Ecological Cut Flower Growing & Marketing Workshop
Ballston Spa, NY
Fri., Jan. 10 to Sun., Jan. 12, 2003

Regional Farm & Food Project
148 Central Avenue, Albany, NY 12206
(518) 427-6537    Fax:  (518) 869-2337
farmfood@capital.net
Contact:  Tracy Frisch or Christopher Reed

This progam is presented by the Regional Farm & Food Project in collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension's Capital District Vegetable Program, with support from Cornell University's Small Farms Program.  This workshop will be relevant to vegetable growers who want to diversify their crop mix with cut flowers as well as farmers whose primary focus is flower production.  For a brochure, please contact RFFP.

 Top-notch flower growers will address subjects essential for the success of the cut flower grower.   Topics will range from plant starts and crop scheduling to cultural practices, and from greenhouse production and season extension to harvesting, post-harvest handling, marketing, and flower distribution.  Sessions on scaling-up production and finding your niche in the global floral market will orient newer growers to strategies for navigating the complex world of flower farming.

 As masterful marketers and capable growers, Mimo Davis and partner Kelly Anderson of Wild Thang Farm, Ashland, MO, quickly established themselves as popular farmer presenters, providing high-energy presentations for the Association of Specialty Flower Growers and day-long seminars sponsored by Cooperative Extension, among other venues.  Mimo is the farm's horticulturalist, with nine years of experience at Lincoln University Extension research greenhouses as well as a stint at Missouri Wildflowers Nursery.  Wild Thang has made its mark with natives and high-dollar hoophouse crops.  They sell to florists and through several farmers' markets.  Mimo was recently elected Regional Director for the Midwest region of the Association of Specialty Cut Flowers.

 Flower grower Bob Wollam of Wollam Gardens, Jeffersonton,VA, has succeeded in the competitive Washington, DC, market with a simple formula: grow everything imaginable, grow lots of it and grow it well.  His four acres of cut flowers, with more than 100 varieties of bulbs, woodies, annuals and perennials, with season extension strategies allowing him to sell from the first week of April until the end of October.  Like many flower growers, Bob came to the field as a unexpected second career.  After leaving a senior marketing position at a multinational corporation in 1986, he turned a life-long passion for gardening into his new vocation which allows him to trial and grow a myriad of cultivars.  With sales divided between florists and farmers markets, where he also sells many potted plants and pre-made bouquets, he grosses over $35,000 an acre.  Bob serves as President of the Association of Specialty Cut Flowers.

 MaryLee Johnson of Windswept Acres, Cecil, WI, has been involved in the horticulture industry since the 1980s.  Her formal training began at North Dakota State University and continues to this day.  For ten years, she worked for Johnny's Selected Seeds in Maine, where she developed Johnny's well-known cut flower program.  The flower trial program grew from 100 bed feet to over 2 1/2 acres.  Growing over 2,500 varieties of annual and perennial flowers from seed has given MaryLee a vast amount of experience.   MaryLee and husband Reed started Windswept Acres in 2000, producing everything than can be successfully grown in Zone 4.  In addition, she is in charge of Germania Seed Company's cut flower program.

 The Regional Farm & Food Project (RFFP)s series of practical, intensive three-day programs, now in the sixth year, is designed as professional training for commercial farmers of all scales and farmers in training.  Farmers from a dozen nearby states and Canadian provinces will flock to Ballston Spa (Saratoga County, NY) to attend these stimulating workshops to sharpen their skills, knowledge, and management capacity and get acquainted with other like-minded farmers. The Regional Farm & Food Project is a membership organization of farmers and consumers promoting sustainable opportunities for family-scale agriculture.
 Farmer instructors will discuss pertinent subjects on the basis of what has worked or not worked for them on their own farms coupled with their pragmatic and impressive understanding of the science and market forces involved.  The workshop format allows participants ample opportunity to get acquainted with both the presenters and the other growers attending.

 As enrollment is limited to 60, early sign-up is encouraged.   The workshop fee for each is $150, with discounts for full RFFP members, and includes delicious catered natural food meals and workshop materials.  A number of partial need-based scholarships are available for the cut flower workshop, thanks to support from Cornell, with preference given to NY state farmers.  Inexpensive lodging is available in Saratoga Springs.

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