Flower syrups were one of the first products I offered at my farm market stand. It isn't easy to sind organically-grown roses to use culinarily, especially ones that are intended for that purpose. My plant came from suckers (root sprouts) of the plant in the medicinal herb garden at Hancock Shaker Village. The Shakers made rosewater to use in the sickroom as well as the kitchen. These flowers only last on the plant for a day or two. They're marvellously fragrant. Without distilling equipment, I can't make true rosewater, but rose syrup captures that evanescent smell in a lasting form. I sell 8oz bottles at my stand for $7 - enough to flavor a good many glasses of iced tea, bowls of fresh fruit, or dishes of vanilla custard. It's also delicious in chilled champagne or summer cocktails. Here's an afternoon- and family-friendly concoction.
Combine 1 c rose simple syrup (1 8-ounce bottle), 1 c lemon or ¾ c lime juice, and 4-5 cups still or sparkling water in a pitcher. Add a few flowers or floral ice cubes if desired. Serve cold, with a few rose petals floating on top, if you have them..
I've been farming since I was a toddler, when my grandparents showed me how to put onion sets point-up in the sandy furrows of our Michigan homestead. It's taken thirty-odd years of horticultural jobs—from potting up lilies by the thousands to managing a 150-member CSA at Hancock Shaker Village—for me to embark on cultivating a farm of my own. Hence, the title.