The geese call overhead as I collect armloads of roses, and it seems like it was just a few weeks ago we were anxiously coaxing the roses to bloom in preparation for the Northwest Regional Meeting. It was actually four months ago and unfortunately we missed the blooms by a week but it did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd gathered here.
On a perfect June morning a small but hearty group met in our new barn. With the Grand Tetons just a speck above the eastern foothills Ralph and I welcomed guests from Washington, Oregon, northern Idaho and Nebraska with fresh air, homemade cinnamon rolls and hot coffee. As with everything in life, Ralph and I adopted a tag team approach to this meeting and took turns speaking about the farm, our “niche” in the market and focusing on our rose project funded by an ASCFG research grant.
Erin Benzakein, of Mount Vernon, Washington, and Ralph had been burning up the bulletin board and exchanging emails about growing and harvesting roses so we were thrilled when she consented to join us and share her knowledge and expertise. The highlight of this talk was a tour of the rose beds that quickly became an open discussion with advice and expertise coming from the entire group.
Next we heard from two friends and local experts. Paul Muirbrook, our county weed supervisor, addressed invasive species identification, tracking and control. Steve Love from the University of Idaho Research Center has been testing roses for cold hardiness in a zone 4 region in Aberdeen, about thirty miles from here. He talked about diseases and pests especially common to roses, offering organic and chemical solutions. I followed them with a brief discussion of color, a hands-on demonstration of my article for the summer Quarterly.
We enjoyed conversation and swapped farm stories over a picnic lunch sponsored by Gary Pellett of New Flora. Directly after lunch Ralph led everyone around the farm and through the greenhouses, addressing crop staggering, identifying species, naming varieties and recommending sources. The day ended all too soon with many thanks and well wishes to all who traveled far to share this day at Bindweed.
It was a pleasure to meet and talk with people from all over the Region. It was exhilarating to sit on the edge of my seat with fellow growers and learn about fungi and predators, seriously! There was an energy and vibe that came with our visitors that have remained inspiring and revitalizing through the long season. I have felt it in the soil, deep and cool on the hottest afternoons. I have heard it mingled with the buzz of the bees as they work the roses. I look forward to meeting more of you and getting reacquainted at the National Conference and future Regional Meetings—to renew that energy, pass it on and keep it going. It was a rewarding experience I highly recommend—would anyone like to host next year?