Our vase runneth over: The ASCFG doubled its new member count in the first nine months of 2013, compared to the last five years. In late September, our total stands at 640, including 136 new members.

It’s hard to say why this is so. Maybe it’s our continuous outreach effort, or the unifying effect of the internet, or the “buy local” ethos. Maybe it’s simply our time to shine. We don’t know. But we know it makes us very happy.

Check out page 27 in this issue for a look at these newly-enrolled colleagues. New members are immediately set up with our online services: access to the Members Only section of the web site, accounts for the Bulletin Board and the Community Network, and a personalized Member Page for the online flower search. They are emailed passwords and instructions for these, and a New Member Packet containing a welcome letter, recent issues of the Quarterly, meeting brochures, and other information is popped in the mail.

We do as much as we can to make each newcomer feel comfortable with our programs and services, and glad that he or she has joined our little world. Then, it’s your turn.

When you read that newbie’s question on the Bulletin Board, asking about the best varieties for farmers’ markets, or where to find lily bulbs, take a minute or two to send a simple reply. If you’re playing around on the ASCFG map page (careful, it can be addictive) and see that a grower two counties over from you has joined the organization, drop her a line. Sometimes we offer “FIRST-TIME ATTENDEE” name badge ribbons for our meetings. Not all new participants want to wear one, but when you spot one, shake that person’s hand and welcome him to the group.
It’s been said for twenty-five years that ASCFG members are known for their inspiring generosity. Help us continue that legacy for the next twenty-five.

While you’re at it, review all the ASCFG online member services, and instructions on their use, on the previous pages. While you were busy in your fields and at your markets this past summer, we were busy restructuring some of the sites. Now is your chance to get caught up with us.

Since I’m piling tasks on you, read the Floral Marketing Research Fund’s recent report on barriers to and motivations for purchasing flowers (floralmarketingresearchfund.org). Researchers found that 8 in 10 adults surveyed do not plan to buy flowers in the next twelve months. Inconceivable! Who are these 8 adults, and where do they live?

Along with our combined efforts to promote locally-grown flowers on a national scale, give your own customers reasons to make your flowers easy go-to gifts. Remind your  wholesale or florist buyer that your flower varieties were chosen as the best for cut flowers, have been processed according to the best handling resources, and are simply fresher and longer lasting. If you need a cheat sheet, see page 23.

There will be a quiz at both the Ohio and Rhode Island meetings later this year, where we hope to meet as many as possible of the folks on page 27. See you there!