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

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 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 Smith will showcase the orchids in his television shows, magazine articles, social media […]

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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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August 5, 2009

Lessons From The Market: Merchandising

Industry marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery says controlling and executing merchandising is a key to long-term grower success. Based on his extensive retail travels the last two years, he lists merchandising’s missing elements and common traits that make merchandisers successful. From extensive retail travel to almost 1,500 garden center in 2008 and 2009, it is apparent merchandising at the point of purchase is a key success factor and impacts sales velocity more than many other factors, possibly with the exception of “wow” color. There are garden centers that have outstanding products, attractive pricing, great locations and plenty of parking that clearly never maximized their sales opportunities by the way they merchandise. From our observations here are some of the missing elements of merchandising: – Prices that are difficult or in some case impossible to find. – Plants that are not saleable but remain on shelves. – Plants without labels. – Overcrowding displays in which the […]

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July 30, 2009

Nominations Open For AIB’s Holmes Award

Nominations are now being accepted for the America in Bloom John R. Holmes III Community Champion Award. The honor is to recognize an individual who exemplifies community leadership through actions that reflect the mission of the organization. The award recipient, who must be from a city that has participated or is currently participating in the program, will have demonstrated a vision and selfless commitment to moving the community forward. See a list of the 2,900 participating AIB communities here. America in Bloom created the award this year in memory of John Holmes, the late CEO who died unexpectedly in February. An AIB board member and officer since the organization’s inception, Holmes was a tremendous advocate for city beautification and a true believer in the power of flowers and plants to change lives. The first award will be presented during the 2009 AIB Symposium and Awards Program, October 1-3 in Hershey, […]

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July 27, 2009

Montgomery’s Colorado Retail Report

Colorado is a hot spot for some of the best retail growers and independent garden centers in the country, so it was a great opportunity to be able to tour some of these facilities on a beautiful summer Saturday in July [18]. I had the opportunity to tour the area with Frank Yantorno, owner of Center Greenhouses. Yantorno knows the local market as well as anybody and supplies many of the high-quality garden centers in the Denver Metro with “wow” quality hanging baskets and perennials. Center Greenhouses arguably has the most consistent basket recipes. All varieties bloom at the same time, and this is not very typical of most mixed baskets. The weather for our tour was in the low 60s in the morning and climbed to the 90s by late afternoon. There was a lot of activity, particularly at the independents, with less traffic at the national retailers. We […]

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July 21, 2009

Montgomery’s Columbus Retail Report

After arriving on an early flight, I had some time on Saturday [July 11] to take a quick afternoon tour of the retail scene in Columbus. Because of limited time, only 14 stores were surveyed. It was a rainy and windy Saturday that obviously slowed most traffic, but I did have the opportunity to see what was on the retail shelves and to observe how effective the merchandising was at the national retailers. Home Depot Columbus is clearly one of the best markets for Home Depot, exhibiting big bold color, really good signage and very clean and well organized garden centers. Mixed containers were well grown using recipes in which all varieties bloomed together. That’s unusual. Containers were spaced so the consumer could easily see what they were buying. I did not find one item that was not clearly priced, and Home Depot did not have too many SKUs that […]

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June 18, 2009

One Bird At A Time

I enjoy sharing the trial gardens at the university with my friends and neighbors, and having recently moved, I mentioned I was going over to check on watering to my new neighbors. In my little pickup truck trundled Jean and Vicki, two friends who enjoy gardening but don’t know one cultivar from another. They were also newbies to the trials, having never visited it. When they walked into the garden, they exclaimed with delight and wanted to see everything, look at the names and bring their husbands and family over to share it with them. I had mentioned I had a few extra plants they could have, and like kids in a candy store, they walked around the containers asking the usual questions about sun and shade, annual and perennial and, of course, “What is that?”  While wandering through the geraniums, the basil, the angelonias and the calibrachoas, they may […]

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