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AFE On the Road

The AFE team has been busy the past few weeks! From North Carolina, to California, our staff has been busy from coast to coast attending floral industry events, networking, and planning for the future!

Staying connected with the industry allows us to see first-hand the impact of our programs and research, and allows us to hear directly from industry members about the challenges they’re facing so we can adapt our programs to help. 

Read on to learn more about all of the AFE staff adventures so far in 2024!

Raleigh, North Carolina image collage of floral industry members meeting for the Board Meeting and NC State tour

Twice a year, the AFE Board meets in person to engage in strategic discussions and review past, present, and upcoming initiatives, charting the course for the future. The meetings provide for direct industry engagement and feedback on AFE’s programs. This meeting, however, held an extra special treat—a tour of NCSU and the chance to witness firsthand the impact of AFE’s programs.

Dr. Melinda Knuth, Dr. John Dole, Dr. Brian Whipker, and Dr. Brian Jackson took the AFE crew on an extensive tour of the NC State facilities, seeing the Cognitive Behavior Lab, exploring long-term cut flower storage, the Wood Substrates Lab, and more. The Board also had the pleasure of meeting the bright minds benefiting from their support—students, faculty, and researchers alike. Capping off the adventure, the Endowment hosted a reception and dinner for the faculty, students, and a few industry members. AFE Chairman Ken Young awarded a special recognition to the Horticulture Team at NC State for their incredible dedication and work on behalf of the floral industry. This event provided the opportunity for industry and academia to connect, network, and plan for future success.

Image of AFE Chairman Ken Young at Tradewinds International LLC Farm Direct Floral Show in Austin, Texas

AFE Chairman, Ken Young of Phoenix Flower Shops, had the chance to attend the Tradewinds International LLC Farm Direct Floral Show in Austin, Texas. While there, Ken networked with flower growers and business owners. He also shared some of AFE’s grower resources, our Thrips and Botrytis Research Library, and our Grow Pro Webinar Series

Our Thrips and Botrytis Research Library houses resources and solutions through webinars, articles, key takeaways, and more to help growers fight these prevalent pests. Our Grow Pro webinar series features new nationally recognized researchers every month, where they offer ‘how-to’ advice based on AFE-funded and other research projects to help the industry navigate through ever-changing grower challenges. Both our Thrips and Botrytis library and our Grow Pro webinar series are free and open to anyone in the industry to use, thanks to generous AFE sponsors. 

Image collage of AFE Communications Coordinator Gracie Alvarez at Great Lakes Floral & Event Expo

Across the country in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Gracie Alvarez (Communications Coordinator) attended the 2024 Great Lakes Floral & Event Expo to promote AFE and attend sessions featuring AFE-funded research. 

Renato Sogueco AAF, PFCI and Jackie Lacey, AAF, AIFD, CFD, and PFCI from the Floriology Institute and BloomNet held an educational session, ‘Why is Sustainability Blooming?’ featuring Floral Marketing Fund- and AFE-funded Sustainability Research. The session was lively with engaging discussion and conversation.  

It was a great weekend filled with networking, beautiful flowers, educational programs, and more. It’s always great to meet with new industry members and talk with them about all the ways AFE provides for them and the industry as a whole!

Image collage of AFE staff at WF&FSA's Floral Distribution Conference in Miami, Florida

Executive Director, Debi Chedester, and Manager of Communications & Outreach, Karin Krause, got the opportunity to attend WF&FSA’s Floral Distribution Conference in Miami, Florida. While there, the Endowment had the opportunity to discuss Sustainabloom, and attend the WF&FSA educational panel that included key findings from the FMF’s most recent study on sustainable practices. We were excited to share a preview of the Sustainabloom website, launching soon, and facilitate engaging conversations with other industry leaders about opportunities for collaboration. 

Additionally, the conference had many opportunities to connect with AFE’s supporters and introduce new industry members to our many resources. The Bloom Together Event hosted by New Bloom Solutions highlighted AFE and Seed Your Future as their spotlight nonprofits this year, donating the proceeds to both organizations. It was a great evening of networking and fun, all for great causes! 

Laura Barth, AFE Research Coordinator, at BioSolutions Conference & Expo in Visalia, California

Research Coordinator, Laura Barth, attended the 2024 BioSolutions Conference & Expo in Visalia, California. 

Now in its 9th year, this conference offers North American specialty growers, advisers, and researchers the latest information and real-world guidance on applying biological products and the cutting-edge technologies that enable their success.

While there, Laura had the chance to see presentations featuring AFE-funded research by Dr. Jim Faust and Dr. Francesca Hand, catch up with AFE Executive Committee Member and Research Committee Chair Bill Foster, and share the word about AFE with many growers, breeders, producers, biopesticide companies, and more! 

Image collage of American Floral Endowment's Research Coordinator Laura Barth at USDA-ARS National Program 304: Crop Protection and Quarantine (NP-304)

The following week, Laura traveled to Beltsville, MD to represent AFE at the NP-304 stakeholder workshop. The mission of NP 304 is to provide technology to manage pest populations below economically damaging thresholds through the integration of environmentally compatible strategies that are based on increased understanding of the biology and ecology of insect, mite, and weed pests. Stakeholders from all horticultural sectors from across the country met to assess the current successes of the NP-304 research and discuss research priorities that the program should focus on for the next 5 years.

Image compilation from American Floral Endowment's Research Coordinator, Laura Barth's, trip to California Spring Trials in Santa Paula, California

After NP-304, Laura went back to California to beautiful Santa Paula, California for the California Spring Trials! During this four-day event, floriculture breeders display their best and newest varieties in jaw-dropping, creative displays from Santa Paula up to Gilroy with many stops in between.

This year, 15 breeders were in attendance, each showcasing new offerings and industry favorites. Laura had the opportunity to travel up the coast with Ball Seed (including AFE Research Committee member Dr. Marvin Miller and YPC members Dr. Josh Henry and Dr. Nathan Jahnke) where she connected with many industry members and enjoyed great food, camaraderie, scenery, and most importantly – flowers! 

2024 is already off to a busy start for the AFE Staff, Trustees, and floral community! Make sure you are following us on social media to see the most up-to-date news when our staff is out and about in the industry. We hope to see you at an industry event soon!