First, I would like to say “thank you” to Mimo for her many contributions to this association and for her help to myself and countless other growers.  I know we all wish her much happiness in her future endeavors and are thankful for all the knowledge and experiences she shared with us along the way.
    
I feel very honored to be asked to fill in for the rest of the year, and will take this opportunity to give a “heads up” to anyone interested in being our next Regional Director, to be voted on this summer.  Please call me or Judy if you would like to throw your name into the hat.
    
I am writing this as I return from my first Board of Directors meeting (late February) and it was indeed impressive! All the behind-the-scenes thought, planning, decision and countless hours of work that many people do to make this such a great association. They deserve a ton of thanks for their efforts.
    
This appointment I hope will give me the opportunity to get to know more of you in my Region.  I also hope you will feel free to contact me with questions and comments, or just to say hello and tell me about your farm.  I know by now we are all meeting ourselves coming and going, but plans are underway for a Regional Meeting, so I urge you to reserve two or three days in your schedule to take advantage of what that conference will have to offer you in the way of education, fun, comraderie and just a break away from the routine. I personally always come away with at least one or two ideas that I think really make a difference in the success of my farm. Such as…

♦ Finding great varieties to grow. In Vancouver it was the
pumpkins-on-a-stick which I tried in my new hoop last year,
sold every stem and wish I’d grown more.
♦ Tips on growing certain crops that help get longer stems.
♦ Which lisianthus groups are best to grow in my Zone 4b.
♦ Postharvest treatments for specific varieties I’m having
trouble with.
♦ An easy-to-build push-open vent for the ends of my
hoophouse.

And speaking of my hoop, I would have never undertaken such a venture without the help, advice and experience of many other members.
    
So even though I’m just a small grower, I have only   1½ acres of production, I love what I do and if want to keep doing it, I have to keep being successful.  That’s why I belong to this association and why I try to take advantage of all the opportunities it’s offering me.
    
For those of you who don’t know me this will be my sixth year of growing in Northeast Iowa.  I interned on Bob Wollam’s farm for 2 months before I officially started growing cuts, and I credit that experience as making a big difference for my farm having the success it’s had.  I highly recommend it to anyone (Bob is always looking for people who want to learn), but especially to those just getting started.  You’ll be learning from one of the masters.
    
I grow a wide variety of crops (probably too many) and this year I’m trying to focus on two things: 1.  Growing more of the flowers that I can get more dollars for like delphiniums, sunflowers and lisianthus; and 2.  Trying to do a better job of growing fewer varieties, even though I do believe that the variety I grow gives me an edge with my florists as well as my farmers’ market bouquets.
    
This will be my second year growing in my 20×96 hoophouse.  After seeing what a difference it’s made in the quality and stem length of some varieties that I wasn’t able to get in the field, I hope to expand to more hoops in the near future.  With the hoophouse, I was also able to grow things I couldn’t grow in the field because of my short season, such as Salvia leucantha, ornamental peppers and extra crop of sunflowers.
    
I’m also excited about a new shade area I have this season that I’ve planted (or should I say overplanted) with astilbe, tricyrtis, foxglove, heuchera and some campanulas, among others.
    
For the last time I’m revisiting dahlias, hopefully without the cucumber beetles chewing them up just as I’m ready to cut them, and ornamental kales without the cabbage worms devouring them.  I hope to try this with some kind of small tunnel with a remay covering.  Wish me luck.
    
I hope you are all having a great growing season so far, and I look forward to seeing you at the Midwest Regional Meeting.