Saluting Tomorrow’s Leaders

For 24 years, Greenhouse Grower has been honored to present the Grower of the Year award, recognizing growers who are moving the industry forward. The recipients have been the best and brightest in our industry and reasons why we are gung-ho looking to the next 25 years. Who will be our 25th Grower of the Year? You can help decide.

To commemorate this milestone, we will take this award to a new level by presenting it during the OFA Short Course in July. This award will become part of an “Evening of Excellence” and add a strong grower component to our successful Medal of Excellence program, which recognizes innovative varieties, marketing programs and the organizations and individuals behind them. Together, Grower of the Year and our Medal of Excellence program become a fascinating floriculture hall of fame.

When we consider candidates for Grower of the Year, we not only think about why this grower or operation, but also why this year. When the award ties in with pressing industry issues and developments, timing is more critical. To get an idea of which growers have won in the past, here are the past 24 Growers of the Year:

1985–Jack & Peter Van de Wetering, Ivy Acres, Calverton, N.Y., for their entrepreneurial spirit and leadership in the bedding plant industry.

1986–Jim Youngsman, Skagit Gardens, Mt. Vernon, Wash., for ingenuity turning problems into opportunities, including embracing infrared heating.

1987–Arne Thirup, Pajaro Valley Greenhouses, Watsonville, Calif., for efforts to form the Floral Trade Council to represent cut flower growers on trade issues.

1988–Sonny Connor, Heritage Greenhouses, Mt. Dora, Fla., for leadership promoting foliage plants through the Foliage Marketing Institute. 

1989–Tim Haley, Pikes Peak Greenhouses, Colorado Springs, Colo., for fighting for fair international trade in cut flowers.

1990–Norm White, White’s Nursery & Greenhouses, Chesapeake, Va., for leadership growing blooming potted plants and efforts developing grades and standards.

1991–Kee Kitayama, Kitayama Brothers, Union City, Calif., for spearheading the formation of the California Cut Flower Commission.

1992–Kalamazoo Valley Plant Growers Cooperative, Kalamazoo, Mich., for its growers serving markets together while setting standards for quality, packaging and pricing.

1993–Larry Windham, Windham’s Greenhouse, Glenwood, Ga., for leading the Georgia Commercial Flower Growers’ efforts to get a state law passed, requiring manufacturers to label contents of growing media.

1994–Russell Weiss, Kurt Weiss Florist, Center Moriches, N.Y., for mass-market leadership and his efforts to uphold Quarantine-37 restrictions.

1995–Tom Smith, Four Star Greenhouse, Carleton, Mich., for embracing innovations from computer software and cutting-edge production to the Magic Planter flat.

1996–David Wadsworth, Suncoast Greenhouses, Seffner, Fla., for excellence in young plant production and industry leadership.

1997–Jim Leider, Leider Horticultural Co., Buffalo Grove, Ill., for national industry leadership and dedication to business management and focused, high-quality production.

1998–John Rader, EuroAmerican Propagators, Bonsall, Calif., for his vision creating the Proven Winners brand and more markets for growers driven by innovative plants. 

1999–Lorence Wenke, Wenke Greenhouses, Kalamazoo, Mich., for leadership among Michigan’s growers and as an elected official and community leader.

2000–Terry Smith, Smith Gardens, Bellingham, Wash., for vision, enthusiasm and success leading his family business into a new century.

2001–Gary Mangum, Bell Nursery, Burtonsville, Md., for setting a new standard serving large retailers and breathing new life into contract growing networks.

2002–PJ Ellison, Ellison’s Greenhouses, Brenham, Texas, for her passion promoting our industry and the endowed floriculture chair at Texas A&M in her family’s name.

2003–Ken & Deena Altman, Altman Plants, Vista, Calif., for their innovative marketing programs for large retailers, including the VIVA! brand.

2004–Jeff & Henry Huntington, Pleasant View Gardens, Loudon, N.H., for making customers successful and leadership in Proven Winners.

2005–Lloyd & Candy Traven, Peace Tree Farm, Kintnersville, Pa., for championing small, successful wholesale growers and embracing technology.

2006–Raker Family, C. Raker & Sons, Litchfield, Mich., for their progressive corporate culture and leadership in young plants.

2007–Tim Wada, The Plug Connection, Vista, Calif., for creating opportunities for growers in organics and leadership in young plants.

2008–Mark Elzinga & Roger Rosenthal, Elzinga & Hoeksema Greenhouses, Portage, Mich., for their investment in sustainable production and alternative energy.

Leave a Reply

More From Grow Initiative...
Workers

July 23, 2016

5 Reasons To Invest In Employee Training

Training and developing your employees is critical to the future success of your organization and the horticulture industry at large. Here are five reasons why your employees are worth the effort.

