For the last four years, other than annual ASCFG conferences and the occasional family reunion, Mike and I have saved a little in the vacation fund and put the rest back into building the business. This winter we have gotten in some vacation time at last. Both northern California and Florida have been on the agenda, and as certified plant nerds we of course had to check out some farms and gardens on the way.

I love seeing other farms! Each grower and gardener has some little nugget of a system or way of doing things that is all their own. We looked at gardens clinging to steep hills and big, beautiful Full Belly Farm in the wide Capay Valley. Mike used to farm out near there and it was a treat to see his old stomping grounds. South Florida was a wonder because it is so hard to tell where the natives end and the invasives begin. I looked to the wild spaces to inform me as there are wonderful parks there. We also saw well-planned gardens with gorgeous trees and borders. There were so many trees I had never seen before. Lots of cool pods and cones! I am excited to be out in Washington State for the conference this fall as well, another wonderful climate for plants. I hope to see everyone there, as this meeting will be just fantastic, with more on-farm time than ever. Save the date: November 12-14.

Many thanks to the members who answered the quick survey and to those who gave me your thoughts on improving the ASCFG before our board meeting in February. It really helps us to know what you all think. We will likely send out those mini-surveys again from time to time; thanks in advance for taking a minute to answer us.

The board meeting was incredibly productive, and I must say we have an excellent crop of Regional Directors at your service this year! We slogged through conference decisions and changes to the website (and probably the bulletin board) and finalized the budget. We have trimmed some expenses, and after ten years at the same rate, we also had to increase the annual dues by $20.00. We plan to make it more worth your while than ever to be a part of the ASCFG.

We are also hearing you loud and clear about meetings and what you want from them, and we have a great crop of Regional Meetings planned, as well as cool plans for 2013. Watch this space for more news on this in the summer issue. By the time you read this, you might have seen me at the Northeast Regional Meeting on March 26 – looking at more farms, talking to farmers and designers and growers of all descriptions. I’ll be the one with a huge smile on my face!