Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime Provinces
I’m making it a practice to do weekly vase life trials with a few leftover stems from our Saturday farmers’ market. After the market I grab a smattering of flowers, put them into cups labeled with the trial start date, and leave them out in the barn without recutting the stem ends or changing the water. The label is crucial since, without clear tags, both the crew and I will likely forget what that odd bunch of leftovers is about, and it will be tossed into the compost.
I want to experience our product from the customer’s perspective, since happy customers often become repeat customers. Word of mouth brings us lots of business. When I get a phone call requesting a vase delivery or a bulk order for DIY buckets, I ask how they heard about StrayCat. Most often the response is “From a friend who recommended you.”, or “From the farmers’ market”.
On the seventh day we bring the week-olds out to the picnic table and have lunch. Naturally, some blooms fare better than others. This simple exercise reinforces my constant reminders about proper levels of maturity for harvesting the wide variety of cut material we grow. Someday there might even be a laminated poster at the clean bucket station, with images and flower names, something like this:
I have a rule that says “All the rules are meant to be broken.”, which helps the crew understand why the above maturity indicators sometimes shape-shift depending on the market said flowers are going to. My natural inclination is to harvest suns, lilies, and tulips tight for maximum vase life. Meanwhile, bunches of wide-open blooms from other growers at the market catch the eye of the customers who gravitate toward all that color over the potential of our nascent beauties. Likely they’re on their way to a weekend get-together and want to show up with open blooms. I once had a Mother’s Day vase delivery customer call back saying the flowers they sent “weren’t ready and didn’t look colorful”. I donned my customer service cap, called back a few days later to check in, and heard that the bouquet had indeed morphed into its full expression: the dianthus blossoms and narcissus buds opened and had a lovely, light fragrance. Still, I mailed them a gift certificate to our tent at the farmers’ market, for their trouble.
I’m a big fan of the laminator we’ve recently come upon at our neighbor’s office. I don’t use it enough to justify buying one for myself, but that machine has bumped us up a notch in the accountability department. Weekly vase life trials actually happen on a weekly basis, now that the label is encased is that shiny plastic coating (full disclosure – image is pre-lamination era). Time cards are being filled out consistently now that the laminated sample hangs gleaming next to the time card box. The ASCFG logo, unbattered and weather-proofed, is on display at our market tent.
My farm is on rented land, and has certain infrastructure limitations. The wind and weather creep in through the barn boards and wear on anything that’s not nailed down, locked up, or…laminated! Never thought I’d find myself skipping to the office to bring more plastic into the world, but I gotta get back to laminating our opening and closing check lists. Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing ya’ll at the upcoming Grower’s Intensives. Please introduce yourself and let me know how things are going at your farms!