3 Ways To Make Commodities Premium Items

Marc Clark

Marc Clark, executive vice president of Rocket Farms in Salinas, Calif., offers advice to add value to your product:

1 Reposition existing plants. Bring outdoor plants inside with smaller, more compact varieties like sunflowers and coleus. Repackage them in ceramic pots or baskets.

Most consumers won’t care that a sunflower is typically planted outdoors. If it’s packaged properly, consumers will accept it as a new product. Remember: Water used to come from drinking fountains; now we pay more than $1 for a plastic bottle full of it. This was unthinkable just a few decades ago.

2 Take advantage of containers and packaging. Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but ordinary commodity plants can become extraordinary with clever use of containers and packaging, including racks and shelf talkers. Ball Horticultural Co.’s seed and vegetative catalog is full of hundreds of varieties of inexpensive commodity items that can be potted up into decorative containers and sold for a premium. Often it’s the small differences that matter most– the right color pot to match the plant, correct proportion, etc.

3 Think outside the box! It’s often just looking at a common item in a new way, particularly in terms of how to bring it to market. Think about matching plants together to create new types of “gardens” or re-naming common plants with catchy uncommon names. It’s about marketing and how best to position the products we grow in order to achieve maximum profit. Marketing is the art of not competing on price; anyway you can get there will do.

Leave a Reply

More From Grow Initiative...

October 4, 2015

ePlantSource Adds 5 New Partner Companies

ePlantSource has announced an additional five companies that have been added to its partner distribution list. Not only do the additional partners offer more supplier options to ePlantSource customers, but the website now also provides a more diverse product list with the addition of bulbs, clematis and many new varieties. New partners added for the 2015 – 2016 season: A.D.R. Bulbs Lennon Farm Greenhouses Micandy Gardens Pacific Growers Roseville Farms “We make it a priority to respond to our customers, and we have had many requests for additional options and a more diverse product line, so we are continually evaluating suppliers that work well with our non-traditional approach to the sale of live goods,” says Gary Falkenstein, President and CEO of ePlantSource. “We feel that it is good for our company, our customers and the industry as a whole to keep looking forward and seeing how we can improve and expand how […]

Read More
Joey Wiseman-2015

October 3, 2015

4 New Hires And Promotions In Horticulture

Management restructuring and growth expansion have prompted several companies in the horticulture industry to bring on more help and promote qualified employees to new positions over the few several months. Here are four that have occurred during the months of July 2015 through September 2015.

Read More
BallSeed New Website September 2015

October 3, 2015

BallSeed.com Goes Mobile-Friendly

BallSeed.com is now mobile-optimized. A new update features responsive design, quick access to WebTrack, an enhanced product search and more. Mobile-Friendly content and clear navigation make information more accessible to customers on-the-move and in the greenhouse.

Read More
Latest Stories
Rebecca Lusk

September 22, 2015

Trailblazer Rebecca Lusk Of Luxflora And Dümmen Orange …

Rebecca Lusk of Luxflora and Dümmen Orange is no stranger to breaking new ground, whether it's in her own company or in forming an organization that gives women in horticulture a united voice.

Read More

September 14, 2015

Smith Gardens Is Developing Growers With A New Initiati…

Finding enough qualified growers has long been a problem in the industry, but it’s one that Smith Gardens is working to solve, at least locally. The operation, which ranks No. 22 on Greenhouse Grower‘s Top 100 Growers list, is the largest in the Pacific Northwest, and spans more than 50 acres of greenhouses and 50 acres of field growing over four locations in Washington, Oregon and California. As a 112-year-old family business that recognizes the need to invest in its future, Smith Gardens has made its Cultivating The Future initiative a corporate priority to attract young people to careers in the horticulture industry. Don Spence, the production manager at Smith Gardens’ Aurora, Ore., location, started working with local schools years ago. The operation expanded its program to local community colleges, and this year Smith Gardens worked with the American Floral Endowment to set up an internship program, and hosted an […]

