Tara Herrera, president of Herrera Horticultural Consulting, responds to OFA President Danny Takao’s letter about why waiting for young people to become our industry’s next group of consumers is the wrong approach. Herrera also offers two suggestions for capturing the next group.
I am writing in response to Danny Takao’s response to Kevin Yanik’s commentary. There are two things here upon which I wish to comment.
First, I totally agree. We need to capture people as young as we can and tap into two separate trends:
1. “Do it yourself” for home gardening with fruits and veggies – but make it easy for folks to do it; and
2. "Do it for me" because I don’t have the time or the energy to do it myself.
If something is perceived as difficult to do, people will not do it. Especially the younger generation. They aren’t going to change as they get older. Let’s catch them now!
The second thing is this: We as an industry have got to stop the in-fighting (especially here in California) and speak with one voice; to our direct customers – those we wish to gain as customers (the public); to our legislators; and to our suppliers.
The idea of a comprehensive website to educate the gardening public is great. We need it! We need an app for that! But we will never get there until we realize the need to work together as growers.
We have to get everyone to buy in and show growers what the benefits would be to this approach. California has been very cut throat these last 10 years, and we are all seeing the results. This recession just sped things along, but it would have happened anyway.
Being the last one standing is great until you realize you are the only one holding the bag! There is room for all of us, because no single grower can be everything to everyone.
I work in the area of production cost analysis and planning, and I can tell you that that model just doesn’t work. Finding a niche and doing it well will be critical. We need to be leading the discussion – not reacting to it. Until we all decide we are better off when all of us are strong, we will be playing catch up and wasting time, money and energy that could be focused on wooing our end customers.