Twenty-five years ago, the Democrats nominated Michael Dukakis for President, while the Republicans chose George H.W. Bush. The Soviet Union began to withdraw from Afghanistan in May, and the Iran-Iraq war ended in August. Pete Maravich and Glenn Cunningham died; Rihanna and Adele were born.

And in a small meeting room of a Chicago hotel, the ASCFG came to life.

I have been paging through back issues of The Cut Flower Quarterly, and reminiscing about endless bylaws discussions at long-ago Board of Directors’ meetings, trudging around flower farms in pouring rain or scorching sun at Regional Meetings, working 14-hour days at National Conferences, proofreading Quarterly submissions until my eyes ached, wrestling bundles of hand-sorted-by-zip-code magazines into heavy canvas bags and heaving them up onto the post office loading dock, and listening to countless potential members telling me they want to grow cut flowers “Because it looks like so much fun!”.

Then I see that a member has scribbled across her renewal form “Thanks for everything you do for us!”. I remember laughing so hard with two Board members that we were asked to leave a Hallmark store in Denver. I think about watching from the registration desk as meeting attendees enthusiastically greet each other for the first time in months—or maybe for the first time ever, in person—and immediately connect with the shared experience of being a specialty cut flower grower. I picture the many ASCFG members who have welcomed me, and sometimes my family, into their homes across the country.

About 1500 people have come and gone through the ASCFG in 25 years. Many are still growing cut flowers, many have moved on to other careers, some realized that flower growing is not always as much fun as it looks, many have retired from the business life, and some have left us forever. Fond memories remain of people like Cees Kieft, Phillip Katz, Max Lee, Buck Godwin, Cathy Sutcliffe, Molly Tietze, and Mel Heath.

At the last conference, an industry member expressed some amazement to me that the ASCFG was still going strong, compared to other organizations that were losing membership, or had folded completely. When I told him that members sometimes write me personally to tell they’re retiring, or no longer growing cut flowers, and that’s why they were not renewing their membership, he thought I was kidding.

I kid sometimes—well, frequently—but the fact is that the passion, creativity, and generosity that ASCFG members bring to their own businesses pours over into, and continues to drive this organization. It would not exist without that passion.

Those people who met in Chicago in 1988 probably had no idea that the mission they were establishing that day would still be adhered to today: to help cut growers of specialty cut flowers produce and sell a better crop. It’s a testament to all of you that it still stands.