2010 Operation Of The Year Finalists

2010 Operation Of The Year Finalists

Greenhouse Grower has recognized one operation as its Grower of the Year for each of the last 25 years. A 26th operation will be added to the prestigious list at our Evening of Excellence ceremony July 12 at OFA Short Course, but Greenhouse Grower and its event partner, BASF, are taking the Grower of the Year awards program to yet another level this year with the introduction of a second award.

For the first time, we’ll recognize a Head Grower of the Year as part of our program. We’ve designed Grower of the Year as a program with two distinct categories–one that recognizes a head grower and the other that spotlights our Operation of the Year.

We opened up our Grower of the Year program to nominations for the first time in 2009, when George and Louise Lucas of Lucas Greenhouses were honored as Grower of the Year. The industry’s response to their recognition at Evening of Excellence was overwhelming.

The number of nominees we received this year for Operation of the Year and Head Grower of the Year was overwhelming, as well. Thirteen operations and 17 head growers were nominated for the respective awards, and our Grower of the Year panel narrowed the field down to four finalists in each category. Our 2010 panel includes Associate Professor Paul Fisher of the University of Florida, Greenhouse Grower Editor Delilah Onofrey, our last two Growers of the Year–George Lucas and Mark Elzinga of Elzinga & Hoeksema Greenhouses–and Steve Larson, national ornamentals account manager for BASF.

“I think it’s great to recognize an operation,” Larson says. “It allows the whole company to enjoy success together. But I also like this opportunity where we recognize a specific individual. The head growers are some of the unsung heroes in the horticulture industry. They don’t get the spotlight shined on them often, but they’re the master artists creating the plant materials that consumers purchase and grow. It’s nice we get to recognize them.”

In addition to unveiling our Grower of the Year award winners July 12, Greenhouse Grower will be featuring the Operation of the Year and Head Grower of the Year with its coverage this September. Stay tuned for more on each award winner, and get to know the operation of the year finalists

Bob’s Market & Greenhouses

If you’re looking for high-quality plugs and liners in the Mid-Atlantic, look no further than Bob’s Market and Greenhouses in Mason, W. Va. With 17-plus acres of greenhouse space, Bob’s is among the 100 largest operations in the United States. The Barnitz family specializes in plugs and propagation, and it’s also active growing ornamental bedding plants, flowering potted plants, container perennials and herbs for its garden centers.

Plugs and propagation are, however, at the core of the business Bobby, Rick and Scott run. Their business took off on the young plant side 10 years ago, when Bob’s Market began growing plugs for Ball Horticultural Company. In addition to its business with Ball, Bob’s is now a rooting station for German flower breeder Dummen. New business like this has helped the operation grow as one that produced 4.5 million plugs annually 10 years ago to one that produces more than 100 million plugs annually today.

“In my book, they have the best plugs out there,” says Kathy Miller, owner of Trail Nurseries in Dover, Pa. “I tell everyone I know about their material.”

In addition to its sheer size, Bob’s stands out because of its devotion to customer service. Customer satisfaction is extremely important to the Barnitz family, and it regularly goes out of its way to make sure customers get the product they expected and one that’s delivered in a timely manner. Bob’s Market also goes out of its way to beautify its surrounding communities and take part in America In Bloom.

Metrolina Greenhouses

The next generation of leadership at Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C., is taking the family business founded by Tom Van Wingerden to new heights. Ranked at No. 6 on our Top 100 Growers list with 124 acres of greenhouse production, Metrolina is the largest greenhouse producer on a single site in the world.

While Art is president of greenhouse operations, Abe is president of sales, marketing and merchandising. Metrolina is constantly developing new ideas with a can-do attitude, whether they’re growing new varieties, inventing new production systems and automation, or building effective service and merchandising programs. The Van Wingerdens excel because they’re willing to reinvest profits into the operation for never-ending quality production.

“Metrolina continually puts their customers first and brings solutions to the market not only in products, but also in merchandising and customer service,” says Nathan King, Ball Horticultural Company.

Metrolina exudes leadership away from the greenhouse, as well, including in Haiti, where several team members helped raised more than $1 million for the Double Harvest mission following the earthquake there earlier this year. Double Harvest was particularly special to Tom, and he spent time nurturing the mission in Haiti each month in the years before his death in 2009.

Tom is sorely missed by his peers today, but his spirit lives on in Abe and Art, who have the same commitment to excellence.

Rocket Farms

With a young, energetic and hard-working staff, Rocket Farms, based in Salinas, Calif., has grown in recent years like few others. Within a three-year period, Rocket Farms doubled its orchid business and rose toward the top of our Top 100 Growers List, settling in this year at No. 4 in the United States with more than 125 acres of greenhouse production space.

