“Bet you are busier than the dickens” was the first sentence in a note I recently received.  It is an apt description of early summer as a flower (and in my case vegetables also) grower.   With a short growing season in northern Nevada, 90 days they say, such a large amount of seeds and plants need to be in the ground by June 1.  It is always a big crunch.  Each year however, I do try to figure out ways to spread out the workload a bit more so it is more even.  We’ll leave these ideas for another Quarterly discussion, or possibly even a bulletin board discussion, because once again I would like this column to focus on our National Conference to be held in the West Region in San Jose – October 26-29.  The complete program is in this issue of the Quarterly!  Check it out.  
The fact of the matter is that we are all ‘busier than the dickens’, if we weren’t we probably are not doing something right. Being busy is the inherent nature of growing. Being ‘good’ busy is very gratifying.  We just have to know about setting priorities and enjoy life while being busy.  A priority, I believe is going to the conference in San Jose.  In so many ways, a national conference validates all the good things about growing flowers, why we do what we do and helps us be a better grower each and every season.  
The conference committee has had several goals in putting the program together.  Because we know how busy growers are and that vacations are not often a part of your lives, we have tried to incorporate a bit of vacationing in with the conference as one of the goals.  We decided early on that since every one needs to eat, let’s try to set up meals with a bit of sightseeing and I am excited to tell you that we have a great day planned for tours.  With a stop in San Juan Bautista for lunch, you are going to be amazed at what a great little town this is.
When scouting out the town in May, the conference committee in one short hour was able to have a terrific Mexican food lunch, walk over to the Mission and also check out the San Andreas fault line.  After touring all things flowers in the after-noon we will end up in Monterey for yet another opportunity to have a nice dinner before getting back on board the busses to return to San Jose.  We think it is going to be just the best day.  
Another goal we have worked towards fulfilling is getting a good taste of where our seeds for all these beautiful flowers we grow come from.  We have decided to take full advantage of being in ‘seed central’ while at San Jose.  The seed companies are chomping at the bit to show ASCFG members the inside workings of the seed business and we will have the rare opportunity to get information from the sources by visiting Goldsmith, Takii and Sakata seed companies, all located in a very close radius from each other.
We have also worked very hard to have a well-rounded conference, truly something for everyone while showcasing all the good things going on with flowers in California.  I am satisfied we have accomplished this and am now wishing away the summer (not really) in anticipation of the conference in October.  There truly is no other ‘flower place’ like this in the U.S.  I want to encourage you all upon reading this to go get your travel plans booked.  The best prices will be obtained early for travel.   
Finally, if you think you would like to come early or stay late I am listing a few other neat things that may be of interest, if you really wish to set your priorities and not only give yourself the gift of the ASCFG conference but a couple of days of ‘real’ vacation as well.  Wine Country is of course expanding; it’s not just Napa anymore.  In the area around San Juan Bautista, just south of San Jose there are several wineries, including Calera Winery, www.calerawine.com and DeRose Winery, www.derose.com.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium will not be open at the time we visit, but this is well worth your while to stay an extra day and go back to tour, check out the details at www.mbayaq.org.   Maybe the redwood forests are more to your liking or maybe after taking a train ride at the Swanton Pacific Ranch on the pre-conference tour on Wednesday October 25, you want more train rides.  Roaring Camp Railroad is a great escape.  Find out more about their offerings at www.roaringcamp.com  Maybe you are a farmer’s market junkie and need to go to markets. For a comprehensive list, check out www.cafarmersmarket. They say one of the great California markets is the Ferry Plaza Market in San Francisco, see www.ferryplazafarmersmarket.com.
Of course you might just want to go to the beach, plenty of places to head to the beach, just head west until you reach the ocean.
Jeannine Bogard and Bonnie Marquardt, the local conference committee, have great ideas for places to visit for flower growers an we will try to start listing them on the conference page on the ASCFG website.  I can’t wait to see you all in San Jose, until then stay ‘busier than the dickens’.