Horticulture Is All About Connections

Mark Griffith, Dr. Michael Dirr, Jeff Beasley, Terri McEnaney

In late summer, the historic Hurricane Irma ravaged the south, and wrought havoc on the greenhouse and nursery industry there. The Florida green industry has seen its share of damage over the years. It rebuilt itself after Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992, and it will do it again with the broader U.S. horticulture industry’s help. Growers in Texas hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in late August will also need to maximize connections within the industry to rebuild and replace damaged crops.

The beauty of our industry is that we are more than willing to reach out and help those around us. As Terri McEnaney, President of Bailey Nurseries says, “Horticulture is all about connections.”

McEnaney was the keynote speaker at this year’s Farwest Show in Portland, OR, and in her speech, “Connections: Cultivating Your Company and Your Professional Life,” she celebrated the many relationships she and her family have built within the industry and how those connections have helped develop the business over the past 112 years.

McEnaney also shared a story about Cultivate’17, when a waiter at a restaurant said this to one of our industry peers: “I can always tell when the plant people come to town, because you’ll start out as a small group [at the restaurant], and then as more people come in, they’ll pull up a chair and join you, and your group will continue to grow. That never happens with conventions from other industries.”

That waiter was right, we are a friendly bunch. But we’re also very helpful and willing to share information and best practices. Call it “open-source horticulture,” perhaps. Our industry’s way of collaborating is something to celebrate and promote to young people about why careers in horticulture rock.

We see it every year in our Top 100 Growers Breakfast during Cultivate, a grower-to-grower event format that offers an opportunity for growers to discuss real issues like labor. This year’s panel included leaders from Metrolina Greenhouses, Willoway Nurseries, and Bailey Nurseries, who shared ideas and solutions with 50 others.

Incidentally, Bailey, Metrolina, and Willoway also work to establish connections within their companies to help the less fortunate, including the several truckloads of items Metrolina recently collected and drove down to Texas to help hurricane victims, which ultimately builds connections beyond horticulture.

We see it every month in print and online content, for example with Head Growers Dennis Crum of Four Star Greenhouse, Joe Moore of Lucas Greenhouses, and Steve Garvey of Dallas Johnson Greenhouses, discussing and sharing best practices for quality crops.

“We’ve got all the dos and don’ts in our culture guides,” Crum says. “It’s not because we’re smarter than you. It’s just that we’ve already made the mistake and we’re trying to help prevent you from learning from experience what we’ve already learned.”

This month, Greenhouse Grower will make connections between growers, suppliers, and allied trades through Greenhouse Grower TECHNOLOGY‘s media partnership for the Production Technology Conference with AmericanHort in Dallas, TX, our Biocontrols USA EAST Conference in Orlando, FL, and our annual GreenhouseConnect in Park City, UT.

There are endless opportunities available in the horticulture industry to build relationships that can be beneficial to all involved. What connections will you make today?

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