The Portland Conference was a celebration of twenty years of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. There were many long-time members—as well as quite a few new ones—in attendance. I hope the newest members went home with new ideas, new friends and new opportunities to improve their cut flower businesses. The planning and work that goes into creating such a worthwhile conference is more than most people realize. Planning begins more than a year ahead of the actual meeting. Working together, the Board selects a location with three main criteria in mind.

1.  Good tour locations are a top priority. Portland is a prime example of this. We toured sites that were both large and small, supplying us with ideas that can pertain to just about any type of cut flower operation.

2.  A host hotel with enough meeting room space, affordable rooms, (harder to find every year) and easy access. The Portland airport had flights from all over the country, and the host hotel offered a free shuttle. Once in Portland, public transportation was a dream come true.  Anyone who spent time alone in his or her hotel room missed a great opportunity to see the city of Portland.

3.  A pool of dedicated ASCFG members in the area, some of whom are willing to be on the Conference Committee. While the Committee does a lot of planning with tours, speakers, schedule, etc., it’s Judy and Linda in the ASCFG office who do a ton of the work for our Conferences. And what a great job they do!

It’s not too soon to plan ahead for next year when the Conference will be held in Hauppauge, New York, which is on Long Island. Dates are September 28 to October 1. Sign up for Fare Watcher alerts with Travelocity or other travel web sites and you’ll be notified when the best fares are available.

Now is the time to look back on this summer’s season, while it’s still fresh in your memory, and decide what worked and what didn’t work this year and plan ahead for next year. Those of you who finish up your season when the first frost arrives can look forward to a little rest during the winter months, planning for next year. For others who grow year round with greenhouses or tunnels, the first frost just changes the type and location of the work to be done as we move indoors for the winter. We get to grow ranunculus, anemones, tulips, freesia and other flowers that can’t be grown in the heat of summer. The flowers of spring arrive in December for us. But we also get to worry about heating costs, supplemental lighting, winter storms, insect invasions and fun stuff like that.

Whatever your growing season may be, have a great one. I hope that as each year passes, your business performs even better than you expected. With the help of fellow ASCFG members and all your Association has to offer, the odds are in your favor.