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...

March 31, 2015

Manufacturers Are Taking Biologicals To The Next Level

Through acquisitions and new products, many crop protection companies are making firm commitments to the future of the biocontrols industry.

Read More
Aquaponics At Brogue Hydroponics

March 30, 2015

10 Things You Need To Know About Aquaponics

Are you curious about expanding into aquaponics? From pest control to equipment, Bob and Jesse Kilgore of Brogue Hydroponics offer 10 factors you need to consider.

Read More
Aquaponics At Brogue Hydroponics

March 30, 2015

Aquaponics Is Making A Splash At Brogue Hydroponics

The owners of Brogue Hydroponics explain why they expanded into aquaponics, and how the shift has helped them uncover a new market opportunity.

Read More
Latest Stories
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Hor…

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadl…

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More

March 25, 2015

NASS Reports U.S. Honey Production Was Up By 19 Percent…

Honey production in 2014 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 178 million pounds, up 19 percent from 2013, according to a March 20 report from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Read More

March 23, 2015

UF/IFAS Appoints Joseph Albano As Director Of Mid-Flori…

The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) has a new directors for its Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (REC) on Apopka, Fla. The role has been filled by Joseph Albano, a research horticulturist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with more than 25 years of experience.

Read More
Plantbid website screenshot

March 20, 2015

Plantbid Brings Open Sourcing To Greenhouse Growers

Plantbid bridges the gap between buyers and sellers for sales and marketing networking on their own terms. The web-based, plant-sourcing platform aims to save growers time and make the business of buying and selling plants more efficient.

Read More
National Floriculture Forum 2015 029

March 18, 2015

2015 National Floriculture Forum Focuses On Marketing I…

The 2015 National Floriculture Forum, held March 6 to 7 in Minneapolis, Minn., zeroed in on the topic of marketing in horticulture and included visits to Gertens Greenhouses and Garden Center, Bailey Nurseries, Bachman’s Floral, Home and Garden and Tangletown Gardens. The annual meeting allows greenhouse and floriculture faculty, graduate students and industry partners to meet and share updates on current research, issues and initiatives.

Read More

March 18, 2015

H-2B Situation Goes From Bad To Even Worse

On March 5, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it will no longer accept or process H-2B labor certifications or requests for H-2B prevailing wage determinations in light of a March 4 decision. Shortly after the DOL announcement, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Citizenship and Immigration Services followed suit, announcing it will at least temporarily cease approving visa petitions. These announcements essentially shut down the H-2B program for any company that has not completed the DHS H-2B visa petitioning process.

Read More
SAF CAD

March 18, 2015

Growers Ask For Immigration And Healthcare Reform Durin…

Nearly 90 growers, retailers, suppliers and wholesales attended the Society of American Florists' (SAF) 2015 Congressional Action Days March 9-10. The delegation, representing 18 states, arrived on Capitol Hill at a time when two major industry issues - immigration and healthcare reform - are especially prominent in national headlines.

Read More

March 17, 2015

Pike Nurseries Implements Employee Stock Ownership Plan

Independent garden retailer Pike Nurseries has announced it will become an employee-owned company. Pike Nurseries management has combined with its sister corporation in California, Armstrong Garden Centers, to operate under an established Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

Read More
Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center

March 11, 2015

University Of New Hampshire Research Farms Ranked Among…

The University of New Hampshire's university farms were recognized as being among the top in the country by Best College Reviews, which published a ranking of the 20 best university farms in America. The university, which was ranked No. 20, was noted for having an academically centered farming operation. UNH has four horticulture, agronomy, and dairy farms, as well as greenhouses, which are centered on teaching, research and outreach.

Read More
Crop Protection Of The Future

March 11, 2015

Help Us Find Out How Crop Protection Has Changed Among …

Is your environmentally controlled greenhouse production area 500,000 square feet or larger? If so, we want to hear from you. Please take our Top 100 Growers survey to help us get an accurate picture of our industry from the perspective of our largest operations.

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

March 10, 2015

GrowIt! Mobile App Now Available For Android

The mobile app GrowIt! Garden Socially can now be used by gardeners with Android-based smartphones. Now available on the Google Play Market, GrowIt! helps users find plants to fit their lifestyle and connect them with other local gardeners.

Read More
Nexus Corporation's Cheryl Longtin Encourages Women To Seek Volunteer Leadership Opportunities

March 4, 2015

Nexus Corporation’s Cheryl Longtin Encourages Wom…

When Cheryl Longtin came to the horticulture business in 1994, she applied her experience in the automotive industry to promote the adoption of more technology in greenhouse production. Longtin says horticulture, with its rich family tradition, has long promoted women in the industry compared to other industries, but women in horticulture must continue to seek out opportunities to provide volunteer leadership in organizations that shape the future of the business.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Second Annual GreenhouseConnect Will Bring Growers and …

Following a successful inaugural event in Tampa last fall, Greenhouse Grower has announced the dates of its second annual GreenhouseConnect: October 26-29, 2015. Representatives of an expected two dozen leading greenhouse operations from across the U.S. will join senior-level suppliers at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego for several days of one-on-one strategic meetings, a growers-only roundtable, informational sessions and a variety of networking events.

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s…

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Maryland Green Industry Associations Unite

The Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association recently announced that it is expanding its reach to include the greenhouse industry, meaning it has become The Maryland Nursery, Landscape and Greenhouse Association (MNLGA). The change comes as a result of the planned dissolution of the former Maryland Greenhouse Growers Association and the invitation for those members to join the existing and renamed association.

Read More
american-hort-logo

March 4, 2015

H-2B Cap Hit, Adding to Visa Program Woes

The H-2B visa cap for the first half of fiscal 2015 was hit late in January. As a result, some growers may not have access to the H-2B workers they need during the months ahead. The visa cap and resulting labor shortages will have impacts throughout the horticulture industry.

Read More

March 2, 2015

Avoid Surprises On The Delivery Dock

A call in advance about problems with a plant shipment to a retailer you supply goes a long way toward customer satisfaction.

Read More