March 26, 2009

Burpee CEO Praises First Lady’s Efforts

  “Michelle Obama is setting a superb example for our country’s citizens, particularly for America’s children,” says Burpee chairman and CEO, George Ball. With the “first sizable vegetable garden since Franklin Roosevelt was in office,” Ball says that the implementation of this garden is extremely timely in helping raise awareness about the benefits of homegrown food. He compares it to the physical fitness intiative President John F. Kennedy led. “It is the kind of program that should please people across the political spectrum. It is inexpensive to implement, and the return on investment is extraordinary,” says Ball. He continues, “Gardens inspire the kind of optimism the American public is craving right now. Children growing up during this renaissance in vegetable gardening will learn valuable lessons about nutrition, nature, self-efficiency and respecting the earth by gardening alongside their parents.” To read more about the Burpee Chairman’s views on the White House […]

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March 23, 2009

Bring On Spring

Planning for spring is like placing a bet: If you do your homework thoroughly and manage the factors you can control, you increase your odds for success. If you prepare inadequately, conjure guesses or simply wing a production plan entering spring, you’re bound to fail. And then there’s the biggest grower gamble of all: hoping for good spring weather. According to the results of Greenhouse Grower’s recent Industry Pulse Survey, 70 percent of growers say weather is the most important factor in determining their success this spring–even with a down economy like ours. “The key is weather. It always has been and always will be,” says Abe Van Wingerden, president of Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C. “Many other factors come into play, but they are mainly controllable or manageable. Weather is something we just hope works in our favor. Eight straight sunny weekends equals success for everyone. Eight straight rainy […]

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March 20, 2009

More On Consumer Show Attendance

We’ve heard mixed reports about attendance at flower, garden and landscape shows this year, but gardeners were out and about at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle; the Yard Garden & Patio (YGP) Show in Portland, Ore.; and the Philadelphia Flower Show. Danielle Ernest of Proven Winners attended the shows in Seattle and Portland. She says host organizations report attendance was up quite a bit at both. “P. Allen Smith spoke at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show, and they actually had to expand the room because people were waiting in line to get in,” Ernest says. There were close to 700 people who attended.” Nearly 25,000 people reportedly showed up to the show in Portland. “In a tough economy, where consumer events are experiencing decreases in numbers, gate attendance at YGP increased by 1 percent over last year,” says Whitney Rideout, business development manager of the Oregon […]

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March 20, 2009

Scotts Donating 1 Million Pounds Of Produce

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has teamed up with Plant a Row for the Hungry and Feeding America in asking Americans to take the GroGood pledge – grow a garden for the greater good. To launch the pledge campaign, Scotts will donate 1 million pounds of produce and will call on Americans to help double that donation by pledging to grow and donate an additional 1 million pounds of fresh produce to help feed those at risk for hunger. “This program is designed to make it easy for backyard gardeners to get involved and make a difference,” says Su Lok, director of corporate and community partnerships at Scotts. “We hope Americans will support the GroGood program and plant a food garden this spring to reap the benefits of gardening for themselves and others. “One million pounds may sound like a lot, but if just 40,000 people take the GroGood pledge and […]

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March 11, 2009

Springing Into Action

Florida grower Rick Brown of Riverview Flower Farm reports good consumer spending in his state despite a delayed start to the season because of weather. Alabama grower Carole Barton of Barton’s Greenhouse & Nursery says garden center traffic in her region has been strong lately, as well. Up north, where we recently visited Corso’s Flower & Garden Center in Sandusky, Ohio, vice president Chad Corso is hoping for similar traffic. “My biggest worry is what’s the economy going to do the next 8 to 12 weeks,” says Chad Corso, vice president of Corso’s Perennials in Sandusky, Ohio. “Are there going to be any major auto dealerships that close that really affect our Midwest market? That’s probably my biggest worry right now.” Corso is also concerned about rising unemployment in the North. His operation, which operates in Erie County, neighbors Ohio’s Huron County. And Huron, he says, has the highest unemployment […]

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March 5, 2009

Illegal Immigrant Population Declines

According to the Homeland Security Department, the number of illegal immigrants in the United States fell recently for the first time in at least four years. Homeland Security sources tougher enforcement and rising unemployment for the decrease. The decline still left the country with 11.6 million illegal residents in January 2008, down from a record 11.8 million a year earlier. Jeffrey Passel, a demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, says economic factors have historically caused surges and drops in illegal immigration. “Enforcement plays some role,” he says, but added that the number of illegal immigrants roughly doubled in the 1990s “in the fact of steadily ramped up enforcement over that period.” Source: USA Today

