Between this writing and the Quarterly being delivered to your door we will have had a successful West Region meeting during the Spring Trials. This was the second year we planned a meeting at the annual open house of the seed companies located near the Salinas area. It’s already looking like we are attracting a bigger crowd and I am confident that attendance will grow each year. This will be my last year as Regional Director, and I am excited about the person who has tentatively agreed to taking over the reins in the West but since it is not a firm commitment at this time, I will have to leave you in suspense until the next issue or we can post this exciting news on the bulletin board. I know that our industry friends in California will continue to be supportive of the ASCFG and we can continue to have an annual gathering during the Spring Trials, a terrific opportunity for not only the West Region members but the entire membership of the ASCFG.

Our strategic planning session was held during the Spring board meeting early in February. This was the culmination of what we had set in motion during the National Conference in Portland, when we asked members to complete a survey about the ASCFG and planning for the next 20 years of the organization. We followed up in December with an online survey to get a larger cross section of our membership in December.  I am truly grateful to everyone who thoughtfully provided their input as we continue to grow this special organization into the future.     

One aspect of our membership I have always been fascinated with is the varied skills and experiences the membership draws from. Flower farmers are so versatile and we found out that once again when Tom Gleason, an ASCFG member from Heron’s Rest Farm in Shanghai, West Virginia, offered his services as an experienced facilitator for the board’s strategic planning session.

With the utmost professionalism, Tom guided the ASCFG board members in an intense full day of strategic planning. We ended up with a wealth of information and with clarity on some of the intrinsic aspects that make the ASCFG the unique organization it is. I am hoping that you will begin to see the offshoots (using a floral term loosely here) of this session within the year. I was particularly gratified that we put down on paper what makes the ASCFG a special organization and how we want to enhance those qualities and traits through the development of future programs of the ASCFG.  I feel it is important to not to forget your roots (there I go again) as we plan forward.

One fact that came out in the surveys and this meeting is how much people value face-to-face get-togethers. As much as we rely on and use technology, it was clear that we should not lose our opportunities to meet up with each other in person. Another aspect I thought important was that the organization is seen as one with quality members and products, and programs with a high degree of professionalism.

And certainly not finally, because there is a wealth of good information I hope can be summarized for the membership, but finally for this column, was the degree of passion that flower growers have for what they do and how that is reflected throughout the organization. A unique characteristic of the ASCFG that seems to be born of this passion is the spirit of openness and sharing  exhibited individually by members that becomes translated directly to an overall characteristic of the organization.

As I finish up this column, I realize there is so much more to say and communicate to you all about this planning we have taken on this past year. I believe you will be reading or hearing much more about this work.

As you do your work this season remember, ASCFG members are: educated, specialized, innovative, ingenious, hard working, adaptable, sustainable, connected, respected, quality minded, passionate, generous, concerned, flexible, aware, imaginative, optimistic, committed, fun, and we grow beautiful flowers to brighten people’s lives.