Reader Reaction: More Consumer Concerns

In his April column, Greenhouse Grower’s Allan Armitage expressed concerns about whether or not horticulture is still relevant to consumers. As president of the America in Bloom board of directors, Marvin Miller shares Armitage’s concern and he expresses his own in the letter that follows:

I share the concerns expressed in your April column (“The Public Marketing Of Horticulture”) about whether it is we, the industry, that have given up caring about the consumer and whether or not consumers care about our industry.

To a great extent, this is also the concern that many of us involved with America in Bloom (AIB) have. At AIB, we seem to be struggling to gain industry momentum from across the various green industry sectors for supporting a program that has as an unstated mission to grow the industry by testifying to horticulture’s importance in the lives of the citizens of every community, part of our stated mission. As a board, we continue to look for ways to increase the number of cities and people involved with our program (read: involved with horticulture), but some of the struggle is on the industry side.

Yet, one avenue that has proven quite successful is when a local greenhouse or garden center gets involved with its community’s beautification efforts. Examples include Deborah Sweeton of Techni-Growers Greenhouse, who insists every horticultural business, even the local florists, in her locale of Warwick, N.Y., needed to get involved in their America in Bloom efforts.

Over the last nine years, the same group of businesses that first met has continued to thrive as their investment of time, money and energies continues to mount in the name of Warwick’s beautification efforts. In Westfield, N.J., Dave Williams of Williams Nursery has led his community’s America in Bloom efforts, and his nursery is reaping the benefits of the higher profile his leadership has generated.

Along the Ohio River in both West Virginia and Ohio, Bob’s Market and Greenhouses (Mason, W.Va.) has helped a number of cities their hanging basket programs, and several of these cities have invested in America in Bloom competitions for a number of years. Perhaps, Bob’s retail outlets in these cities have benefited in the process, but the important thing is the citizens are benefiting from the greener surroundings.

We do have examples in which a nursery, a landscaper, a greenhouse, a university horticulture professor and even a municipal arborist have helped to lead a city’s AIB efforts, but the examples are far too few relative to the opportunities we have.

I just wanted you to know that others share your concerns. Some of us are working to try to tackle the issue. And we certainly would welcome greater involvement from you and many others to help spread the word that horticulture is indeed important.

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