‘Tis the season for Reflection, Change, Growth and Renewal

Reflection: It isn’t going to hurt your back or strain your knees. You don’t need sharp pruners or any special computer program or app. Grab your favorite drink and snack. Do yourself, your business, and your family this favor.

There are three basic ways to make proactive change: 1) Stop doing something that isn’t working;  2) Keep doing something that is working;     3) Try doing something new.

Trimming away some things that you have always done a certain way can be intimidating. “It worked when I first started”. “But that’s what I grow in this spot.” “People used to be crazy about them.” Just the thought that you may be dropping something that you have some amount of historical comfort in can be reason alone not to change. But is that ultimately helping you be more profitable, happy or fulfilled? No.

On the other hand, sometimes reflection upon a year can make you decide to keep doing something. Even though it might be seen as a non-change, it is proactive, because you have consciously decided that it is contributing to your financial and/or emotional sustainability.

And as far as trying something new, that’s the most fun part! There is so much out there for system changes, variety changes, styles, and ideas, and the ASCFG is overflowing with them! Be assertive about changes, creative about ideas for growth, and Voila! You have charted a new path for your farm business.

“Anyone can steer a ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.”
 -John Maxwell

Without a doubt, reflection, change, growth, and renewal are vital parts of a successful business, a happy home, and a fulfilling existence. I took a quick poll of some of our Northeast members to find the changes they’re planning. I hope you are inspired by these and sparked to make changes of your own as well.

This year I won’t be:

• Open every day. I need to retain a day for sanity and family time.
• Planning another gomphrena variety trial for 2013. My helpers threatened to quit if I do another one!
• Growing so many varieties of annuals. I lose track of them and have no follow-through as to what I liked and didn’t like.
• Fertilizing sunflowers. I found that to be the reason why their blooms were too big and plants were falling over.
• Pushing the envelope in everything we do. We are downsizing to what we can actually produce within our means. Grow to sell out, not have surplus.
• Selling flowers at the same prices I’ve had for years. I need to increase my prices to reflect my increased costs.
• Tempted to plant bupleurum or larkspur after early May. Stem length is too short if planted late.
• Winging my selling tactics at my farmers’ market stands. I need to take the time to have a marketing plan for each of my markets.
• Transplanting sunflowers. Direct sowing is much more cost effective.
• Delivering for free. I will be charging a flat rate $3 delivery fee per stop regardless of order size.
• Harvesting sunflowers on a Sunday instead of canoeing with my family. I have hired a Sunday worker.
• Growing zinnias. We’ll miss them, but they just don’t hold up as long as the other flowers we have in our bouquets.
• Growing dahlias and tuberose. Getting too old to dig them each year.Growing safflower and nigella. Can’t get the timing right and it gets  overrun by weeds

This year I’ll be continuing what works or trying new:

• Anemone and ranunculus in the tunnel: pre-sprouted by mid-December, and protected until mid-March.
• Planting flowers of the same type together.
• Requiring orders for the coming weekend to be in by Tuesday.
• Planting glads, more dahlias, more sunflowers, more peonies and lilacs.
• Using landscape fabric in my perennials.
• Planting more agastache hybrids (Color Spires series). Hyssop ‘Coral’ and Hyssop ‘Orchid’ were both still blooming in mid-October, ‘Black Adder Anise’ was still blooming in late-October. They made excellent fillers and customers kept commenting on the wonderful smell.
Planting more Gaillardia aristata ‘Oranges & Lemons’, and Penstemon strictus ‘Midnight Blue’ (because both continue blooming after frost).
• Adding beehives.
• Creating an Agricultural Commission for my town.
• Giving dahlias and tuberoses more space to grow.
• Selling extra plant plugs at farmers’ market.
• Growing more Karma ‘Fox Orange’.
• Using seaweed to mulch my perennials.
• Sowing hens & chicks in 50-cell trays to keep them small for corsage and related wedding work.
• Enjoying what I do more and have time for some other non-farm things too.
• Working smart and efficiently, rather than just working hard.
• Having a quick-hitch system for my tractor.
• Using a Coolbot to save money on electricity to my walk-in cooler.
• Using dahlias, celosia, and cutting mums to extend my season.
• Planting more hardy perennials.
• Using preventative spray program with Serenade or Bordeaux for lilies.
• Delegating weekly flower harvest and bouquet making to allow more experienced workers to do wedding work.
• Growing more grains (of all kinds) and fancy mums for October and November sales.

Best of luck to fellow growers, designers and flower enthusiasts! Utilize all that the ASCFG has to offer on its community forum, meetings and member connections.

These examples of real-deal changes fellow members are making for 2013 are thanks to: Chris Wien (Cornell University), Melissa Glorieux (Aster B. Flowers), Paula Gilman (Fernwood Farm), Jana Lamboy (Hastings Fields), Barb Jewell (Island Meadow Farms), Chas Gill (Kennebec Flower Farm), Suzanne Notler, (Blazing Star Farm), Nicole D’Agata (Painted Tulip Floral & Event Design), Jim (Kelly Emerald Farm), and Carolyn Snell (Carolyn Snell Design).

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” 
-Benjamin Franklin

Missy Bahret

Old Friends Farm

Missy Bahret Old Friends Farm Amherst, Massachusetts
[email protected]