Rocket Farms’ orchid production has grown so quickly in large part because Of the team’s dedication to marketing orchids. Last year, Rocket Farms sponsored a scientific study on best-care practices for orchids and shared the results with retailers and consumers. Because of such marketing efforts, Rocket Farms has played a key role in repositioning orchids in the market.

To support its community, Rocket Farms conducts an annual breast cancer awareness campaign in October. The campaign raises money for breast cancer and sends oncologists working with breast cancer a pink orchid to thank them for their commitment to the field.

Seemingly, there’s no limit to Rocket Farms’ growth. In the last 30 months alone, Rocket Farms has added 1 million square feet of greenhouse space. And sales have increased by 300 percent over the last five years. Expect those numbers to increase this year and beyond because of the operation’s drive for excellence.

Terra Nova Nurseries

When you think Terra Nova Nurseries, you think first of its numerous variety introductions, colorful marketing techniques and enthusiastic team. But what’s also noteworthy about the Canby, Ore.-based operation are its genetics and advancements in the tissue culture lab and breeding departments. From day one, Terra Nova Nurseries selects plants in trials for vigor, multiple crowns and the “wow” factor, all of which lead to reliable plants homeowners can count on.

Information sharing and promotion are important to Terra Nova’s team, as well. President Dan Heims speaks all over the country and is a regular participant in special programs for the Garden Writers of America, Perennial Plant Association and others.

Also at the core of Terra Nova’s success is marketing. A brand-new website, TerraNovaNurseries.com, was launched last year that offers targeted information for consumers and industry professionals. Additionally, the company’s catalog has evolved from a promotional tool to an all-inclusive brochure that’s focused on providing grower solutions and plant-specific information for Terra Nova’s customers.

In the greenhouse, Terra Nova practices IPM, scouts regularly, and uses predatory insects and botanical controls in addition to biological fungicides. Terra Nova embraces lean production, and it even conducted a week-long seminar for employees on the topic last year to create a more efficient working environment.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “2010 Operation Of The Year Finalists

More From State of the Industry...
Basil_Persian-AAS2015_620x329

July 31, 2015

All-America Selections Promotes Garden-Fresh Cooking

All-America Selections (AAS) has stepped forward with another first when promoting AAS Winners, this time in the form of cooking videos using vegetables/edibles that have performed extremely well in the AAS Trials. These days, a love of gardening is directly related to a passion for cooking. Tying the two together is a natural when marketing joys of cooking with fresh vegetables from the garden and farm market. After 82 years of conducting trials where only the best performers are declared AAS Winners, the organization now has more than 325 individual varieties that have been “Tested Nationally & Proven Locally.” It is some of these many varieties that culinary storyteller, entertainer and horticulture industry veteran Jonathan Bardzik will use in a series of five videos demonstrating cooking techniques with AAS Winning herbs and vegetables. “I am excited to partner with All-America Selections to show people across the country that AAS Winners perform […]

Read More
Burpee Home Gardens Brand Adds Flowers

July 31, 2015

4 Reasons Retailers Snub National Brands

Greenhouse Grower’s lead editor, Laura Drotleff, and I got into a debate about why garden retailers, especially independent garden centers, snub marketing efforts from breeders and growers. She was very much on the breeders’ and growers’ side, expressing frustration about how limited retailers’ vision can be on the topic. I’ve reported on the garden retail side of the industry since 1998, about the same length of time Laura has reported on growers. I’ve heard a lot of retailer views on this, so allow me to share the most common reasons why retailers decline free marketing: Costs. While the marketing materials are free, and sometimes advertising, participating in these projects usually requires minimum orders. From a grower’s perspective, the minimum orders are reasonable. If garden stores promote a plant line, they need to have enough supplies to satisfy demand. From a retail perspective, if inventory reports show a plant line can […]

Read More
llan Armitage Syngenta Starcluster

July 30, 2015

Let’s Talk About Starflowers. Why Is Pentas Not More Popular?

