People—and cut flower growers—can be divided into two groups: Optimists and Pessimists. A friend of mine says he isn’t a pessimist, he’s a realist. Well, in reality, we all have the ability to be Optimists. We all know the ‘glass half full/half empty’ saying. It’s up to you to see the glass as half full. But as cut flower growers. we’re dealing with buckets, not glasses. We want to see full buckets at the start of the day, and empty buckets at the end of the day. How you empty those buckets is up to you. We just may need work a little harder or try a couple new ways to do it, but if you work hard, grow a great product and plan ahead, you should be able to have empty buckets at the end of the day.

Finding quality employees and interns is always a challenge. Sometimes we get lucky and out of the blue, the perfect worker knocks on your door looking for a job. But that happens only sometimes. Usually you need to be proactive in your search for good help. When looking for employees, I’ve had success placing ads on craigslist. ( Ads on craigslist are cheap, just $25 for as many words as you need to use. The more words you use, the more precisely you can focus your pool of job applicants. By including “great summer job for student athletes to keep in shape” in an ad, I was able to choose from a dozen applicants who had the stamina to do the work needed, without wasting my time interviewing all the middle-aged, out-of-shape, “I-always-wanted-to-work-on-a-farm” folks. A dream come true. This spring I used craigslist again to hire three temporary workers just to do the spring cleanup around the farm. They pulled up plastic mulch, cleaned up and mulched beds, cleared an old fence row, and basically did all the stuff that we were going to do “tomorrow”. All with the understanding that they would be working for only a couple weeks. Craigslist is my new recruiter!

Interns are a different situation, but not an impossibility. Over the years I’ve had seven interns, staying anywhere from three to nine months, with two more interns scheduled for this summer. Interns have lived in the house, a neighbor’s basement apartment I rented for them, and even in their own motor homes or campers that they brought to the farm. Resourcefulness may be needed at times when planning for interns. I’ve had three interns through the Vic & Margaret Ball scholarship with the American Floral Endowment. ( These students receive a cash scholarship upon completion of their internship term. A nice incentive to keep them focused on completing their term with you. All the interns I’ve had have been great. They all were willing to learn, and eager to help whenever needed. When their term is up and they head back to school or home, I wish they could have stayed longer. There’s always something more to learn and more work to be done.

Another place to look for workers or interns is the Forum on Local Harvest. (www.localharvest,org) Both of this year’s interns came to me through Local Harvest. One had posted a message looking for work on a farm in the Washington, D.C. area, and the other responded to an ad I placed offering a summer internship. And like my ads on craigslist, there weren’t a lot of unqualified applicants taking up my time. The people looking on Local Harvest know what they are getting into. This isn’t a cushy internship making coffee and filing papers in some law firm. It’s real work.

By the time you read this, several of this year’s Regional Meetings will have already taken place. I hope everyone is able to attend a Regional Meeting this year. These meetings are where you get answers to those nagging questions that a book or web page just can’t explain. Things like how do you pinch this crop, hook up irrigation lines, or clean and store your buckets. Seeing how another grower does things can really help sometimes. It’s also a great time to visit with others who have the same passion and drive that you have about growing great cut flowers. Others who don’t care if all you want to talk about is cut flowers!

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you on Long Island at the ASCFG National Conference October 5-8.