BenchPress: 2033

BenchPress: 2033

Life is too serious at times, so let’s have a little fun with a futuristic BenchPress. Our staff and readers came up with some of the headlines and stories you very well may be reading about come 2033. You’ll also find a question-and-answer interview with a grower from the future and a look back from 2033 on this year’s top stories. Enjoy!

Labor Dependency Lowest Ever

Growers began to reduce their dependence on immigrant labor years ago when the U.S. government decided to fine greenhouse operations $100,000 for each illeg

al immigrant it employed. That action forced growers to look elsewhere for labor and kicked off the Automation Renaissance, which culminated this month with the introduction of the Robotic Greenhouse Managers (RGM) at select greenhouse operations across the country.

The RGM system essentially eliminates the need for employees to even set foot in the greenhouse. The cost of a single RGM is a little mind boggling to some growers at $25 million, but those who’ve made the investment anticipate a return within five years.

Gardening Finally The World’s Top Hobby

About 25 years ago, growers simply wondered if Generations X and Y would plant at all. Kids were too busy playing video games, jamming to their iPods and sending text messages at rapid speeds to their friends. But look at those kids now!

There isn’t a home in the United States that doesn’t have a flower garden. Generations X and Y are into their gadgets more than ever as middle-aged adults, but the industry was still able to sell them on the importance of the green lifestyle over the past two-plus decades. Marketing programs that emphasized the many physical benefits of plants and the introduction of easy-to-maintain varieties made gardening impossible to pass up as a hobby.

Now, look at our lifestyles. We’re playing video games on portable devices while we plant, jamming to our iPods while we water and texting telepathically while we watch our vegetables sprout in mere minutes in our gardens.

Customer Service Reaches New Heights

Garden center employees are no longer just asking customers how they can help them these days. Instead, they’re getting right to the point because customer profiles are now digitally available to the employee the moment a customer enters the store.
A digital customer profile gives employees access to the names, interests and favorites of all customers who registered with the service. Retailers who’ve adopted the profile over the last few months report 97 percent positive feedback from customers. The other three percent, retailers say, like the idea of the enhanced service but are a tad skittish to share so much information with strangers.

Which growers and companies would stand the test of time? Back in 2008,
we asked our readers which companies might still be around.
ere’s who they predicted would still be around.

Downtowns Return To Green Fields

Midwestern cities like St. Louis, Detroit and Gary, Ind., that once ranked among America’s most dangerous are now blooming with flowers and landscapes on every city block. Crime, in turn, has decreased 400 percent, and those cities are drawing comparisons to beauties like Chicago that invested in green several decades ago.

And from an aerial view, all of New York City looks just like Central Park. Every square inch of roof in the city is officially covered with landscapes as required by law, and the U.S. government recently ruled New York’s air the cleanest for cities with more than 50 million people.

New Species Resistant To Disease

No rot. No rust. No spots. The plant is simply resistant to disease, experts say, but that’s all they’ll really reveal about their discovery made sometime during the last year in Oregon.

One anonymous source, however, tells us the species was the only one unaffected by downy mildew, tobacco mosaic virus, powdery mildew, verticillium wilt and a slew of other diseases that swept across a 10-mile region in the Northwestern part of the state. “It’s simply unbreakable,” the source says of the plant. “It’s a miracle.”

More Children Interested In Attending Hort Colleges

Floriculture is booming, gardening is the cool thing to do and the current generation is following in its predecessors’ footsteps by pursuing education at the college level in horticulture. One in seven college students are now choosing horticulture or floriculture as their major, and many of them are taking their degrees and applying them to the beautification of cities. There is great demand, thanks to the 4,000 cities that participate in America In Bloom each year.

Looking Back At The Year 2008

Remember when these events happened? They were big news then and the most-read stories that appeared in our eNewsletter, Benchrunner, in 2008.

1 Hines Horticulture Files For Bankruptcy
Hines Horticulture filed for bankruptcy after listing debt of as much as $500 million and assets of less than $50,000 in Chapter 11 documents filed. The company received a commitment for up to $62 million in debtor-in-possession financing to keep business operating as usual.

2 Nation Mourns Loss Of Todd Bachman
The floriculture industry lost one of its finest leaders when Todd Bachman, chairman and CEO of Bachman’s Floral, Home & Garden in Minneapolis was tragically killed on a tour of Beijing, China, during the Olympic Games.

3 Home Depot To Close 15 Stores
The soft housing market and sluggish economy took their toll on Home Depot, which announced plans to close 15 underperforming stores and slow its growth plans.

4 Scotts Pesticide Recall Leads To Firing
Scotts fired a rogue employee who violated federal requirements for pesticide registration, an action that resulted in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) order for a nationwide recall. The EPA ordered Scotts to immediately stop selling and distributing products with invalid registration numbers listed on packages.

5 Vandals Strike Nursery, Cause $1 Million In Damages
Clear Zone Nursery, a wholesale nursery located in Alexandria, La., suffered devastating and1 intentional destruction when vandals set fire to more than $250,000 worth of planting pots and bulldozed 10 greenhouses, several acres of container plants and irrigation pipes, wells and pumps.

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