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The groups we own, co-own or moderate for have grown nicely over the years. This, despite the fact that they have not been promoted, as they should be. When asked why this is, those that understand the real question give the following replies (in various forms).

“Plants are interesting to many people, they help connect us to the planet and planet wide systems.” “Growing something successfully gives a boost mentally far beyond what might be realized when the plant sells.” “With our economy, having one or two items on the table that you produce through your own gardening skills may save some money but it also gives a sense of success and wellbeing in a world where one’s worth is called into question on a weekly or daily basis.” “To take something rare or uncommon and grow it helps preserve it for the future – what a great feeling”

There are other replies as well and those who thought we were asking what they get out of the groups speak highly about sharing information, making friends and acquiring new plants. Some recognize a potential profit in the contacts they make on the web.

All the above are true and more. When we set out on this road we wanted to have a web site that served as an educational resource and served to disseminate information to those interested in rare fruits. Since we are interested in rare plants that can’t be eaten the Quisqualis™ site also reflects this to a degree. The site grew and changed names and locations on the web. Part of the growth was adding email groups. These groups currently serve the purpose of forums (full fledged forums are something we continue to consider providing – we don’t think they will be able to replace the groups but should complement them). What we have seen happen, besides learning a lot more about the web than we thought we would ever need, is the development of a community. We are become a type of social community drawn together by a love for rare plants, foods, flowers, conservation (or at least preservation) and more. We are one of a growing number of electronic families.

Like all families we do not all share the same interests and goals. We do not all agree with the views of some of our other members. Think how boring that would be! We do generally treat each other with respect and most times forgiveness is quick when feelings are hurt or ideas attacked. We don’t see how this could be avoided considering our diverse international membership and the strength some of us hold in our beliefs. We thank each member for your posts and our list moderators for their help. The groups are their members and we believe we have great members.

We would like to see if this community might be taken to another level. If we fail, it won’t be the first wrong turn on this road. Success will offer a new dimension to our own community and perhaps the web in general. Part of this will likely be our closing a portion of our sites to members only; another calls for us to open a couple of new sites. Making part of our sites members only will help us see just how much people want to learn and allow us to offer better security for users. We am not writing about $100 or even  $10 memberships, membership might be free or on the model of Public Radio (donate if you wish). New sites may be unveiled as the projects associated with them are launched. It all depends on how the future shifts our reader’s interests.

One idea to take us to another level is for a member’s web site project. This is the main point of this note.

We would like to help up to 7 of our readers set up their own web site, with their own URL.

We want to start small and cheap and, if you can’t write html or don’t have the time, we will even put the pages up for you.

This differs from our giving over free space on one of my web sites in some important ways. If this is done we will use our own hosting company and rent wholesale space on servers in the USA. (The servers are located in the USA and ‘green’ powered through solar and wind sources). Those who participate will become the owners of record of their site and the URL used to get there. Each site will be independent from all others. We suggest the owner link to Quisqualis™ and some of the others in the test. After an initial period of a year owners can continue where they are, take their property (web site and URL) and move somewhere else, close it up or sell it to someone else.

Size will be limited and information concentrated so that when someone visits your site they see what you want them to in a professional way. One reason to limit size is in our offer to write the pages for you – our time is not limitless; another is to keep the cost low. All members WILL have access to the inner workings of their site and be able to make changes and add as they wish.

Sites may not contain ‘adult’ content or be political. Sites will not be limited to plants and can have almost any content. You can use a site to sell stuff (shopping cart provided free) or promote an organization, plant, event or your own photos. This could be a big benefit to a small group. You will be able to see how many visitors you get and where they are from and can even require a password for them to enter the site if that is what you want.

The number of pages will be limited, as noted above. If you go to most sites and surf about a bit you will see that on the best you go to 3 or 4 pages to get to what information you wish. How about limiting these test sites to 8 to 12 pages? (We’ll throw in the sitemap and your privacy policy pages too). If you write your own pages you will be able to go way past this limit – as a free service our time has to be limited.

You also should know that if we write it, it would be simple: we don’t use css as it causes search engine and other problems. We have not used flash or some of the other bells and whistles. Big, fancy sites frequently load slow and suffer by being ranked lower on search engines such as Google and Yahoo. There would be nothing to stop you from learning css, flash and more and adding it within the space provided.

Bob Cannon will do most of the html and wishes to add this: "You could also use this as a way to write and post your own web pages by following along with me and using it as a class. (My price usually starts somewhere around $75 an hour for teaching this, depending on what the client wants the site for. Retires here who want a couple of pages to promote the 50th anniversary pay very little, someone with a manufacturing plant and many products would pay more.) Free for up to 7 people who help me test out this expansion to our community".

You could also use this to promote your existing web site – the millionaires of web marketing frequently have half a dozen small sites all-leading to a main site where they make their sales. One odd factor of our current economic situation is that Internet based sales have continued to show good returns.

What do you think? Got an axe to grind or something to promote? Want to brag on the spouse, pets or kids? How about shocking a local club with a site that shows who, what, when, where and why for the organization? Selling a home or antique car? Make your next Alumni meeting unique? We prefer plants, cooking, nurseries and conservation but will accept off topic to test this out.

What cost? Cost will vary as to exactly how many people want to give this a try and if all 7 slots are taken it will cost you less than if only 5 take me up on this. Having spent some time researching this, a monthly fee schedule seems best, and it looks like cost will be $10 to $12 plus an annual fee to register the URL, which is about $10 and lasts a year. This would be an interesting chance for a foreign member to have a US site.

Remember, while we are offering to set up a relatively simple site for you this is not to say that you cannot spend a bit of time to learn some of the many features that are included and make the site as complex as you wish. A partial list of features is below, but we’ll admit to not knowing what or how some of them work or why you might want some of them. Others we do use and have never needed to. Many of you might have gotten FrontPage when you bought your computer – it is there.

What do we get out of this? This is an experiment to see about expanding our Internet community; we need to break even as to cash outlay. We expect headaches and to learn quite a bit about hosting and web pages (as opposed to having our pages hosted by someone else). Education is mostly what we’ll gain and we hope to use the education to do more with rare fruit, be they virtual or real.

Please contact us with your thoughts and ideas and for more information:

Best of growing™
The Cannon Family

Follow this link for a list of a few of the features and more information…

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