A greenhouse industry dynamic duo–old friends and colleagues Kenneth (Kim) Bodger and Yosh Arimitsu–were honored recently at the annual All-America Selections (AAS) Summer Summit in Monterey, CA.
First, Bodger, who began working at the family seed business while still in college, was presented with the prestigious AAS Medallion of Honor, an award designed to recognize someone with a lifelong dedication to advancement in the field of horticulture. It is widely known that Bodger led a strategic move to focus on breeding back in the 70’s, making his company one of the leading U.S. seed breeders.
His business savvy was not limited to just the U.S. market, however. Bodger was instrumental in establishing Semienes de los Andes (SDLA or Bodger Seeds–Chile) for greenhouse production of flower seed crops, going so far as to learn Spanish to ensure the project’s success. Bodger also worked extensively with Bodger’s European customers and was known for his impeccable reputation for honesty and commitment.
Bodger talked more about the seed business in general in receiving the award, saying how proud he was to work in an industry with such a strong sense of ethics. Later, he was typically modest in describing later how he felt in receiving the award.
“It was such an honor to be recognized and honored for my career at Bodger Seeds, which was just doing what came naturally and something I always found satisfying and rewarding. Bodger’s contributions to the industry would not have occurred without the efforts of our many fine former employees who are due great recognition and have the gratitude of the Bodger family,” he said. “The people in this industry and especially those I worked with at Bodger are what I miss most. I truly appreciate this award and thank AAS and the board for this opportunity to see so many wonderful people again.”
The second award, the AAS Breeders’ Cup, was established in 2004 to recognize a breeder who has dramatically influenced horticulture by his or her work in bringing significant improvements to specific flower or vegetable classes. Arimitsu, a flower breeder for Bodger Seeds since 1977, was a logical choice for the 2011 Breeders’ Cup. Arimitsu immigrated to the United States and began working in flower seed breeding in the late 1950’s.
Recognizing not only his work as a breeder, but also as a caring and giving person, Kim Bodger himself presented the award and cited Arimitsu’s work in ageratum, alyssum, antirrhinum, calendulas, delphinium, marigolds, pansies, portulaca, statice, sweet peas, violas and zinnias, among others. In all, Bodger said Arimitsu was instrumental in helping develop an astounding 18 series of flowers, each with 4 to 20 varieties. Arimitsu was also typically modest at the reception, despite receiving a sustained, heartfelt, standing ovation from all those on the AAS tour.
“I have the combined feelings of honor, humility and gratitude to All-America Selections for this Breeders’ Cup Award,” he said. “It is especially an honor to have been presented this award at the same time that Kim Bodger received the Medallion of Honor. Together, we worked toward the contributions that Bodger Seed made to the world of flowers and for that, I am grateful and proud of our work.”
The AAS tour is an opportunity for breeders, brokers/distributors, mail order seed companies, seed packet companies, growers, retailers and AAS trial judges to network and learn more about recent AAS Winners as well as varieties currently undergoing trialing. This year the group spent time in the AAS Trial Grounds and the American Garden Award display located at Sakata Seeds and American Takii in Salinas as well as Syngenta Vegetables and Flowers in Gilroy, California. The second day of tours saw the group visit Earthbound Farms, then McShane’s Nursery where an industry panel discussed the merits of an AAS award to the entire distribution chain. The day concluded with a visit to Tanimura & Antle/Natividad Nursery, a 3,000-acre lettuce grower in Salinas.
The 2012 AAS Summer Summit will be held in conjunction with Michigan Plant Tour Days, August 7-10, 2012. Please e-mail Diane Blazek, AAS executive director, [email protected], for more information. The AAS website can be found at www.all-americaselections.org.