Getting away from it ALL!
Was it incredibly hot and dry for everyone this summer, or was it just me?  It seems the longer I’m in this business, the hotter each summer seems to be, and it doesn’t rain much, either.  Finally, after several weeks of temperatures in the high 90’s, I told Charlotte that this was it, I was finished, I quit!  But she had a better idea.
“Why don’t we take a vacation, Joe?”, Charlotte asked dangerously, “…you know, get away from the farm for a few days, maybe a week?”  “What!?” I scowled, “No way.”  “I’ve got all this work to do, AND the flowers won’t wait because I’m hot and burned out, AND, there are the florists to think about, the farmers’ markets, AND, the supermarkets”,  I reminded her.  “I can’t take a vacation”.  And so that was that.  “No way”, I repeated.
Wisely I relented and we decided to take five days off, in mid-July no less, spending four of them on Cape Cod, renewing, remembering, and living in the moment.  If time truly is money, that was one of the best investments I have ever made.
When we returned, everything looked better: the flowers, the surly farmers’ market customers, even the florists looked good to me.  I could remember why I wanted to do this work in the first place.
My point, you ask?  It’s simple.  Taking time away from our farms and this demanding work we do is essential.  I learned that this year, and plan to build it into next season.  That’s right.  Part of my plan for the 2006 season along with what and how much I’ll grow, and to whom I’ll sell my flowers, is to take a mid-season break.  Your flowers will thank you for it, as will your customers.  But most of all, you will thank yourself, and quite possibly be a better grower for doing so.
I’m writing this just a few short days after returning from our exceptional National Conference in Lancaster.  Yep, that’s right, more time away from the farm, leaving the flowers, the florists, and, the supermarkets to fend for themselves.  When I returned I had to turn to and cut flowers, get everything ready for a farmers’ market the next day.  Despite all that, I can’t even begin to describe how happy I felt as I turned down my driveway and went out to the field to cut.  
The flowers looked fat, happy, and, vibrant.  It was a perfect fall day, cool and bright.  Everything looked amazing.  And while I was still tired from getting up at 4 a.m. to be home by 9, there was no where else I wanted to be but on my farm, doing the work I enjoy, full of inspiration and new ideas.  
So, what was it that made the difference?  Was it attending a conference that was so chock full of great information, and, reconnecting with new and old friends, or was it because I got away for a few days, took the opportunity to change my view?  It really doesn’t matter.  
What does matters is this: Life though short is full of choices.  Take every opportunity to take care of yourselves.  The flowers will grow very well without us, and our customers will understand our needing a break from time to time.   That said, enjoy the off-season, and know, next that year will come, and it will indeed be better than ever.
One more thing.  What were your great successes and flops this past year?  Did you grow anything new that you found noteworthy?  I’d like to compare notes with other growers and myself.  Please send your email: [email protected]