Coming up roses


rosesSwan Hill business hits the mark with their dried rose petals both here and overseas.

When Sarah Sammon graduated from university and left Australia to travel the world, she had no idea her future lay back on the family farm working with her mother in a highly successful business.
Today that business Simply Rose Petals supplies both the domestic and international markets with freeze dried rose petals. Business is quite simply blooming.
"In 2004 Mum and I started growing roses for the cut flower industry but it was very challenging and we had some difficulty with refrigerated freight and the hot climate," Sarah said.
"I began doing some research and found dried rose petals as a way to value add to our business. We decided to give it a go for six months and the idea took off instantly", she smiles.
The rose petals are used mainly in the wedding industry for table and aisle decorations as well as biodegradable throwing confetti.
"Initially I was surprised by our success. We went to a few bridal expos in Melbourne and now we export to 13 different countries."
All the roses for the business are grown outdoors on the family property near Swan Hill. They produce petals from October through to May.
"It has been a trial and error process with varieties but we have around 50 stunning colours now. We buy established plants so that production is almost instantaneous with any new varieties."
The roses are watered using a drip irrigation system and only three per cent of the farm's water allocation is used to grow the roses. Weather can sometime damage the petals, but essentially the roses like the hot dry weather conditions of the Swan Hill area.
 "The majority of our crop is freeze dried which maintains the size, shape and colour of the product," Sarah said.
"Previously we used to dry the petals in a temperature controlled drying room. Now we have a much more commercial and scientific drying technique which produces petals of a superior colour and quality."
Both Sarah and her mum Jan Slater have a great working relationship.
"Mum is technically minded and involved with the farm management while I am business minded. I look after the marketing and sales area. We have our own roles and we like to stick to that," she laughs.
"I love working on the rose farm and I love studying business. I can combine my love for internet marketing with my love of outdoors and being your own boss is very rewarding.
Not content to sit idle, Sarah has plans to expand the business further into the future.
"We are looking at expanding into other areas of the wedding industry and we will definitely be looking to increase our export market share.
Sarah's love of business has also seen her named as a 2010 participant of the Australian Rural Leadership Program where she has received the highly coveted Rural Woman Leader Scholarship.
She is a dual state finalist in the Telstra Business Womens Awards and a dual winner at the Australian Bridal Industry Awards, as well as a Churchill Fellow.
She is a woman who obviously likes to keep busy.

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