Dream On

We sure had fun putting this issue together. It was an opportunity to reflect on the strides our industry has made in 25 years, but the best part was dreaming about the future. Brainstorming with our readers about what the next 25 years could bring was really liberating. Day to day, we’re so focused on immediate business challenges it’s hard to open our minds and think outside the greenhouse.

Many of you shared your “wildest dreams” with us for new products, technology and varieties. We really got a kick out of our “Joe the Future Grower” interview. He is bold, going where no grower has gone before, in a space-age market.

When I was looking through our early issues to put together our timeline capturing the last 25 years, I couldn’t help but wonder what the growers we featured in 1983 would think about 2008. Could they fathom a greenhouse operation producing more than 2 million poinsettias for Christmas at a single location and most of those plants going to two retailers?

Then I thought about Joe the Future Grower’s grandfather, Rip Van Winkle, of Van Winkle’s Greenhouses. He built a new greenhouse in 1983, complete with the first generation of computerized environmental controls. He was so happy to have this new automated system. “Now I can relax!” he said. “No more sleepless nights wondering if the heat is still on or if the greenhouses will be at the right temperature.”

In the tale from Washington Irving, Rip fell into a deep sleep for 20 years. Let’s say our grower Rip woke up 25 years later in 2008. What would he see in his greenhouse?

The first thing he’d see is women gathered along a dual conveyor belt sticking line, sticking cuttings of varieties he had never seen before – osteospermums, calibrachoas, scaevolas, argyranthemums and even trailing snapdragons.

Where did these cuttings come from? The cargo stamps say Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Brazil, Israel, Uganda and South Africa. He feels more reassured when he sees the familiar geranium cuttings, but he wonders where all the stock plants are. In 25 years, his greenhouse has become a global hub.
He trips over his beard and runs out to another greenhouse and sees benches full of petunias in bright pink pots! Where could these possibly be going? “Lowe’s, a big national home improvement chain,” Rip Jr. tells him.

“But what happened to DIY, Handy Andy and Builder’s Square?” Rip asks. He learns his former customers are no longer in business and the Wave petunias are very special varieties recognized in pink pots.

He sits down and ponders how his markets and crops have changed since he fell asleep 25 years ago. Just as Rip’s world changed beyond his wildest dreams, we will achieve a future we barely recognize. The key will be to stay alert and not get complacent. Keep reinvesting in your business, new technology, new partnerships and finding more ways to connect with consumers. Keep pursuing your wildest dreams!

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