Rowan Godfrey, Head of Technical at The Flower Hub, talks to Calvine Emadau of Karen Roses.
When was the farm set up?
Karen Roses was set up in 1989
What do you grow?
We grow Roses (42 Varieties), Premium Spray Roses (60 Varieties), Gypsophila Xlence®, Lepidium Green Dragon®, Hard Ruscus, Eryngium, and other Summer Flowers which also contribute to our PAS Bouquet Making process.
Where are you?
We have 120Ha and sit at 1200m above sea level. We get on average 1200mm of rain per year and see average temperatures of 12-14⁰C at night and 20-25⁰C during the day.
How many staff members are there, and what facilities do you have?
We have 1300 workers (Of which 60% are female and 40% male), we provide a heavily subsidised Canteen, a Clinic with Clinical Officer (and a Doctor from the sub-county hospital available on request). Our workers are also key beneficiaries of the JB School & Creche as a number of workers children attend.
What are your accreditations?
Global GAP (With the add ons: GRASP and SPRING), Fairtrade, MPS A+, OHAS, Certified Carbon Neutral
Market: do you sell direct or by Auction, and which are your key destinations?
We are a Direct focussed farm (99%) with some of our Roses and Spray Roses going to the auction (circa 1%). The UK is our main market with 40% share.
How much of the area is under production?
90 HA of the land is under production. The remaining area is under tree cover which we add to each rainy season with our tree nursery and tree planting program.
Do you have any Environmental projects/aspects?
The water which runs off from our Hydroponic production is captured and reused. 95% of our Greenhouses are set up to collect rain water and we also have a ground water collection system. Rainwater is captured and stored in our reservoirs, which also helps reduce runoff and erosion further downstream.
We are in the process of implementing a new composting program to include Vermi composting and row composting that will recycle all of our green waste and return it to the Greenhouses to build the soil. Both projects should be up and running by October.
We have installed a 250KwH solar array which provides electricity for central pack house and facilities, and we are further installing solar to help power our Farm Units
Prior to the rains each year we go to the forests on our land and collect seeds of native plants and trees and grow them on in our Tree Nursery. Each of our unit managers is required to set aside space for tree planting and they place an order to the nursery which is then planted out during the rainy season. We also gift trees to our workers and the local community.
We have a constructed wetland which takes the water from our Packhouse and fully cleans it so that it is safe to release into the environment.
For IPM we work closely with RealIPM and Dudutech.
We also have invested in E-Bikes to allow our colleagues where possible to travel around the farm in an environmentally sound way.
Do you have any CSR projects?
Karen Roses JB School and Creche, El Dama Ravine – We donated the land for this project, and all major infrastructure projects continue to be funded by Karen Roses and partners including Fairtrade and Waitrose Foundation. The school and creche are fully run by JB. The total population of the school is circa 300 including the Creche, and we have:
- 21 Teachers,
- 23 – Children aged 0-6 Months (Creche)
- 39 – Children aged 6-8 Yrs (Preschool)
- And the following numbers of students per education level;
- 37 – PP1
- 36 – PP2
- 32 – Grade 1
- 36 – Grade 2
- 35 – Grade 3
- 29 – Grade 4
- 15 – Grade 5
- There are also a number of further support staff.
Alongside our partners in Fairtrade and Waitrose Foundation we have funded and contributed to an extensive range of projects in our local community including a maternity wing at the sub-county hospital (which supports ladies from 3 Counties, Baringo, Uasin Guishu and Nakuru due to the high quality facilities), construction of classrooms in a number of local schools, clean water accessibility projects, construction of libraries, provision of education bursaries to those in need, and we have on farm a feeding program for all our workers which is subsidised by the company to 75%.
We are also in the process of (having seen the impact through COVID on the local economy) creating a circular economy by encouraging and providing resources (including agronomy expertise and free seeds) to our local community to grow food crops and sell back to our company for use at the canteen to feed workers. Subsistence farming is subject to extreme variation in demand and farmgate price. We aim to be able to provide a consistent demand and a consistent farm gate price to support our local community while nutritionally benefitting our workforce.
We have 50 Beehives on the farm where we harvest honey 3x per year. We have recently supported a community project by donating 100 beehives and providing education on bee farming to empower with knowledge and provide income to local people.
If you are interested on buying flowers grown at Karen Roses, please click here.