Stand Firm, But Speak Gently

beephoto4webSometimes the message you most want to communicate comes out all wrong. It’s a struggle that passionate people encounter when our thoughts outpace our words — or vice versa — and what we think we’re saying is the better version of what is actually said.

That’s what I feel is happening to our industry right now. We’re in the midst of a public uproar over the perception of harm to pollinators being linked to the neonicotinoid class of pest control tools. It’s an emotional issue, much like politics and religion, and a debate that gets fiery, no matter what side of the issue you’re on.

The problem is, we can’t afford to get fiery with our customers. Just think — how hard have we worked to get consumers to buy more plants? How many discussions have we had, and how many articles have we written and read about captivating new gardeners in Generations X, Y and Z? How much money have we spent to market our plants and develop patio-ready products to scale down gardening to a size that everyone can enjoy? How much research has been conducted to bring forth new products that will keep plants and gardening fresh and alive in the consumer eye?

And how eager are we to see all of that work come undone?

Concern over pollinator health is not limited to environmental activists picketing outside garden centers — it’s everywhere: science classes in schools, social media, you name it.

And now even the White House is getting involved. A small team of Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE) member companies met with an intergovernmental team focused on finding new and additive solutions to pollinator health. Learn more about how RISE provided pollinator health facts and stories from grower operations in its summary report to the White House.

So no matter how right you think you are and how wrong you think the other side is about what’s happening to pollinators, please don’t be defensive. Don’t tell your customers that they’re wrong or discount their concerns, because they’re interested. They want to know what’s going on and how they can help. They want to know how you’re growing your crops and what measures you’ve taken to protect pollinators. They care! We have been fighting for this level of consumer interest for how long? This is an opportunity!

Instead, listen to their concerns, answer their questions, be their advisor and teach them about the floriculture industry.

Tell them how much our industry needs bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and all wildlife. All of floriculture depends on pollinators. Likewise, the entire agriculture industry needs pollinators to help us grow and provide food, fiber and flowers to the general population. We would be crazy to do anything to jeopardize these little beauties.

But growers also need effective tools to help them grow their crops. Neonicotinoids offer lower-risk control over pests that can wipe out entire crops. And in some cases, like in Florida, states actually mandate the use of certain neonicotinoid products on imports and exports to protect agricultural crops like citrus from pests that cause serious damage, and are capable of wiping out crops and causing food prices to rise.

Bell Nursery in Maryland is doing a great job compiling information in the “Bee Informed” section of its website. It’s worth looking at how you, too, can offer articles and information to your communities, and help them build resources to protect pollinators.

Communication can be a most valuable tool. If we do it right, people will hear what we’re trying to say.

Grower Homework: 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. Feel free to share your ideas via eMail, ldrotleff@meistermedia.com, or
tweet @Laura_GG_TGC.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

More From Editorial...
The-Capitol

July 7, 2015

Washington Gridlock Could Block Industry Research Funding

The latest standoff on Capitol Hill could have some implications for the floral industry, including future funding for floriculture and nursery research initiative activities, says Shawn McBurney, SAF’s senior director of government relations. “Republicans in the House and Senate are determined to work within the sequester-imposed limits for domestic spending in the federal budget, but Democrats have threatened to block any appropriations bills until Republicans agree to spend more money than that agreement allows,” McBurney says. “With both sides digging in, there could be an impact on budgets that affect programs and services important to the floral industry.” The back and forth over spending limits isn’t new, McBurney says. In 2013, then-Budget Committee Chairmen Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) negotiated an agreement that increased spending levels for defense and nondefense discretionary spending equally above the sequester level for two years, offset by fee increases and changes to mandatory […]

Read More
Medal of Excellence Award

July 6, 2015

Get To Know The 9 Variety Finalists For Editor’s Choice And Industry’s Choice Awards

Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening Of Excellence reception is rapidly approaching. Here, you can learn more about the varieties that are finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice and Industry’s Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ (Kieft Seed) Vinca Valiant Series (PanAmerican Seed)     Join us Monday, July 13 in Ballroom 2 at the Columbus Convention Center to find out which varieties will receive the coveted awards. The reception begins at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony […]

Read More
crider-rd2-internal_Rough-Brothers_featured

July 1, 2015

Rough Brothers Is Acquired By Gibraltar Industries

RBI Solar Inc., Rough Brothers Manufacturing Inc. and affiliates have been acquired by Gibraltar Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of products for residential and industrial markets, for $130 million. Capitalizing on its 80 years of design-build experience and leadership as the largest greenhouse manufacturer in North America, Ohio-based RBI has established itself during the past five years as North America’s fastest-growing provider of photovoltaic (PV) solar racking solutions. The transaction will enable Gibraltar to leverage its expertise in structural metals manufacturing and materials sourcing to meet global demand for solar racking solutions. The company also announced that it anticipates its second-quarter 2015 financial results will be in line with its previous expectations. “Acquiring RBI is an important step in the transformation of Gibraltar into a company with a higher rate of growth and best-in-class financial metrics,” says Gibraltar CEO Frank Heard. “This acquisition directly aligns with key end markets and product platforms […]

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