Mentor Program Testimonials

Tom Wheeler and David Rubino of Plumb Farms Nursery & Flowers,

“The importance of mentors ~ two years ago this summer, our farm was in the throes of a major crop failure, we had our first season growing in a high tunnel and everything seemed to be going wrong—the learning curve was so steep! We were exhausted, dispirited, and had no real support structure in place to help us turn things around.

Then, like manna from the heavens, as I sat on my tunnel floor in despair, I got a message in my Inbox from the @ascfg. The message said that our farm had been accepted into their 2-year mentorship program, which I had applied for a few months earlier without any real hope of being chosen! Well, our farm was chosen, and this act of good fortune turned so much of our journey around in the best of ways.

Dave Rubino and Tom Wheeler of @plumbflowers entered our lives, and we gleefully stepped into a one-to-one, farm-to-farm mentoring relationship, orchestrated entirely by the Association, free of charge. As our two years is coming to a close,, we are so enormously grateful for the wisdom, compassion, caring and focus Dave and Tom have given us. And to the Association for connecting new farmers with experienced farmers and creating such meaningful, important and impactful relationships between their members. Armed with Dave and Tom’s guidance and skill, we’ve taken some quantum leaps forward from putting together a support circle of fellow farmers and mentors, to understanding how to grow in a tunnel, to applying for a our first USDA grant to get more tunnels, developing a wholesale program, having an IPM program in our back-pocket, selling at our first Farmer’s market and increasing our floral production with confidence.

Dave always seemed to know exactly when to drop a note in our Inbox, asking if we had started planting our plugs yet, if we had been impacted by the latest deluge, or just sharing his own growing stories and successes month-by-month. This program, and these lovely generous beautiful people, have planted seeds far beyond their own farm and gardens. We are so incredibly grateful for mentorship programs like these and farmers and florists like Dave and Tom. Thank you, thank you, Friends!”

Jennifer Kouvant, Six Dutchess Farm, LaGrangeville, New York

“I have truly learned so much as a Mentor. Just putting into words various aspects of my business has really helped me evaluate the “why” behind so much of what we do here. I love seeing other farms, so this was always a highlight. I also sincerely feel that I’ve made a lifelong friend and colleague. I can’t wait to watch my Mentee’s business grow!”

Michelle Elston, Roots Cut Flower Farm, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

“Michelle has taught me so many things these past two years. It’s hard to pinpoint what helped the most. I think visiting her farm and watching her day to day operations were invaluable. Just seeing her interact with her crew and how efficiently she runs her farm really helped give me a framework to help me set up my own business. I’m so grateful to have been able to be mentored by her.”

Alyssa Van Alstine, Liberty Plants, Trapp, Pennsylvania

“Brenda has been fabulous, sharing all her knowledge, pictures, presentations, documents, and sourcing. She has gone out of her way to open doors and introduce me to helpful contacts. We have a Zoom meeting every two weeks where we have been able to do a virtual walk of each other’s farm. She has given me wonderful ideas on weed control, flower varieties, and farm operations. Along with best farming practices Brenda has provided fun instruction in floral design.”

Kelly Gregory, Fiddlin’ Frog Flower Farm, Marysville, California