Growing For The New Green Revolution

1 - Spur Aerial Looking West
Phase 3 of the High Line Railyards in Manhattan will include the Spur, a pocket-style park in the middle of the city.

If you doubt the future of the floriculture industry, visit just about any metropolitan city center. You’ll see the outlook is good.

Green building is at an all-time high, and urban gardens are popping up quite literally everywhere. From rooftop farms and green roofs to building facades to bulldozed and abandoned home clusters, the city’s unused spaces are quickly being reclaimed to grow food and create green oases.

“The green/locavore culture is one of the fastest growing areas of interest in today’s marketplace, and it represents a new market for the floriculture industry,” says McRae Anderson, president of McCaren Designs and one of the founders of Green Plants For Green Buildings (GPGB). “It is full of opportunities to market new products and services to a new market.”

With such attention to and enthusiasm for green building, the floriculture industry is facing a new green revolution. So the question to ask is: how do growers supply this rapidly growing market?

Green Building Is Set To Go Off The Charts

The number of U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design (LEED) certified buildings is increasing, but green architecture is set to explode in the coming years, says Joe Zazzera, a LEED Accredited Professional, owner of Plant Solutions, Inc., and the incoming GPGB president.

“By 2030, 60 percent of the population will live in cities and that number will increase to 70 percent by 2050,” Zazzera says. “As space and resources become scarcer, small-space, urban gardening will become the norm. Sixty percent of city housing needed for 2030 is not yet built. The majority of these spaces will be built with green building techniques, including nature connections, as a matter of necessity and economics.”

But green building goes beyond the seemingly elite architectural LEED distinction — it’s all encompassing. This includes green roofs, rooftop farms, pocket parks, reclaiming unused urban land to build gardens, farms and greenhouses, and adding infrastructure like rain gardens to reduce environmental issues.

“Incorporating green space into cities is all part of a growing, health-conscious lifestyle,” says Claudia West, a landscape architect and sales manager for North Creek Nurseries. “Plants provide oxygen and have a calming influence — they have been proven to reduce crime, decrease stress, cool buildings and remove pollutants. Public parks and gardens are places people gather and these spaces become increasingly valuable in an urban environment. These same spaces also promote a space for community and education.”

Rooftops Are Prime Real Estate

Green roofs have increased in installations across the U.S. by 24 percent in 2012, which was small compared to the 115 percent growth in 2011, according to Steven Peck, the founder and president of the Toronto-based nonprofit group Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. In 2012, the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region installed the most green roofs in North America, with more than 1.3 million square feet. These numbers are continuing to climb, Peck says.

“Green roofs and living walls are being embraced around North America by policy makers, designers, building owners and developers because they deliver multiple proven public and private benefits,” he says.

Uses for rooftop space are expanding beyond green roofs and rooftop gardens. Five years ago, there were no rooftop farms producing food commercially in North America; today, there are more than 20 and in five years, expect to see more than 100, Peck said in a Grist.org article.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Peck said. “Rooftop farming is under consideration in every major city in America.”

Berkeley, Calif., developer Nautilus Group just got plans approved to build student housing that will include a rooftop farm, the first of its kind in California.

“We’re viewing this as a prototype,” says Randy Miller, Nautilus Group principal, adding that the company is looking at creating similar farms on other projects in the pipeline.

The revolutionary student living complex, appropriately named Garden Village, will open in 2015.

Cause-Motivated Citizens Are Reclaiming Land

In Detroit, a private developer recently closed a deal to buy 150 acres of abandoned housing for $500,000. His plan: Turn it into a farm.

The program could transform some of the poorest Detroit neighborhoods into sustainable farming centers and help mitigate the city’s food desert. If successful, developer John Hantz will have the option to buy 180 more acres in two years.

The High Line is a reclaimed elevated railway that was turned into a park in Manhattan.
The High Line is a reclaimed elevated railway that was turned into a park in Manhattan.

New York City’s concerned community residents wanted to save the High Line, an historic elevated railway overlooking the city. So they organized Friends Of the High Line to fight for and reclaim the site from the threat of demolition.

