This is an edited version of a longer report from Cultivate’17 posted online, which includes extended details of this roundup and highlights from the “Women in Horticulture” panel. You can read it here: www.gardencentermag.com/article/cultivate-17-takeaways/

All aboard the energy bus:

Sunday morning was energized by Jon Gordon’s keynote presentation about the power of positive leadership. Gordon, who admits he’s not a naturally positive person, told attendees that it’s possible to learn how to lead with positivity. Here are a three key takeaways from his presentation:

  • Don’t seek happiness; seek passion and purpose. Gordon said that happiness is a byproduct of passion and purpose, not something to chase. If you’ve lost your passion and purpose, get back to it, he advised.
  • Be connected to be more committed. Take the time to interact with employees and colleagues to foster deeper connections, which in turn will lead both parties to feel a stronger sense of commitment to the company and each other.
  • You can’t be both thankful and stressed. In today’s busy, seemingly nonstop world, people are busier and more stressed than ever. Gordon recommended taking a step back and counting your blessings — it’s nearly impossible to complain while you’re being thankful.

See a video with more takeaways here: www.gardencentermag.com/video/jon-gordon-energy-bus-keynote-cultivate/

What drives Millennials to the industry:

Mark Sellew, president of Prides Corner Farms in Lebanon, Conn., interviewed 20 Millennials who work at the nursery to get a feel for what motivates them. Here are some of the main lessons he learned:

  • Millennial employees at Prides Corner enjoy working in a “family business culture,” in which they help each other as part of a team.
  • Millennials want their managers to get to know them as people and understand their interests outside of the workplace. “This is a wise one I heard from a young woman: ‘Ask questions of me so I can question myself,’” Sellew recalls.
  • The respondents at Prides Corner wanted to be challenged, and never bored. Many of them requested new challenges and to grow each day. Contrary to many Baby Boomer’s and Generation X’s beliefs concerning Millennials, Sellew says, those at Prides Corner want to have the freedom to create their own solutions to problems.

Garden Media Group introduces the trends for 2018:

Katie Dubow, creative director of the Garden Media Group, provided a sneak peek of the 2018 Trends Report. The big picture for this year’s seven trends is “Nature’s Rx For Mental Wellness” — focusing on how gardening has several benefits for mental health and how everyone in the industry can utilize them for sales, promotion, design and more. Here are a few details about three:

1. Climate Controlled: Droughts are not the only climate-related challenge gardeners face. The report includes four examples of gardens that stand up to heat, wind, rain and cold.

2. Imperfect Gardening:

Promoting the spirit of the Japanese term “Wabi-Sabi,” which means to embrace imperfection and transience. In the garden, perfectly-maintained lawns are moving aside for more sustainable, prairie-esque lawns with tall grasses and groundcovers.

3. Grow Your Own Protein: The “flexitarian” trend is in full swing now, with many people choosing to eat less meat and substituting with plant-based proteins more often. The question is how to get these consumers to buy our products and/or grow them at home? The trend is a unique challenge and opportunity.

Find out more about the trends in this video featuring Dubow and Suzi McCoy, president of Garden Media Group: bit.ly/2urmop4.

Finding labor:

Craig Regelbrugge, senior vice president of industry advocacy and research with AmericanHort, spoke to a full room of growers and landscapers for whom labor is the no. 1 concern.

First, he dazzled the audience with statistics. For instance, 72 percent of agricultural workers are foreign-born. At least half of those workers are unauthorized. Regelbrugge said these “creatively documented” workers have papers, and the employers are diligently filling out I-9 forms for them, but in many cases the papers aren’t as good as they look and would not hold up to forensic scrutiny.

Perhaps that’s not a surprise, but the average age of these workers is 40 — which is much higher than it used to be. The “young people” handling the physical labor of growing plants are getting older. There are several reasons for this, from increased border security and deportation concerns to continuing trend of lower birth rates in Mexico. Regelbrugge said the Mexican birth rate used to be double the U.S. rate. Now it’s about equal, which has a huge long-term impact on the pool of potential workers.

Read the full report here: bit.ly/2hui5rW.

Six exceptional greenhouse and nursery leaders were welcomed into the Horticultural Industries Leadership Awards (HILA) Class of 2017 during Cultivate'17.


