As Linda and I pulled together photos for the 25th Anniversary collage on page 39, I found this letter from Joe Seals. It’s an actual hand-written letter—well, typed on a typewriter—on actual letterhead stationery, and sent through the U.S. postal service. It served as the genesis of the ASCFG.

Joe’s  conviction that “what most growers, particularly the beginners, wanted was a clearing house for information—references, resources, research, etc.—to continue what the conference started.” has always been the cornerstone of the ASCFG’s foundation.

As Joe wrote in one of his messages as ASCFG President: Our essential goal, simply put, is to help growers of specialty cut flowers and foliage produce a better crop.

At the risk of sounding like an old fogy (which I guess I already do, referencing antiquities like typewriters and the post office) imagine trying to produce a crop, better or otherwise, without information on where to get seed, how much of it to plant, how to grow it on, when to cut it, the best way to sell it, and what to charge for it. If you were putting in roses or carnations, you could pick up any number of textbooks, but try asking your extension agent (another soon-to-be antiquity?) for tips on Eryngium germination.

It’s interesting to note what these growers told us they needed. In 1989, this is what members wrote when asked “What do you need from this association?”:  “Sources for plugs and seeds.” “Trials of new plants.” “Honest exchange of ideas with other growers.” “Technical information of growing and harvesting.” “Pest and weed control for field production.” “Knowing we’re not alone in our efforts—encouragement!” “All and every kind of information!”

Sound familiar?

What we know now is this: The books that have been written on cut flower production, and the conferences, seed trials, online forums created to inform and update growers across America and beyond, are certainly helpful. But the real education comes from real growers.

It’s you ASCFG members who provide input for those books, speak at those conferences, trial new varieties, and post on online forums. It’s the new farmers showing up at Regional Meetings to learn from those who’ve been doing it for a while. It’s those who’ve been doing it a while continuing to attend those meetings, “Because you always learn something new from someone else.”

I’m not sure it can get more grass roots than that.