May 7, 2008

Iverson Family Farms Earns VeriFlora Certification

Iverson Family Farms in Woodburn, Ore., sought independent certification as a way of having its sustainability practices independently recognized. Now, it has that certification with the VeriFlora label issued by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS). Among the Iverson Family Farms practices recognized by SCS were steps that the family took to protect the quality of their flowers during shipments. “Our retailer customers and consumers have appreciated the end result at the marketplace,” Barb Iverson says. “The certification reinforced the work we had already done and gave us guidance to make our farming operations even better.” In order to qualify for certification, Iverson Family Farms was required to demonstrate that it meets rigorous standards of environmental sustainability, social responsibility and product quality. Its certification covers 40 acres of tulip fields, 50 acres of daffodils and 2 million stems of greenhouse tulips. “We are delighted to add Iverson Family Farms to the growing […]

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April 30, 2008

OFA Scholars Selected For 2008

Six students were chosen this year as OFA Scholars, who will be on site at the OFA Short Course in Columbus, Ohio from July 12-15. They’ll get to assist the OFA Generation Next Committee with events and educational sessions, attend the trade show and network at various social events. This year’s scholars include: - Gladys Anguti, who is pursuing a Master’s degree in horticulture at The Ohio State University. Anguti has extensive international experience studying and working in the Netherlands, Ecuador, Costa Rica and her native Uganda. - Aubrey Ballinger, a sophomore at Cincinnati State Technical College. She recently completed a nine-month internship at Diefenbacher Greenhouse and the horticulture department at the Cincinnati Zoo. - Jenny Barnett, a freshman at Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute. Barnett is a co-major in greenhouse and nursery production. - James Cooley, an Ohio State freshman. Cooley is involved with the Landscape and Floriculture Forum […]

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April 23, 2008

FNGLA Receives Specialty Crop Grant

Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (FDACS) has established a partnership with Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association (FNGLA) to promote gardening and landscaping to the public through a $250,000 USDA grant. With the grant, FNGLA will showcase an interactive educational exhibit at Walt Disney World’s 2008 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. The exhibit will feature displays to encourage children and their families to garden and promote Florida-friendly landscaping, environmental responsibility and water conservation. FNGLA will also transform its existing online Plant Locator into a real-time, online plant locator service that will enable growers to update information and offer real-time plant inventory in a database for landscape and retail customers. A series of public service announcements will also air, and FNGLA will work with FDACS and the Florida Department of Education to transform the existing horticultural curriculum in Florida high schools to provide a path to the Certified […]

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April 23, 2008

Measuring Your Gardening Kindness

How kind are you to the environment? The Texas AgriLife Extension Service has developed Earth-Kind Challenge to encourage gardeners to determine the answer online. Earth-Kind Challenge is a test that asks about your landscaping design, mulching habits and use of irrigation. It queries your habits in fertilizer and pesticide use, composting, rainfall harvesting and provisions for wildlife habits. The 25-question test isn’t all pins and needles, though: It has a fun frog scoring system. “The more frogs you score, the more you are doing to help preserve and protect the environment in which we live,” says Don Wilkerson, Texas AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist. “And the other thing that’s cool is that for each response you give, the test responds with ideas of what you might do to be even better at environmental stewardship.” Throughout the test, links to AgriLife Extension fact sheets provide information for quick learning. “That way, if […]

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April 23, 2008

HRI Accepting Grant Proposals For 2009

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) and its endowment fund, the research division of the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA), are now accepting research applications for their FY2009 competitive research grants program. HRI funds and promotes research that benefits “green” issues. Some of its past projects have focused on significant problems, regulatory issues or emerging opportunities in the nursery and landscape industry. For more information or to apply for a research grant, click here.