It is good to talk about production techniques, performance results and then to see how our friends garden. Diversity of plant material has always been a strength in American garden centers, and we should never run out of plants to get people excited. However, perhaps people are tired of Petunias or Callas or Geraniums, but we will never run out of options to put in front of them. One plant that is often overlooked is Pentas, a fabulous summer crop for late spring sales. These are heat-tolerant plants, and growing them below 65°F in the greenhouse results in significant delay. Fertility should be at least 150ppm nitrogen, but avoid ammonia in the fertilizer. Plants are best grown at a somewhat higher pH than usual, between 6.4 to 6.8. For best presentation, pinch out the center bud. Side flowers will bloom together, and plants will walk off the shelf. Garden centers […]

Read More
Latest Stories

July 29, 2015

2015 Spring Crops Report: Rain Soaks Spring Sales

Rain, rain and more rain. That was the story this spring for the large majority of growers across the U.S. And where it wasn’t too wet, it was too dry. Drought conditions cut sales in the West and Southwest. But it wasn’t all bad. Eighty-nine percent of respondents to Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Crops Survey declared the season a success, despite its challenges. They said beautiful weather in April and excited consumers who were ready to spend got the season going early, but then cool temps and rainy weekends throughout May and June caused confusion over when and how much to plant. Of the 189 respondents to Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Recap Survey, 53 percent identified themselves as grower-retailers, 34 percent were wholesale growers and 13 percent said they were young plant growers. Most responses came from the Midwest (27 percent), Northeast (18 percent) and Southeast (16 percent), but also […]

Read More

July 17, 2015

Young Plant Survey: Do You Grow Plugs And Liners?

If your operation produces plugs or liners for wholesale growers, please take a few minutes to participate in Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Young Plant Grower Survey. We know you are very busy and we value your time and input. This survey should only take a few minutes. Greenhouse Grower’s Young Plant Grower Survey has played a key role in building our Top 20 Young Plant Growers list over the years. The information helps us zero in on trends taking shape and the challenges you’re facing as young plant growers. If you have any questions about this survey or you are not the right contact for this at your operation, please email me at ldrotleff@meistermedia.com, or please forward the survey link to the appropriate person. We would like to wrap up this survey by July 24, so please take it soon! Thank you in advance for your participation. We value your opinion! » […]

Read More

July 15, 2015

Cultivate’15 Town Hall Meeting: Not Your Grandma&…

Young and innovative industry minds threw down ideas about future of gardening in the new millennium at the Cultivate’15 Town Hall Meeting. Traditionally one of the most innovative, captivating, controversial, edge-of-your-seat, interesting discussions at the whole show, this year’s Town Hall Meeting was no exception. The set up for this discussion addressed the radical change within the world of horticulture over the past decade, due to economics, demographics, technology, retail competition and the redefinition of gardening. The premise: Change cannot be ignored, and our old strategies won’t win us the game anymore. This session acted as a “callback” to the drawing board to determine what gardening actually means to consumers, how the horticulture industry needs to respond to meet the demands of the new millennium and the consequences that may result if we don’t. The esteemed panel included some of the brightest young and innovative minds in horticulture: Brienne Arthur of […]

Read More
BeeSmart logo

July 7, 2015

Grow Wise, Bee Smart Website Launches As Industry Resou…

The new Grow Wise, Bee Smart website, growwise.org,  was recently launched as a key component of the horticulture industry’s Bee and Pollinator Stewardship Initiative, which was created to provide leadership and guidance to the industry on pollinator health. The site serves as the communications hub for the latest research and developments related to the role horticulture plays in supporting pollinator health. Grow Wise, Bee Smart currently features information on the importance of bees and pollinators, threats to their health and steps everyone can take to improve habitat and forage. Links to the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge and Pollinator Partnership further guide retail and landscape firms and their customers on how to plant and register new gardens and habitats for pollinators. As the Grow Wise, Bee Smart stewardship program for plant production is launched, and as funded and directed research yields results and guidance, the site will feature timely new information and insights. Progress […]

Read More

June 30, 2015

Opportunities Abound For Women In Horticulture, Says Do…

My love for horticulture goes back to my grandparents who were farmers in upstate New York. My family’s involvement in agriculture left a lasting impression that has spanned decades, and still drives my passion for our industry today. I started my career in horticulture when I owned a greenhouse, nursery and garden center in Sayville, Long Island, N.Y. We specialized in ground cover production, later branching out to producing perennials and bedding plants.     I then went onto wholesale hard goods distribution. In the 1980s, I was the first woman salesperson on Long Island. What an eye opener that was! New York is a very special place, different from anywhere else in the country. You cannot imagine how difficult it was walking into greenhouses and nurseries as a woman, in a man’s world. Luckily, I grew up in New York City in an Italian family, who taught me great […]

