And The Winner Is…

For the last few days, I was in Fayetteville, Ark., at the 2012 America in Bloom annual symposium. Besides experiencing some spectacular weather and one of the best downtown farmers’ markets I’ve seen in a while, there were some pretty enthusiastic cities that congregated for the annual awards program.

For those of you who may have been out of the country for the past 11 years, America in Bloom (AIB) is a non-profit 501©(3) organization whose mission is to promote nationwide beautification through education and community involvement by encouraging the use of flowers, plants, trees and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements.

Cities and communities that participate in AIB have the opportunity to participate in its friendly competition. In doing so, trained judges come to their town and evaluate it on six criteria:

➊ Floral Displays
➋ Landscaped Areas
➌ Urban Forestry
➍ Environmental Efforts
➎ Heritage Preservation
➏ Overall Impression

Once the judges do their thing, the results are tabulated and awards are presented. The AIB awards are as meaningful to these folks as Academy Awards are in the movie-making profession. It’s easy to see the pride the award-winners have in their communities, and they love to have the countless volunteer hours acknowledged in this way.

AIB Impacts Communities

Interestingly though, most communities say even if they do not win an award, they benefit in many ways. Most even contend that just having the judges evaluate their town is worth several times the nominal participation fee.
Obviously, running a national program like this costs money, and it is amazing that AIB does so much with the modest amount of funding it receives. This year, we had more growers sponsor AIB than ever before. I think this means the word is getting out that growers who live in cities and towns that participate in AIB generally see increases in their sales that year, some as much as 8 percent.

Plants Provide More Than Beauty

Let me emphasize, however, that AIB is not just a beautification program. It is quite evident it is a quality-of-life program that illustrates the value and relevance of our industry’s products and services.

Some of the program’s other benefits include the following:

Increased Community Involvement: People notice the little things. Cared-for buildings and properties, colorful plants and a clean environment are reflections of a thriving, caring municipality. AIB helps spread the message that this is a great place to live, work, play and visit.

One of the comments we hear over and over is how the program brings together residents who might not otherwise collaborate on common goals. For instance, the people who serve on the tree commission might not know the people who serve the historic district or chamber of commerce, but AIB provides the vehicle for them to work together for the first time.

They all want to work for the betterment of their town and can maximize their efforts as they participate in AIB. Their participation often becomes a springboard for positive momentum to do more to improve their cities and pursue grants to help make it happen. Time and time again, AIB has proven to be a catalyst for positive change.

Increased Civic Pride: Participants continue to tell us that being part of the program changes their lives, helps improve the community and makes a visible difference in their towns. The phenomenon of the AIB bug that infects people who have become involved with the program is palpable. Once citizens experience the true community spirit that results when everyone pitches in to make visible improvements, there is often no turning back. Citizens come to relish the community, as it has been transformed. It’s a whole different kind of urban renewal.

Decreased Vandalism And Crime: Well-tended communities have less crime. That’s why the woman in charge of Downtown Indianapolis’ plantings was honored as the crime fighter of the year by the police department. I guess it’s just not comfortable to be a criminal in a garden.

Various Economic Benefits: Economic benefits range from reducing heating and cooling costs to improving property values. Other perks, from improving privacy and security to reducing maintenance costs, have also been documented, as has the potential for deriving new economic benefits from parks, sporting facilities and increased tourism.

Additionally, folks will travel further distances to patronize businesses that are well-landscaped. They spend more time shopping and are more at ease while doing so. Patrons also end up spending more and are often willing to pay higher prices.

A Healthy Dose Of Nature

These benefits (and others) provided by AIB, however, are not knowledge ingrained in modern-day American culture. Humans often have difficulty seeing plants in their own environment, much less connecting plants to tangible benefits. For most people, flowers, shrubs and trees are a part of the subconscious sector of mental life. Plants are perceived as the backdrop, not the main actors, in our everyday lives.

Further research and widespread education — especially for city planners and local governments — may serve as the best tools for helping us recognize the advantages of beautified green spaces. As Henry David Thoreau once claimed, “A remedy we can never have enough of is a healthy dose of nature.”

If you would like to learn more about AIB and some of the plant-related benefits associated with the program, please visit the Benefits of Plants resource area of AIB’s website (AmericaInBloom.org under the Community Resources tab).

Lastly, I get asked all the time about how growers can become involved. Easy — become a sponsor. I did, so know that I’m not asking you to do anything I’m not willing to do myself. Even if the tough economic conditions have left you in a position where you can’t sponsor monetarily, then the very best way to become involved is to get your own city to participate. Work with your local community leaders to initiate a program near you, and your business can experience the plethora of benefits I described. You too can be a winner.   

Leave a Reply

More From Marketing...
Heuch Pink Fizz_featured

March 2, 2015

Intergeneric Crosses Are A New Perennial Trend

Intergeneric crosses, oddities some botanists say are an impossibility, have made serious inroads in the perennial world.

Read More

March 2, 2015

Robots Grab Hold Of Growers’ Material Handling Needs

Harvest Automation’s HV-100 robots automate one of the hardest, most labor-intensive jobs at growing operations – plant spacing. With more technology coming, investing in robots could become even more realistic for growers of all sizes.

Read More

March 2, 2015

Smartpot Uses Sensors And Cartridges To Ensure Success In Growing

Click & Grow helps make it simple for consumers to grow their own herbs and spices at home, even if they have little experience with plants.

