First, a huge thanks to Lennie Larkin, our outgoing West and Northwest Regional Director. Both a wonderful grower and a steadfast leader, they are some big shoes that she has left to fill, and she knows I’ll be calling with questions and asking for guidance.

When we started farming 20 years ago, it was just a fun thing to do to help fund travel and vacations. We never could have guessed that it would turn into a passion, an obsession, a livelihood. But, here we are. If 20 years ago you had told me that I’d be a mom to three, happily spending most of my days at home and not out socializing, I would have laughed at you and written you off as a few bulbs short of a crate. But, here we are. Life has a way of taking you down the path, and it’s not until you’ve hiked a while do you realize it’s a whole different path than you expected, and you wouldn’t change a thing.

Our path into the world of cut flowers isn’t uncommon. We started as veggie farmers and quickly realized that we weren’t set up to compete with the big vegetable farmers in our area, nor did we want to. Flowers became my obsession and I slowly roped my new husband into tolerating and eventually embracing the thought of being flower farmers. We exhaustively sought out every species of flower that we could grow in our climate, all the while feeling like we were pioneers in some wide new world of farming flowers. We had no idea that there were others out there just like us.

Fast forward 15 years, a mortgage and 2 kids later, and I happened to stumble upon an article in Growing for Market about cut flower farming. Wait, what? There are other people doing this? As a new mom, recently home full time, the idea of turning what had until this point been a hobby into a full-fledged career path was just too much. I made myself a secret goal that by the time my younger son started kindergarten I would grow my farm to a point that I wouldn’t have to go back to work off the farm.

Around that time I became aware of the ASCFG and started plotting to become a member. I had never paid a membership for anything, besides a gym, but took the plunge. I scoured the online forums, developing total farm crushes on the people whose experience and opinions were shared there.

Then I registered for my first ASCFG conference. I felt like an awkward teenager going to my first dance. Before my plane even left the ground in Seattle I had already spied two of my farm crushes, on my plane! Only rows away from me! In a totally uncharacteristic move, I stopped in the aisle of the airplane and introduced myself, and that is the moment that I fell in love with the flower community. I had walked onto that plane feeling alone, nervous, and out of place, but these two women embraced my enthusiasm and invited me to share a ride to the hotel, and later a drink and chat. Totally unprepared I had walked into a conference full of the most generous, kind, and knowledgeable people. I met so many wonderful people over those two days, and made countless connections. Priceless connections which have allowed both my farm and me to blossom and grow into a full-fledged career for me, my husband, and our employees. We now farm on seven acres in our valley and supply flowers to wholesale markets in Portland and Seattle, as well as our local markets, grocery, and wedding work.

As we’ve walked down this path I cannot thank the ASCFG and all of my fellow flower farmers enough for the community and collaboration that we’ve enjoyed. We are looking forward to the 2019 season, to continue to grow and learn alongside our friends, and our family, including our newest little blossom, our daughter Beatrice!

I am so excited to get to share my experiences as well as those of the super talented farms that are thriving here in the West and Northwest Region. We can learn so much from each other, and I’m honored to get a chance to help to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and support as a part of the ASCFG!

Erin McMullen

Rain Drop Farm

Erin McMullen Rain Drop Farm [email protected]