December 3, 2008

Sizing Up Our Industry

  Crop By Crop Census of Agriculture, Census of Horticultural Specialties USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Services   Capturing the industry’s size and scope has always been an elusive task. The only national source is USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and the agency isn’t consistent in how it collects the information. For instance, the U.S. Floriculture Crops Summary used to be for 39 states and is now only for 16, which makes it hard to compare petunias to petunias from one year to the next. USDA does conduct a Census of Agriculture every five years and we’re still waiting on the 2007 results, which are due out in February at the earliest–not in time for this issue. The best part about this study is it does encompass all 50 states and is very thorough. But unfortunately, it is not handled consistently each time. For instance, in 2002 dollar sales of floriculture […]

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December 3, 2008

Online Only: Taking A Look Back – Our First Issue Of Greenhouse Grower

Putting together our 25 anniversary issue, we’ve taken a good look at what the future holds for our industry. But it’s also a good time to look back at where we’ve come from. We’ve come a long way. Here’s a chance for you to look back with us. Take a peek at our first issue, the January 1983 issue of Greenhouse Grower, which included features on the costs and conservation of heating resources, the evolution of imports and opportunities for computerizing the greenhouse.

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December 3, 2008

BenchPress Profile: Joe Grower

Joe Grower is your typical greenhouse grower, only he lives and works in the year 2033. We caught up with him recently and asked him about his craft. What crops are you growing in the greenhouse right now? Of course all we do is GMO based–both food crops for home gardens as well as our full line of GMO floriculture novelties. The GMO food crops we all know and love–all high protein, high fiber. The new line of designer carrots–where we match your DNA code to the carrots, has been a huge hit. Full match will include any amino acid deficiencies that the customer may have so we remove any need to add supplemental foods to the diet. The GMO flower novelties are just starting, with our scented petunia line from Chanel–each petunia a perfect match for a Chanel fragrance. We also have high expectations for the new GMO alarm […]

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December 3, 2008

Remember When…

Q: Share an example of how you’re producing crops differently now than in 1983. A: We started out in the 1980s growing in recycled cut-off milk cartons (waxed paper) that we collected year-round before moving to plastic pots and packs later in the 80s. Now, we are back to growing in biodegradable pots, but they are made of rice hulls. Q: How has pricing changed? Can you give an example of prices you are getting now for products compared to 1983? A: The business started out as Mom’s hobby, so pricing in 1983 was based on what Mom thought things were worth. Now, my brother and I have increased pricing to what our customers think they’re worth, particularly with the quality we grow. I don’t have exact figures from 1983, but we’re thinking tomato plants in cut-off quart milk cartons (equivalent to a 4.5-inch deep pot) were around $0.50, and […]

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December 3, 2008

Time Warp

As Greenhouse Grower the magazine has evolved, so have you. We launched in 1983 with just over 12,000 subscribers, and we’ve grown to more than 20,000 over the last 25 years. By state, California led the way in 1983 with 1,844 Greenhouse Grower readers with Texas (1,138) a distant second. Today, however, most of our readers are from Florida (2,421), Ohio (1,434) and Michigan (1,054), whereas California has half the number of readers (934) it once had. We also rounded up numbers from both 1983 and 2008 that break our grower readership down by crop. Our audience development department tracked down handwritten statistics from a yellowing chart in ’83 and shared more easy-to-find stats on you, our readers of today. Here is the breakdown:  

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December 3, 2008

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. Benchrunner Top 5 A few readers got a little creative when we asked them to come up with industry headlines for […]

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December 3, 2008

Our Ones To Watch

We celebrated our 25th anniversary over the last few issues by taking a look at people we expect to make a difference in the industry over the next 25 years. They’re all visionaries as inventors, innovators and voices for change. Our grower profile series is now complete, but here’s a glance back at all 25 people profiled over the course of the last five months. Todd Lighthouse Lighthouse Gardens Has a business plan for providing organically grown plants that can be shipped directly to your door. Denise Godfrey Olive Hill Greenhouses Invests her time with industry organizations and speaks her mind to ensure a future for the growing community. John Bonner Eagle Creek Wholesale Bold enough to try new production practices, smart enough to learn from failures and emphasizes sustainability in business. Fran Hopkins Under A Foot Plant Company Built the plants-you-can-walk-on concept that is STEPABLES and educates consumers on […]