Read More
Latest Stories

February 18, 2015

Range Of Nursery Inspections To Protect Patented Plants…

Plant patents are under protection, and breeders are fighting for their rights to keep growers from illegally propagating protected varieties. It's something you don't want to take a chance on, because the risk is far higher than the reward. More than 300 inspections were carried out last year from New York to British Columbia and from Ontario to Florida to protect plant patents, Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) and branded programs.

Read More

February 4, 2015

TPIE 2015: An Electrified Industry Vibe Boosts Cool New…

The general feeling at the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association's 2015 Tropical Industry Exhibition (TPIE) was upbeat and positive. Attendees were inspired by exciting new products and varieties, as well as creative new displays and innovative ideas and left energized for the season ahead.

Read More
Costa Farms Website

January 21, 2015

Costa Farms’ Launches New Interactive Website

Costa Farms is making efforts to educate consumers while pushing horticultural digital marketing forward with the re-design of its website. The new website features a fresh design and improved navigation, as well as a plant finder that gives gardeners easy access to plant information.

Read More

January 5, 2015

Growers Are Successfully Marketing The Benefits Of Pla…

Growers who are already marketing plant benefits and gardening as a lifestyle say they think this could be the best angle for the floriculture industry to promote our products.

Read More

January 5, 2015

Plants Love You Campaign Raises Plant Benefits To Foref…

Plants make us feel good. It’s a no-brainer, backed by numerous studies, but there’s more to the story. And it’s one the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance (COHA) hopes its Plants Love You campaign will tell in such a way that it will inspire people to make plants a part of their life, and on a bigger scale. COHA is an alliance between the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA), the Fédération Interdisciplinaire De L’Horticulture Ornementqale Du Québec (FIHOQ) and Flowers Canada Growers (FCG). Inspiration for The Plants Love You campaign came from COHA’s research, which revealed that 96 percent of consumers surveyed have a favorable attitude toward plants. When COHA delved deeper into the numbers, one thing stood out loud and clear. “It quickly became apparent that while consumers like plants because they are pretty and make them feel good, few understood the environmental and health benefits plants offer.” says Frank […]

Read More

December 9, 2014

New Website For PanAmerican Seed

PanAmerican Seed's new website is mobile-friendly and has a fresh look and enhanced navigation.

Read More
What’s a pumpulent? It’s a pumpkin planted with succulents, and it’s also one of the ways Altum’s is catching customers’ attention with new products and modern marketing.

December 1, 2014

9 Digital Marketing Resolutions For 2015

Whatever your experience with digital marketing, here’s some advice for keeping your business progressing into the new year.

Read More

November 25, 2014

Conley’s Launches New Website

Conley’s Manufacturing and Sales recently launched its newly designed website, which was redesigned to create a user-friendly digital environment for customers to explore Conley's products.

Read More

November 17, 2014

Canada’s Plants Love You Campaign Educates Consum…

In a cooperative effort to promote the benefits of plants to consumers, the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance (COHA) recently launched its Plants Love You campaign to make consumers more aware of the health, environmental and economic benefits of plants.

Read More
Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum™ Petunia from Proven Winners

November 11, 2014

Plantbid Offers New Tool For Growers, Plant Buyers

Plantbid is touted as a revolutionary new tool that allows plant buyers to purchase their whole plant list at one time, from growers who provide their complete availability online. According to the company, this new offering could change the way growers and landscapers do business.

Read More
Dahlia Dahlinova Temptation Lavender from Dummen Fides Oro

November 10, 2014

Bas Pellenaars Takes On New Role As Brand Manager For D…

Dümmen group announces the transition of Bas Pellenaars from area manager to brand manager.

Read More

October 28, 2014

Zombie Adventures Are Back: GGS Releases Premiere Of Ne…

What's good for plants, but bad for zombies? GGS structures. The company released a new promotional video to get growers in the spirit of Halloween. GGS Structures ran a series of zombie movies last year, and this year, something new was released October 24.

Read More
Suzanne McKee

October 27, 2014

Use Your Data To Make Smarter Marketing Decisions

Learn which marketing metrics are important to your business, measure successes and learn where changes are needed.

Read More
Sara Tambascio

October 2, 2014

How To Measure The Success Of Your Digital Marketing

Take a look at these metrics in your digital marketing to see if you’re connecting with your audience or just adding to the clutter.

Read More

September 26, 2014

How To Get The Digital Generation Into The Garden: Gard…

Capture millennials’ gardening interests with these marketing tips.

Read More
The Joseph Shinoda Memorial Scholarship Foundation

September 9, 2014

Shinoda Foundation Contributes Nearly $15,000 In Schola…

Based in California, the Joseph Shinoda Memorial Foundation's mission is to encourage educational opportunities for young people interested in entering the industry. Since 1965, the foundation has awarded $790,000 to more than 660 undergraduate floriculture students.

Read More
Salvia 'Playin the Blues' from Proven Winners

September 9, 2014

Grand Gardening Show On Mackinac Island Draws Huge Audi…

Dates are already set for Proven Winners' 2015 Grand Garden Show after the great response the 2014 show received in late August.

Read More

August 27, 2014

New Gardening App GrowIt Connects Community Of Gardener…

Thanks to Ball Horticultural Co.’s Mason Day and Seth Reed, gardeners can now share photos of their plants, interact with other growers and learn about what grows best in their area with the duos new app, GrowIt!

Read More