Wait & See Is The Wrong Approach

OFA President Danny Takao has heard the theory before and he scoffs at it. The theory: “Wait until they reach the right age and they will start buying our plants,” he says.

But the wait-and-they-will-come approach is a risky one, Takao says, and the majority of the readers (84 percent) we polled last month agree. They say our industry can’t afford to sit back and bank its future on kids who currently have no interest in gardening.

“You have to go and get them early,” says Susan Petak of Wessel’s Farms. “Once they are in their teens and 20s, I think you’ve pretty much lost them to what has caught their interest, whether it’s a sport or just being a couch potato.”

Still, there’s the minority that argues our industry shouldn’t bother worrying about our future consumers because we’ve leaned on a model that’s been a constant through generations: As kids grow up, they become homeowners who landscape their yards and naturally become gardeners.

The model has served many in our industry well, yes, but a housing market that’s still in an unfortunate state after a recession and the early stages of a recovery begs the question of whether that model is useful in 2010 and beyond.

Even if the model does work, why are we waiting for consumers to be of the right age before we start sweating their lack of interest? Aren’t we limiting ourselves by promoting plants primarily to middle-aged women and grandmas.

Gardening Versus Cooking

Gardening is no doubt a great hobby and one of the most popular in the United States. But compared to another everyday around-the-house hobby like cooking, which is front and center to the American public with reality TV programs and a seemingly endless pool of celebrities, gardening has some catching up to do.

From programs like “Ace of Cakes” and “Iron Chef America” to celebrities like Giada De Laurentiis and Rachael Ray, cooking has quickly reemerged as one of America’s favorite hobbies. Cooking is cool again, fun again and even sexy–all things gardening is and can be.

But where are our reality shows and Rachael Rays? Where is gardening’s TV network? Sure, HGTV is out there, but it devotes more air time to decorating than it actually does gardening.

“The last time I saw a true gardening show on HGTV was about five to eight years ago,” Petak says. “Now it’s all about home interiors and hardscaping.”

Even popular consumer magazines like “Better Homes & Gardens” are devoting more pages to “homes” than “gardens” these days. The space “Better Homes” devotes to gardening is so minimal, in fact, that it’s surprising “gardens” still has a place in the magazine’s name.

Gardening is making strides to get in front of a national audience, though. Within the last year, Peace Tree Farm’s Lloyd Traven and Greenhouse Grower columnist Allan Armitage have appeared on “The Martha Stewart Show.” P. Allen Smith, who’s probably the most recognizable person in our industry to consumers, has played a key role elevating gardening at the consumer level, too. Even programs for causes, like Costa Farms’ O2 For You, have been front and center on “The Today Show.”

These are great places and people with whom we can start. If we don’t start to change, we’re going to create a major disconnect between ourselves and our next consumers.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Wait & See Is The Wrong Approach

  1. My 4 children are all 20 & 30 something homeowners, and none of them “enjoy” gardening, but they all enjoy purchasing and installing the components to create an pleasing patio, exiting entryway, or lovely landscape feature. They don’t particularly care for cooking either, but they all love to entertain with a cooking party or event. Our industry needs to GET this, and we’re not. If we only market to the traditional “gardener”, we are marketing to a long established minority consumer that will continue to become more of a minority. Sell em what they want to buy, not want we want them to buy. Make it easy and fun and immediately gratifying in the middle of a life that is, conservatively, three times busier than when I was twenty or thirty something. Like it or don’t, that’s what will open their pocket books.

  2. My 4 children are all 20 & 30 something homeowners, and none of them “enjoy” gardening, but they all enjoy purchasing and installing the components to create an pleasing patio, exiting entryway, or lovely landscape feature. They don’t particularly care for cooking either, but they all love to entertain with a cooking party or event. Our industry needs to GET this, and we’re not. If we only market to the traditional “gardener”, we are marketing to a long established minority consumer that will continue to become more of a minority. Sell em what they want to buy, not want we want them to buy. Make it easy and fun and immediately gratifying in the middle of a life that is, conservatively, three times busier than when I was twenty or thirty something. Like it or don’t, that’s what will open their pocket books.

More From Finance/Operations...

May 1, 2015

18 New Grasses To Grow

Ornamental grasses fit in with the needs of today’s landscapers and consumers better than ever. Whether your customers are looking for creative solutions for patio containers or a mass planting in a landscape, some of the 18 new varieties included here are sure to meet the need.

Read More

May 1, 2015

Restoration Landscapes: A Specialized Market For Natives And Grasses

Restoration landscapes, depending on their purpose, often require straight native species, along with a confirmation of their known provenance. Research is key in this area and good recordkeeping is a must.

Read More

April 30, 2015

North Creek Nurseries Welcomes Nikki Drake As New Financial Administrator

Nikki Drake will fill the role of new financial administrator at North Creek Nurseries, with responsibility for the accounting department. She will also serve on the strategic planning committee.

Read More
Latest Stories

April 30, 2015

North Creek Nurseries Welcomes Nikki Drake As New Finan…

Nikki Drake will fill the role of new financial administrator at North Creek Nurseries, with responsibility for the accounting department. She will also serve on the strategic planning committee.

