Ravin’ Traven Rants Again

Ravin' Traven Rants Again

On occasion, wholesale grower Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm in Pennsylvania sends out an engaging and opinionated rant to his garden center customers, along with the most current availability, order forms and pictures of plants in the greenhouse.

Here is Traven’s latest rant following the America In Bloom Symposium last week in Hershey, Pa.

Last week, we had the pleasure of spending a day working for the setup of the America in Bloom Symposium in Hershey, Pa. There was no shortage of chocolate after much careful observation.

We donated the plants for the stage decorations and also the centerpieces for the gala and awards ceremony on Saturday. We were honored to be asked, especially for something that does nothing except put plants and flowers in front of the public and show them how they work to beautify their towns. Not much downside to that!

What was surprising to me, though, was that at the reception, I didn’t really know anyone! No garden center people from Pennsylvania or New Jersey or New York. No retailers except John Story from Meadowbrook–and he was there to work with us to set the program up.

How could this be? In our own backyard and zero local participation? This group is promoting flowers and plants, building opportunities for all of us–and where was everyone?

We wonder why business is difficult, why people find other ways to spend what little extra money they have and yet we totally miss out on a great way to put our product into our own towns.

Sure, there are plenty of areas where it is just “suburban sprawl,” where there is no real town to decorate. But there are plenty of real towns, too, and many of the best garden centers are in, or just on the outskirts of those towns.

So why would the locals support us if we don’t support ourselves?

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16 comments on “Ravin’ Traven Rants Again

  1. To the last anonymous poster–Lloyd has an extremely valid point.

    A more PROactive role has to be taken by growers, producers, wholesalers and retailers. Relying on the mantra of ‘build it and they will come’ doesn’t seem to be cutting it–not when consumers who are slightly more keen on where their extra dollars should be going. We need to SHOW them and provide them (RESEARCH on benefits and impacts of plants anyone?!?!) reasons why they should wait on that new DVD or CD.

    I hear it all the time…”we work in a fascinating and wonderful industry”. Well, lets put our money where our mouth is…and showcase it. add an extra 10 flats of annuals, or an extra 25 gallon perennials to the season’s production numbers (account for it however you want) and donate to a local community garden or city planting, or something of the like. Those plantings ARE your billboards.

    There is a concern over the lack of an industry slogan, or catch phrase. We can keep bickering and evaluating at what the *best* one might be, but in reality, the best and most effective approach will be a grassroots initiative–and the AIB could be the bus driver for this.

    SO..I would challenge each grower or producer (retail and wholesale, big and small) to think about giving some plant material to a worthy cause–beautifying your local community…providing plant materials for local classroom projects…conduct a gardening info session on butterfly gardens (or whatever topic)…SOMETHING…something that will hopefully excite that latent gardener out there; Or that young, future grower or plant breeder who is still in elementary school; or persuade that person who never thought about plants/flowers before…to buy one, and then buy another.

    Just my opinion…

  2. You were kind to donate your time and plants, but it sounds to me that the reception at the symposium was a show of your products, not the industry in your area as a whole. The chocolate many have been sweat but the lack of opportunity for others to show their products may have soured the reception. Next time try to offer others to participate and you will get a chance to visit with some familiar growers from your area.

  3. Sorry to burst your bubble-but I was NOT the only donator. I was ASKED to donate and I did, brought it out to Hershey in my own truck along with some soil donated by another company. We volunteered our time (both Candy and me)along with others, like Meadowbrook Farm. Neither Candy nor I are involved with the planning nor implementation of AIB or its events and had no agenda other than to do more than help out as we can. We have absolutely NOTHING to do with who was asked to do anything, but merely said we would be proud to help when asked. Frankly, I’m having trouble feeling bad about this, and I’m surprised you see something sinister here.
    Murph, our name was NOT displayed anywhere, nor was our name mentioned at the reception. In fact, so far as we know, nobody from the event, other than the organizers, knows who we are nor what our involvement was. We even removed the tags from the plants. We sat in the audience at the Reception and clapped for the winners. Then we drove the truck home so we could be back at work the next morning.
    This was NOT an ‘opportunity to show their products.’ Unfortunately, that is the attitude so often taken—that anything done with generosity must be beaten down as being totally mercenary.
    There was nothing SOUR about the reception. One might challenge YOU—why would you WAIT to be asked? We donate both plants and time regularly. We do not retail at all, and get nothing back from it. No, wait, we feel good about giving back, and that’s enough.

  4. Ladies and Gentlemen, the post about AIB being the bus driver is the truth. Let’s not bicker about who did or didn’t donate plants. What you are being asked is “Why was no one local supporting this event?” If this were in my backyard, I would have been there with time to help, clapping and I would have offered to donate plants if they came back next year. Let’s show America WHY they should spend their hard earned money in OUR INDUSTRY! Take responsibility for your part in showcasing our industry in any way you can.

