By Lynn Byczynski
If you’re interested in learning more about growing flowers commercially, winter is a great time to do it. Many of the farming conferences held throughout the U.S. include tracks on cut flowers. I want to tell you about three big ones coming up soon, and I’ll update this blog as other conference speakers commit.
The biggest flower learning opportunity of all is the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers National Conference, to be held this year in Reston, Virginia, November 8-10. This is always a great conference where everyone in attendance is fanatical about flowers and eager to share their experiences. Besides the workshops, which feature topics on marketing and production, there are several tours scheduled to successful flower farms in the D.C. area. You will never get a better chance to see the possibilities that flower farming holds. Tours are really popular and one has already sold out. There are a few seats left for the others, so act fast!
If you’re not an ASCFG member, the cost is $520; if you are a member, it's $440. You can become a member for $175. Or you can get the member price if you become a Growing for Market subscriber — a great idea whether you attend the conference or not because GFM has a useful, how-to article about flower growing in every issue.
A full-day flower workshop is held every year at the Great Plains Growers Conference in St. Joseph, Missouri, Jan. 5-7. The flower workshop is on Saturday, Jan. 7, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. I’m the coordinator of the flower track, and every year I’ve brought in some of the best flower growers in the U.S. to be presenters. This time, it’s Linda Chapman from Harvest Moon Flower Farm in southern Indiana. Linda has been a flower grower for 24 years and she is a master at finding profitable niches for flowers. She sells flowers 48 weeks a year. She sells at farmers markets, does a lot of weddings, and creates gorgeous floral crafts. In the morning, she will cover basics and advanced strategies for growing flowers. In the afternoon, she will demonstrate techniques for fresh and dried flowers and holiday decorations. Growing for Market will have a booth at the trade show, so if you attend, please stop by and say hello.
The Southern SAWG conference will be held Jan. 20-22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Many sessions on growing and marketing are relevant to flower growers, and there is one special workshop on growing flowers in heated and unheated greenhouses. After 26 years of growing greenhouse tomatoes, Texas producer Rita Anders decided to diversify in 2005. Now she uses 26,000 square feet of greenhouse space to grow Certified Naturally Grown cut flowers, vegetables and herbs year-round. She provides flowers for weddings and special events, and markets on-farm and at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market. Hear about her tips for growing cut flowers indoors in heated and unheated environments.