It’s Not Easy Being Green

A month ago I told you a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen entitled, "There Is A Difference." The moral of the story was that all types of plants and people receive the same resources, such as sun, air and nutrients, and it is up to them to utilize these resources as best they can to survive, enjoy life and prosper. Andersen wrote the fairy tale more than 200 years ago.

In 1970, a "Sesame Street" book and record followed in Andersen’s footsteps when Kermit the Frog said, "It’s not easy being green."

I guess our industry feels like Kermit, since we have tried to be green for more than 200 years. We use greenhouses to grow plants that are not native to areas and make it possible for them to be enjoyed in all parts of the world. For example, poinsettias, which are native to Mexico, can be grown in greenhouses in the northern United States and Canada to be enjoyed at Christmas.

We produce a product that takes carbon dioxide and water and releases oxygen into the environment. As I write this article, I look out the window and see 10 contrails from planes flying over my house. How much carbon dioxide do those planes give out into the environment? How much oxygen?

It is interesting that the NBC network changed its peacock logo to all green for one week in November. The parent company of NBC is General Electric. GE is working to reduce its carbon footprint on this planet.

Many of the major companies are now getting to the point where they want to be green. British Petroleum, the World Council for Sustainable Agriculture and probably 100 more are promoting their green efforts. They say they will be the path to a green future. Even some of the business magazines think that we just are going to be greener.

All of these efforts receive a lot of attention. Our industry has always been green, but we are seldom recognized for our contributions.

With all the problems with weather in the United States, wildfires in southern California and droughts in the southeastern states, it is getting more difficult to be green. Firms in the southeast have gone bankrupt. Firms in Michigan have closed their doors and others have been bought out or taken over by other companies.

Also it is interesting to see that the Canadian dollar is equal to or slightly ahead of the value of the U.S. dollar. The last time that happened was about 30 years ago. As a result, product from Canadian growers will probably be less available in the United States as long as American growers can produce it at the same cost or less than Canadian sources. 

Staying Green

All this indicates that, although change will occur, we still have to be green. I have 10 points that I would like to suggest to help you stay green.

1. We are the makers of green.

As I have said many times before, we are in the business of growing plants that take CO2 and H2O in the presence of light and make carbohydrates and oxygen. In fact, we can actually use more CO2 than is present in the atmosphere to produce greater plant growth.

2. We grow green.

We take seeds, plugs or cuttings and grow them to greater size from a 4-inch pot to a 6-inch pot to a 10-inch pot to a 12-inch pot or to any size people want. We can grow grasses, shrubs and forest trees. We can start plants that will live for four or five hundred years.

3. We spend our lives taking care of green.

Keeping plants growing is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week job. Anyone who has a business in horticulture knows that one mistake – not enough water, too high or too cold a temperature, air pollution, an infestation of insects or an outbreak of a disease – could kill our plants at any time. A good crop can only be produced by skilled people who not only know how to grow it, but also are willing to take care of it every hour of every day.

4. We have the skill to make more green.

We are the people who create new cultivars. We can breed plants to have the characteristics that our customers want and we want. We can make selections of plants for their productivity, for their beauty, for whatever needs have been identified. If we want plants that will produce more ethanol per acre, that can be done. Perhaps plants that are currently considered weeds will become valuable to produce fuel for cars and money for the growers.

5. We can provide plants for food, shelter and safety for all people.

It’s about time that we realize that oil is not the limiting factor in our society. Water and food are! If we were to stop shipping our food to other countries, they would have great difficulty surviving. We can drink water and eat corn. They would have to drink oil and eat sand. We need to use these facts to our economic advantage.

6. We are a renewable resource.

Every year we produce products that provide food, shelter, pharmaceuticals and beauty. As long as there is life on our planet, the raw materials will be available to grow plants, and we can provide the products that will be able to sustain our society.

7. We should express our outrage at the use of the term "greenhouse effect."

This term is unfair and detrimental to the image of our industry. Greenhouses collect solar energy. They provide a place to grow plants that turn carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates and oxygen to help people survive and improve the environment.

8. We provide a path to a greener future.

People can reduce emissions from engines and make all kinds of improvements in their systems to reduce their carbon footprint. They can also try to control Mother Nature, the volcanoes, wild fires, droughts and other natural disasters that occur. However, they will only reduce the pollution, not eliminate it. The plants that we grow and will continue to grow will be the source of saving life. Remember that in the long run, no plants = no people.

9. We need to make sure that our contributions are recognized.

We can make every effort to see that our industry receives the recognition and appreciation for its contributions to the environment. There are thousands of us who work for years to grow and protect plants. We do more to reduce global warming than all the other efforts to reduce pollution.

10. We need to remember Kermit the Frog.

Kermit told us, "It’s not easy being green. It seems you blend in with so many ordinary things and people tend to pass you over ‘cause you’re not standing out."

