Finding the Perfect Rose
In Suesca, a small town about an hour north of Bogota, Colombia, Maria Blanca Guaqueta starts her day at 5:00 a.m. She makes her way from the house she shares with her family to the farm, where she takes care of her other “kids.”
“Roses are like children to me. I began working in 1990, and I’ve been with many of these bushes since the moment they were planted. They’ve been under my care for years, and I take pride in the cultivation of perfect roses,” beams Guaqueta, a long-time grower considered an expert in her field.
The idea of getting to know the plant extends well beyond Maria.
“I try keeping my teammates with their plant varieties for a long time so both the plant and person become used to each other. The better the caretaker knows the plant, the better results they have keeping the plant sustainable for years to come,” says Guaqueta.
The ultimate goal for Maria and her team is to cut the perfect flower—which is both a science and an art.
“The perfect flower is one that is 100% exportable, one that has a straight stem, the correct bloom size, and no bruising. Our flowers should be perfect, because they are something that comes from every one of us in the company and represent our wonderful country, Colombia,” she says.
It’s dedication like Maria’s that helped make Colombia the first provider of flowers to the United States, and the second largest exporter of fresh cut flowers in the world. The industry is vital to Colombia, with flowers being 20% of agricultural exports and 7% of the country’s GDP. It’s also the life blood for some, with many farms being the largest provider of jobs to women in rural communities.
If the goal is to grow flowers that are 100% exportable, then the challenge is how to transport them so they arrive thousands of miles away with the same beauty that Colombians see every day. Transporting flowers requires cold warehouses, frequent flights, customs forms and clearance, and refrigerated trucks.
In the early 2000s, a small group of entrepreneurs and business owners had a goal to change the process entirely. They wanted to get the beauty and aroma of Colombian flowers to the United States in record time, essentially needing the speed, reliability and delivery network like that of FedEx.
One of those business owners was from Fantasy Farms, a flower grower and distributor based in Bogota, Colombia that opened for business in 2000, and often ships flowers harvested by Maria Blanca Guaqueta. They wanted in on the flower game, and in on the process of getting flowers to the United States in three to four days. But Fantasy Farms wanted to go one step further. The company set out to penetrate the non-traditional flower market by delivering fresh Colombian flowers to gas stations, convenience and dollar stores.
“With FedEx International Priority Direct Distribution®, we’re able to achieve our goal, and have seen significant growth since we started with FedEx,” says General Manager of Fantasy Farms Fernando Sandoval. “Knowing that our products will start their international trip the same day they are harvested, go through the customs process and arrive to our customers in the United States in four days or less allows us to open the market and gain new customers with the guarantee of fresh flowers daily.”
“We keep adding new customers who wouldn’t normally have access to flowers because of the short delivery time, which virtually guarantees a fresh product,” says Fantasy Farms CEO Daniel Sabogal.
A fresh product on your table that just days before was carefully nurtured by growers like Maria Blanca Guaqueta—something to consider next time you “stop to smell the roses.”
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March 5, 2018
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