As this is my first Regional Report, I thought I should begin by briefly introducing myself. Sarah and I will be growing cut flowers for ten years in ’05, eight at our present location. Neither of us has a background in horticulture, but through patience, endurance, and luck have built a business comprising 3 acres of cuts with a little over 1\2 an acre in greenhouses. Serving as the Southeast Regional Director will, I hope, allow me to give back to an organization that has helped us build this business.
At our Regional Meeting in Orlando, the Southeast group brought up many concerns and successes growers are facing in their states. The economy seemed to be an overarching theme, with several growers reporting sales were down. Competition, particularly from South America, was also a concern.
In response, a discussion of niche marketing ensued with many finding success in selling at farmers’ markets, while others aimed at providing exceptional customer service to florist clients (with all the nuances that good customer service implies). Also, various time-saving, money-making tips and ideas were discussed with a real interest on the part of growers for what works for others and, perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t.
All of these discussions led to talk of our next Regional Meeting, its topics and site. While speakers on marketing and sales might seem appropriate considering the discussion, it was my impression that farm visits and tours were of the most interest (which has also been my experience in the ASCFG). Our brethren in the Charleston area were more than happy to host — the past site of one of my most memorable Regional Meetings. We also have a location in the Statesville, NC area and, perhaps, in the Clayton, NC area. As these details are worked out and a meeting date is selected, I will let you know.
In my future Regional Reports for The Cut Flower Quarterly, I am going to report on the region, calling members in various states to hear and report what they are experiencing in their businesses. I look forward to speaking with old friends and talking shop with new ones.