You must have a profitable business to stay green. Profit is not a dirty word. It enables you to continue the process of being green.
Two bits of advice: 1) Stay low and keep moving; and 2) Money isn’t everything, but it is way ahead of what is in second place.

Happy New Year! Have a very green and profitable year! 

Leave a Reply

More From Finance/Operations...
Pansy ‘Cool Wave Blue Skies’ (Wave)

September 20, 2016

PanAmerican Seed Settles Alleged Trade Sanction Violations

PanAmerican Seed, a division of Ball Horticultural Co., has been charged with violating trade sanctions to Iran over a number of years. According to a release from the U.S. Treasury department, PanAmerican Seed made 48 indirect sales of seeds to two Iranian distributors. The company shipped the seed to consignees based in countries in Europe and the Middle East. PanAmerican Seed’s customers then arranged for the re-exportation of the seeds to Iran. The release states that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) determined PanAmerican Seed did not voluntarily self-disclose the alleged violations to OFAC, constituting an egregious case. “We believe that the settlement was extreme; however the alternative was to litigate with the U.S. government, which would take months, if not years,” says Todd Billings, Chief Financial Officer for Ball Horticultural Co. When asked what Ball Horticultural Co. has done to ensure that violations to trade sanctions do not […]

Read More
young-plants

September 20, 2016

The Top Young Plant Growers, And Four Critical Challenges Facing Them

In Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Top Young Plant Growers Survey, growers discuss the latest challenges and opportunities in fulfillment, shipping, labor, and crop protection.

Read More
Cavicchio Greenhouses

September 6, 2016

Cavicchio Greenhouses Wins Inaugural Sustainability Award

The Sudbury, MA, growing operation sustains more than 250 acres of annuals, perennials, and nursery stock, with a number of practices to mitigate its impact on the environment.

Read More
Latest Stories
Pansy ‘Cool Wave Blue Skies’ (Wave)

September 20, 2016

PanAmerican Seed Settles Alleged Trade Sanction Violati…

PanAmerican Seed, a division of Ball Horticultural Co., has been charged with violating trade sanctions to Iran over a number of years. According to a release from the U.S. Treasury department, PanAmerican Seed made 48 indirect sales of seeds to two Iranian distributors. The company shipped the seed to consignees based in countries in Europe and the Middle East. PanAmerican Seed’s customers then arranged for the re-exportation of the seeds to Iran. The release states that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) determined PanAmerican Seed did not voluntarily self-disclose the alleged violations to OFAC, constituting an egregious case. “We believe that the settlement was extreme; however the alternative was to litigate with the U.S. government, which would take months, if not years,” says Todd Billings, Chief Financial Officer for Ball Horticultural Co. When asked what Ball Horticultural Co. has done to ensure that violations to trade sanctions do not […]

Read More
young-plants

September 20, 2016

The Top Young Plant Growers, And Four Critical Challeng…

In Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Top Young Plant Growers Survey, growers discuss the latest challenges and opportunities in fulfillment, shipping, labor, and crop protection.

Read More
Cavicchio Greenhouses

September 6, 2016

Cavicchio Greenhouses Wins Inaugural Sustainability Awa…

The Sudbury, MA, growing operation sustains more than 250 acres of annuals, perennials, and nursery stock, with a number of practices to mitigate its impact on the environment.

Read More
Charlie Hall Feature Image

September 6, 2016

10 Insights From Charlie Hall’s Green Industry Economic…

With the uncertain current economic climate, Texas A&M economist Charlie Hall says now may be the perfect time to invest — as long as you do it smartly.

Read More
Penn State Plant Bud

August 23, 2016

AmericanHort Is Helping Plant Importers Adjust To New R…

A report from Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort says the government is implementing a streamlined system for imports, in which all required data will be submitted electronically through a single window.

Read More
Plug Connection Assortment

August 9, 2016

AmericanHort’s Plug And Cutting Conference Will Feature…

This year’s conference, which takes place Sept. 19-21 in Carlsbad, CA, features discussions on water, pest and disease control, and production inputs, as well as a biocontrols workshop and tour of local cuttings facilities.

Read More
Cannabis In Greenhouse

July 27, 2016

The Top 5 Myths About Cannabis Production Cleared Up

There is a lot of misleading information going around about growing cannabis. Industry insider James Lowe makes sure you know the truth about cannabis production.

