Editor’s Picks For Top Stories

Sometimes the most popular stories aren’t necessarily the most important from a journalist’s point of view. Greenhouse Grower’s Editor Delilah Onofrey has her own Top 10, with only five overlapping with the top 10 most widely read stories: 

1) Establishing National Standards For Sustainable Agriculture

The initiative to create national standards for sustainable agriculture—encompassing food, floriculture, fiber and fuel crops—is complex and may not be exciting as natural disasters and high-profile acquisitions, but it’s really important. It is truly rare that an effort that begins in the cut flower industry would be expanded to encompass all of agriculture, but that is what is happening here. It all began with Organic Bouquet seeking a third part to certify its claims, which led to the creation of Veriflora, a program that certifies sustainable practices in the supply chain for cut flowers and potted plants. As an industry, we are at the very beginning of a 2 to 3 year process leading to national standards approved by the American National Standard Institute.

Here are links to our coverage so far:

Steps Toward Sustainability Guide Online
Clarification On The Sustainable Agriculture Standard
Drafting Sustainability Standards 

2) San Diego Growers Flee Wildfires

All eyes were on Southern California in October when unprecedented wild fires ravaged the region. San Diego County is one of the most important pockets of horticulture and floriculture in the United States with a very diverse mix of growers and crops. We are confident the growers will make a full recovery.  

San Diego Growers Flee Wildfires
San Diego Growers Assess Fire Damage 

3) Wal-Mart Shares Sustainability Vision

Wal-Mart’s Senior Horticultural Buyer Ron Coben shared the retail giant’s corporate vision for sustainability and what it means to growers at Grower Talks’ Greenhouse Experience in Cleveland in September. The implications for all industries are profound. So far, we are glad to see mutual cooperation between Wal-Mart and select growers on implementing new eco-friendly programs.

Wal-Mart On Sustainability 

4) Syngenta Acquires Fischer And Restructures On The Plant Side

Another big story this year was Syngenta acquiring Fischer, one of the largest flower breeders and cuttings producers in the world. In addition to gaining instant dominance in staple crops, such as geraniums, New Guinea impatiens and poinsettias, all of Goldsmith’s vegetative annuals are licensed to be produced and marketed by Fischer as the GoldFisch line. Based in Colorado, Fischer has since become Syngenta Flowers and manages all the seed and vegetative lines under Syngenta. The former S&G Flowers has become focused on distribution only and rebranded as Syngental Horticultural Services. Combined with Syngenta’s strengths on the crop protection and growing media side, we’re anticipating more headlines and innovative approaches in 2008.

Syngenta Acquires Fischer
Fischer/S&G Restructuring Opens Markets
Fischer Names Brand Managers
Fischer Becomes Syngenta Flowers 

5) Pike Files Chapter 11

In November when Atlanta-based Pike Family Nurseries, one of the top independent garden center chains in the nation, announced it was reorganizing under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to severe drought conditions drying up sales. In this story, growers top Pike’s list of creditors. We’re very concerned about how the drought will affect growers, retailers and landscapers next year, too, and how many casualties there will be. Let’s play for rain!

Growers Top Pike’s List Of Creditors 

6) Bell Buys Ulery, Moves Into Ohio

Known for perfecting a contract growing and service model to serve the box stores, Bell Nursery in Burtonsville, Md., is taking its formula success beyond the MidAtlantic region by acquiring Ulery Greenhouse in Springfield, Ohio. The Ulery family will still have an ownership stake. Working with established businesses, whether it’s through ownership or cooperation, to serve the marketplace is a great strategic move. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s next from Bell Nursery.

Bell Nursery Buys Ulery Greenhouse 

7) Color Spot Consolidates Its Position In The Southwest

Color Spot Nursery took back its position at No. 1 on our Top 100 Growers by purchasing Powell Plant Farm in Troup, Texas, which also made its Southwest division even stronger.

Color Spot’s Plan For Texas 

8) Glass Corner Greenhouses Ceases Operations

The first week of November was a sad one when Rick and Joyce Mast announced they had to cease operating as Glass Corner Greenhouses, one of the most respected young plant growers. The business has been transferred to Neal Mast & Son. We are glad the business will continue in the extended family and employees will be retained.

Glass Corner Greenhouses Closes 

9) Speaking Out On Drought

For about seven years, Carole Barton has been working with fellow growers in Alabama to make sure the industry is treated fairly in times of watering restrictions. I know she often feels like she’s banging her head against the wall with bureaucrats, but she is fighting the good fight. In November, she allowed me to share a letter she wrote to the governor of Alabama in light of headlines and decisions surrounding severe drought in Alabama and Georgia. I think this letter summarizes the frustration so many growers, garden center retailers and landscapers are feeling. It is much more powerful than a news story.

VIEW: Carole Barton On Drought

10) A New Brand On The Fashion Runway

Even the founders of the Hort Couture are amazed at how fast their new brand of premium plants is coming together and catching on with growers and retailers alike. Since debuting at Short Course, more than 30 growers have joined the network. While most brands originate with breeders and growers, Hort Couture was conceived by Jim and Jennifer Monroe, owners of Greenbrier Nurseries, an independent garden center in Virginia and West Virginia. Read all about it in the Market Watch story Managing Editor Sara Tambascio wrote in our January issue.

Hort Couture Announces Grower Network
Ellison’s & Valleybrook Join Hort Couture
Zylstra & Riverbend Join Hort Couture

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