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March 2, 2009

Survey: Double-Digit Increase In Food Gardening For 2009

Findings from a recent National Gardening Association (NGA) survey show food gardening on the rise, as 7 million more U.S. households plan to grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs or berries in 2009. This is a 19 percent increase from 2008 and is nearly double the 10 percent growth in veggie gardening activity from 2007 to 2008. In 2008, gardeners spent a total of $2.5 billion to purchase seeds, plants, fertilizer, tools and other gardening supplies to grow their own food. According to NGA estimates, a well-maintained food garden yields a $500 average return per garden when considering a typical gardener’s investment and the market price of produce. Key highlights from The Impact Of Home And Community Gardening Survey include: – 43 million U.S. households plan to grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries in 2009, up 19 percent from 36 million households in 2008. –21 percent of households […]

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February 26, 2009

The State Of South Florida Growers

A recent Miami Herald article reported on how some Florida growers are faring during these challenging economic conditions. Among those featured were Costa Farms, Living Colors Nursery, Suncoast Nursery, and Kerry’s Nursery. Many growers report dips in sales volumes and pricing, leading to staff reductions. Internet sales and cost cutting were cited as two strategies for weathering the storm. Despite overall sluggish sales, there is some cautious optimism in the industry with spring just around the corner. Read the full Miami Herald article here.

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February 26, 2009

OFA Names Jim Broderick Interim CEO

Jim Broderick, current OFA Treasurer, has been named Interim Chief Executive Officer by the board of directors. Broderick’s appointment follows the unexpected death of John Holmes on Feb. 12. Broderick is the owner of TFI Inc., a Westerville, Ohio-based company that provides interiorscaping, landscaping, wholesaling and limited grounds and property maintenance. “Jim is well positioned to serve as the Interim CEO,” says OFA President Bobby Barnitz. “He is deeply involved in OFA, understands the strategic vision of the board of directors and is highly respected by our staff. We have a great team in place to ensure the association continues providing valuable programs and services to our stakeholders and management partners during this transition time.” OFA says plans for Short Course, July 11-14 in Columbus, Ohio, are progressing as scheduled, including developing the 130-session educational program, the 1,500-booth trade show and dozens of networking opportunities. A professional search firm with […]

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February 26, 2009

V-Day Sales Rise In ’09

According to Synovate, which conducted a nationwide poll for the Society of American Florists (SAF) early last week, Valentine’s Day sales were up in 2009. Nearly 29 percent of Americans bought fresh flowers or plants as Valentine’s Day gifts this year, a significant increase over the 26 percent who made Valentine’s Day purchases last year. Red roses were still the most popular choice among 48 percent of buyers. Thirty-six percent bought mixed flowers, 24 percent bought roses in colors other than red and another 23 percent bought single flowers. The average consumer spent $41.70, according to the polling results. That figure is also up from last year’s ($38.10). For more information, visit www.safnow.org.

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February 25, 2009

Home Depot Loses $54 Million

The Home Depot Inc. reported a fiscal fourth-quarter loss of $54 million on Tuesday, due in part to its plan to close its four home improvement brands. The company lost 3 cents per share during the fourth quarter, compared to a profit of $671 million (40 cents per share) during the same period last year. “We expect the home improvement market in 2009 will remain just as challenging as 2008, but we will continue to invest in our associates and stores to set a strong foundation for the long-term health of our company,” chairman and chief executive Frank Blake said. For the year, Home Depot’s profits dropped 49 percent to $2.26 billion ($1.34 per share), down from $4.4 billion ($2.37 per share). Full-year revenue dropped 8 percent to $71.29 billion. Read more here.

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February 24, 2009

Opportunity Awaits As Housing Prices Hit Rock Bottom

The bad news: The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index plunged a record 18.2 percent during the fourth quarter of 2008. The good news: Your products can play a role in reversing the downturn. Stuart Hoffman, chief economist for PNC Financial Services Group, says home prices probably won’t increase for another few years. Nothing adds value to the exterior of a home like a standout landscape, though, and a few beautiful plants can be the difference between a pair of homes for sale on the same block. Just think: An investment of a few hundred dollars on spring plants has the potential to translate into a few thousand dollars on the housing market for thousands of frustrated people with homes for sale. Perhaps that’s an angle we, as an industry, should be focusing on this spring.   To read the full Business Week article, click here.

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