I went to Fort Worth to be a part of the Growers’ School. We had an incredible speaker lineup to educate new growers on the basics of growing flowers. I know they went home with visions of zinnias dancing in their heads and probably more information than they will know what to do with. I know I did.

I was on the agenda as the “in the office” speaker. In my experience, a lot of business planning can be rather dry and complicated and leave you wondering where to begin. Lots of times, you really don’t get motivated enough to even start. Not good, because you can be the best darn flower grower in the area but if you don’t push your paperwork you will have a hard time making it as a business.

I titled my presentation “Office to Field Business Planning”, and boy howdy, that’s exactly what it is.  To keep everyone on target and not lose their way, I created a step-by-step action plan to take home to implement all the ideas.

The ultimate goal in setting up an office is to capture and process information so that it begins to work for you. I talk about basic accounting practices to keep everything organized and then dive into planning tools to use in the office for a more successful and strategic growing season in the field. We’ll talk about easy processes to plan fields, organize seeds and we even dive into building seeding schedules.

If you are a new grower or feel like you need some help in this area of your business, make arrangements now to come to the National Conference in Delaware this fall. But I will give you this challenge to get you on the right track to your own “Office to Field Business Planning” right now.

At the very root of success you need to know what your resources and potential are. So here’s the challenge: draw out your farm. Yes, I actually mean with a pencil on grid paper. If you’re tech savvy, use Google Earth, or AutoCAD, or whatever—just do it. This is incredibly easy and fun. If you don’t have a super long tape measure, just walk it off and you’ll be close enough.  Here are the steps:

1. Take a notebook with you, and record the length and width of each of your fields.
2. Draw them out on some very large grid paper. Mine is 18 x 22″, which I pasted onto some stiff poster board for durability. Be sure to write the dimensions of the field on the field.
3. Depending on the width of your tiller, figure out how many beds/rows will fit in that field and write that down. Don’t forget to allow for your walkways.
4. Go online to an acreage calculator and plug in the length and width dimensions to figure out the amount of acreage in that field. It’s just fun to know that “Oh yeah, I have a one-third acre of peonies.”
5. Now if you can’t stop because you’re getting into it and that cup of coffee isn’t finished yet, go ahead and get out your colored pencils and draw in all the utilities that you are aware of.
6. Feel like a second cup of coffee? Go ahead and draw in the roads, fences, outbuildings, ponds, house, windbreaks, etc.

Okay, I’m getting away with myself. You can tell I really had a good time doing this. You could, by all practical means,stop at step 4. Find my sample farm grids under “Useful Links” in Members Only at www.ascfg.org.

This information becomes hugely valuable into the future and makes decision-making and enterprise budgeting a whole lot easier. Need to figure out how much drip tape to order? Or how much mainline you will need and how much that will cost? No problem, all you need is a cup of coffee, a calculator and this new field layout. Want to be able to see how much area you want to devote to succession planting sunflowers?  Now you can easily estimate the amount of seed to buy or plugs to start so that you don’t end up coming short or worse, planting too much and wasting time and money.

Planning is important to the success of your business and it absolutely doesn’t matter how small you are; this applies to everyone.  Resolve to get this done, start your coffee pot, get a pencil and notebook, walk out your back door and just do it.  Then let the dreaming begin.

Paula Rice

BeeHaven Farm

Paula Rice BeeHaven Farm Contact at [email protected]