This is my final Regional Report as your North and Central Regional Director. It has been a fantastic three years and I thank you all for allowing me to serve this organization. I want to encourage each and every one of you to become active in our ASCFG family. And it truly is a family.
When I started growing in 1994 I never dreamed how dear my brothers and sisters in flower farming would become to me. They have become lifelong friends, and I am continually inspired by their hard work, ingenuity, and dedication. Everything I know and learned has come from other growers I met through the ASCFG. The flower farming world has changed a lot in these past decades. We see new and excited growers enter the fray. Welcome, I say! When I joined the ASCFG we were excited to have 50 people in a Growers’ School; now we pack the room. There you can learn the ins and outs of farming, the reality beyond what the marketers of this lifestyle would have you believe it is. Really it is a lot of learning and hard work, artistic flow and organization, and having good financial sense.
Joining the ASCFG propels amateur growers into professional farming at least three years ahead of what one could accomplish independently. The knowledge gained not only leads us to bigger and better growing, but also teaches us how to run our businesses with integrity and respect. Every day as I look around my farm I see suggestions, given to me by other growers, which I have implemented. Our netting system came from Mike and Polly Hutchison of Robin Hollow Farm. Many of our perennials started as clumps dug from Wollam Gardens’ fields. We have visited his farm on more than a few occasions, with him always saying “You’ve got to try this one, it’s fabulous!” When we sow our poppies and dig our amazing ginger every fall, Betsy and Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farms come to mind. I remember one visit to their farm when Alex said “Do you want to see something cool?” as he forked out of the ground this massive pink ginger root. I can still smell the aroma that wafted around us and sold me on growing ginger. I credit Don Dramstad of Don’s Dahlias for the amazing dahlias that our florist can’t get enough of. There are many others who have contributed to our success, but none of that would have happened if I was not active in the organization.
I not only attend the meetings and conferences but use them as networking opportunities, setting up farm visits for the upcoming season. I get off my farm and visit other farms as often as I can. I know there are some of you who have joined the ASCFG and believe that you don’t have to go to the meetings because they are videotaped, and you can save money and just watch them from the comfort of your home. I’m here to tell you what a grave disservice that kind of thinking is for you and your business! GET OUT! And go see some of the amazing farms and farmers that make up the ASCFG. I promise it will be money well spent!
Thanks for letting me have the best gig on the planet! As I leave my post I look forward to the ways in which this organization, this family—our family—will grow and develop.