Read More

June 10, 2015

Women In Horticulture Should Celebrate Their Difference…

Maria Costa-Smith, executive vice president at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla., says she believes in equal treatment for equal work. She encourages women in horticulture to work hard, be team players, perform beyond expectations and add value to their organizations. Fulfilling Her Dreams Maria Costa-Smith grew up in the horticulture industry, and never doubted that she wanted a career in ornamental horticulture. Part of a family with a history steeped in agriculture, her grandfather, Jose Costa, was a farmer in Cuba, who sent her father, Tony Costa, to the University of Florida just before the Cuban Revolution to study agriculture. When the family uprooted in 1961 and fled to the U.S., they began growing tomatoes and citrus on a 30-acre plot of land in Miami, and soon after expanded into ornamentals. Thus, Costa Farms was established. Working on the farm with her father and grandfather, Costa-Smith says she was always […]

Read More
Pollinator-Conference-NC State

June 10, 2015

Experts Convene to Discuss How to Protect Bees, Other P…

A new conference organized by North Carolina State University (NC State) and Michigan State University (MSU) will focus on the need for bee-friendly ornamental landscapes and practical solutions for protecting bees and other pollinators. This autumn, researchers, educators and industry experts from around the country will descend on a small town in rural North Carolina to discuss a question with repercussions for both the economy and the environment: what can be done to protect bees and other pollinators? The conference is focused specifically on what can be done to not only conserve but also bolster pollinator populations in so-called ornamental landscapes, such as urban areas and manicured gardens. It is the brain child of two entomologists – Steve Frank of NC State and David Smitley of MSU. With pollinator declines in the news, public demand for bee-friendly ornamental plants is high, but much of the available research has addressed pesticides and […]

Read More
Terri McEnaney Bailey Nurseries headshot_featured

June 3, 2015

Bailey Nurseries’ Terri McEnaney Recognized By Mi…

Bailey Nurseries President Terri McEnaney was recently honored by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal in their Women in Business 2015 special issue. Those honored were chosen for the impact they have had on the business community in Minnesotoa, as well as their dedication to serving their community. McEnaney was honored for her leadership in growing the company significantly in terms of revenue, staff, global reach and brand development, as well as her strategic acumen and industry insight. Other honorees included executives from U.S. Bancorp, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Gilette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, the American Cancer Society, Cargill, 3M and Wells Fargo. “I am humbled to receive this honor from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal,” McEnaney says. “To be among this group of esteemed women is exciting. Seeing successful female leaders in other male-driven industries pushes me to continue working and encouraging women in horticulture to grow their passion into a long-term, fruitful career.” […]

Read More

June 3, 2015

Take Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Recap Survey

Please take a few minutes to answer Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Recap Survey. Your input will help us get a firmer grasp on how spring played out for growers and what we can expect in Spring 2015.

Read More
Bee on a Sedum

June 3, 2015

The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Launches With U…

The National Pollinator Garden Network (NPGN) launched the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge on June 3, just in time for National Pollinator Week, held June 21-25. The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge is a strategic effort to promote and protect the needs of pollinators in North America. Representatives of the recently formed Network joined First Lady Michelle Obama on June 3 for an event that’s part of her “Let’s Move” Initiative at the White House, to formally launch the Challenge. The launch of the Challenge is an unprecedented collaboration by dozens of conservation and gardening organizations, including green industry associations like AmericanHort, America in Bloom, Society of American Florists, American Floral Endowment, the National Garden Bureau and the American Horticultural Society. The organizations joined together to form the National Pollinator Garden Network and launch the new nationwide campaign – the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. Designed to accelerate growing efforts across America, the Network is launching the […]

Read More
Status of Marijuana US Map May 2015

May 29, 2015

Marijuana Legalization Updates

As of April 2015, 23 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some capacity. At the federal level, several bills are currently awaiting action. Here is an update on current state and federal marijuana legislation across the U.S.

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

May 29, 2015

Making The Decision To Produce Medical Marijuana

Should horticultural growers consider cultivating medical marijuana? That’s up to the individual grower, of course, and certainly a number of growers already have jumped in. We at Meister Media Worldwide, publishers of Greenhouse Grower and American Vegetable Grower, do not necessarily endorse nor oppose the production of medical marijuana. But we do feel it is an option worth exploring. We intend our “Medical Marijuana” series of articles to give you information you need to make your own call. We hope you find it useful, and we do welcome your comments, thoughts and ideas as we continue to cover what we’re fairly certain is only going to be an increasingly viable and growing market for this emerging crop.

