February 13, 2008

Benchrunner Relay: Mobilizing Against Watering Bans

While Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery gives the city of Raleigh a piece of his mind, Kellie Bowen, who owns a garden center in northern Georgia, shares insight on what it will take to influence local governments to be responsive. Click here for the article on the Raleigh watering ban. Click here for Tony Avent’s open letter to the City of Raleigh. Click here for Kellie Bowen’s advice to other growers, retailers and landscapers. Click here for Kellie Bowen’s letter to the Gainesville Times in Georgia.

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February 13, 2008

MasterTag Offers Sustainable Options

MasterTag has two new plant label options made with environmentally sustainable materials.  The materials, shape and design were developed to complement biodegradable pots that are becoming more popular at retail. MasterTag will offer a stake label made of recycled and recyclable materials, and a new hanging tag, made from biodegradable and recyclable plastic, has been developed to work with nursery, perennial and annual plant containers. MasterTag also offers creative design and product development services that can create custom labeling to complement other eco-friendly packaging components. For more information, go to www.mastertag.com.

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February 6, 2008

Pest Management Conference Mixes Alternative With Conventional

There’s still time to register for the Society of American Florists’ (SAF) Pest Management Conference, Feb. 28-March 1 in Atlanta. This year’s conference co-chairs are Dr. Raymond Cloyd, associate professor in the department of entomology at Kansas State University, and Dr. Colleen Warfield, nursery production and floriculture advisor through University of California Cooperative Extension in Half Moon Bay, Calif. Topics that are on the more green and alternative side are: Designing Disease Suppressive Growing Media by Dr. Mike Evans at the University of Arkansas Plant-Essential Oils: Are They Viable Pest Control Materials? by Cloyd Biological Fungicides by Dr. Wade Elmer of USDA’s Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Compatability Of Pest Control Materials With Natural Enemies by Rene Ruiter of Koppert Biological Systems. There will be two full days of seminars, Friday, Feb. 29 and Saturday, March 1. The Thursday before, Greenhouse Grower will sponsor a tour to two growing operations—Rambo Nursery […]

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January 30, 2008

VeriFlora Certifies Two More Growers

Seville Farms of Mansfield, Texas, and Neal Mast & Son Greenhouses of Grand Rapids, Mich., have recently earned VeriFlora certification. The VeriFlora label represents potted and bedding plants and cut flowers that have been produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner while meeting the highest standards for freshness and quality. These claims are certified by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS). Both Seville Farms and Neal Mast & Son learned about VeriFlora through a collaborative initiative launched by Ball Horticultural Co. for Wal-Mart aimed at identifying products meeting rigorous sustainability standards, SCS reports. Neal Mast & Son’s VeriFlora certification applies to its complete selection of indoor holiday and promotional plants, as well as garden and bedding plants grown at its two locations in Grand Rapids. Combined, these two locations add up to about 600,000 square feet of production. The company has distinguished itself in a number of sustainability accomplishments, including an […]

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January 30, 2008

Sounding Off On Sustainability

We received quite a response to grower Mark Shaw’s rant on being sick of sustainability and have posted the responses. Here is the link to his original letter to us: Benchrunner Relay: Sick Of Sustainability!   And here are the responses we received last week:   Phillip Wilhelm, Hartford Greenhouse, Ohio I think that in the long run, sustainability and survivability are the same thing. We as an industry are so dependent on oil, we will all be in trouble to survive in the not so distant future. We must find alternatives to plastic (pots, greenhouse coverings, etc.), heat, pesticides, fertilizers, fuel for transportation that are not dependent on oil. Dale Deppe, Spring Meadow Nursery, Michigan My definition of sustainability is making enough money to be able to do it all over again next year!! Sara Wilcox, Keeline Wilcox Nurseries, California “Sustainability” is like, huh? what? Everything I already do […]

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January 23, 2008

Benchrunner Relay: Sick Of Sustainability!

One Alabama grower vents to us after returning from the Gulf States Horticultural Expo (GSHE) in Mobile, Ala., last week. Dear Benchrunner, Please, enough with sustainability. I was at the GSHE in beautiful Mobile this past weekend, which in most people’s opinions is one of the premier shows for the Southeast now. The one topic that came up, “Sustainability.” Most of the small- to medium-size growers feel pretty much the same as I do. Right now with the economy, drought, high fuel prices, soaring health costs and insurance, it’s not sustainability anymore, it’s “SURVIVABILITY.” How can y’all keep asking growers to spend money to just about totally revamp their operations when they are on the verge of closing or getting gobbled up by a mega grower? I really believe you need to rethink your slogan for 2008. Y’all need to try and come up with articles to help small to […]

