September 28, 2009

Getting Ready For Walmart’s Sustainability Index

GreenBiz.com hosted a webinar Getting Ready for the Sustainability Index with Walmart’s senior director for sustainability, Rand Waddoups. “We want this to turn into something that is far bigger than Walmart, far more important than any one company,” Waddoups said. “We announced it to the world so we could call on the world to join the effort; you have to call on the world to join the effort to develop the effort so they have ownership of it.” He said that the goal of the program is to respond to the demand for transparency the company hears from its customers. Click here for more details from the webinar and for a link to an archived version of the webinar.

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September 22, 2009

Homegrown Gourmet Takes Off

Riding the garden veggies wave, Schmidt Brothers Farm & Greenhouse in Swanton, Ohio, reports a 30 percent increase in sales of its Homegrown Gourmet brand this year. The brand is marketed to other growers through broker Henry F. Michell. “We’ve gained a lot of business from grower-retailers, which may be the market we really want,” says Allan Schmidt, who is in charge of sales and marketing. New this year will be a 3- by 4-foot sign to show consumers all the varieties of tomatoes available and their traits and uses. In addition to the encouraging results in garden vegetables, Schmidt and his family are looking forward to producing flowering plants for Master Nursery’s Garden Elements brand, available to its member garden centers.

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September 15, 2009

Planting Pride In New Amsterdam

[imageviewer] Lilies and tulips were the main attraction in a 10-day celebration of the 400-year anniversary of the Dutch settling in Manhattan in 1609. From Sept. 4-14, New York City’s Bowling Green Park became New Amsterdam Village, complete with a greenhouse, windmill and vendors selling cheese, herring and wooden shoes. Longwood Gardens and Zabo Plants provided potted lilies for the event. A number of Dutch dignitaries were flown in, including Princess Maxima, wife of Willem-Alexander, Crown Prince of Orange. She baptised a new tulip variety, ‘Henry Hudson,’ the same Henry Hudson who discovered Manhattan and has a very large river named after him—the Hudson River. The event was a partnership between the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and The Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. The Dutch shared how agriculture will play a significant role in feeding and greening large metropolitan areas in a sustainable […]

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September 15, 2009

Another Reason To Visit Home Depot

Home Depot and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced an agreement to develop an exclusive Martha Stewart Living brand of home improvement products in select categories, including outdoor living, home organization and home decor. With the addition, Home Depot gives consumers another reason to give the big box retailer a visit. “Our partnership with Martha Stewart is a natural fit,” says Frank Blake, chairman & CEO, The Home Depot. “For years both organizations have been the go-to destination for consumers seeking ideas and information regarding their home improvement project. Martha and her organization offer the best, most practical design ideas for customers and together we will offer unique products at affordable prices, along with enhanced know-how to help consumers complete any project.” Home Depot reports Stewart and her team of designers are working side by side with Home Depot merchant and design teams to produce a brand that allows customers to easily […]

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September 3, 2009

White House To Set Up Farmer’s Market

It wasn’t too long ago when the big news coming out of the White House lawns was the vegetable garden the First Lady planned on planting. It’s safe to say those back-to-the-basics efforts helped spark a gardening interest in many Americans–albeit, some for the first time. Now the Obamas are interested in taking the next step and going to market. Or in their case, setting up a market: a farmer’s market. The president and his wife hope a White House farmer’s market will help two things: support local farmers and encourage healthier diet choices in D.C. school cafeterias. “One of the things that we’re trying to do now is to figure out, can we get a little farmers market outside of the White House?” President Obama says. “It suddenly gives D.C. more access to good, fresh food, but it also is this enormous potential revenue-maker for local farmers in the […]

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September 1, 2009

Eco Ratings Are Coming

As we went to press, growers who serve Walmart had just received a questionnaire about their sustainability efforts. This survey went out to more than 100,000 of Walmart’s suppliers worldwide and is the first step in gathering data that will be used to create a sustainable product index. Walmart is asking its suppliers 15 questions about their approaches on four key issues: energy and climate, material efficiency, natural resources and people and community. The goals are to be able to truly compare suppliers on their sustainability performance and to create a real sustainability index consumers can use to compare products and inform their purchasing decisions. It’s expected to be an informational tool, like nutrition labeling on food. Walmart rolled out the initiative July 16 at a meeting with 1,500 suppliers, associates and sustainability leaders. “Customers want products that are more efficient, that last longer and perform better,” said Mike Duke, […]

