Having never given a formal farm tour to a group, we didn’t know what to expect when we agreed to host an ASCFG event on our farm this summer. We were nervous, and excited, to invite fellow farmers out, and to get a chance for some desperately needed community connection.
All told we had about 38 people join us for a summer Rain Drop tour. Our amazing crew pulled off a normal harvest day while we toured around them, admiring the flowers, and trying to ignore the weeds. While our plan had been to suspend harvest and activity during the tour, high summer demand meant that we couldn’t, which actually turned out to be a great way to further the discussion about market channels and product specs.
The tour commenced with a short stroll through our landowner’s filbert (hazelnut) orchard, giving everyone an opportunity to chat and visit. We discussed the challenges of transitioning conventional farmland into specialty crop land, the breakdown of our fields for harvest, and the growth that we’ve seen over the last 20 years of growing flowers.
At field one, I truly felt like Willy Wonka releasing a bunch of sugar-crazed kids into a field of dahlias. Luckily I did not attempt to somersault over the pile of gravel I was using as a step, not sure my insurance covers those kinds of acrobatics. But, really, it was a pleasure to watch my fellow flower farmers meander through the dahlias, talking varieties and colors. And while I really wish that I could have erased the weeds from view, seeing other farmers sigh in relief to know that we all deal with the same ones was good for me!
We spent time chatting about eucalyptus, roses, and woodies, and then headed to our newest annual field with a quick overview of pumpkins and squash. Stopping at our barn and processing area gave us a chance to poke heads into the cooler, talk about employees, markets, pricing, and a myriad of other topics that we could have spent all day on.
With a quick walk to the parking lot we raffled off some great swag that Judy and Linda sent us (thank you!), and sent everyone on their way. All in all a wonderful morning of talking about what we love to talk about, flowers!
A big thanks to everyone in the West and Northwest Region (and Val!), for making it out to share the day with us, you made it so great! Thank you to our staff, and particularly our tour guides Aaron, Chelsey and Ashley for all their hard work to make this tour happen! And thank you to the staff at the ASCFG office and the Board for prioritizing these tours in the face of such uncertainty.
While I can’t wait to get back to a more normal type of conference, I do hope that we can move forward with this kind of tour as a regular staple in the schedule. There is truly no replacement for being on a farm, seeing how farmers work, and talking directly to other farmers!