“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Helen Keller

January…ahhh

We ramped up our December marketing by a LOT this year, pretty much double that of 2008, and my word it is hard to pull out the extra stuffing needed to be chipper and organized after a long wet summer. Local, handmade decorations work well in our market, and I can feel the recession waning…people have less stress around the eyes, and the wallets are a little looser than last year as well. How was your year?

In little Rhode Island, we have been declared an agricultural disaster, but that really helps only the bigger commodity growers who put a lot of eggs in one basket. As cut flower growers we naturally diversify, and that’s great! It’s better for our income, better for our fields, and usually at least some of it does really well each year. This weather was pretty challenging across the board, and volumes were down on anything that likes it hot, for sure. Quinton Tschetter mentioned the other day that he had 3-foot high eucalyptus in the field and it grew 13 feet high in the high tunnel. I have happily grown eucalyptus outside for four years, but this year three feet would have been welcome. I trialed five different varieties this year, but I’ll have to trial them again in ’10; I can’t judge the poor things on this season.

Speaking of trials—woo hoo! The January issue of the Quarterly is one of my favorites, and I eagerly read the Trial reports to see if my experience was commonly shared, or if something is better (or worse) that I found on my farm. This is just another GREAT member benefit of ASCFG—have you sent your renewal check? As a Board member for the last couple of years, I can tell you with utter confidence that this organization is great for your business and runs on a bare minimum of overhead. We have been cutting costs everywhere we can, and at the same time adding more for the members.

Of course the best member benefit is each other, and the way that ASCFG members share information. The National Conference is one of our best examples. A huge thank you to everyone who came out to Long Island! A double thank you to all the Northeasterners and others who so generously gave of their time and expertise to lead workshops and forums.

We have many other chances to learn from each other, however. Participating in the Bulletin Board is a great way to get a lot of ideas about any given topic, and with the search feature, you can find years and years of experience at your fingertips. Not much of a computer user? The wonderful folks of the ASCFG are always happy to talk over the telephone and our members have the straight skinny. All of us who went out to Riverhead, New York now know that Dan Gilrein and Margery Daughtrey are authors we want on our bookshelves, and I know they answer their email. You know past president Bob Wollam would talk to anyone about anything. Gay Smith is ALWAYS happy to provide the CORRECT postharvest information (cause there’s so much wrong info out there). Start out looking for your topic on the Bulletin Board, and if you find you have more questions, the person who gave the most pertinent advice for your farm is just an email or phone call away. Of course, I won’t answer on a Friday or Saturday, but within reason, most of us are happy to help a bit. It’s January, so let’s plan for a great 2010.