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August 31, 2009

Growing Orchids As Simple As Adding Ice

Green Circle Growers and Mid American Growers have partnered with celebrity garden designer P. Allen Smith to educate consumers about orchids. The goal of the partnership is to excite consumers with dramatic offerings and easy-care benefits so they become life-long orchid collectors rather than once-in-a-while dabblers. “I know that once people have success with orchids in their homes, that’s just the beginning,” Smith says. “Orchids love companions, and people will want to adorn several rooms in their homes with their alluring beauty.” The Just Add Ice campaign is as simple as its name: Green Circle and Mid American are encouraging orchid consumers to add three ice cubes to orchids once a week to keep them flourishing. Green Circle and Mid American are even offering to send e-mail reminders to consumers who subscribe to its weekly reminder e-mail at JustAddIceOrchids.com/Watering. Smith will showcase the orchids in his television shows, magazine articles, social media […]

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August 31, 2009

Lessons from the Market: Packaging

Based on his extensive retail travels the last two years, Jerry Montgomery digs into packaging: why growers should invest in it, what a good investment entails and an example other growers could follow: During our travels to numerous garden centers, we paid a lot of attention to packaging and tried to evaluate the visual appeal as it related to merchandising and, in general, the visual impact on various product displays. Clearly, product displays that had colorful, upgraded packages were visually more compelling and drew the attention of the shoppers. In the grocery industry, generic products are the fastest growing as consumers look for more value and can be more easily swayed to abandon the purchase of some of their preferred brands. Recently there has been a concerted effort by supermarkets to get manufacturers of generic products to upgrade the packaging to attract more impulse purchases. In our industry, the preponderance […]

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August 25, 2009

Ohio Nursery Sues Walmart For Contamination

Roemer Nursery in Madison Township, Ohio, sues Walmart for $5 million for groundwater contamination, reports The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. The lawsuit against Walmart was filed last week. Roemer management claims contaminated water from a nearby Walmart Supercenter is getting into its irrigation water supply. Ungers says she believes salt from winter snow removal was washed into a storm drainage system and migrated into the groundwater, contaminating the nursery’s main irrigation pond. “Walmart is touting itself as a green company, but this is truly an environmental issue, and we’d like to see them walk the walk,” says Lisa Ungers, Roemer general manager. “We’re not against Walmart, but we wanted them to develop responsibly. They didn’t, and now we’re paying the price.” Last July, Ungers told Greenhouse Grower the situation was so bleak Roemer Nursery might eventually be forced to close. Walmart, however, argued the cause of water contamination and subsequent plant […]

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August 17, 2009

Montgomery: The Five Game-Changing Products Of 2009

Even though the market wasn’t flooded with new products this year, marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery says there are five newbies that should combat shrinking margins. Montgomery lists them and goes into detail on each in his latest report below: Introduction There were not a lot of new products in 2009 that had or will have impact, but the five I’ll discuss below are clearly “home run” items that are game changers. My focus is products that are marketed nationally. There are regional and local products that may gain some prominence, but most local items fall into the category of marketing programs versus new products. The five new products that will impact the industry most and have long lifecycles are: - Calliope geraniums from Syngenta Flowers. The geranium category is invigorated with breakthrough breeding of a spectacular series.–Suntory mandevillas. They’re revolutionizing the flowering tropical category. Although not totally new, you might […]

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August 12, 2009

Montgomery: Veggies Market Reshaping

If you talk to anyone in the industry, most agree vegetables and herbs grew faster than other product segments, with some vegetables and herbs experiencing 30 to 40 percent growth. Most industry members also agree the growth will continue for the next few years. Currently, the number one provider of vegetable plants at retail is Bonnie Plant Farms, which services retailers nationally from 60-plus production locations across the country. Bonnie is the primary vegetable vendor for Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart, along with a number of other local and regional retailers. Unfortunately, Bonnie Plant Farm has been linked by the press and some extension agents to an outbreak of Late Blight in the Northeast, and now we see the back-and -forth accusations and denials. It is not my purpose to accuse Bonnie or anyone else as the culprit regarding this dilemma, but clearly by perception alone, there are those who […]

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