Read More
Smartphones may influence kids’ decisions about food

September 12, 2015

To Understand Your Next Consumers, Look Beyond Millenni…

There seems to be a constant stream of content in the media about Millennials and their habits and characteristics, particularly as consumers. But, what if they’re not the ones to be focusing on? A recent article in Food Business News is saying that they’re not. Instead, it suggests shifting the focus to the next generation. The article states that, according to bestselling author Matt Walsh, the most disruptive group of future food consumers was born in 2007. With gardening consumers becoming increasingly interested growing their own food, changes to the food industry will likely impact the horticulture industry, as well. “If you understand how an 8-year-old thinks, you’re a long way toward really understanding a transformative change in consumer behavior,” says Walsh, CEO of innovation research lab Tomorrow, during a July 13 presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition in Chicago. When an 8-year-old makes […]

Read More

September 2, 2015

Delegation Is Key To A Successful Greenhouse Operation

In a packed room at Cultivate’15, speaker Bernie Erven presented key steps growers need to take to improve their delegation skills, the benefits of delegating and the dangers of not learning how to delegate. This is a skill, he says, that everyone needs to learn. “For all of you who are part of a family business, you are choosing not to do things the easy way,” Erven laughed, as he presented a list of ways to know whether or not you’re an effective delegator. The owner of Erven HR Services, LLC, Erven has been working with and observing family businesses for many years. In his presentation, he said, he didn’t share anything that he hasn’t seen first-hand. You might not be a good delegator if you: Tend to be a perfectionist Work more hours than anyone else Lack time to explain clearly and concisely Are often interrupted Enjoy what you used to […]

Read More
Marc van Iersel

September 1, 2015

GROwing Floriculture Research And Extension

Research and outreach efforts help keep floriculture production profitable. With seemingly continuous budget cuts to university and federal budgets, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to sustain their programs and to keep making a positive impact on the industry. So what can be done to ensure that the industry will keep getting the research and outreach support it has come to rely on? There already is a variety of funding programs that support research and Extension programs in our industry. This funding is critical for many floriculture research and outreach programs. What can we do to leverage that funding and make sure it has the biggest possible impact? A program that I was part of in 2010 may serve as a model. LAUNCH was co-founded by NASA, NIKE, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State as a program to help make innovative ideas become a […]

Read More
september_grow_rodale institute

August 25, 2015

Hospitals Are Getting Into The Organic Food Business

Growers investing in the organic food movement could serve a growing new area with vegetable transplants and starts, as well as produce, as hospitals begin to prescribe healthy diets and nutrition, and even go so far as to grow their own food. As part of a new phenomenon among progressive hospitals, health professionals are beginning to realize that without health and nutrition, programs and techniques may be done in vain or worse — obsolete. As more patients seeking a healthy diet turn to nutritionists, who recommend sugar-free, alkaline diets to prevent disease and aid in recovery, hospitals recognizing this trend are taking action. St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa., recently contracted with the nearby Rodale Institute to manage an organic farm, established in 2014. The hospital, part of a six-campus network, aims to provide excellent healthcare, part of which includes educating patients about the benefits of a plant-based, organic diet. […]

Read More
3D Green Printer

August 11, 2015

3D Printers Sprout Living Designs

Project PrintGREEN is turning 3D printers into on-demand gardeners after designing a “green” 3D printer in 2013. The printer produces living prints, printing customized objects in a variety of sizes and forms. The project was created at the University of Maribor in Slovenia, with a goal to unite art, technology, and nature, creatively producing living designs with the help of technology.

Read More
Roots To Re-Entry’s ornamental plant nursery donates plants to local community gardens

August 4, 2015

Roots To Re-Entry Transforms Lives

An inspired employment initiative takes green-job training behind prison walls to help inmates find jobs in urban agriculture and the landscaping industry upon their release, and along the way, it is changing lives for the better. The Roots To Re-Entry (R2R) job training program, conceived by the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (PHS) and its partners, does more than teach inmates of the Philadelphia Prison System the skills they need to find meaningful employment; it also teaches them invaluable life skills. The PHS staff leads participants through a 16-week course that includes hands-on projects designed to teach them horticultural skills and provide them with training in landscape maintenance and greenhouse growing. In addition to English and math, the nonprofit Federation of Neighborhood Centers (FNC) offers supplemental courses in health education and employment preparedness. Upon inmates’ release from prison, the FNC assists R2R graduates with the transition to life outside prison walls by […]

