ASCFG Mentor Program

April 2021: The ASCFG is now accepting applications for Mentors. Please see below. The Mentee application process will begin later this year.

Giving Back to the Cut Flower Industry

Our objective is to fast track younger or inexperienced growers through the learning phase of beginning flower farming. This will help ensure a more successful venture and build more quality growers. We want to build more successful growers which will make for more active and long-term ASCFG members. Qualified beginning farmers must be ASCFG members to participate. Our hope is to engage older and more experienced growers by keeping them involved in the ASCFG, and active within the local cut flower industry.

The program pairs beginning farmers—those completely new to cut flowers, or perhaps vegetable or agronomic farmers expanding their crops—with experienced cut flower growers. Mentors and Mentees will communicate frequently (the means and frequency of communication are mutually decided); visit each other’s farms if possible; and attend ASCFG online and in-person events when scheduled.

Regardless of experience, all growers benefit from personal interaction with each other. The mutual commitment for learning and networking extends for years beyond the mentor cycle, and strengthens bonds throughout the ASCFG.

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

We Ask Our Mentors To:

  • Be available to your Mentee by phone/text/email as needed; the means and frequency of communication should be mutually decided, and respectful of both parties’ schedules.
  • Visit your Mentee’s farm at least once each of the two years of the program.
  • Host your Mentee at your farm at least once during the two years of the program.
  • Communicate with the program coordinator periodically throughout the year via emails, phone, or by responding to written surveys.
  • Participate in regular virtual sessions with other Mentors and Mentees.
  • Complete an annual evaluation about the program and your Mentee at the end of each growing season, as well as a final report for publication in The Cut Flower Quarterly.

In Return, You Will Receive:

  • A $500 stipend; half to be paid after the first year, the remainder to be paid after the completion of the second year.
  • One complimentary ASCFG meeting registration per year for the two years of the program.
  • ASCFG membership for two years.
  • $250 for travel to visit beginning farmer, $125/year.
  • All compensation is contingent on active participation in the program, and completion and submission of year-end evaluations and reports.

Your knowledge and experience as a longtime cut flower grower are invaluable. If you’re ready to share some of that expertise with a new grower, please consider becoming an ASCFG Mentor. It’s likely that you’ve already mentored farmers informally; join the ASCFG Mentor Program to help ensure the health and future of the local flower industry.

Guidelines for ASCFG Mentors

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

We Ask Our Mentees To:

  • Be an active ASCFG member for one calendar year before the date of application.
  • Have been a commercial flower grower for at least one full season before the date of application.
  • Have attended at least one ASCFG-sponsored educational event, in person or virtual.

Mentee Requirements

  • Be available to your Mentor by phone/text/email as needed; the means and frequency of communication should be mutually decided, and respectful of both parties’ schedules.
  • Visit your Mentor’s farm at least once each of the two years of the program.
  • Host your Mentor at your farm at least once during the two years of the program.
  • Communicate with the program coordinator periodically throughout the year via emails, phone, or by responding to written surveys.
  • Participate in regular virtual sessions with other Mentors and Mentees.
  • Complete an annual evaluation about the program and your Mentor at the end of each growing season, as well as a final report for publication in The Cut Flower Quarterly.

Mentee Benefits

  • One complimentary ASCFG meeting registration per year for the two years of the program.
  • $250 for travel to visit Mentor, $125/year.
  • All compensation is contingent on active participation in the program, and completion and submission of year-end evaluations and reports.


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

Participants in the Farmer-to-Farmer Mentorship program sponsored by MOSES compiled these key principles:

Expectations

  • Set clear expectations for the mentoring relationship.
  • Have clearly defined tasks. What is the role of the Mentor? What is the role of the Mentee?
  • Structure is important: write down expectations, goals, and agreed-upon communication methods and times.

Goals

  • Prioritize goals together, with what the Mentor can offer to help Mentees achieve their goals.
  • Include quality of life goals.
  • The Mentor must understand the Mentee’s motivation.
  • Set a timeline for goals—what do Mentees want to accomplish throughout the mentorship?
  • Determine what a successful year look like.

Listening

  • Don’t assume you know what they want or need.
  • Don’t give them too much information all at once.
  • Ask questions.

Humility

  • You (the Mentor) don’t have to know everything.
  • If your expectations for yourself as a Mentor are too grand, you won’t be able to live up to them.
  • People need to find solutions for their own situations.
  • Realize that the trajectory and the solutions you have had on your farm aren’t necessarily the right trajectory and solutions for everybody.
  • Know what you can and can’t offer your Mentee. Find resources for them if you can’t help them with something.

Trust

  • Trust is built over time spent together.
  • Vulnerability—share mistakes you’ve made; don’t talk about just things that went well.
  • Don’t shy away from difficult subjects—“Don’t be afraid to talk about money.”
  • Tell the truth—be upfront and honest.
  • Be available and reliable.
  • Set up a schedule so you have some kind of regular communication, so it’s harder to get distracted from the mentorship as the season gets busy.
  • Set boundaries.

 

From Organic Broadcaster, May/June 2020, courtesy Chuck Anderas, the lead MOSES Organic Specialist and coordinator of its Farmer-to-Farmer Mentoring Program.

ASCFG Mentor Program Logo - ASCFG Mentor Program

Want to hear more?

Listen to Debra Prinzing interview Mentor Linda Doan and Mentee Sarah Ervin, as well as Mentor Committee Member Tanis Clifton.