Read More
Joe Bischoff

July 26, 2016

SAF Partners With Cornerstone Government Affairs To Adv…

A new partnership between the Society of American Florists (SAF) and Cornerstone Government Affairs ensures that SAF will continue its highly effective work advocating for issues that affect the floriculture industry. “SAF and Cornerstone together provide experienced voices on Capitol Hill to protect our growers’ interests,” says SAF CEO Peter Moran. “We’ll continue to move major policy priorities forward on behalf of small business and agriculture.” Cornerstone is a public affairs firm specializing in government relations, strategic consulting, and advocacy. Its team of more than 50 senior professionals includes former senior professional staff from both authorization and appropriations committees and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as veterans of the horticulture industry. Agricultural and horticultural issues of primary concern to SAF members include access to labor, immigration, crop protection, international trade and other matters related to the day-to-day operations of growers. Before she retired this year, SAF lobbyist Lin […]

Read More

July 26, 2016

AFE Releases New Videos Highlighting Industry Successes

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) recently released five new videos, created to highlight floriculture successes through industry collaboration, support, and participation. “Each video shares real stories from industry members on career development through scholarships and internships, and true examples of research solutions that have shaped how the industry operates today,” says Laura Shinall, President of Syndicate Sales, Inc., and AFE Public Relations and Development Chair. “We’re excited to be able to share some great success stories in an effort to increase industry participation.” The introductory video “Heard of the American Floral Endowment?” helps educate those who aren’t currently aware of AFE’s programs, while other segmented videos (retail, wholesale, grower) share how Endowment programs complement each group and why it’s so important that everyone in the industry participates: Retail Florists Share Why They Turn to AFE New Resources for Floral Wholesalers and Suppliers AFE Helping Growers Profit Ready for a Career in Floriculture or Horticulture? […]

Read More
Briscoe White, Growers Exchange

July 6, 2016

The Grower’s Exchange Unlocks The Secret to E-Commerce

In the Internet era, Briscoe and Kenan White knew they had to adapt or die and specialize to survive. Here’s how they took The Grower’s Exchange online.

Read More
Brie Arthur

July 6, 2016

5 Can’t-Miss Events To Watch For At Farwest 2016

Whether it’s classes on biocontrols and gardening trends, or networking opportunities in and around the trade show floor, there’s plenty happening at Farwest 2016 in Portland, OR, in August.

Read More
Cannabis states 2016

July 1, 2016

Adult Use Of Cannabis On The Ballot In 2016

25 states have legalized cannabis and public opinion is increasingly positive. Here’s where things may be headed as we move toward the fall elections.

Read More
Practical Software Grower Vertical

June 18, 2016

Practical Software Solutions Increases Accessibility, E…

Practical Software will demonstrate Grower Vertical, its customizable and scalable enterprise management system for the horticulture industry, at Cultivate’16 in July.

Read More
Battlefield Farms Company shot

June 14, 2016

Battlefield Farms Is A Finalist For 2016 Operation Of T…

Battlefield Farms in Rapidan, VA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Innovation award for 2016.

Read More

June 7, 2016

Ball Seed Offers Full Mobile Ordering Capabilities With…

The latest update for Ball Seed’s WebTrack To Go mobile app now includes full ordering capabilities for the industry’s largest assortment of seeds and plants. App users can also complete order fulfillment via seed count or package size, find product substitutions, get personalized “contact us” information, request plant tags, and more. “Upgrading WebTrack To Go to the full suite of ordering and management tools is where we’ve always wanted to be,” says Mark Morris, Director of IT for Ball Seed. “With this new roll-out, we’re keeping up with our customers on-the-go and providing them the information and access they need –- even while away from their desks.” The Ball Seed WebTrack To Go app lets customers: Check order status and shipment tracking 24-7 Access up-to-the-minute product inventory from hundreds of suppliers Place orders by seed count, packet size, and more Find product info, culture and photos when and where they […]

Read More
Gotham Greens Atrium Style Greenhouse Chicago

May 23, 2016

What’s Good For The Environment Is Good For Business [O…

Investing in technology to become more sustainable “always goes hand in hand,” says Abe VanWingerden, co-CEO of Metrolina Greenhouses. “If it is good for the environment, it normally is good for business over the long term.” That connection was abundantly clear in the responses we received to this year’s Top 100 Growers Survey. VanWingerden points to three investments Metrolina has made as good examples of how technology can reduce an operation’s carbon footprint and pay dividends financially. Its biomass system burns locally sourced waste wood — a renewable resource; its ozone water treatment system cleans irrigation water, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and improving plant quality and precision growing; and electrostatic sprayers reduce water and chemical use, and provide more targeted chemical applications. Other Top 100 Growers have found VanWingerden’s theory to be true, as well. Costa Farms’ investment in solar energy panels on three buildings at its […]

Read More
Petunia 'Supertunia Violet Star Charm' (2015 University of Georgia Field Trials)

May 10, 2016

New Southern-Centric Ornamental Production Conference T…

The 2016 Academy of Crop Production is dedicated exclusively to sharing information on advanced ornamental crop production and business management techniques for ornamental producers.

Read More
University of Florida Online Greenhouse Training Courses

April 25, 2016

University of Florida Offering Online Training Courses …

There will be five courses offered, with the first starting on May 30. Courses are available in both English and Spanish and range from beginner level to advanced education.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]