  5. I think it is a shame that as a local grower that we did not participate in this event. Granted, my excuse, that I was not aware of the event being held in Hershey until the week before, is not a good one, I feel that if someone in AIB, or local community would have contacted us we would have gladly helped out and donated material. As a smaller grower that wears many hats, I am not always up to date on these things…and that is no fault but mine. But if I could suggest that if someone from AIB could contact local growers when they are going to be in an area (becuase I KNOW for a fact we were not), I am sure they could get more response. Thank you to Lloyd and Candy for your support! It is too bad that PA doesn’t have a grower assiocation, it is events like this, that it would have been nice to rally the troops so to speak!

  6. I am a grower/retailer from a town in a suburban area and 6 or 7 years ago when AIB was first around, I thought this was a great idea. It would do just as so many on here have said, promote planting and beautification on a local level. It seems like such a natural thing to promote our industry, as a whole, as well as improve the looks of the local area. Here is the difficulty that I encountered when the program was in our city. If the grower/retailer is the one leading the charge on this effort, you are either expected to donate and or discount plant material for the program or appear that this whole program is just to line your own pockets. Either option is not that great a choice and I have never heard from AIB how this could be better addressed. If you are not in charge, you are the logical source for advice and ideas, but you encounter the same issues. It is a great program in theory, but in my opinion, the fact that very few cities or towns participate on an annual basis says volumes about what participating cities think of the program. In most cases, it is one or possibly two years and then they are out. I really would like to see it be more successful, but feel that it is a real tightrope to walk for businesses in our industry to be the ones that are promoting it. Additionally, in the economic climate right now, I think that it is an even harder sell to most municipalities. Just my two cents, based on my experience participating in the program.

  7. Llyod

    I was merely making a suggestion with the info you put out there. When you wrote that you donated…. THE…..flowers, it appeared to me as though you were a singular donor. I sincerely did not think for a minute of any sinister ambitions coming from YOU. Those feelings are saved for the gutless Anonymous whom have no real comments worth sharing. Had your flowers been the only displayed, would you for a moment think others would feel left out? This was the idea I tried to convey.

    Although my comment by have offended you (sorry) it may have opened a door for good discussion. I may be naive but I do not see why you would not want your name advertised at the AB. You worked hard to help others, why not want others to know? After all, people do need to know where to go if they happen to have a use for plants they saw at the AB. Don’t be so hard on yourself, or me ( I have no bubble to bust, sounds to lonely ), your a good man.

    If you really are interested as to my service to our industry without any recognition I would be more than happy to post a few. I have kept many anonymous. Life is to short to Wait.

  8. To the last anonymous poster–Lloyd has an extremely valid point.

    A more PROactive role has to be taken by growers, producers, wholesalers and retailers. Relying on the mantra of ‘build it and they will come’ doesn’t seem to be cutting it–not when consumers who are slightly more keen on where their extra dollars should be going. We need to SHOW them and provide them (RESEARCH on benefits and impacts of plants anyone?!?!) reasons why they should wait on that new DVD or CD.

    I hear it all the time…”we work in a fascinating and wonderful industry”. Well, lets put our money where our mouth is…and showcase it. add an extra 10 flats of annuals, or an extra 25 gallon perennials to the season’s production numbers (account for it however you want) and donate to a local community garden or city planting, or something of the like. Those plantings ARE your billboards.

    There is a concern over the lack of an industry slogan, or catch phrase. We can keep bickering and evaluating at what the *best* one might be, but in reality, the best and most effective approach will be a grassroots initiative–and the AIB could be the bus driver for this.

    SO..I would challenge each grower or producer (retail and wholesale, big and small) to think about giving some plant material to a worthy cause–beautifying your local community…providing plant materials for local classroom projects…conduct a gardening info session on butterfly gardens (or whatever topic)…SOMETHING…something that will hopefully excite that latent gardener out there; Or that young, future grower or plant breeder who is still in elementary school; or persuade that person who never thought about plants/flowers before…to buy one, and then buy another.

    Just my opinion…

  9. You were kind to donate your time and plants, but it sounds to me that the reception at the symposium was a show of your products, not the industry in your area as a whole. The chocolate many have been sweat but the lack of opportunity for others to show their products may have soured the reception. Next time try to offer others to participate and you will get a chance to visit with some familiar growers from your area.