Award-winning leaders:

On Sunday evening, the GIE Media Horticulture Group and Syngenta proudly welcomed six exceptional greenhouse and nursery industry leaders into the Horticultural Industries Leadership Awards (HILA) Class of 2017. We also honored Jim Zampini, a beloved nurseryman who the industry lost earlier this year. His memory will live on through his many contributions to horticulture during his long career.

This year’s HILA Class of 2017 includes:

  • Tom Demaline, Willoway Nurseries
  • Mark Foertmeyer, Foertmeyer & Sons Greenhouse Co.
  • Mike Gooder, Plantpeddler
  • Gary Hennen, Oglesby Plants International
  • Terry Hines, Hale and Hines Nursery
  • Skeetter McCorkle, McCorkle Nurseries

Get to know these remarkable leaders by reading their stories in the July digital editions of Greenhouse Management http://magazine.greenhousemag.com/issue/july-2017 and Nursery Management http://magazine.nurserymag.com/issue/july-2017.

Find out more about the plants displayed in this section in this video from the show floor: www.gardencentermag.com/video/new-varieties-zone-cultivate17/

Looking ahead — GE petunias and what it means for the industry:

Craig Regelbrugge

Regelbrugge provided an overview and an update on what he called the both surprising and challenging genetically engineered petunias situation during an informal presentation on the show floor.

As of the most recent USDA-APHIS-BRS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service — Biotechnology Regulatory Services) update June 28, there are now 50 confirmed and 9 suspect petunias and in colors other than orange from multiple breeding companies.

Regelbrugge lamented the “painful economic losses” in the industry, but noted that despite the terrible timing and drama — the USDA guidance came out just before Mother’s Day weekend — retailers were not affected and consumers for the most part were unfazed by the GE plants. AmericanHort’s immediate focus was to work with the USDA and the American Seed Trade Association on testing guidance, and Regelbrugge says it is also working to ensure that this does not impede plant shipments.

He said although it is still unknown how the foreign germplasm, which originated from experiments at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in the 1980s, got into commercial breeding programs, the important message is that the GE petunias pose no risk to humans, animals or the environment. He said although he is “agnostic” on whether GMO is bad or good, he is hopeful that breeders and the USDA could work together to streamline and simplify the regulatory process to prevent this unprecedented situation, and the “loss of good genetics,” from happening in the future.

Monday Keynote, State of the industry, and a very special attendee:

Ken Fisher, CEO of AmericanHort, discussed AmericanHort’s role in the industry and some key initiatives for the association during Monday morning’s keynote address. He noted some of AmericanHort’s goals, which include working to get more financial resources for horticulture companies to help the industry grow, workforce development and their collaboration with the FFA, and bringing the industry together to improve the overall structure.

Regelbrugge also addressed the large crowd, but first welcomed industry icon Ernest Wertheim, who has had a 75-year career in the horticulture industry and attended Cultivate’17. He received a warm standing ovation from attendees. I think we speak for everyone who knows him in the industry that we were happy to see him there.

Dr. Charlie Hall, the Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M University, provided an overview of his outlook for the industry, and based on several economic indicators, research and other factors. Here are a few highlights from his State of hte Industry presentation:

  • Shared a few stats: Job growth is slowing, but consumer confidence is holding. Fuel prices remain low, but household debt is at all-time high. International forecast improving.
  • What’s our future growth going to look like? It depends on “MAGAnomics” — Trump’s plan for economic growth. Reducing regulations, lowering taxes and cutting “wasteful” spending will ideally lead to increasing investments.
  • For more growth, we need more workers to increase productivity. “Instead of building a wall, we need charter buses,” Hall said.
  • He encouraged the industry to make the most of the recovery time we’re seeing. The next recession isn’t too far off (predicts it will be some time between now and 2023), so “between now and next year, put the pedal to the metal.”

Hear more from Charlie Hall in this video recorded during Cultivate‘17: www.gardencentermag.com/video/state-of-the-industry-charlie-hall-2017/

Karen is editor of sister publication Greenhouse Management, and Chris is assistant editor. Matt is managing editor of sister publication Nursery Management.