Made by the leading distiller of organic Damask roses, Zahra Rosewater focuses mainly on the production of high-quality rose products that bear the British Soil Association organic seal of approval. The roses are grown on the slopes of the Lalehzar Mountains in the province Kerman in Southern Iran. Before the company was founded in 1978 by Homayoun Sanati, farmers in the valley were growing subsistence crops and supplementing their too meagre income with the illegal growth of opium poppies. Sanati experimented with growing hybrid roses to strict biodynamic standards and determined that a superior rose could be cultivated in the dry highlands of Kerman. Twenty years later, Zahra Rosewater Company had turned around the entire valley from growing opium to harvesting roses. It is now a collective of hundreds of small farmers who work for Zahra Rosewater as independent entrepreneurs. They sign contracts that they will not use chemical fertilizers and in turn Zahra provides education, training and free natural fertilizers from compost, helping farmers to convert their conventional farms into organic agricultural.
Zahra rosewater is also linked to the late Homayoun Sanati's charity, The Sanati Foundation. Devoted to the promotion of social and cultural development in Kerman, the foundation runs an orphanage for boys, another for girls in Bam, a town severely damaged by a violent earthquake; a kindergarten for disabled children and a home for mentally disabled girls, who are often the targets of violence or abuse in the family. A total of 200 children find shelter and protection in the Foundation’s institutions.