From Hobby To Lifestyle

Robin Siktberg

When I interviewed Joe Lamp’l for this month’s Perspective column, his message — that we need to make gardening as sexy and cool as the Food Network has made cooking — really resonated with me. I hadn’t thought of it quite that way before. Since I already like gardening, nobody has to make it cool for me. But the more I thought about it, the more I came to think he’s right.

What’s more, I think gardening is poised in a perfect position to become as cool as cooking. It has all the ingredients (pardon the pun):  it has a natural connection with the organic, get-back-to-the-earth movement, it’s outdoors — good for exercise and health, it fits in with the locally grown food trend, and it blends well in a multitude of ways with the lifestyle trend of creating personal spaces for entertaining and relaxation that express individual creativity.

Lamp’l’s comparison with the food industry is right on the mark. In a few short years, the Food Network and its stable of celebrity chefs transformed cooking from a chore to a creative outlet. All of the supporting elements — cookbooks, table settings, cookware and appliances — have changed from necessary tools to items that are fun to purchase, which also means people will spend more on them.

Gardening, in my opinion, simply requires a spark to push it over the edge from a hobby to a lifestyle. Television, with its power to define trends and motivate people, is the obvious instrument. If gardening could have its own Rachel Ray who can not only show what’s possible but is easily attainable, we’d be on our way. Lamp’l and the hosts of the few true gardening shows out there, are mostly on PBS (I love PBS, but it doesn’t have the mass appeal of some of the other networks). Shows like Curb Appeal on HGTV are terrific, but not everyone can afford an entire front yard redo — and they can make landscaping look expensive and like a lot of work.

Horticulture needs someone who can make gardening seem simple and at the same time, inspire people to try it, even in a small way. Inspire is the key word here;  if a chef on the Food Network can inspire me — a non-cook —  to go to three different grocery stores in search of jicama, something I never heard of, non-gardeners can be inspired to plant a strawberry jar or window box for the first time. We need to show them what’s possible and make it seem fun and easy — because it can be and is, if you’re not doing a full-blown renovation.

What can we do as an industry? A number of things. First, lobby the television networks to include more gardening shows in their lineup. Give them the reasons in the second paragraph of this column. On a local level, offer yourself or one of your employees for a radio or television program in which you can answer gardening questions or show people easy ways to incorporate plants into their lives. Third, provide the ingredients — the New Varieties Guide in this issue is a testament to how you’re already doing that — and embrace the edibles trend. It’s growing, and it’s not going away soon. Plants that provide both beauty and nutrition are a perfect fit for the lifestyle of the next generation of gardeners.

Leave a Reply

More From Editorial...
Double Whammy Merchandise Display At CAST2015

May 28, 2015

Grow Inspiration To Grow The Horticulture Industry

We need to work together as the horticulture industry to inspire and instruct consumers with our plant knowledge and marketing expertise.

Read More
Plant-Select_for-web

May 28, 2015

PlantSelect.org And FindPlants.net Assist Consumers With Growing And Finding Plants

The recently launched PlantSelect.org and FindPlants.net websites offer growing and maintenance tips, where-to-buy information and design ideas to help consumers have success with growing and finding plants.

Read More
Cal-Poly fields

May 27, 2015

Cal-Poly Students And Faculty Ask Industry To Help Save Horticulture Facilities

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, has released an update to its Master Plan that indicates that almost all of its orchards, horticulture facilities and field sites could be repurposed for buildings, including residential, and/or recreational space. According to a letter from Scott Steinmaus, the horticulture and crop science department head, the proposed changes directly affect the current orchard plantings and other long term plans for the department. The department is committed to making sure that its facilities remain invaluable teaching environments that enable its students to learn about crop, fruit and horticulture production, food safety and pest protection, in addition to providing sites for externally funded research projects that benefit the industry. Industry members are invited to submit comments to the university. According to Steinmaus, a recent eMail to the Cal-Poly community from the university president indicates that all of the input gathered through the end of May will be studied by the planning […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Laura Drotleff

