“The Family That Cleans Together . . .”

I come from what would now be considered a “large” family. But in the 50s and 60s in the upper Midwest, five daughters and three sons were fairly average for a Catholic household. My godparents have 12 children; one kid in my high school graduating class had 17 siblings.

As such, our childhood house was large and old and well lived in, as expected with that many people, plus assorted dogs, cats, canaries, guinea pigs, hamsters, and transient garter snakes and toads. Every Saturday, our mother would cheerfully assemble as many of us she could find, and assign that week’s cleaning chores. There was furniture dusting with Pledge, window cleaning with Windex, and scrubbing the back steps with a mysterious polish or wax solution that gave the cleaner a faint buzz for a good twenty minutes. It’s undoubtedly been removed from the market by now, but was fun while it lasted.

“Remember,” Mom would unnecessarily remind us, as she had just the Saturday before, “In a big family, everyone has to chip in.” So we would turn off whatever Looney Tunes we were gathered around, pick up our various cans and buckets and rags, and fan out do our best to remove the grime that we had all deposited through the house during the week.

“Pretend the pope is coming for a visit!” was another of her inspirational themes. No matter that northwest Iowa was an unlikely destination for the Bishop of Rome; we were certain that he would choose our house because the back stairs were so shiny.
Remarkably, it seems that not one of the eight of us ever ventured to ask our mom how small families kept their houses clean; apparently we assumed that only multi-child families were potential stops on the pope’s itinerary and we must live up to that standard.

It’s often been said that the ASCFG is a family, and after 33 years, it’s larger than ever. What has been maintained and strengthened through this growth is the sense of generosity, initiative, and support that members provide each other, and the organization as a whole. 2020 threw challenges at all of us, and here we are on the other side, because our members chipped in.

The Mentor Program has matched 23 new growers with experienced partners in the last five years. So far this year ten members have completed Mentor applications—and we would love to see ten more! Many of these Mentor-Member pairings have resulted in friendships that will continue long past the cycle of their mentorship; they have become more like family.

The Ask an Expert sessions, first hosted on Facebook and now on Zoom, have featured presentations by more than 30 members, each graciously contributing knowledge and experience.

Thirty-nine growers are participating in the ASCFG’s acclaimed Cut Flower Trials in 2021; more than 200 have been Trialers since its inception in 1993.

When we put out the call just last month for farm tour hosts for 2021, six members applied almost immediately, and three of those events were sold out within two weeks. We’re pleased that we’ll be able to offer these meeting opportunity well into the fall, thanks to the generosity and initiative of these growers.

You’ll find the nominees for this year’s Board of Directors election on page 38. Yet again, ASCFG members are chipping in their time and energy to help direct the organization through the next years. If you’re thinking about this for the future, contact some of these folks to hear what they’ve learned by serving on the Board.

The best part is that ASCFG members don’t need to be reminded that in a big family, everyone must chip in, or hope that the Pope visits their farm. They just do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Judy Laushman

ASCFG Executive Director

Contact her at [email protected]