NEWS on the GROW By Catherine Evans

America in Bloom (AIB) — the name brings to mind flowers,parks, the great outdoors, our country. It’s simple — “Planting pride inour communities” is the main goal.

AIB is organized by the floriculture industry through OFA.The program encourages volunteerism and involves municipal governments,businesses, organizations and citizens in improving their community’s qualityof life. OFA is pleased to partner with the AIB organization to provide thisintense, but friendly, community contest.

AIB is a program for any community of any size in any area.The organization is dedicated to promoting nationwide beautification programsand both personal and community involvement through the use of flowers, plants,trees and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements, and to providingeducational programs and resources.

The AIB program brings all community efforts that improvethe quality of life under an umbrella that creates a sense of unity. The contestis a forum of expression and a rallying point. All participants win by workingtogether to beautify and improve their communities.

This year, 43 cities are participating in the AIBbeautification contest. Throughout the summer, professionally trained teams ofjudges travel the country evaluating each community in eight criteria:community involvement, heritage preservation, environmental awareness,tidiness, floral displays, turf and groundcover areas, landscaped areas andurban forestry.

Awards will be presented at AIB’s annual symposium andawards ceremony September 18-20 in Chicago, Ill., which won AIB’s largestpopulation category last year.

Many of last year’s cities have returned, but some aretaking the year off to work on their programs. They will be implementingrecommendations from the AIB judges and networking with other cities for ideas.Last year’s winners graduated to various international challenges.

The 2002 winners in each of six population categories wereChicago, Ill.; Kalamazoo County, Mich.; Fayetteville, Ark.; Westlake, Ohio;Fairhope, Ala.; and Camp Hill, Pa.

AIB debuted in 2001 as part of Canada’s successfulCommunities in Bloom (CIB) program. At that time, four U.S. cities partneredwith four Canadian cities. CIB is modeled after similar programs in France,England and Ireland. In 2002, nearly 40 cities with populations ranging from2,000-3 million participated in AIB.

As the administrator of the AIB contest, OFA is excited tobe involved with these communities as they beautify their cities whileencouraging community involvement, patriotism and civic pride. For moreinformation on how you can support America in Bloom contact AIB at (614)487-1117; E-mail: aib@ofa.org; or www.americainbloom.org.

Southeast Greenhouse Conference

This year’s Southeast Greenhouse Conference, held June19-21, 2003, brought 1,723 attendees and 166 speakers to the Palmetto ExpoCenter, Greenville, S.C. The conference started off with educational workshopson June 19, 2003 followed by the Keynote Speaker, Lloyd Traven from Peace TreeFarm, and then the attendees were off to the Embassy Suites for the WelcomeReception. The next two days were full of more educational seminars and thetrade show, which held 1,315 exhibitors.

Talk on the Floor

Being in the Southeast, where the spring and early summerwere exceptionally wet, weather was the big talk amongst attendees of theConference. Both growers and retailers in the Southeast were affected by therecord-breaking rainfall, with several growers describing an entire month ofwet weekends. One retailer we visited in Charlotte was even holding its annualafter summer sale — two months early — due to poor sales that they felt was aresult of the weather. This is not normally a buying show, and that’s a goodthing because few had the excess cash to write orders.

With Home Depot headquarters in Atlanta and Wal-Mart inBentonville, Ark., the Southeast is the land of giant discount retailers, andtalk about the big boys was all over the trade show floor. Specifically,everyone was theorizing about the continuation of Lowe’s Miracle Grow program.The program had another painfully slow season; we couldn’t find one grower thatdidn’t loose more money than they made with the program. From what we heard,the problems range from limited store level implementation opportunities topoor variety choices (a’la Martha Stewart) to inflated price points. We’ll becurious to see how many more years Lowe’s stays at it.

Bonus visits

North and South Carolina house some of the largest growingoperations in the United States, and we couldn’t visit the area withoutchecking in on some of our friends. Besides, we never pass up an opportunity totour greenhouses with Dr. Jim Barrett, University of Florida and GPN’sconsulting editor.

We visited all of the regular sites, Stacey’s Greenhouses,which showed us they’re amazing new shipping logostics program (Look for moreinformation on it in an upcoming issue of GPN.); Van Wingerden Internationalwith all of its automation; and a small operation many of you may not befamiliar with, Lakeshore Greenhouses, a subsidiary of a Canadian-owned companyby the same name.

We were also lucky enough to get a tour of the newly renamedCosta Carolina, Leicester, N.C., the old Velvet Ridge facility that wasrecently purchased by Costa Color. Costa is using their new”Northern” location to produce some of the material that’s harder togrow in Miami such as fall pansies, mums and poinsettias, as well as shippingmaterial as far south as the Atlanta market for a substantial freight savings.

The last place we couldn’t help but mention is MetrolinaGreenhouses, Metrolina, N.C. If you’ve never been there, it’s a sight to see.You round a turn in the road only to see acre upon acre of Van Wingerden glasshouses with the roof vents wide open. While we were there, Metrolina wastesting one of its newest inventions — an automated staging area for beddingflats. The cable support system is equipped with a sensor eye that detects whena flat has been removed from the row and initiates the drive to bring anotherflat into the terminal position. Metrolina expects to have the system up andrunning for spring.

We’d like to send a special thanks to our gracious hosts whotook the time to show us around their places.

— Carrie Burns and Bridget White






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