“Planning” is a common theme throughout this issue of the Quarterly, and likely in many growers’ periodicals this time of year.

President Polly Hutchison suggests a thorough examination of your record-keeping. Northeast Regional Director Missy Bahret outlines several time- and money-saving steps. Bob Wollam fills us in on the status of his long-time quest to continue the line of Temptress poppies, and how he hopes to proceed with the project.

Of course, sometimes those plans are affected by unforeseen conditions like weather or economics. Cut flowers are resilient, and no matter how they’re thrown for a loss, like Cleveland Browns fans, they know next year will be more successful than this.

Here at the non-farm ASCFG office, we’re always looking ahead as well.

The National Conference and Trade Show is the organization’s most important event. Besides the valuable speaker sessions and tours, it provides important face-to-face networking for members who otherwise have met only through online communications. Growers come to learn from each other, and seem to have a lot of fun doing it. Many attendees tell us this is the highlight of their year.

However, sometimes it’s hard for a grower to leave her farm for four days. Family priorities often outweigh conference registration. Hotels are not getting any cheaper; neither is air travel.

Next year the ASCFG will be 25 years old, and we thought it was time to try something a little different to celebrate that anniversary.

Instead of one large central conference in 2013, we’re hosting several shorter events. The goal is to provide more meeting options, shorten your time away from your business and family, and decrease your travel and lodging costs.

The planning for these gatherings began earlier this year, and I am grateful to and impressed by those who have been so proactive and communicative during this process. Details for all meetings are not yet confirmed, but you can see the preliminary schedule on page 33. We hope to add one more in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic area.

This experiment will let us know whether these kinds of meetings are preferable to what “we’ve always done”. As with all trials, we need your participation. Maybe you can make it to one spring meeting and one fall meeting. Maybe you can attend all of them. Perhaps you’re so accustomed to the one large national conference you don’t want to try something new – maybe you use the meeting as a vacation. This is what we’ll find out.

More information on the events will be provided as they develop. We hope you’ll join us to mark our 25th year together.