Read More
water

May 27, 2015

California Growers To Voluntarily Cut Back Water Use

Farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have agreed to reduce their water use by 25 percent in exchange for assurance that they will not face further curtailment during the June-September growing season. The proposal was approved by the State Water Resources Control Board on Friday, May 22. “This proposal helps Delta growers manage the risk of potentially deeper curtailment, while ensuring significant water conservation efforts in this fourth year of drought,” State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus says. “It allows participating growers to share in the sacrifice that people throughout the state are facing because of the severe drought, while protecting their economic well-being by giving them some certainty regarding exercise of the State Water Board’s enforcement discretion at the beginning of the planting season.” Growers who participate in the program could opt to either reduce water diversions under their riparian rights by 25 percent, or fallow 25 percent of their land. In both cases, the […]

Read More
Farwest2015

May 20, 2015

2015 Farwest Show Announces Second Annual Equipment Inn…

The second annual Equipment Innovation Day will be Tuesday, Aug. 25, prior to the 2015 Farwest show, which will be August 27-29 in Portland, Ore. Equipment Innovation Day, which was enthusiastically received in 2014, offers a real-time opportunity to see new heavy and automated nursery equipment in action. The demonstrations take place in manufacturing and nursery settings, adding value to the showcase. Attendees will be able to talk with participating manufacturers and learn first-hand from innovative growers who use the equipment in daily operations. The day-long event will be held at the main manufacturing plant of GK Machines, Inc., Donald, Ore. Further demonstrations of field equipment will take place at the nearby nursery of A&R Spada Farms, LLC. Bus travel to and from the event is planned, starting at and returning to the Oregon Convention Center. Attendees are welcome to provide their own travel to and from the site. Preregistration is required. The cost […]

Read More
CCGGA-Scholarship-Winners

May 20, 2015

Central Coast Greenhouse Growers Association Awards 201…

The Central Coast Greenhouse Growers Association (CCGGA) is awarding 20 scholarships this year to high school and college students. CCGGA-member nurseries raised money for the scholarship fund and each donated a portion of the fundraising sales to the fund, which is open to students currently enrolled in college for the following year. The scholarship program is also available to students of employees who work at CCGGA-member nurseries One of the organization’s goals is to continue encouraging future generations to enter the horticulture field and to promote higher education within the families that work in the local nursery business. The 2015 CCGGA scholarship recipients are: Aloysia Shea – Nipomo High School Andrew McHaney – CSalinas High School Angel Flores – Righetti High School Beatriz Barajas – San Jose State University Carolanne Garibay – Monterey Peninsula College Cladia Lavina – Salinas High School Erica Marquez-Ibarra – San Jose State University Jorge Zarate […]

Read More

May 18, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Top 100 Growers…

Greenhouse Grower‘s Top 100 Growers Survey revealed that our projections in the 2015 State Of The Industry report were correct: Growers, at least the large ones, are expanding. Greenhouse Grower’s annual Top 100 List ranks the largest U.S. growers by total square feet of environmentally controlled greenhouse space, although this year, we have also listed shade and field acreage, to give perspective on how large these operations are beyond the greenhouse. In total, the 2015 list represents 228,906,001 environmentally controlled square feet of U.S. production, a 5 percent increase over 2014. All told, 26 growers reported that their operation grew between 2014 and 2015. Several growers reduced their production over the past year, as well, and while some operations’ downsized numbers were significant, most were slight and probably typical of the give-and-take in the horticulture industry. Greenhouse Grower‘s 2015 Top 100 Growers Whitepaper includes all the results of the survey, […]

Read More
USDA Logo

May 13, 2015

New Report Shows College Graduates With Agriculture Deg…

A new report from the USDA shows high demand for recent college graduates with agriculture degrees, with an estimated 57,900  high-skilled job openings annually in the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and environment fields in the U.S. According to an employment outlook report released by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Purdue University, there is an average of 35,400 new U.S. graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher in agriculture related fields, 22,500 short of the jobs available annually. “There is incredible opportunity for highly-skilled jobs in agriculture,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Those receiving degrees in agricultural fields can expect to have ample career opportunities. Not only will those who study agriculture be likely to get well-paying jobs upon graduation, they will also have the satisfaction of working in a field that addresses some of the world’s most pressing challenges. These jobs will only become more […]

Read More
USDA Logo

May 6, 2015

USDA Awards $10 Million In Grants To Universities To Ad…

More than $10 million has been awarded to U.S. universities to address critical water problems, such as water quality and availability, in rural and agricultural watersheds across the country. The awards were made through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Water for Agriculture challenge area and the National Integrated Water Quality Program (NIWQP). “Water is our most precious resource, one that is essential for both human survival and well-being and for our ability to grow our crops and livestock,” says Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “By funding research, Extension and education for citizens and the agriculture community, we are able to proactively create solutions to water-related issues like drought and its impact on food security.” The AFRI Water for Agriculture challenge area was first introduced in fiscal year (FY) 2014, and these grants represent the first year of funding for the program. Funded […]

Read More