The People, the Presentations and, Then, the Tour! Everything was SO GOOD!

Our 2022 conference, Rooted and Reconnected, was PERFECTLY named!  After two and a half years of no in-person conferences, it was like being in heaven to once again be together—to face, in person—with fellow growers!

Thank you to our stellar Conference Planning Committee for putting the whole shebang together and bringing us such an exceptional group of highly experienced speakers, many whom we’ve never heard from before.

• Linda Doan, Committee Chair
• Janis Harris
• Erin McMullen
• Lennie Larkin
• Bailey Hale
• Judy Laushman
• Linda Twining
• Rebecca Marrall, our brand new Education Director had just joined the ASCFG but I know she was helping a ton behind the scenes.

It was a TREAT to celebrate Linda Twining's 20th anniversary with the ASCFG!

I have to be honest, jumping up on the podium and welcoming everyone was a treat! It was exciting to see everyone who raised their hands when I asked who was coming to their very FIRST ASCFG conference and then be able to give them a hearty welcome! And it was so, so, SO good to see everyone raise their hands who’s been to conferences before and we could all join in and welcome them BACK. I was astonished to see how many longer-time members came—including my hero, Bob Wollam! You guys are treasures and being able to catch up with you again was priceless.

While so many people came from near and far, we also had three World Travelers come from outside of North America: Christy Ralphs from Auckland, New Zealand; and Rosaline Chandler and Alice Hare from Buckinghamshire, England. What fun it was to talk with them! We were also joined by 16 of our current Mentors and Mentees, and one of our current Dave Dowling Scholarship recipients.

What if you weren’t able to come?

For everyone who wasn’t able to make the trip to Framingham, you’ll be able to see great video production of all the speakers and their presentations.

And for everyone who did go, you’ll be able to rewatch your favorites and also catch the concurrent sessions you couldn’t get to.

The content presented in this conference was diverse and incredible.

I’m a note taker; it’s how I listen, remember and learn. This time, I took pages and pages of notes from the speakers and during the tour of Fivefork Farms—my little notebook is already highlighted, marked up, and dog eared as I’ve made “learnings” and “to try/do” lists in the month since the conference. There was SO MUCH talked about, shared and presented!

Just to give you an idea of what all of our members will be able to access from the conference presentations and videos, I wanted to share just a few of my biggest takeaways:

• Zinnias can be held at 34-36F for 1-3 days with no cold damage. (from “Ready to Go Deeper with Postharvest?” by John Dole)
• Fivefork Farms plants their dahlias deep (I wrote down 6-8”) and then mounds soil up right to the pinch at the 4th lateral. The reason they mound like this is to get the extra stems to support themselves. No other support is used. What a labor saver. (Farm tour)
• The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops to protect against natural disasters that result in lower yields or crop losses or prevents crop planting. Cut flowers are eligible under “Value Loss Crops”. (from “How to Use USDA Technical and Financial Assistance on Your Farm” by Robert Purcell and Amanda Mills)
• “You are the driver of your business … leverage your core competency … where are you scalable, sustainable?” (“The Evolution of a Cut Flower Farm” by Grace Lam)

The advantages of coming in person include catching up with old friends (Mimo Davis, left).
Meeting new friends from all over the country (Marly Surena-Llorens, Tracy Young, and Dee Hall, right).

• “Map out the ‘management areas’ on your farm and write job descriptions for each area. Until you assign an area to a staff member, it’s your job. This can be the starting point for a training manual.” (from “Grow and Expand Your Business” by Jenny Elliott and Luke Franco)
• Chicago has 30,000+ vacant lots (roughly 8 lots = an acre). In less than 10 years, Southside Blooms has returned 10 acres of blighted Chicago land (vacant lots) to productive use through its mission to use sustainability to alleviate poverty. (from “Creating Jobs for Inner City Youth through Cut Flowers” by Quilen Blackwell) NOTE: if you watch just one presentation from the conference, watch this one.

Fivefork's "mounded up" dahlias
The Farm Tour at Fivefork Farms was a great experience.
Thanks to Grace, her brother Lyh, and dad, Daniel!

Whether it’s growing, postharvest, production planning; business model evaluation/scaling, profitability assessment, identifying and eliminating bottlenecks and limited resources or sheer inspiration you’re most looking for, you’ll find it in the sessions from Rooted and Reconnected.

Thank you to our supplier members who joined us! See page 6 for a list of our sponsors and supplier showcase participants.

Coming up next: 2023 marks the ASCFG’s 35th anniversary! At our November Board meeting we’ll be working through our plans for next year’s celebration.

Stay tuned!

Our Supplier Showcase Participants

American Takii
Mike Huggett
A-ROO Company
Trevor McNeill
Ball ColorLink
Dave Dowling, Erick Harris, Dawn Wiemers
CT Greenhouse
Aaron Taylor
Eason Horticultural Resources
David Toohey
Express Seed Company
Kelly Meringolo, John Cotton
Farmer Bailey
Bailey Hale, Ally Dick
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Hillary Alger
Leo Berbee Bulb Company
Marjolein Berbee-Dzmura, Dave Dzmura
Onings Holland Flower Bulbs
Henk Onings, Trudy Onings, Alberto Biancheri
Raker – Roberta’s Young Plants
Emily Wildt
Sakata Seed
Bob Croft
Spring Meadow Nursery
Woody Gutierrez

Thank you to everyone who came to the conference, and to Fivefork for hosting us!

Val Schirmer

Three Toads Farm, Winchester, Kentucky

Contact her at [email protected]