My Regional Report is a reflection on the 2012 National Conference, though as I write, I continue to reflect on what I experienced and heard. Last year’s meeting in Tacoma was well attended and seminars were informative and thought provoking. Typically, my memory faded after two weeks, but the information I gained has been enduring, and it helped that I took good notes! The following is a compilation of just a fraction of the information shared.
Kasey Cronquist, CEO/Ambassador of the California Cut flower Commission, talked about the Battlefield of Flowers. This statistic continues to echo in my ears: South America ships 35 cargo planes full of flowers to Miami, Florida every week. Yep—35 cargo planes a week! It irks me that our government gave South American growers financial assistance to begin cut flower production. Even so, being growers of locally grown product helps us all tremendously. Kasey stressed the importance of being who we are: producers of fresh, locally-grown product. He stressed the importance of label identification on each flower bouquet sold, and how working together as a cooperative or association greatly benefits us. We must continue to build strong personal relationships with our customer base and continue to grow high quality flowers. Consumers are looking for locally grown, and want to support and buy locally grown.
Ko Klaver gave an inspiring talk about farming, which he pointed out is definitely not a 9 to 5 job, in fact it is a 5 to 9 job! Isn’t that so true? 5 A.M to 9 P.M. on many days is the life of a farmer. We face many challenges. What do I want my farm to look like? What do I grow? How do I grow it? Where do I sell it? How do I market my product? What is our game plan? We must be serious about our business, and adaptable to change! Ko advised that we grow a wide variety of flowers, and that we be smart growers. Be one step ahead of the competition. Be diversified always; try to sell to multiple outlets and not just to florists or just to farmers’ markets. Continue to educate ourselves about new products. Stay excited about being a cut flower grower! And lastly, stay connected to the ASCFG. ASCFG members are like an extended family and are willing to share their experience and assistance
Gloeckner’s bulb specialist Ron Beck shared everything you ever want to know about lilies. He encouraged us to try parrot tulips and double-flowering Lilies. Ron suggested that we explore Cornell University’s website as an excellent reference source on these topics.
Go to http://www.flowerbulbs.cornell.edu/
Robin Stockwell, owner of Succulent Gardens in Castroville, California, gave an excellent talk about succulents, and made beautiful wreaths using his succulents. Visit his website at http://sgplants.com/ for some succulent eye candy.
The National Conference exceeded my expectations when it came to learning and experiencing new ideas, and I definitely came away re-energized! It was fun visiting old friends and making new ones. Just listening and networking with other growers “grows” us too!
Speaking of growing as a grower, please make plans to attend the meeting at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University on March 17 & 18, 2013. The theme is “Knowledge is Flower Power.” An excellent slate of speakers is planned, and we look forward to seeing many of you there!
In closing, I want to thank Diane, Dennis, Janet and everyone else on the conference team in Washington for a doing a great job. I very much enjoyed my first visit to the West Coast. Other than a 22-hour adventure getting home, I would do it all again tomorrow. Take care everyone, and hope to see you in March!