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January 2, 2008

From VeriFlora To Sustainable Agriculture

Linda Brown, executive vice president of Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), answers more questions we have about the effort to establish national standards for sustainable agriculture. SCS developed the Draft National Sustainable Agriculture Standard for Trial Use, which will apply to food, fiber, floral and energy crops. SCS also created VeriFlora, a certification program for the floriculture industry that is currently being implemented with growers on a volunteer basis. Once approved, the national standards will be voluntary, not regulatory. But growers need to be informed regardless, because many large customers have taken an interest in sustainable programs. How did the initiative to develop sustainable standards for floriculture under VeriFlora begin? BROWN: It began in 2002 with Organic Bouquet (an online floral retailer based in San Francisco). A stakeholder group of 10 organizations representing handlers, distributors, growers and retailers approached us. They were looking for an evaluation for sustainability to market green […]

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January 2, 2008

Next Teleconference On Sustainable Ag Standards

Monday will be the next opportunity to tune in and participate in the second stakeholder teleconference on the development of a national standard for sustainable agriculture. The teleconference will be from 10 to 11 a.m. PST on Jan. 7. The current Veriflora program already mirrors the draft standard annex covering cut flowers and potted plants. The “Draft National Sustainable Agriculture Standard For Trial Use” was developed by Scientific Certification Systems, which also developed Veriflora. The national standard will cover food, fiber, floral and energy crops. The Leonardo Academy is facilitating the process of engaging stakeholders to reach consensus on the final standard which will be accredited by the American National Standards Institute.   The teleconferences are just the beginning of a two-year process, with the goal of finalizing the standard by 2010. For background on the work done to date to facilitate this process: http://www.leonardoacademy.org/Projects/ansi.htm To register for the teleconference, contact […]

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January 2, 2008

Top 25 Innovations For Producing Greenhouse Floriculture Crops

Twenty-five years ago, Greenhouse Grower spun out of American Vegetable Grower magazine as its own publication focused on greenhouse floriculture production and markets. We begin our year of fun features with a list of the top 25 most significant innovations that advanced greenhouse crop production. Twenty leading growers and industry experts helped us rank more than 120 inventions and discoveries in importance on a scale of 1 to 10. While a ranking of 1 was “not important or relevant,” a ranking of 10 was “revolutionary, completely changed the industry.” With the 20 evaluators, the most points an innovation could have received is 200. The innovations were sorted into 14 categories to group related products and concepts together. 1) Plugs 2) Seeders 3t.) Carts/Rolling Racks 3t.) Photoperiod (long days versus short days) 5.) Plant Growth Regulators 6.) Plastic Plug & Liner Trays 7t.) Barcoding 7t.) Internet 9t.) Plant Tags 9t.) Temperature […]

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December 26, 2007

Recycle Your Seed Vials

Ball Horticultural Co. is extending the life of its seed vials through a new empty vial return program. The program encourages customers to return empty seed vials to the company to be cleaned and reused for future packaging, offering a sustainable solution for growers who want an environmentally responsible way to dispose of their empty vials. Customers can simply call Ball at 800-879-BALL to start the empty vial return process. Ball will pay for return shipments of 70 or more vials from customers in the United States. The program applies to Ball vials only. Vials should be empty. Each vial should have a cap or lid in order to be reused. Labels placed on vials by customers should be removable. For more information, contact your Ball sales representative or the company at 800-879-BALL.

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December 19, 2007

Eco-Friendly Plant Tags

Horticultural Identification Products (HIP) has developed two sustainable plant tag products. EcoTag is a degradable alternative to traditional plastic plant tags. Manufactured using wind power as one energy source, EcoTag retains its structural integrity until buried in compost or disposed of in a landfill. The buried tags disintegrate in one to five years. BioTag is made of biodegradable plastic using state-of-the-art polymer technology that relies on bio-based products, such as corn and soybeans, instead of fossil fuel-based resins. The end product has a natural composition that is biodegradable. The degradation process takes about one year. Bob Lovejoy, president and CEO of HIP, has identified a need for environmentally friendly packaging options and developed alternative materials for custom-designed labels. “These environmentally conscious horticultural tags contribute to the brand image of a horticulture company, not only enhancing the look of plant products, but also conveying a corporate commitment to environmental awareness and […]

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December 12, 2007

Myers Acquisition Delayed

Myers Industries’ board of directors announced Monday that GS Capital Partners (GSCP) has requested more time to complete the acquisition of the colossal container manufacturer. Based in Akron, Ohio, Myers produces plastic horticultural containers under the Dillen, ITML, Listo Products and Pro Cal brands. In consideration for extending the closing date of the sale from Dec. 15 to April 30, 2008, GSCP has agreed to make a non-refundable payment to Myers of the previously agreed upon $35 million fee. GCSP has secured an extension of its debt financing commitments from Goldman Sachs Credit Partners and Key Bank and GSCP has agreed to contribute another $30 million of equity to the transaction. GSCP has acknowledged there has been no material adverse change in Myers’ business and the deadline request resulted from its desire to further evaluate conditions in certain industries which Myers operates. In addition to horticulture, industries include automotive and […]

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