The organization is now a nonprofit conservancy working with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to maintain and fund the High Line as an extraordinary public space.

As a result, the High Line has become a significant draw. Its third and final phase will include “the Spur,” a bowl-shaped park that will offer an oasis in the middle of the city, due to open in 2014.

“As we continue to build our cities, biohilic connections to the natural environment will become higher in demand,” Zazzera says. “Pocket parks will increase in frequency — mini public parks within a 10-minute walk of anywhere in the city.”

Serving Up Small Space Gardening And Micro-Agriculture

Urban residents are bringing the green movement home with them, as well. Peace Tree Farms’ Marketing Director Stephanie Whitehouse likens the small-space gardening trend to the houseplant craze of the ’70s and the ’90s fixation on interiorscaping, but reinvented and accessible for any age group, income and expertise level.

Forget about waiting until Gen Y is old enough to own homes and plant gardens, she says. They’re doing it now, in their apartments and on fire escapes.

“More Gen X/Yers are moving back to urban areas to escape suburbia and all that it represents,” Whitehouse says. “This move to urban areas results in different gardening habits due to the limitations on living space.”

It’s not just for the youngsters, though. As Boomers retire and move to smaller housing, they will still want to garden but on a smaller scale. This niche fits their needs, as well.

Trends include vertical planters and plants used to create artwork, repurposed spaces and containers for planting, miniature gardens and terrariums and collector houseplants, Whitehouse says.

Micro-agriculture is the new term for foodies growing their own in small spaces, including herbs, veggies and specialty fruits like figs, pomegranates and mangos.

“Growing your own vegetables is not just trendy; it’s a necessity in cities like Manhattan,” says Kristine Lonergan from Garden State Growers in New Jersey. “People are looking for more diverse produce that they may not find in their local grocery store, plus the cost is going up. It’s easier just to grow it.”

Lonergan says micro-agriculture is especially relevant to the Millennial generation because they are searching for meaning and want to make a difference. “In my opinion, that lends itself to growing vegetables and herbs,” she says.

Supply Plants For Urban Dwellers

The market is there and the opportunities abound. So for growers ready to add their plants to the supply list for urban oases, here’s how you can get started.

“Read and be involved in your local community,” West says. “Work with landscape architects and building architects to understand what they are designing and what plants will be specified.”

Potential projects could be new or renovating schools, universities, community centers, specialty retailers, malls and municipal buildings.

On a smaller scale, mainstream stores like IKEA and Willams-Sonoma are selling living wall planters and pots, and plants are used as design elements in retail stores and consumer publications (see “Growing The Home Décor Trend”).

“Take some time to explore Pinterest,” Lonergan says. “There are tons of inspirational ideas on how to incorporate plants in homes and offices.”

Ultimately, if growers are serious about supplying plants for green building projects and urban gardening, they need to commit to sustainable production practices, Zazzera says.

“Pay attention to sustainability in all growing practices — everything from the energy used, how the plants are moved, chemicals used, what the planters are made of, how far they have to travel and water use,” he says. “Transparency is a key factor. The end user will want to know and in some cases, the law will dictate. Green leaves and trees are the universal symbol of sustainability, yet many of our practces have not yet evolved with the movement. I would challenge us all in taking a good, hard inventory of our practices. We must evolve to survive.”

 

Topics:

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...
GrowIt! Logo

February 9, 2016

GrowIt! And MasterTag Partner To Enhance Plant Care Information On The GrowIt! App

The partnership allows MasterTag to provide plant care instructions to the wide catalog of plants available on GrowIt!, which helps consumers find plants in their area.

Read More
Pot Mum Combos (Syngenta Flowers)

February 8, 2016

Syngenta Has A New Buyer, Will Not Divest Flower Seeds Business

Syngenta has announced that it will likely approve an offer from ChemChina to acquire the company, which means it no longer plans to divest its flower seed business.

