In early 2018, florist Kristy Tippett and her husband Brock transported 8000 rose bushes from Soho Rose Farm in Drysdale to their farm in Dean, a two-and-a-half hour drive away.
When the couple who had been running the original Soho Rose Farm for the last 15 years decided to sell their property and move on, the new owners of the Drysdale property did not wish to carry on the flower business. All the roses were set to be bulldozed, and the local florist industry was devastated. ‘In what felt like the eleventh hour, my husband and I visited the property and decided to take on the business,’ Kristy recalls. Three years later, and the beautiful flower farm continues to blossom in its new home – literally and figuratively!
During her many years working as a florist for renowned Melbourne florist Cecilia Fox, Kristy had created many beautiful arrangements using glorious garden roses from Soho Rose Farm. ‘Soho’s garden roses were integral to most of the flower arrangements we created, and my love for them runs deep’, Kristy said.
If the Soho Rose Farm story sounds like the plot of a movie, that’s nothing in comparison to Kristy and Brock’s own love story. The couple met when they were both ‘right in the thick of it’ with small kids from previous relationships, and the two families combined. ‘Our five kids have grown up together and we have our youngest, Lincoln, together making it six’ says Kristy. Brock runs his family’s farming business on the same property (they have been growing potatoes there since the late 1880s!) where Kristy runs Soho. ‘Brock and I have the same values when it comes to family life and work. During our busy seasons everyone helps, and we hope that we are teaching our kids valuable life skills and a great work ethic’, says Kristy. ‘I really actually couldn’t do it without him’.
We caught up with Kristy to learn more about her magical roses, and the Soho Rose Farm Valentine’s Day pop up in Ballarat, launching this week!
Hey Kristy! So HOW does one transport 8000 rose bushes the 2.5 hour journey from Drysdale to Dean?
A lot of logistics! We needed to tag and record every single plant, then we pruned them all back so they weren’t too big to be moved. After many deadends we ended up sourcing a ‘rose digger’ – a purpose built attachment that would attach to the side of our tractor and dig out each plant. Brock, my husband, and 2 staff dug and sorted each plant, packed with mulch and brought back a truckload every night for a week and half. I had a team of 10 – 15 working everyday, planting from 7am – 6pm. Roses are exceptionally hardy plants, but if their roots dry out slightly they will die, it was huge job to keep them hydrated and replant each plant within 24 hours of being dug out. We had an incredible team of people to help us make it all possible!
The paddocks were cattle grazing paddocks prior to the roses being planted there, so the soil is healthy and full of all the good things. We did not need to do much at all to prepare the roses to be transplanted into their new homes.
Did you know what you were doing, or was it a bit of a gamble?
I had no idea what I was doing going into growing flowers on a commercial scale. It was a huge gamble, but with my experience working with flowers I surprised myself by how quickly I picked up the harvesting and processing side of the business.
I am still very much learning about farming, I think it might be a life long learning experience, every season brings with it new challenges, weather, pests, diseases.
What does a regular day look like for you?
It’s always an early start for me, around 4.30 or 5am. After coffee, I do my emails, then as soon as the sun is up I start picking. My staff usually start an hour or so after that and we pick until 10am (never after), then I spend the rest of the day processing flowers, finishing our market orders and making bouquets.
When all that is done, and if there is any daylight left, I will either work in the paddock on our plants or deliver flowers. I take the rest of the evening to spend with my family. After dinner I often might do a late evening pick before a little processing again.
tell Us a little about your upcoming Valentine’s Day pop up in Ballarat this week – what can people expect?
Lots of local, seasonal flowers and all our garden roses! All our special field grown flowers and dahlias, as well as locally grown hydrangea and field blooms from small scale regional farmers. We are really excited to meet members of our community and offer our roses to the public for this special week!
What is your dream for Soho Rose Farm?
To grow flowers that create floral magic! Flowers that embrace the perfect imperfectness and beauty in our environment. I would love to continue to encourage ways that florists and their customers can embrace the natural imperfections that occur in open air, field grown flowers. It is hard to beat the feeling of being stopped in your tracks by a heartbreakingly beautiful garden rose, and knowing you grew it!
Soho Rose Farm Valentine’s Day Pop Up
Tuesday February 9th – Sunday February 14th, 10am – 6pm
415 Sturt Street
For more beautiful roses and seasonal flowers, follow Kristy and Soho Rose Farm on Instagram!