2016 National Conference PDF Print E-mail

November 6-9, 2016     Hilton Doubletree     Grand Rapids, Michigan

The 2016 Conference has filled to capacity and registration for all events is closed.  We look forward to welcoming 165 first time attendees and catching up with members we've met before. 

Check back soon for the 2017 schedule.

The ASCFG room block at the Grand Rapids Hilton is filled; rooms there may still be available outside the block. There is a Courtyard by Marriott next door to the Hilton.

Exhibitor and Sponsor Information

Doubletree by Hilton, 4747 28th Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Make your room reservations BY OCTOBER 14 directly with the Doubletree.
Call (616) 957-0100 and tell them you’re with the ASCFG for a room in the ASCFG room block at the $119 rate. Or book online When the room block is filled, the hotel is under no obligation to provide additional rooms, or extend the conference room rate.

Fly into the Gerald R. Ford International Airport and take the hotel’s complimentary shuttle.

Sunday, November 6     Growers’ School 
Limited to 120 attendees.

8:30 – 9:30 a.m.
Marketing: Quality, Constituency, and Charisma
Mimo Davis Duschack, Urban Buds, St. Louis, Missouri
Before you sow your first seed, know where that flower will be sold. Mimo will explain how she markets to florists, wholesalers, and at farmers’ markets. Covering topics from the first “cold call” to a buyer to becoming a cornerstone of your farmers’ market, learn how to add the business sparkle that will keep customers coming for your flowers.

9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Making “Year Two” Count
Lennie Larkin, B-Side Farm, Sebastopol, California
We all learned many lessons in the first year of operating our flower farms. And as we all know, many of those lessons learned the hard way often act as our best teachers as we master our craft. This session will focus on those first few years of growth, and how to incorporate wisdom learned through trial and error as well as advice gleaned from others into a robust, growth-oriented business plan. From marketing to plant selection to managing new land, Lennie will share her transition plans for B-Side Farm as she moves through year two in business.

10:30 – 10:45 a.m. Break

10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
High Tunnel Basics: Getting the Most from This Valuable Real Estate
Barbara Lamborne, Greenstone Fields, Purcellville, Virginia
You have it built—now what? What should you plant in there, and when? How do you maintain the best environment to keep those plants happy?  How do you avoid sad soil? Barbara will share what she has learned growing in four tunnels for nine years.

12:00 – 1:30 p.m. Lunch on your own

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
The Brightest Bulb in the Crate Demystifies the Procurement Process,
and Talks Bulbs, Too

Dave Dowling, Ednie Flower Bulb Company, Fredon, New Jersey
Learn where and how to get the stuff you need to make your farm grow. Get a clear explanation of the broker/grower relationship. Discover what bulb varieties are best for cut flowers and your bottom line. Learn how to choose the right bulb crop for your growing conditions and your marketing strategy.

2:30 – 4:00 p.m. 
The Roots of a Great Farm
Lisa Ziegler, The Gardener’s Workshop, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Learn how your farm can become more self-sustaining and healthy with each passing season. Lisa will share the methods she follows for soil care and nutrition, pest management, and how-to include cover crops on your farm.

4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Postharvest: The Last Talk of the Day, but the Most Important One of Your BUSINESS
John Dole, North Carolina State University, Raleigh
The best postharvest practices produce the longest-lasting flowers. Learn the basics of proper postharvest handling to ensure your flowers keep your customers satisfied.
Dinner on your own


Monday, November 7      Conference Sessions, Banquet, and Auction

8:00 – 8:30 a.m.
Special Guest Welcome
Dale Deppe, Spring Meadow Nursery, Grand Rapids

8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
New Varieties Festival
John Dole, North Carolina State University, Raleigh
What have the breeders come up for cut flower growers? What works best for a wide range of growing conditions? What kind of vase life should you expect? No one knows better than John Dole.

10:00 – 10:30 a.m.
ASCFG Update
Learn the latest news from your organization.

10:30 – 10:45 a.m. Break

10:45 – 11:45 a.m.
Being the Face of Your Business
Erin Benzakein, Floret, Mount Vernon, Washington
Behind every beautiful cut flower is a flower grower with a story. Customers want to connect with and know their grower, yet many farmers hide behind their flowers instead of sharing themselves and their story. For Erin Benzakein, Floret’s success  catapulted when she stopped selling stuff and started selling herself and her little family’s story. Starting with a small flower plot just 8 years ago, Erin now heads her own seed company, runs wildly popular on-farm workshops, and has authored a new book, Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden: How to Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms, due out in early 2017. Erin will give insights into how she has built her brand and grown her business plus share tips on how flower farmers can connect with consumers to sell themselves and their flowers.

