PlanTing That Next Meeting - Seasonal Ideas for Fall meetings in Q3 and Q4

Ah the fall! Back to school, football season, fall leaves and heartier meals. Have you ever noticed how everything in our life seems to revolve around seasons? The meeting planning world doesn’t seem to be any different. The first quarter brings annual kick-off meetings, product launches and winter trainings. We try to slow down a bit to enjoy the summer with family time in the middle of the year, but what about that fall season? Strategy sessions, planning retreats, executive board gatherings and our favorite – budget meetings. What better way to spice up your fall event than with local, seasonal fresh foods that blossom in the fall? 

Did you know growers call the fall the “second season” and it can accommodate cool-weather crops like green veggies and garlic?  When looking for great locations for your fall programs, consider their local farming conditions and theme a dinner or lunch around their local seasonal produce!  Sustainable, organic and good for the local community where you hold your event, changing up a deli buffet or a chicken dinner can be a large contributor to a memorable event.  Many may not realize, but Vail, Colorado is home to the world’s highest elevated botanical gardens, the Betty Ford Gardens. Not only is it a great place to take a group for a team building event or respite from a long day of meetings in Vail, but the Betty For Garden is a great resource and a wealth of information. We recently asked them for advice on what to plant in the fall season. Check it out! 

5 Crops You Can Plant in the Fall

Garlic Garlic is super-fun to grow, and in many zones it can be planted in late fall for a late spring harvest. Simply purchase a head (or several) from your farmers' market or from a seed supplier like Burpee.com. (Do not use grocery-store garlic, which typically is treated to prevent germination, so you don't get the little green shoots sprouting in your pantry.) Separate the cloves, and plant them before the ground freezes, a foot apart in well-cultivated soil, much like you'd plant tulip bulbs. By June (in Zone 6), you'll be ready to harvest. The great thing is, you don't have to have a dedicated vegetable garden to grow garlic: its tall, leafy shoots could go in just about any landscaping bed. Even better: Fresh, homegrown garlic is much more flavorful than the store-bought kind. Here are more tips on growing your own garlic.

Herbs Consider bringing your herb plants indoors for winter. This can be a tricky proposition, because your plants need to gradually acclimate for the transition from warm, humid outdoor weather to cool, dry indoor conditions. Thyme, parsley and sage are good candidates for transplanting; avoid basil, which thrives in the heat, and rosemary, which can be finicky about water. Trim back the plants and choose a pot of adequate size (if the pot has been used previously, then wash it with a solution of 10% bleach and 90% water to sterilize it). Use good potting soil, a mix of peat, perlite and fine bark; avoid sand. Place the pots in front of the sunniest window you have (ideally south-facing). If your home tends to be dark, then supplement with a grow light to keep plants healthy.

Lettuce Because lettuce can be sown directly in the ground (it doesn't require starting indoors) and it's a speedy grower, it's a great fall crop for many zones. Choose quick-growing varieties, like a mesclun mix (30 days), and opt for loose leaf, or "cutting," types (you can cut individual leaves as they get large enough, without having to wait for a full head of lettuce to mature). Arugula, a lively, peppery green that germinates quickly and grows to maturity in just 35 days, is another good fall option, as is spinach, which can handle cooler weather. Burpee.com is a great source for lettuces and salad greens suited to fall gardening.

Radishes & Carrots Radishes are super fast-growing, taking just 25 days to mature. And they, too, can be direct-sown in the garden in early fall. Carrots take about 65 days to mature, but they can tolerate colder weather if you're careful to place mulch on top of the rows so the ground doesn't freeze.

Good Crops for Fall Harvests

Many of the veggies that are harvested in fall—the ones you're beginning to see in farmers markets now—actually need to be planted in mid- to late-summer. See SparkPeople's excellent resource on vegetable gardening for info on when and how to plant these crops.

Crucifers Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower—those staples of the fall dinner table— thrive in autumn weather, and their flavors benefit from colder temps. They can be planted in fall in more southern zones, but need to be started from seed indoors. Plan now for next summer; start seedlings in midsummer and plant in late summer for a fall harvest.

Squashes Acorn, butternut, pumpkin and other winter squash varieties are not only delicious, but they're traditional in fall and holiday decor. These, too, must be planted in summer for a fall harvest, as they take up to 100 days to maturity and like lots of sun. And they take up significant growing space, often sending out long vines that need room to move. Plan now for next summer.

Dark Greens Leafy, hearty, nutrient-packed greens like kale and chard are also commonly found at farmers' markets in the fall; they, too, need time to reach maturity (about two to two and a half months). While they can tolerate cool fall weather, they require full sun and should be planted in late summer to reach full production.

Interested in meeting in the mountains?

Here in Vail, Colorado, at Vail Cascade Resort, planners and attendees find everything they need for memorable experiences and momentous outcomes. Our hotel's purpose-built 45,000 square feet of state-of-the-art conference center, boardrooms, ballrooms and flexible meeting space provide a variety of choices for innovative breakthroughs, while outdoor venues, as inspiring as they are functional, offer breathtaking settings overlooking Gore Creek and spectacular Vail Mountain.

Work and play in Vail and discover new perspectives, establish meaningful connections and grow ideas into solutions. For more information on planning your next Colorado meeting, contact Danielle Johnson at 303-268-6877 or djohnson@destinationhotels.com.

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