Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.
   
– Somerset Maugham 

Thanks, everyone, for the honor of being your ASCFG president! A special thanks to Vicki Stamback and last year’s Board for all your hard work and progress. One of the best things to come out of the past year was an exciting and fun National Conference in Reston, Virginia. Ko Klaver and Andrea Gagnon threw their considerable energy into this program and it was really inspiring.

I wasn’t the only exhaust-ed farmer walking into the conference on Monday, but between the Growers’ School, the energy program and the workshops and tours of the main conference we got more enthusiastic daily. This is what face-to-face meetings do; there is nothing like talking with fellow growers to build your confidence and energy. I think everyone went home with the tips and ideas to build their business further and make more profit for the hours put in.

If you couldn’t go to Reston last year, do try to get to a Regional Meeting or a National Conference at least every couple of years. The ASCFG has such a great bank of knowledge, and conversations always give you more than any web posting or article. It’s easy to say you’re too busy, but you need to work “on” your business as well as “in” it, right?

Speaking of work, we have a lot to do in the next two years, and we are looking for members to tell us what is most important to you. The Board has had two long-term planning sessions in the last couple of years. Another terrific part of the conference was an informal brainstorming on the future of ASCFG. Judy will be sending out an email survey in the next couple of months to hear from the entire membership. Please look for that survey and take a few moments to tell us what you need from the ASCFG.

One main focus this year will be to tighten up the ASCFG’s online presence for, adapting the web site to be more to the “public” and less for the membership alone. Some members are super-savvy about online media already; look to Becky Devlin (roostflowers.com) or Ellen Frost (locoflo.com) for great examples. Individual member pages within the main ASCFG site give you an easy way to have a listing, and we can help you make that happen. If you do have a web site, the member pages will increase your visibility.

Here are some other great ideas that we are already working on or that we hope to implement.

Continue to build excellent in-person programming on a regional and national level, but look for some changes in format. The Growers’ School was so full, and so well-received, for example, that we hope to bring that information out again as a stand-alone workshop.

Increase the member to member knowledge transfer through tutorials, mentoring for new growers, books on special topics, etc.

Continue to increase the membership, and look to advertise our benefits to growers who combine food and flower growing.

As a member organization, we are only as good as you members make us. Sell the ASCFG to growers in your area—get them on board with this marvelous organization. Call the office if you think a first-time joining coupon would help sweeten the pot for that new grower. Post to the Bulletin Board, and come to your meetings. We need each and every one of you. You don’t have to be on the Board to make a contribution: videos, speaking, writing, how about “hosting” a new farmer from another region for a bit? Any and all ideas are welcome! Your board will be meeting in early February, so let me know what you think.