Read More

February 3, 2016

New Plants, Products, And Trends From TPIE 2016

Tropicals, foliage, and succulents may be the way to new consumers’ hearts, based on the cool ideas, products, and trends presented at the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association’s (FNGLA) 2016 Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE), January 20-22, 2016 at the Broward County Convention Center in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The theme this year, Elevating Expectations, was fulfilled, renewing and reinvigorating attendees to carry forth their businesses into 2016 and beyond. TPIE showcases the latest trends in foliage, floral, and tropical plants, with a tradeshow of more than 200,000 square feet of show-stopping displays. While checking out new plants and products is a great excuse to travel to South Florida in late January, the threat of Storm Jonas bringing the snowstorm of the century to the Mid-Atlantic and Southern states had some show attendees booking flights early to get home before they were stranded. Still, reports from FNGLA said this year’s TPIE […]

Read More
Latest Stories
GrowIt! Logo

February 9, 2016

GrowIt! And MasterTag Partner To Enhance Plant Care Inf…

The partnership allows MasterTag to provide plant care instructions to the wide catalog of plants available on GrowIt!, which helps consumers find plants in their area.

Read More
Pot Mum Combos (Syngenta Flowers)

February 8, 2016

Syngenta Has A New Buyer, Will Not Divest Flower Seeds …

Syngenta has announced that it will likely approve an offer from ChemChina to acquire the company, which means it no longer plans to divest its flower seed business.

Read More

February 3, 2016

New Plants, Products, And Trends From TPIE 2016

Tropicals, foliage, and succulents may be the way to new consumers’ hearts, based on the cool ideas, products, and trends presented at the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association’s (FNGLA) 2016 Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE), January 20-22, 2016 at the Broward County Convention Center in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The theme this year, Elevating Expectations, was fulfilled, renewing and reinvigorating attendees to carry forth their businesses into 2016 and beyond. TPIE showcases the latest trends in foliage, floral, and tropical plants, with a tradeshow of more than 200,000 square feet of show-stopping displays. While checking out new plants and products is a great excuse to travel to South Florida in late January, the threat of Storm Jonas bringing the snowstorm of the century to the Mid-Atlantic and Southern states had some show attendees booking flights early to get home before they were stranded. Still, reports from FNGLA said this year’s TPIE […]

Read More

February 2, 2016

19 Strategies To Strengthen The Horticulture Industry

In Greenhouse Grower’s annual State Of The Industry Survey, we asked how your operation is living the GROW initiative’s five pillars: cultivate new customers, demand quality, drive consumer success, invest in the industry, and sharpen business management. Here is what you had to say.

Read More
Costa Farms

January 29, 2016

Costa Farms Named International Grower Of The Year

Costa Farms was the night’s biggest winner during an awards gala presented by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) and held at IPM Essen in Germany. (Read more about the business culture that’s driven Costa’s success in Greenhouse Grower’s January 2016 feature story.) The Florida-based grower was named the International Grower Of The Year, and was chosen from a group that included eight other international companies. “This award is a reflection of our entire team, and we are all dedicated to being the best at what we do and making this company successful for the long term,” said Jose Costa, Executive Vice President of Costa’s foliage division. The AIPH awarded gold, silver, and bronze awards in three categories — Finished Plants And Trees, Young Plants, and Cut Flowers — prior to naming the big winner. Costa was the gold winner in the Finished Plants and Trees Category. Each of […]

Read More

January 27, 2016

Costa Farms’ Season Premier Provides Sneak Peek A…

Costa Farms presented the 2016 Season Premier at its 2-acre Trial Gardens in Miami, FL, in the third week of January. The event showcases varieties from breeders of all sizes to growers and major retail buyers, providing a look at what genetics are coming to the market and how they’ll perform in retail settings and in the landscape, when consumers bring them home. The mild winter climate in South Florida allows Costa Farms’ Research and Development Department to simulate the spring growing conditions of various regions in the country. Because each group of visitors to Costa Farms’ Trial Gardens wants to see what the new plants look like in the environments that matter to them, Season Premier offers several areas within the Trial Gardens that highlight different ways to look at the wealth of new varieties. The New Product Showcase offers a way for retailers to see how plants will […]

Read More

January 26, 2016

Beekenkamp And Danziger Partner To Distribute Poinsetti…

Danziger is continuing to expand its portfolio of products to the U.S. market with the addition of poinsettia cuttings of Beekenkamp’s varieties.