Read More
Andy Huntington Pleasant View

April 29, 2015

Pleasant View Gardens Promotes Andy Huntington to Natio…

Pleasant View Gardens recently announced that Andy Huntington will be the company’s National Sales Manager. Huntington, who has years of horticulture industry experience, will oversee national territory and inside sales departments, while fostering strong partnerships with customers. “Our relationships with customers are central to all that we do at Pleasant View,” Huntington says. “In my new role, I am excited to work with a broader base of broker, grower and retail partners to understand their business needs. Pleasant View’s goal is to be so in tune with our customers that we are able to anticipate their problems before they arise.” Huntington has a history of growing sales and forming long-lasting relationships with a diverse customer base. For the past two years, he has been working as a territory account manager for Pleasant View Gardens, responsible for young plant liner sales in New England and New York. Prior to that, Huntington was […]

Read More
PittMoss on Shark Tank

April 22, 2015

PittMoss Wins On Shark Tank

Mont Handley, president and CEO of PittMoss, appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank on April 17 to try to get the “sharks” to invest in his peat moss alternative. Three investors from the TV show contributed $600,000 to PittMoss for a 35 percent stake in the company. Check out this clip from ABC’s website in which Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec discuss getting on board with the product. PittMoss is an alternative to sphagnum peat moss, made up of a mix of proprietary additives and recycled paper rescued from landfill space. Handley founded the Pittsburgh-based company in 1994. What started as a small experiment grew into a full-fledged business with the help of funding provided by an EPA SBIR grant and Pittsburgh’s Idea Foundry. Today, PittMoss is available to commercial greenhouses and nurseries from Michigan to Maine to North Carolina, with plans to grow. To learn more, visit PittMoss’ website, or check it […]

Read More
Syngenta logo

April 15, 2015

Syngenta Names Chris Freeman Senior Key Account Manager…

Chris Freeman is the new senior key account manager for Syngenta Flowers, Home & Garden's Commercial Sales business in the Americas, effective March 2015. Freeman, who joined Syngenta in 2006, carries more than 25 years of experience in the agriculture and floriculture business.

Read More
Lake Buchanan_LCRA

April 10, 2015

USDA Designates Areas Of West And Southwest As Drought …

The ongoing drought has resulted in disaster area designations in counties across nine Western and Southwestern states, including Texas, where some reservoirs are at or near historically low levels.

Read More

April 9, 2015

Altman Plants’ Online Cactus Shop Shows Strong Sa…

Altman Plants recently opened its new Cactus Shop, an online retail store that sells a variety of cactus and succulents. The store is a take-off of Altman’s original wholesale business, as the company started as a mail order catalog.

Read More
Dummen

April 8, 2015

Dümmen Group Welcomes Jim Devereux And Andrew Konicki T…

Dümmen group recently announced the addition of Jim Devereux and Andrew Konicki to its team. They are the newest members of the Key Account and Broker Support team for Dümmen, and will be responsible for building, developing and maintaining current broker and grower customer relationships.

Read More
Gov._Jerry_Brown_California

April 8, 2015

California Institutes First Ever Statewide Mandatory Wa…

California Gov. Jerry Brown announced April 1 that, for the first time in state history, action will be taken to implement mandatory water restrictions, with the ultimate goal of reducing water usage by 25 percent. As Californians are pushed to conserve more, growers will need to think about how demand for products will be affected.

Read More
DNA-logo

March 31, 2015

DNA Green Group Will Acquire Rijnplant

DNA Green Group and Riknplant have finalized DNA Green Group's acquisition of Rijnplant, meaning that the breeding and propagation activities in pot and cut anthurium, bougainvillea and heliconia will transfer to DNA Green Group.

Read More
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadl…

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More

March 23, 2015

UF/IFAS Appoints Joseph Albano As Director Of Mid-Flori…

The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) has a new directors for its Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (REC) on Apopka, Fla. The role has been filled by Joseph Albano, a research horticulturist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with more than 25 years of experience.

Read More

March 17, 2015

Pike Nurseries Implements Employee Stock Ownership Plan

Independent garden retailer Pike Nurseries has announced it will become an employee-owned company. Pike Nurseries management has combined with its sister corporation in California, Armstrong Garden Centers, to operate under an established Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

March 10, 2015

GrowIt! Mobile App Now Available For Android

The mobile app GrowIt! Garden Socially can now be used by gardeners with Android-based smartphones. Now available on the Google Play Market, GrowIt! helps users find plants to fit their lifestyle and connect them with other local gardeners.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Second Annual GreenhouseConnect Will Bring Growers and …

Following a successful inaugural event in Tampa last fall, Greenhouse Grower has announced the dates of its second annual GreenhouseConnect: October 26-29, 2015. Representatives of an expected two dozen leading greenhouse operations from across the U.S. will join senior-level suppliers at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego for several days of one-on-one strategic meetings, a growers-only roundtable, informational sessions and a variety of networking events.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Maryland Green Industry Associations Unite

The Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association recently announced that it is expanding its reach to include the greenhouse industry, meaning it has become The Maryland Nursery, Landscape and Greenhouse Association (MNLGA). The change comes as a result of the planned dissolution of the former Maryland Greenhouse Growers Association and the invitation for those members to join the existing and renamed association.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Ann…

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
myers industries Lawn and Garden Logo

February 24, 2015

Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn And Garden Business Sold, N…

The management of Myers Lawn and Garden Group, along with Wingate Partners V, L.P. have recently acquired the Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn and Garden business. The new company is named The HC Companies, and will continue as a North American leading provider of horticulture containers supplying the greenhouse, nursery and retail markets.

Read More
american-hort-logo

February 17, 2015

AmericanHort Announces New Board Members

AmericanHort recently announced the election of new officers and members to the board of directors. Each will assume their positions on the board during Cultivate’15, July 11 to 14 in Columbus, Ohio.

Read More