Earlier this year I had the pleasure of hosting two ASCFG members here on my farm. Each had purchased a consultation package in support of the ASCFG Research Foundation at the auction held at the Delaware National Conference in 2014.
Maggie Kool of Maggie’s Specialty Cut Flowers came in from Michigan in the dead of winter, and we had a wonderful day of exploring her every question and concern. Maggie is in the planning and building stage of her business so she really wanted to discuss the bones of a small operation. I think Maggie is in the category that many of us are in—looking for a supplemental income doing what we love—growing and selling flowers and she has a desire and plans to do it well.
Maggie and I had a day of discussing seed starting, planting schedules, processing flowers, and where and how to sell them. She said she went away full, but I too benefited! It is always such a bright spot to hear fresh ideas and to consider perhaps there may be a better way of doing some chore you’ve done a certain way for years. How much I learn when we make the time to gather and these discussions happen.
Beverly Lacey of Blue Heron Farm, a seasoned grower from the mountains of Virginia, and her recent addition, farmer-florist Nina Zinsser Booth, came to visit in May. All systems were full speed ahead on the farm and we had a great day of exchanging ideas and filling in the blanks. Nina brings seven years of vegetable farming to the table, and is working toward building up the business to include local wedding work, a flower CSA, DIY brides, and florists.
Excerpts from the note Beverly sent following their visit: “Nina and I babbled the whole way home about all the ideas we picked up. Thank you for offering the visit to support the ASCFG Research Foundation and to pass on all the knowledge that you have accumulated. My main take-away from the visit was that our system here does a fairly good job growing crops and learning about what flowers work as cuts, but we are sorely lacking in the area of entrepreneurial ideas. Hopefully Nina will fill that niche, and your enthusiasm and ideas were just what we needed to get the dialogue going. Thank you, thank you.”
I learned and gained new friendships on both of these visits. Again I am reminded that we must stop and pause to consider how giving back impacts others as well as our own self being. While this was a mere tidbit of giving—it helped all around.
It is so easy to get sucked into a lonely hole out there on the farm by yourself: overwhelmed, hot, tired, crop failures, and perhaps broke. Then, more than ever is the time to gather together with other like-minded folks—meetings small and large are fountains of knowledge, inspiration, and energy.
While in my beginning years of farming, I worked from sunrise to sunset six days a week and fell into bed at night wondering how in the world I’d get the work list done tomorrow. It never came on my radar to attend a cut flower meeting —who had the time or money for that? Then an ASCFG member invited and encouraged me to attend. What a game changer for my business!
This is your invitation and encouragement to attend meetings. Do all you can to get there; it just might carry you around that corner you’d never make it around standing up on your own.