Just like parents watching their children grow up, founders of the Southeast Greenhouse Conference are amazed their baby is now 15 years old, asking for the car keys and ready to drive.
The vibrant regional conference started as a collaboration between three floriculture faculty members – Doug Bailey of North Carolina State University (now at University of Georgia), Bill Miller of Clemson University (now at Cornell University) and Paul Thomas of the University of Georgia. Since then, it has grown to include seven states and their respective universities and state grower associations.
Located in trendy and progressive Greenville, S.C., attendees enjoy the hospitality and passionate volunteers who run the conference. Charles Hall and his staff at Association Services Group in LaGrange, Ga., have managed and grown the conference since its inception.
Starting this fall, the event will be managed by OFA in Columbus, Ohio, which is expanding its management capabilities and activities. OFA is best known for the Short Course, which was named one of the 200 largest trade shows in the United States by Tradeshow Week magazine last year.
About 100 people turned out for the luncheon we hosted with Fafard on sustainability called, "Eco Trends – Fad Or Future?" We had a panel of growers who are starting to use biodegradable pots.
Mark Yelanich of Metrolina Greenhouses represented growers serving box stores. Denise Etheridge of grower-retailer Homewood Nursery shared her experiences with Ball’s Circle of Life program. Joe Messer explained how Plug Connection has gone organic to supply its Organiks line to retailers. Consultant Ron Adams shared consumer trend insights from Garden Writers Association. For more on this discussion, read Allan Armitage’s column "Doing The Right Thing."
Awards & Sweepstakes
The Southeast Greenhouse Conference has established a hall of fame with its horticultural initiative award. This year’s honoree is Dr. Marvin Miller of Ball Horticultural Co. Paul Thomas received the Doug Hull Award, which recognizes a dedicated conference volunteer.
Keynote speaker Norman Winter is a gardening celebrity and Extension horticulturist at Mississippi State University, where he coordinates the Mississippi Medallion program. He shared which plants caught his attention at the California Pack Trials in April.
This was the 10th year we gave away trips for two to the California Pack Trials sponsored by Sakata Seed America and Suntory Corp. Winners are Susan Brown of Homewood Nursery, Raleigh, N.C., and William Henry of Little Marrowbone Farm, Ashland City, Tenn.