Behind The Roses
The Damask rose was brought to Morocco by the French in 1938. The Valley of Roses sits at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, where the mountains meet the Dadès Valley. It is irrigated by the Asif M’Goun river and its main village is Kelaat M’Gouna.
Rose cultivation takes place in two distinct geographical areas: the first begins at around 10 km from Kelaat M’Gouna village and continues for 10 km, ending near the town of Boumalne Dadès. The second growing area, and by far the most important and most interesting to tourists, begins at Kelaat M’Gouna and continues along a secondary road that climbs due north to the village of Bou Tharar at its far end. This offers around thirty uninterrupted kilometres of rose cultivation along the wadi. This verdant valley, lying beneath an ochre canyon, is an incredibly beautiful landscape and is one of Morocco’s major tourist sites.
Through the magnificent Valley of the Roses, with seemingly endless rows of Damask roses which bloom in April, producing the most intense and distinctive rose fragrance. Up to four thousand tons of roses are harvested annually from the 4,200 kilometer of rose bushes.
The picking season lasts for around 3 weeks and while the roses are in full bloom the entire valley of Kelaat M'Gouna quite literally ‘smells of roses.’ Stepping down into the rose valley, only a short walk from the main roadside, feels like a different world to the nearby Rose festival in the town centre. No noise or pollution from traffic, only birdsong and a gentle calmness in the air as the day breaks and the locals peacefully go about their work.
After picking for a few hours, the farmers take their harvest to be weighed at a local scale, and then head back to the fields to pick a new load. The weighing scales are often located besides small boutique shops inside the villages, with communal water drinking cups for the workers to take a break.
To find employment or distilleries as well as create sustainable and ethical trade for rose farmers and pickers in the region. The Association Feminine du Dades is built as a women co-operative centre where located inside the rose valley works to protect the local woman rights and interests.