  10. Sorry to burst your bubble-but I was NOT the only donator. I was ASKED to donate and I did, brought it out to Hershey in my own truck along with some soil donated by another company. We volunteered our time (both Candy and me)along with others, like Meadowbrook Farm. Neither Candy nor I are involved with the planning nor implementation of AIB or its events and had no agenda other than to do more than help out as we can. We have absolutely NOTHING to do with who was asked to do anything, but merely said we would be proud to help when asked. Frankly, I’m having trouble feeling bad about this, and I’m surprised you see something sinister here.
    Murph, our name was NOT displayed anywhere, nor was our name mentioned at the reception. In fact, so far as we know, nobody from the event, other than the organizers, knows who we are nor what our involvement was. We even removed the tags from the plants. We sat in the audience at the Reception and clapped for the winners. Then we drove the truck home so we could be back at work the next morning.
    This was NOT an ‘opportunity to show their products.’ Unfortunately, that is the attitude so often taken—that anything done with generosity must be beaten down as being totally mercenary.
    There was nothing SOUR about the reception. One might challenge YOU—why would you WAIT to be asked? We donate both plants and time regularly. We do not retail at all, and get nothing back from it. No, wait, we feel good about giving back, and that’s enough.

  11. Ladies and Gentlemen, the post about AIB being the bus driver is the truth. Let’s not bicker about who did or didn’t donate plants. What you are being asked is “Why was no one local supporting this event?” If this were in my backyard, I would have been there with time to help, clapping and I would have offered to donate plants if they came back next year. Let’s show America WHY they should spend their hard earned money in OUR INDUSTRY! Take responsibility for your part in showcasing our industry in any way you can.

  12. I think it is a shame that as a local grower that we did not participate in this event. Granted, my excuse, that I was not aware of the event being held in Hershey until the week before, is not a good one, I feel that if someone in AIB, or local community would have contacted us we would have gladly helped out and donated material. As a smaller grower that wears many hats, I am not always up to date on these things…and that is no fault but mine. But if I could suggest that if someone from AIB could contact local growers when they are going to be in an area (becuase I KNOW for a fact we were not), I am sure they could get more response. Thank you to Lloyd and Candy for your support! It is too bad that PA doesn’t have a grower assiocation, it is events like this, that it would have been nice to rally the troops so to speak!

  13. I am a grower/retailer from a town in a suburban area and 6 or 7 years ago when AIB was first around, I thought this was a great idea. It would do just as so many on here have said, promote planting and beautification on a local level. It seems like such a natural thing to promote our industry, as a whole, as well as improve the looks of the local area. Here is the difficulty that I encountered when the program was in our city. If the grower/retailer is the one leading the charge on this effort, you are either expected to donate and or discount plant material for the program or appear that this whole program is just to line your own pockets. Either option is not that great a choice and I have never heard from AIB how this could be better addressed. If you are not in charge, you are the logical source for advice and ideas, but you encounter the same issues. It is a great program in theory, but in my opinion, the fact that very few cities or towns participate on an annual basis says volumes about what participating cities think of the program. In most cases, it is one or possibly two years and then they are out. I really would like to see it be more successful, but feel that it is a real tightrope to walk for businesses in our industry to be the ones that are promoting it. Additionally, in the economic climate right now, I think that it is an even harder sell to most municipalities. Just my two cents, based on my experience participating in the program.

  14. Llyod

    I was merely making a suggestion with the info you put out there. When you wrote that you donated…. THE…..flowers, it appeared to me as though you were a singular donor. I sincerely did not think for a minute of any sinister ambitions coming from YOU. Those feelings are saved for the gutless Anonymous whom have no real comments worth sharing. Had your flowers been the only displayed, would you for a moment think others would feel left out? This was the idea I tried to convey.

    Although my comment by have offended you (sorry) it may have opened a door for good discussion. I may be naive but I do not see why you would not want your name advertised at the AB. You worked hard to help others, why not want others to know? After all, people do need to know where to go if they happen to have a use for plants they saw at the AB. Don’t be so hard on yourself, or me ( I have no bubble to bust, sounds to lonely ), your a good man.

    If you really are interested as to my service to our industry without any recognition I would be more than happy to post a few. I have kept many anonymous. Life is to short to Wait.

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Amy Daniel, marketing and brand manager at Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, has a passion for marketing and branding that led her into the green industry early in her career, when she and a friend started their own agency, and she began helping her parents — then owners of a retail nursery — with marketing services. Daniel’s career in the field started in the 1980s, after she finished college with degrees in journalism and advertising. It wasn’t long before she began to feel frustrated with the status quo in the industry. She and a friend from college, agreeing there was a better way to do things, decided to start a business. “I guess now looking back, we were probably young and naive, but it all worked out really well,” Daniel says. “We started our own advertising agency/marketing and PR firm. I ran that for two decades. It was very successful.” […]

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susie raker featured

May 12, 2015

Manage Costs To Increase Profitability

Business profitability and health is about more than just sales. Growers can get in trouble when they don’t look at the complete picture when it comes to cost accounting. Susie Raker Zimmerman shares how the team at C. Raker & Sons keeps costs and profits in check.

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