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April 16, 2008

Michigan Floriculture Growers Plan 2008 Research

The Michigan Floriculture Growers Council (MFGC) has produced a list of its 2008 research priorities, which includes sustainability, water, energy, managing risk, production lighting, marketing, new crops, chemicals, post-harvest and business functions. MFGC will pursue research in conjunction with Michigan State University. For sustainability, MFGC plans to identify and evaluate sustainable production practices and products that reduce environmental impacts, such as biodegradable containers and organic fertilizers. It also intends to develop strategies that reduce the amount of water consumed in greenhouse production and improve the energy efficiency of greenhouse production in Michigan and other temperate climates. MFGC will analyze risk management, determining opportunities to reduce crop and economic losses due to pests and publicly ordered plant destruction and quarantine. Production lighting is a priority, too, and MFGC will work to minimize production time by using lighting systems to produce plants with reduced time, chemicals, space and labor. For more information […]

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April 9, 2008

Growers Discuss Sustainable Standards

Certification programs and the move toward a national sustainable standard were a big part of our “State of Sustainability” grower-retailer panel discussion at the recent American Nursery & Landscape Association’s Management Clinic. These growers are putting business considerations first. In addition to publishing the conversation in our April issue, we have posted more online. Read the transcript here.

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April 2, 2008

Ag Secretary Visits High School Greenhouse

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus visited Allentown High School (N.J.) on National Agriculture Day to emphasize agricultural education at the high school level and stress the importance of continuing it at a state college or university. “To continue to thrive, there is a great need to equip the next generation of agriculture leaders through quality high school and post-secondary agricultural education programs delivered by top-notch ag education teachers,” Kuperus says. “We are working with Rutgers University on programs that will keep these students in our state so they can take jobs here.” Agricultural jobs have been hard to come by in New Jersey for some graduates from colleges of agriculture and life sciences, forestry and veterinary medicine. Their search won’t get much easier knowing the New Jersey Department of Agriculture expects there to be a shortfall of about 20,000 between the number of recent graduates and the […]

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April 2, 2008

Michigan Growers Warm To Environmental Assessment

The more major retailers stress sustainability, the more some growers feel pressured to modify their management practices. To alleviate some of that pressure, the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program has developed a comprehensive assessment tool called Greenhouse*A*Syst, which educates Michigan growers about sustainability, evaluates how their operations practice it and recommends ways growers can move toward sustainability in the future. So far, the program has been embraced with open arms, says Linda Zabik, a Kalamazoo Conservation District groundwater technician who has conducted at least six assessments in cooperation with MSU Extension educator Jeanne Himmelein. “The feedback we are receiving most from our growers is that they are thankful for a tool that helps them get a clear picture of management practices that could be easily corrected and those that will take more time and money to implement,” Zabik says. The MAEAP is facilitated locally by conservation districts, Michigan State University […]

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February 20, 2008

Michigan Floriculture Growers Elect Officers

In addition to completing the first three full years as the Michigan Floriculture Growers Council (MFGC), an advocacy organization, 2008 marked its first rotation in officers. Founding officers who helped establish the group include: Steve Zylstra, president; Tom Raney, vice president; Tim Stiles, secretary-treasurer. All three will remain active on the board of directors. New officers include: Paul Karlovich, president. Karlovich is general manager of production at C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield. His position at Raker keeps him in touch with the key factors affecting our industry and he says he’s energized to keep MFGC productive and self-sustaining. Jim Tuinier, vice president. Tuinier is co-owner of Post Gardens in Battle Creek and Rockwood. He says he sees the importance of growers having a voice in public policy and values MFGC as a mechanism for addressing industry issues. Don Klooster, secretary/treasurer. Klooster is a partner in Klooster Greenhouse in Kalamazoo. […]

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January 30, 2008

ASCFG Awards Research Grants

John Dole and Stanton Gill have received research grants from the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG). Dole, of North Carolina State University, will continue his examination of postharvest life of specialty cut flowers. Gill, of the University of Maryland, will use trap plants to control insect plants in cut flowers. The competition for grants is open to academic, governmental and industry reserarchers. For more information about ASCFG, visit www.ascfg.org.

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