As the incoming Director for the Midwest Region, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the vast body of information and knowledge that is the ASCFG. It is a small repayment for the information that we have gleaned for our business. We are also grateful to Suzy Neessen for her years of service to the Midwest Region and her willingness to tutor us in our early years of development.

Carolyn and I came from farm backgrounds, so it was natural for us to ‘work the dirt’. We live on a small farm of 20 acres, one mile east of Oskaloosa, Iowa on a main highway, 60 miles southeast of Des Moines.

We started this venture in 1993 as a dried flower business, growing herbs and flowers that were easy to dry. By the fall of 1994, I had remodeled our 1850’s peg and beam style barn into a retail store. The name Harmonic Scents was chosen to reflect our love of music and flowers. We specialized in exquisite dried arrangements, wreaths, swags as well of bunches of stems.

It wasn’t until 2001 that we started selling fresh cut flowers as Tschetter’s Flowers. As we were approaching retirement age, we decided to take the plunge to cuts, especially since we had the land and the potential to build hoophouses. We also had a reliable source of water that I plumbed to cover the land on which we were growing flowers. We then sacrificed our two- car garage, that I converted to a floral design room, with a large attached walk-in cooler.

The best thing that has happened to our business was the ASCFG. A chance trip to the 2002 Midwest Regional Meeting at Mimo Davis’ WildThang Farms in Missouri introduced us to the organization. That was the beginning of a huge learning curve. The resources and knowledge, that is the ASCFG, have transformed the way we farm and do business.

Another big step was taken in 2003 when we decided to apply to sell flowers at the Des Moines Farmer’s Market, a Saturday morning market where vendors have to be approved and then can sell only part-time the first year. We received an A+ for market presentation, quality cut flowers and educating our customers on the care of our products (more about that in a later issue). It was during that spring that a reporter stopped by our stand. She then asked permission to write an article about us. After extensive photo shoots and interviews on our farm, we were featured on the front page of the Iowa Agriculture section of the Des Moines Register, “the paper Iowa depends on”. To say the least, that article “put us on the map.”

…And the rest of the story: In 2004, Carolyn retired from teaching public school and my former life in construction was filled with keeping up with flowers and building projects. Our growing capacity increased to near 5 acres and we added 6 hoophouses. Currently we sell to 30 florists, full time at the Des Moines Farmer’s Market and provide floral services for weddings and funerals. We also sell and deliver business subscriptions to a large clientele (our local form of advertising), as well as selling locally out of our Flower Shop.

Since we are “retired” or “tired” as the case might be, we are closed from November to January while we re-group and travel to see our families. We still love Harmonic Scents, our blending of flowers and music. We are still employed at Central United Methodist where I am the choir director and Carolyn is the organist/pianist. We also teach private lessons out of our music studio. And we love dirt, flowers and our ASCFG family.