How Greenhouse Growers Can Broaden Their Horizons

Penn State University Trial Day
More than 300 people attended the Pennsylvania State University Trial Field Day in beautiful Manheim, PA, to pick up some new ideas.

I am fortunate that I’m able to travel across the country — and beyond — and visit beautiful gardens and terrific companies, see new plants, listen to others’ ideas, and talk with a broad range of people. It is tiring. It is logistically difficult, and at times frustrating, but it is never a waste of time. Like many of you, I spend way too much time at a desk, looking at a screen, or doing the same job (different details, perhaps) every day. Without me realizing, a week, a month, two months have passed, and I am two months older but not two months smarter.

Without realizing it, we create a bubble around ourselves. Little new information is leaving our bubbles and even less is penetrating.

Get up and get out.

Broaden Your Horizons — And Knowledge — Beyond Your Own Business

I got up and out recently and met some extraordinary people at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) Trial Field Day in beautiful Manheim, PA. More than 300 people made the effort to attend the event, and I talked with many of them. They attended to learn about petunias and geraniums to be sure, but they were there mainly to pick up a new idea or two. They were chatting like schoolkids, animated like Pokémon characters, and simply enjoying the day. Many drove long distances from their greenhouses and nurseries, and as one person said, “I had to break out of my bubble.”

It is easy to believe we already know as much as we need to know to successfully run our companies. Heck, your plants are growing, the market is reasonably robust, and you are doing just fine, thank you. It is challenging to register for a meeting when you have so much to do; why worry about the newest whitefly treatment when your program is working fine? And it just seems like a waste of time to take notes on 10 new calibrachoas when nobody knows the names of the ones you already grow. Those are signs of the bubble, and that you must get up and get out.

Check the websites and publications of your own trade association and local Extension office. National and regional conferences, field days, open houses — grower events like these are scheduled for almost every month of the year. You’re bound to find at least a few near enough for you to attend. Then go to one.

Open Your Mind To New Possibilities, Products, And Relationships

By the way, the trial gardens at PSU are simply spectacular. The newest plants and standard cultivars were perfectly organized so they could be compared side by side. Opportunities to talk to others who grow and sell these cultivars were numerous.

Kudos to Sinclair Adam and the people working beside him for a great job done. I coordinated new variety trials for many years, and I know how much work and effort goes into maintaining a venue like this.

The best part of this trip was not the newest celosia, by no means was it the greatest digiplexis, and for sure it wasn’t the most colorful coneflower. The best part was hearing the sound of bubbles popping.

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