Read More
John Daley Featured

January 25, 2016

How To Retain Motivated Young Growers At Your Greenhous…

Wholesale grower John R. Daley says engaging young growers and making them a viable part of your operation is the best way to ensure you keep young talent for the long term.

Read More
Katherine Wolper

January 24, 2016

Ludvig Svensson Hires Katherine Wolper As West Coast Sa…

Wolper says she looks forward to listening to growers and understanding the concerns, obstacles, and opportunities they face.

Read More
Israel Greenhouse

January 23, 2016

Sign Up Now For A Horticulture Tour Of Israel Taking Pl…

The tour is being organized by John and Kelly Schroeder of Valleybrook Gardens, and will include visits to greenhouses, garden centers, nurseries, and local historical sites.

Read More
Houseplant Featured Image

January 21, 2016

How To Improve Consumer Interest In Indoor Foliage Plan…

Researchers discover why there is decreasing consumer demand for indoor foliage plants and suggest ways to overcome hurdles to purchasing.

Read More
State of the industry 2016

January 21, 2016

Green Industry Is Set For Continued Growth In 2016

Economist Charlie Hall says the outlook for the green industry is promising despite the havoc wreaked on plant sales by the downturn in housing.

Read More

January 20, 2016

Tips For Overcoming Challenges In Family Business From …

Our industry is run by a collection of family businesses, and every one, no matter how big or small, has its share of management issues. But there are several differences between one that is run successfully as a business and one that allows family politics to distract from the organization’s goals. In this year’s State Of The Industry Survey, we noted that labor recruitment and succession are two areas where growers struggle. In talking with the owners of Costa Farms for this month’s cover story, I thought some of the values they have incorporated into the operation’s management structure really stood out as practices that other family businesses could use. The participatory management approach to business and team building is one that Tony Costa, the second-generation owner of Costa Farms, instilled in his children, Maria Costa-Smith and Jose Costa, and son-in-law, Joche Smith, the current owners of Costa Farms. In […]

Read More

January 20, 2016

Color Point Creates New Marketing And Communications De…

According to Color Point co-owner Ken VanWingerden, Maloney’s leadership in the new department will help the company better manage its recent growth both internally and with the entire industry.

Read More
Janeen Wright

January 18, 2016

Five Thought-Provoking Ideas From GROW Summit 2015

Here are five ideas from Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 GROW Summit ranging from big-picture ideas to smaller initiatives that can help move the industry forward.

Read More
How will growers' production in 2016 compare to 2015

January 18, 2016

2016 State Of The Greenhouse Industry Numbers At A Glan…

Greenhouse Grower‘s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey shows some promising trends for the new year. Here’s a look at the greenhouse market for 2016, in graphics.     For a more in-depth analysis of where the industry stands, read Greenhouse Grower‘s 2016 State Of The Industry article, “Growers And Suppliers Move Forward With Cautious Optimism In 2016.”

Read More
Top Concerns sidebar

January 18, 2016

Growers And Suppliers Move Forward With Cautious Optimi…

A year of growth in 2015 also had its share of challenges, and as a result, growers and suppliers are a bit more guarded going into 2016. After a few years of extreme weather and drought, a massive ongoing labor shortage, a shaky economy, and increased government regulation, Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey shows growers and retailers are moving forward with cautious optimism. Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey included separate questions for growers and for suppliers. Of our 358 respondents, 103 were suppliers, 111 were grower-retailers, 109 were wholesale growers, and 35 were young plant growers. Among growers, 57% indicated their operations were small (less than 100,000 square feet), 21% were medium-sized (100,000 to 399,999 square feet), and 22% said they were large growers (400,000 square feet or larger). Sixty-eight percent of the grower respondents said their sales grew in 2015 over 2014, down […]

Read More
SAF CAD

January 18, 2016

Sign Up Now To Attend SAF Congressional Action Days In …

Congressional Action Days is a great chance for Society of American Florists members to meet their state’s lawmakers and discuss the most critical issues they are facing.

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