieve such quality the farm employs 150 local workers (three-fourths women), with an additional 50 added for the high demand celebrations such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
I remember seeing three cargo jumbo jets lined wingtip-to-wingtip in Quito’s airport in February 2014, filled with roses destined for North America. Karla also emphasized that by “Paying attention to quality care and customer service, we have earned certification by the industry trade associations as being a leader in using environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices.” These include the Business Alliance for Secure Commerce; and the Responsible Ecuadorian Floricultural.
After touring the inside of the warm and humid greenhouses our group also went inside the cold-temperature factory, where the fast moving workers sorted, trimmed, packaged and prepared the bundles (filled with 25 rose blooms) for same-day shipment to Quito’s international airport.
Then we returned into the farm’s sprawling Hacienda El Cortijo (“The Farmhouse Estate”) and were treated to a delicious lunch of creamy yellow potato soup filled with avocado, cheese and white corn; a light soufflé omelette accompanied with an organic side salad; and ending with a sweet fruit dessert to die for.
My favorite part is where I joined other guests in buying a box filled with 25 roses and a 22cm clear vase for only twenty dollars, which now adorns my dining table.
Rosana said that the next tour is being planned for the last week of October. For more information about the tour, phone Rosana at (593) 7-284-3682 or email her at email@example.com