Read More

July 15, 2015

USDA’s 2014 Floriculture Crops Summary By The Numbers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its 2014 Floriculture Crops Summary in June. Here are some of the highlights: The total crop value at wholesale for the 15-state program with $10,000 or more in sales is $4.07 billion, compared with $4.25 billion in 2013 The percentage wholesale value of floriculture crops is down 4 percent from the 2013 valuation There are 4,849 producers for 2014, down 21 percent in the 15 states, compared with the 2013 count of 6,115 2,510 of producers had sales of $100,000 or more in 2014, down 5 percent from 2,632 in 2013 733 million square feet was the total covered area for floriculture crop production in 15 state area evaluated in 2014, down from 735 million square feet in 2013 $1.82 billion was the wholesale value of all bedding and garden plants, including herbaceous perennials, representing 46 percent of the value of all reported crops The wholesale value for […]

Read More
LuxFlora logo feature image

July 5, 2015

Luxflora Wants To Create A Lifestyle Movement

A new organization for women in horticulture plans to take on some of the industry’s toughest marketing challenges by promoting the use of flowers and plants in everyday living.

Read More

June 23, 2015

AmericanHort Announces 2015 HortScholars

AmericanHort has selected six students from across the country to serve as this year’s HortScholars. This rigorous, competitive application process identifies some of the industry’s brightest professionals and helps to launch their careers in horticulture by providing education and networking opportunities. The goal of the HortScholars program is to provide students with an enriching professional development experience that increases their knowledge, industry awareness and career enthusiasm. 2015 HortScholars: • Sarah Leach Smith, University of Delaware • Bobby Nance, Virginia Tech • Madeline Olberg, Purdue University • Nick Sobecki, Ohio University • Emily Teng, University of Hawaii • William Yoho Jr,, Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute HortScholars will be on-site at Cultivate’15 (July 11-14 in Columbus, Ohio) and receive complimentary Cultivate registration, lodging and meals. Additionally, they will receive a complimentary one-year AmericanHort membership. On-site at Cultivate’15, HortScholars will assist the Generation Next Community with events, conduct presentations that share […]

Read More
July 2015_GROW Perspective_Katie Ketelson

June 23, 2015

MegaMashups Take Plants To The People

It’s no secret I love plants. It’s probably not much of a secret that I love beer, too. And in my perfect world, I’d have a permanent beer garden decorated with galvanized containers stuffed full of flowers, high-rising arches of hops and endless rows of hydroponic strawberries for everbearing enjoyment. But all that costs mega money, so I’ve settled (for now) on orchestrating mega mashups focused on my loves mentioned above, striving to reach an audience that doesn’t even know our industry exists. I’ve long preached about how we need to go to the people. Meet them on their turf, so-to-speak. We can’t expect Gen X or the Millennials, or heck, even my parents, to walk into our garden centers on a whimsy. And frankly, why would you want to be so passive? Your customer spends their extra dollars at the coffee shop, at the mall and at the bar. […]

Read More
Michigan State University’s Bailey GREENhouse Sells Produce And Tea To Campus Dining Facilities

June 20, 2015

Michigan State University’s Bailey GREENhouse Sells Pro…

A greenhouse operated primarily by Michigan State University (MSU) students has begun exploring new crops, including herbs, to produce a line of tea. The Bailey GREENhouse, completed in 2012, gives students from MSU’s Residential Initiative for the Study of the Environment (RISE) the opportunity to experience hands-on learning about organic growing methods, composting and the food cycle. The greenhouse, which was built in partnership with Residential and Hospitality Services, the Department of Community Sustainability, RISE and the Student Organic Farm, is a passive solar hoop house intended for the production of certified organic culinary herbs and salad mixes. Students plant, grow and harvest herbs and microgreens using soil from university composts. All of the produce is certified organic, and is sold to MSU dining facilities, including Brody Square, The Gallery at Snyder and Phillips Halls, the McDonel test kitchen and the Kellogg Center Hotel & Conference Center. The new tea line […]

