Following in the footsteps of the California Pack Trials, Garden Centers of America (GCA) has announced an Eastern Performance Trials in September 2005.
In the announcement, Jack Bigej, GCA president, confirmed the six sites of the first-ever coordinated trials on the Eastern Seaboard, scheduled for September 19-24, 2005. Host locations for the trials will be Conard-Pyle, Philadelphia, Pa.; Homestead Growers, Annapolis, Md.; American Horticultural Society at River Farm, Alexandria, Va.; Virginia Growers, Richmond, Va.; White’s Greenhouse and Nursery, Chesapeake, Va.; and McDonald Garden Center, Virginia Beach, Va.
Bigej forecasts a trend of providing garden centers and green good buyers a new and innovative way of bringing new product ideas to the gardening consumer. “We have seen how successful the springtime California trials have been and the benefit that event has been to the green industry,” Bigej commented. “Now we see the possibility of bringing a similar experience to our industry members in the Eastern part of the country and at a different time of the year.”
Logistically, the Eastern Performance Trials will provide attendees a convenient and compact travel schedule, covering six sites over 275 miles along interstate highways I-95 and I-64, according to the GCA. “This schedule and lineup will make it easy for people to see a wide range of new plant material and network with some of the nation’s leading breeders and growers in a minimal amount of time and miles” Bigej said.
A complete list of participating companies, leading names within the green industry, will be announced in the coming weeks. Those expected to participate will include several national tree and shrub growers in addition to major seed companies. National and International breeders, who specialize in floriculture, seed and herb crops, are also expected to be part of this new program.
Bigej also announced the formation of an advisory committee to finalize the details of the trials program: Don Riddle, Homestead Gardens, will be committee chair, and John Rader, EuroAmerican Propagators, will be committee vice-chair. Other committee members include Susie Usrey, Monrovia; Anna Ball, Ball Horticulture; Niles Riese, Ernst Benary of America; Linda Guy, Carolina Nursery/Novalis Group; Tal White, White’s Greenhouse & Nursery; Joe Gray, Hines Horticulture; Allen Armitage, Athens Select/University of Georgia; Joel Goldsmith, Goldsmith Seeds; Eddie Anderson, McDonald Garden Center; and Dave Williams, Williams Nursery.
“We have several goals in mind as we move forward with this major undertaking,” Bigej said. “One is to make it easier and more convenient for those in the Eastern half of the country who cannot get away for the California trials in the spring. Another is to provide independent garden center operators the opportunity to see and place orders for new introductions and offerings that will be made available to the independent channel.
“We believe this event will complement the California Pack Trials as well as the many industry trade shows. As a result, the industry will be better served, while at the same time we can develop an alliance strategy with existing industry groups,” Bigej added.
Stay tuned to GPN Weekly for more details as well as the Garden Centers of America Web site at www.gardencentersofamerica.org .