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December 2, 2008

Ravin’ Traven: No Cutting Back

Each week, wholesale grower Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm in Pennsylvania sends out an engaging and highly opinionated rant to his garden center customers along with the most current availability, order forms and pictures of plants in the greenhouse. Here is his most recent rant, in which he encourages grower-retailers to stock great plants and hope for the best rather than assume customers simply won’t buy in these uncertain times. November 28 Steely Dan had a GREAT tune called “Black Friday.” Call it up on iTunes–it’ll cheer you and get you jumping. It should be required at 7 a.m. on this day, to get your employees moving and grooving. So, it is now 2:30 on Friday, well into the day after Turkey Day, and we’re all fully awake after the turkey coma. We hope you are swamped with people spending money. By Monday, no doubt, you WILL need to […]

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December 2, 2008

Ones To Watch: Martin Stockton

As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary, we are profiling people we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Now in its 23rd week online, our Ones To Watch series continues with Martin Stockton of First Step Greenhouses in Temecula, Calif. Age–40 His Job–Martin is the head grower at First Step Greenhouses, and he has 16 years experience growing plugs. “I enjoy the variability from day to day, season to season. I enjoy the fact that running an operation requires knowledge in many things and requires multiple talents.” Know When To Give Up–One of the best pieces of advice Martin has ever received is knowing when to dump a plant. “You have to get over all the time and effort put into the crop and realize it’s perishable. It is a sacrifice of the one for the many. If you retain an old and […]

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November 24, 2008

View: Scullin On The “Family Feud” At OFA

Laurie Scullin, a Greenhouse Grower marketing columnist, recently chimed in on the back and forth between past presidents and current leaders of OFA in a letter to us. He suggests the industry needs a national organization to act as the voice on issues affecting growers. Could OFA be that voice? It very well could be, Scullin suggests. Here is his letter in full: I have read with some interest some of the correspondence of the OFA family feud. I was intrigued by this conflict on several levels and thought it would good to share those thoughts. First, how great to read about someone else’s “feud” rather than one I had started. As someone who lives on the “bleeding edge” of marketing, I have from time to time gotten into the middle of this type of stress. The hard part of leading the charge to any new destination is that some […]

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November 24, 2008

ANLA Members Benefiting From GCA, OFA Alliances

The American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) has teamed up with Garden Centers of America (GCA) and OFA to provide its members an even broader scope of educational opportunities. ANLA members interested in next year’s holiday tour or Short Course can now register for those events at GCA and OFA member prices. GCA and OFA members, meanwhile, can now register for February’s ANLA Management Clinic at the ANLA member price. “With the significant challenges facing our industry, both organizations felt that it was important to work together to offer our members additional learning opportunities that could help them succeed,” says Greg Schaan, ANLA president. Further collaboration is expected in 2009 between representatives of ANLA, GCA and OFA. For more information on these new industry alliances, visit www.managementclinic.org, www.gardencentersofamerica.org or www.ofa.org.

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November 24, 2008

Ones To Watch: Jennifer Kurtz

As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary, we are profiling people we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Now in its 22nd week online, our Ones To Watch series continues with Jennifer Kurtz of Kurtz Farms in Cheshire, Conn. Age–36 Her Job - Jennifer is sales and marketing manager at Kurtz Farms based in Cheshire, Conn. She also invented Urban Gardener planters and created programs for it as a means to provide instant impact for consumers looking to decorate with plants. The Birth Of An Idea–As a wife, mother to a 3-year-old child and full-time worker, Jennifer didn’t have the time needed to tend to her vegetable and flower gardens like she preferred. It made sense, then, to develop a product that provided an “instant impact.” Thus, the Urban Gardener was created. “The biggest lesson I learned is that people were willing to […]

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