Getting Back to Basics

One of horticulture’s more important news items last year was that two major horticulture organizations, ANLA and OFA, combined to create a new association.

American Horticulture Industry Association, AmericanHort for short, is on a mission to unite, promote, and advance the horticulture industry through advocacy, collaboration, connectivity, education, market development, and research. The new entity aims to represent a wide range of the plant industry, uniting growers and breeders, garden centers and nurseries, florists, suppliers and manufacturers.

Another consortium, including representatives of the American Society for Horticultural Science, the American Horticultural Society, the American Public Gardens Association, and others, is banding together with the goal of increasing public awareness of the positive attributes of horticulture. Given the paucity of younger people choosing horticulture as a career, it’s essential that the perception of horticulture be as correct, and positive, as possible, and that working in it as a profession once again becomes desirable and profitable.

This need to project and protect an accurate, energetic  image of our industry is as real now as when I chose horticulture as my major at Iowa State University. My siblings reacted by repeating the tired old joke about—well, you know what it’s about—and my parents asked countless times the difference between horticulture and botany, my husband’s field. Trying to later explain what “specialty cut flowers” meant was a whole other story.

Specialty cut flowers can pretty much now be called local flowers, and a third group is working to promote the use and sale of them. You’ve been hearing about the American Grown Task Force for some time. Their objective is to take back the 80% of cut flowers currently imported, using national marketing programs and informing customers on the origin and proper use of their cut flowers

With such a spectrum of support behind us, the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers can continue its mission, to educate, unite and promote cut flower growers. We are the backbone of the industry, and these other organizations help complete the structure. It is gratifying to see so much energy devoted to small-scale agriculture, and the ASCFG is glad to be part of the effort.

For the first quarter of the new year, I’ll be studying how cut flower growers in the United Kingdom produce and sell their flowers. It’s been said that England and America are two countries divided by a common language. I’m curious to see how the language of flowers is spoken across the pond, as I work for a few months from London, where my husband will be teaching for the spring semester.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my experiences of how similar and different our practices are.