An interest in flower arrangement has motivated a Bloemfontein woman to venture into rose farming. Nelly Poonyane’s rose farm opened its doors in April this year. She has 15 employees and seven of them are women.
It took Poonyane 12 months to set up the 3800 square metre hydroponic system. It is a facility created to grow roses in different species and colours. At the height of global uncertainty last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Poonyane was hard at work to realise her dream and ultimately create jobs.
“My background is in events planning. I used to organise weddings, parties, any form of celebration. It was during that time that I started to develop an eagerness to do my own arrangement. Because I was outsourcing, whenever I have a wedding, I would have to get outside flowers from a florist. So, I decided to go to a school of weddings where they can teach me flower arranging and events decor.”
Poonyane saw an opportunity in the flower industry upon returning from her training course. And, now she is giving Bloemfontein a chance to live up to its name the “City of Roses,” Poonyane elaborates.
“After the course, having come back to the city and having to source flowers to do your events and finding out from our local retails or wholesalers where we get our flowers that actually all of them, they get their flowers from Johannesburg. And we are the City of Roses, but we don’t have our own roses in our town, so I began thinking about it and ultimately discussed the issue with my husband to say how about we do something and grow our roses.”
To learn more about growing roses, she went to various provinces to learn from other rose farmers. Then, she found herself a mentor in the only other rose farmer in Bloemfontein. Today, her newfound passion is also an eye-opener to her employees. One of the workers is Joyce Lehana.
“I didn’t know anything about roses. I never knew how they are raised. I liked them when they are sitting at the table when she’s preparing for weddings. Because most of the time we were helping her. The love of roses I didn’t have it, but when I was working with it, it grew.”
With only eight months in the business, Poonyane supplies roses to local florists and retailers. Her dream is to expand her clientele to other towns and export to neighbouring Lesotho. The hydroponic system creates an artificial environment that allows her to grow roses throughout the year without being hindered by the climate.