Read More
BeeSmart

July 21, 2016

How You Can Get Involved In Research

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) supports scientific research and students for the advancement of the horticultural industry.

Read More

July 9, 2016

Market The Experience Of Gardening, Minus The Fuss

Greenhouse Grower editor Laura Drotleff says the industry should promote plants and gardening in bite-size chunks that help consumers build skills.

Read More
Latest Stories
Workers

July 23, 2016

5 Reasons To Invest In Employee Training

Training and developing your employees is critical to the future success of your organization and the horticulture industry at large. Here are five reasons why your employees are worth the effort.

Read More
BeeSmart

July 21, 2016

How You Can Get Involved In Research

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) supports scientific research and students for the advancement of the horticultural industry.

Read More

July 9, 2016

Market The Experience Of Gardening, Minus The Fuss

Greenhouse Grower editor Laura Drotleff says the industry should promote plants and gardening in bite-size chunks that help consumers build skills.

Read More
Grower Education

July 7, 2016

Two Industry Veterans Discuss How To Meet The Challenge…

Two industry players have a conversation on how we can deliver the level of grower education needed to address complex issues associated with production practices and pest management strategies.

Read More
'Violets Pride' from Week's Roses Downton Abbey Garden Rose Collection

July 6, 2016

6 Key Insights From The Generations Of Flowers Study

Being local and offering expert recommendations are hidden opportunities in the floral business. This was one of six insights during a recent webinar analyzing the Generations of Flowers study from the Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment.

Read More
Sakata Birthday Cake Feature

May 28, 2016

10 Creative Marketing Ideas From 2016 California Spring…

Grower-retailers often look to breeders for ideas on how to increase plant sales with smart marketing plans. The California Spring Trials were filled with great concepts to reach customers.

Read More
HGTV_2015CAST

April 24, 2016

9 Business Predictions Smart Brands Should Pay Attentio…

Andreas von der Heydt, Director of Kindle at Amazon, recently predicted what smart businesses will do in 2016 to strengthen their brands and promote their products.

Read More
Lin Schmale 1996

April 23, 2016

SAF’s Lin Schmale Offers Lessons From An Industry…

Schmale represented the floriculture industry on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years. The advocate has recently retired, and shares some valuable insights from her career.

Read More
An Edible Evening At Stephen F Austin

April 11, 2016

How The Greenhouse Industry Can Propagate Gardeners The…

Jared Barnes at Stephen F. Austin University says we are the experts at propagating plants. That’s knowledge we can put to good use to envision how to attract new gardeners and future horticulturists to the industry.

Read More
Congressional Action Days 2016

April 5, 2016

Floral Industry Leaders Make Progress And (In Some Case…

Nearly 90 floral industry members gathered in the nation’s capital in March to meet with lawmakers in the annual event coordinated by the Society of American Florists.

Read More
Student Video Horticulture Education

April 2, 2016

Use Videos Featuring Your Millennial Employees To Recru…

Your Millennial employees may be the best spokespeople you have for your business. Why not encourage them to make a 30-second video talking about why they got into horticulture?

Read More
One symptom of Botrytis blight is gray, fuzzy sporulation on foliage and flowers, similar to that shown on the flower of this hibiscus

March 25, 2016

American Floral Endowment Will Fund Research Projects A…

AFE’s primary research funding priorities cover everything from pest control to production management. Funding applications are due June 1.

Read More
kendall farms

March 12, 2016

3 Grower Brands That Give Customers What They Want

With product information, reviews, and price comparisons at their fingertips, Millennials are turning to brands that can offer maximum convenience at the lowest cost.

Read More
NatureFresh Internship Program

March 8, 2016

NatureFresh Develops Innovative, Interactive Program Fo…

Through WeAreTheGrower.com, students can get hands-on experience connecting with consumers at community events, and sharing their experiences via social media.

Read More
Kristine Lonergan, Garden State Growers

March 7, 2016

How To Make Your Brand Connect With Millennials

Marketing to tech-savvy Millennials means paying attention to their shopping habits and motivations to build relationships that help them connect with gardening.

Read More
Uber provides value to consumers by making their lives better

March 6, 2016

How To Market To Both Millennials And Boomers

While Millennials have become the all-important generation among many marketers, there are some important parallels that can be drawn between Millennials and Boomers.

Read More
This row of tomatoes with large fruit load is part of an on-going project with DeRuiter Seed Co

February 24, 2016

University Of Arizona’s Greenhouse Crop Production &…

The annual event features a comprehensive educational program as well as a hands-on workshop. Registration is now open.

Read More
Carol Miller

February 16, 2016

Why America Needs Plant Evangelists

If we want to have more people buying plants, we can’t sit back and hope for change. We need to share our passion with individual communities and spark a love for plants.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]