May 27, 2015

Growers Working Hard To Protect Pollinators — And Their…

Editor’s Note: This editorial was written and published just prior to the news coming out about Lowe’s phasing out neonicotinoids by 2019. However, that news doesn’t change the fact that growers have a long history as good stewards of their land and of the environment. As evidenced by the 2015 Top 100 Growers Report, the nation’s largest growers continue to adapt their production practices to be cognizant of environmental factors, worker safety, retailer preferences and consumer concerns. In light of Lowe’s announcement, growers who produce for the retailer are certainly working toward that mandate; but they’re also hopeful that the research currently underway will provide scientific reason for decisions made on production going forward. When the news broke last year that growers would be required to label plants treated with neonicotinoids at The Home Depot, and that other retailers were mandating growers to produce crops without neonics, I sucked in air and […]

Read More
Laura Drotleff

April 10, 2015

STEM Curriculum Ideal For Teaching Horticulture [Opinio…

STEM curriculum in the schools offers the perfect opportunity to intertwine horticulture with learning.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

March 4, 2015

Celebrate Women In Horticulture

Women have always played a crucial role in the horticulture industry, not only from a consumer point-of-view, where traditionally our biggest customers have been women, but also as prominent business leaders and owners, growers, breeders, marketers, researchers and matriarchs of industry family empires.

Read More
Janeen Wright

March 2, 2015

Deliver Plant Quality That Trumps Price [Opinion]

The industry's goal is to have loyal customers who return to the same plants time and time again, not because of price, but owing to a plant brand that shouts top-notch garden performance and is synonymous with excellence, which gives them the secure knowledge that their investment will be worth every hard-earned cent.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

February 10, 2015

Biocontrols Aren’t Scary [Opinion]

Crafting a softer pest management program is likely in everyone’s future — if it’s not here already, especially due to increasing regulation and growing consumer concern over pesticide use. Learn more about biocontrols to determine how they could fit in with your goals and production practices.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

January 5, 2015

“Growers Are Artisans” [Opinion]

We need to elevate the craft of growing to attract young talent to our industry.

Read More

December 1, 2014

Consumers, Retailers Only Hearing Voices Of Protest

Speak up about your operation's responsible practices.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

November 12, 2014

5 Ways Growers Can Be More Sustainable [Opinion]

While you're still preparing your operation for spring and investing in new ideas, consider employing some of these improvements to save money and resources.

Read More

October 1, 2014

Greenhouse Grower Issues A New Challenge To The Industr…

Let's rally behind the healthy pollinators initiative. How will you step up to the challenge?

Read More

September 15, 2014

What Does Precision Horticulture Mean To You?

Precision horticulture is what you do every day — growing with precision for efficiency and profitability.

Read More

July 28, 2014

How Gen X & Y Horticulturists Will Change The Indus…

Seek out young professionals in the industry and in your operation to develop new ways to do business, improve communication and address consumers. How have you cultivated ideas from younger generations?

Read More
Laura Drotleff

July 8, 2014

Consider Hiring Non-Traditional Growers To Secure Our I…

Your operation can benefit from hiring returning veterans, professionals changing careers and non-traditional students, in addition to horticulture graduates. Where have you had luck recruiting?

Read More
Carol Miller

June 3, 2014

Consumer Success Is Key To Industry Success [Opinion]

Many breeders are aware of the problem and are striving to ensure that plants in a customer’s home garden will live up to the visual appeal the plant has on a store display bench. A lot of the resulting plants were on display in California.

Read More

June 3, 2014

Active Grower Voices Are Invaluable To Retailers, Consu…

Creating our own advocacy is an important tool in areas like presenting science-based knowledge about pollinator health, and informing the public about how growers already preserve natural resources through responsible practices like integrated pest management (IPM), water reclamation and recycling, plastic recycling and sustainability initiatives.

Read More

May 7, 2014

Stand Firm, But Speak Gently

Teach your community about how much the floriculture industry depends on pollinators and the responsible actions we take to ensure their safety. Listen to consumer concerns, help build bee havens and hotels and promote and plant pollinator-friendly gardens.

Read More

March 26, 2014

The Case For Locally Grown

A growing consumer desire for locally grown produce is one reason greenhouse ornamentals producers should consider vegetable production.

Read More

March 10, 2014

Geek Is The New Chic

Let's make it a priority to show kids and the general public how cool horticulture really is.

Read More

February 1, 2014

Are eCommerce And Non-Traditional Retail Outlets Right …

Evaluate your business to determine how you can make your products and services more relevant to next-generation consumers.

Read More