Read More
Sporticulture Offers A Way For Growers To Promote Plants And Football

June 20, 2015

Sporticulture Offers A Way For Growers To Promote Plant…

Cortland Smith, the president of Walnut Springs Nursery in Glenwood, Md., has two passions: plants and sports, specifically football. Earlier this year, he found an opportunity to blend them together in a way he hopes will benefit the entire industry. This past spring, Smith launched a company called Sporticulture, Inc., which provides access to sports licensing and marketing opportunities to growers, retailers and landscape contractors. The company’s first partnership is with the National Football League. Working through Sporticulture, growers will have the ability to produce team color plants in officially licensed NFL containers and tags. “Walnut Springs is a grower first and foremost, and Cort wants a program to benefit growers and give them the opportunity to add profit margins and sell plants at a higher price utilizing the power of the NFL brand,” says Pete Gilmore, director of business development at Sporticulture. “We are encouraging growers to utilize their […]

Read More
Urban Gardens

June 19, 2015

Urban Gardens Feed The World On A Local Level

Growing food in small spaces and urban gardening go hand in hand, no surprise there. But the fact that there are 200 million urban farmers worldwide, supplying food to 700 million people may be a startling revelation to those who equate food production with large rural farms. According to a fact sheet report from the Food of Agriculture Organization of the United Nations entitled “Feeding Cities, The Role of Urban Agriculture,” the 700 million people urban farmers supply with produce accounts for 12 percent of the world population. Aside from the obvious benefit of helping to feed a burgeoning world population, urban farms, the newest trend in a greener future, are a source of revenue for under- or unemployed residents. They also provide on-the-job youth training and community education and shorten the journey from farm to plate. And the benefits don’t end there. Urban farms may be small, but they have […]

Read More

June 18, 2015

Introducing SHIFT: An AmericanHort Initiative

AmericanHort, along with its research affiliate the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), introduces SHIFT: An AmericanHort initiative. This innovative research project takes a hard look at the future of the industry. What was once announced as the “the future of retail” research project isn’t just about retail anymore — it’s about how the collective industry can rise to the challenge of meeting modern and future consumers’ expectations. This research demands a shift in strategies, thinking and paradigms. It forces us to think and to ask ourselves, “What if we started doing things differently?” SHIFT is the largest research initiative of its kind for the industry. The resulting data, insights and recommendations paint a clear picture of opportunity for all industry businesses to capitalize on trends and even get ahead of the curve. SHIFT is the future of consumers, the future of retail, the future of the supply chain and the future […]

Read More
AFE young professionals council

June 17, 2015

AFE Launches Young Professionals Council

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) has established the Young Professionals Council (YPC), which consists of 21- to 35-year-old students and professionals in the floral industry. YPC members will use their skills and strengths to help reach other young professionals interested in becoming leaders in the floral industry, provide guidance and feedback on AFE’s programs, and get involved in leadership and learning opportunities through AFE’s programs. “There are crucial industry challenges that need to be addressed, and the YPC is a significant program that I believe will help benefit the industry. I look forward to working with the driven young members of this group to help spread awareness of AFE and build a stronger future,” says AFE trustee and YPC board liaison Dwight Larimer. Current members include: • Tha Cha, grower at Cha Veggies • Joshua Craver, Ph.D. student at Purdue University • Eric Fernandez, director of mass markets and business […]

Read More
growing for futures logo

June 15, 2015

National Garden Bureau To Offer Grants To Therapeutic G…

National Garden Bureau (NGB) will grant $10,000 this fall to be split among three therapeutic gardens in North America as part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness of horticulture and support the benefits of gardening. After fundraising for a vocational therapeutic garden in Chicago last year, NGB is expanding its support of gardens that promote the health and healing powers of human interaction with plants. Beginning this month, NGB will begin accepting applications from therapeutic gardens that meet the following set of criteria: 1. Have a defined program using the garden to further particular goals for participants lead by a qualified leader. Examples include horticultural therapy, occupational, physical, vocational or rehabilitation therapy in a garden setting or using gardening to promote positive social relationships within a community. 2. Offer a nature experience/interface for population served, including, but not limited to veterans, special-needs children or young adults, the elderly and/or those […]

Read More