11:45 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Lunch on your own

Track A    
1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Cultivating Grower/Florist Relationships
Ellen Frost, Local Color Flowers, Baltimore, Maryland
Laura Beth Resnick, Butterbee Farm, Pikesville, Maryland
Ellen and Laura Beth present a terrific back-and-forth conversation about the unique relationship between farmer and florist. They will discuss the process of buying and selling, along with cross-marketing, and the do’s and don’ts of any farmer/florist partnership.

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Wedding Designs from the Farm
Gretel Adams, Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, Columbus, Ohio
Rita Anders, Cuts of Color, Weimar, Texas
Jennie Love, Love ‘n Fresh Flowers, Philadelphia
Check out this fantastic floral designer lineup - what a range of experiences and talents! Bring your own experiences to share and questions to ask, and soak up the knowledge.

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Business Business Business
Gretel and Steve Adams, Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, Columbus, Ohio
There’s more to a flower farm than growing flowers. Listen to these two explain some of the things you’ll need to be doing, besides growing great flowers. They will tell how they keep their business going while they deal with workers, florists, grocery stores, suppliers, paperwork, weddings, and more, all while still liking each other at the end of the day.

Track B
1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
What’s Making My Plants Sick?
Brian Hudelson, University of Wisconsin, Madison
“Dr. Death” made an appearance at last year’s Grower Intensive in Madison, clearly having done his homework on cut flower diseases. Now is the time to take photos of your own problem plants; post them on the ASCFG Members Only Facebook page, and Brian will address these issues in November.

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Picking from the Money Tree: Foliage Selections to Increase Quality and Profit
Mike and Polly Hutchison, Robin Hollow Farm, Saunderstown, Rhode Island
Look beyond the usual flowering annuals and perennials to add colorful variety and texture to your cut flower selections. Mike and Polly will share what foliage plants work best for them, and how to grow and use them.

3:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Perennials for Cut Flowers
MaryLee and Reed Johnson, Windswept Acres, Cecil, Wisconsin
Learn to grow, process, handle, and sell some perennials that should already be on your list, and a few you should be considering. MaryLee and Reed will share successes as well as failures so you can avoid some pitfalls. They have grown in North Dakota, Maine, and Wisconsin, and have more than 30 years of growing experience. Since 2000 they have transformed a 100-year-old dairy farm into a flowers-only farm, with over 25 field acres of perennials, annuals, and shrubs, plus a few greenhouses.

6:00 p.m.
ASCFG Banquet and ASCFG Research Foundation Auction


Tuesday, November 8      Conference, Trade Show  

8:00 – 9:00 a.m.
Added-Value Farm Products: Could They Be for You?
Lisa Ziegler, The Gardener’s Workshop, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Think beyond dried flowers and weddings! Learn how Lisa grew a profitable business from her flower farming experiences, from speaking and writing to developing a line of products to offer on her online store and at events.

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Scaling Up the Farm
Gretel and Steve Adams, Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, Columbus, Ohio
Heidi Joynt, Field and Florist, Chicago, Illinois
Lennie Larkin, B-Side Farm,
Sebastopol, California
You’ve made it through the first years of cut flower farming. Now what? Learn from these innovative and growers how they successfully took the next steps.

10:00 - 10:30 a.m.  Break

10:30 – 12:00 p.m.
Secrets of Germination Revealed
Erin Benzakein, Floret,
Mount Vernon, Washington
Jeanie McKewan, Brightflower Farm,
Stockton, Illinois
Lisa Ziegler, The Gardener’s Workshop,
Virginia Beach, Virginia

12:00 – 1:30 p.m. Lunch on your own

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Cut Ornamental Branches
Bob Wollam, Wollam Gardens, Jeffersonton, Virginia
Bob has been growing woodies at his beautiful farm for over 20 years. He's looking forward to sharing his opinions about winners and losers from his experience as a grower for local sales. Look for the inside information that everyone wants to know: which varieties are best, which to avoid, when to harvest, and how to package the final product.

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
IPM for Cut Flower Growers
Stanton Gill, University of Maryland, Ellicott City
Lots of IPM experts can advise you on pest control—on vegetables, turfgrass, nursery stock. Stanton’s research and field experience with field and greenhouse cut flowers makes him the go-to guy for all things pest-related for ASCFG members.

4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Trade Show and Reception 
Here's your chance to meet representatives of your favorite suppliers face to face. Find out about new products, catch up on your orders, and develop strong connections you can count on all year.

Wednesday, November 9      Tours

Spring Meadow Nursery

Ottawa Glad Growers

Walter's Gardens