Gone Green

Sustainability. Everyone is talking sustainable. Why? Sustainability is being driven by many of the largest retailers out there. Earlier this year, we heard from the main hort buyer at Wal-Mart at the Grower Talks Greenhouse Experience, and everything at Wal-Mart is about sustainability. Even down to the LED lights in the refrigerated cases in the chain’s frozen food sections.

It’s a scary proposition for many growers, because there are several definitions for sustainable. Setting up sustainable production can be tricky too–there are many choices to make. If you’re shipping biodegradable pots from across the country or overseas, are you still contributing to the environment?

Every retailer is going to have its own standards and practices they’d like to see you use, but really the way to make any change is one baby step at a time. Rice hull pots this year, increased use of biologicals next. Improved distribution and logistics now, compost teas later.

With that in mind, we present our sustainability special report, beginning after page 46. We designed it to be a one-checkbox-at-a-time guide to becoming sustainable. We’ve asked some in-the-know experts, “What are the first steps growers can take?” And we’ve included a down-to-the-bones explanation of the sustainability certification VeriFlora.

And the grower’s perspective isn’t the only one you should be interested in. The second half of our supplement is a look at the trends in sustainability from the retailer’s perspective, by our sister publication, Today’s Garden Center magazine. We hear from them that the push toward sustainable and even organic gardening is growing, led by retailers like The Natural Gardener, Austin, Texas, Bainbridge Gardens in Seattle, Cole Gardens, Concord, N.H., Greenscape Gardens and Gifts, Manchester, Mo., and Rockledge Gardens in Rockledge, Fla.

This isn’t the end of the story. Trends and ideas in sustainability are sure to continue to percolate and we’ll continue to cover the subject well into 2008.

As the series continues, look for profiles on growers who have taken up sustainable production and more research and ideas on the subject, including recycling, water issues and compost teas. Sounds yummy, no?

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