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An AmericanHort Member Benefit




Welcome to 2021 “It goes without saying that 2020 was a uniquely challenging year. At AmericanHort, it has opened new opportunities for our team to work diligently on your behalf in 2021 so you and your business can perform better, grow faster, and prepare for the future.” —Ken Fisher, President & CEO, AmericanHort

FEATURES Welcome to 2021 Announcing the Congressional Kickoff Inspiration from Leading Women in Horticulture




HRI’s Funded Research Projects for 2021


More Than Just a Logo: Lessons Learned Through Rebranding 12

UPCOMING EVENTS Cultivate’21 5 8

This Spring, Be Sure to Utilize the Agricultural Exemption 10

Hemp Conference E-Commerce Mastery Series

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Others 14

WELCOME TO 2021 Offshore Greenhouse Certification Program This program, which launched in 2020, is aimed to allow producers of unrooted cuttings from hundreds of admissible plant species and varieties who meet high minimum standards for sanitation and production practices to see their consignments expedited through the port clearance process. This should result in an expedited, high-quality, and more reliable young plant supply chain.

Supporting the Industry in 2020 and Beyond By Ken Fisher, President & CEO, AmericanHort, KenF@AmericanHort.org

The unique challenges of the past year opened new opportunities for our team at AmericanHort to work diligently on your behalf. We are discovering new ways to create value for you our members as we have moved from “high touch” to “high tech” allowing us to reach more of you more efficiently. As the industry benefits from strong consumer demand and pricing from this “work from home” economy and there are signs that 2021 will be another strong year, we will continue work hard to make the impact needed for you and your businesses to grow faster, perform better, and prepare for the future. Here are some of the ways we helped you and the industry in 2020:

Program, and both the Coronavirus Food Assistance Programs (CFAP and CFAP2).


Coronavirus Resource Center

Federal Coronavirus Relief Our advocacy team took a leading role in working from coast-to-coast to keep markets and supply chains open by ensuring our businesses were categorized as “essential.” We are recognized for helping to shape the federal relief response and focused on industry liquidity and ensuring our businesses had access to financial support including Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), USDA stimulus funding, and the Federal Reserve Main Street Lending

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We created the AmericanHort Coronavirus Resource Center as a convenient online place to access important resources for horticulture businesses to succeed during the pandemic. You can access this information at AmericanHort.org/Coronavirus. Trucking Regulations In late 2020, our long-sought fix to trucking regulations’ agriculture definition was achieved. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a new rule stating that “…plants, including sod, flowers, ornamentals, seedlings, shrubs, live trees, and Christmas trees are within the scope of the definition.”

EDUCATION & NETWORKING Our expanding educational programming is key to ensuring that you and your team have the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful. From virtual training and webinars to online events, we figured out new ways to conduct commerce, learn, and lead our businesses during this pandemic period. Virtual Events

AmericanHort Board of Directors Nominations Now Being Accepted Until February 19. AmericanHort is seeking individuals that are dedicated to the horticulture industry and passionate about moving it forward to provide guidance, support, and leadership while serving on the AmericanHort Board of Directors. Nominate an industry leader*, or submit your own application, at AmericanHort.org/Elections.

Voting will occur March 15–April 9. *B  oard of Directors must be current AmericanHort members to be elected.

Online events like Cultivate’20 Virtual and the DIG Conference: Disease, Insects, and Growth Regulators, and the Virtual Retail Tour delivered invaluable information and access to industry best practices. The E-Commerce Mastery Series is helping garden retailers and others transition their sales to successful curbside and online processes. Access to these programs is still available; learn more at AmericanHort.org/Education. Networking & Peer-Sharing Connecting with industry peers will continue to be invaluable as navigate the days ahead in our ‘new normal.’ Our HR Peer Sharing Group and Women in Horticulture are two programs that will continue to provide an opportunity for our members to connect and learn from each other. We are optimistically planning for 2021 and look forward to safely meeting you for Cultivate’21 and the Hemp Conference in Columbus, Ohio on July 9–13. In the coming year look for our advocacy team to continue to lead the way and for us to bring more educational programming and networking opportunities to help you and your business move forward.

AmericanHort Resource Directory The 2021 AmericanHort Resource Directory was mailed to members in January and contains the full AmericanHort member contact list, featured products and services for the green industry, affinity partner discounts, a listing of member benefits, and more. Members may request additional printed directories by emailing Carol Baker at CarolB@AmericanHort.org while supplies last.

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Announcing the Congressional Kickoff By Tal Coley, Director of Government Affairs, AmericanHort, TalC@AmericanHort.org

AmericanHort is proud to announce our first-ever Congressional Kickoff, a virtual event featuring subject matter experts, along with Congressional members and staff, to lay out the state of play on key industry issues in the 117th Congress. The event is scheduled for February 24 and 25, with programming to run from 1–3:30 PM, ET on both days.

This event is free to AmericanHort members and something you will not want to miss, so register today!

The non-member registration is $149. This event is part of AmericanHort Impact We will continue to update Congressional Washington programming, which will participants and the program timeline as it culminate with the IW Summit set for gets solidified. September in Washington, D.C. Discussion You can register by visiting topics will center around agricultural labor AmericanHort.org/CongressionalKickoff reform, the H-2B Visa program, taxes, and the economy. Participants include:

The green industry’s must-attend event. Cultivate’21 is your opportunity to experience the industry’s premiere event for fostering personal, professional, and business growth. Register for an All-Access Pass and attend any of the 100+ education sessions.

Something for Everyone Don’t miss out on industry production tours, hands-ons workshops, and education sessions specially curated for your business.

New Varities Robert Dietz, PhD Chief Economist, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)

Laurie Flanagan Executive Vice President, DC Legislative and Regulatory Services, Inc

Lynn Jacquez Managing Partner and Principal, JPH Law, formerly CJ Lake LLC

New Products New Connections New Knowledge

For this February issue, respond by April 1. 4 | AmericanHort.org



We are committed to meeting safely in Columbus in July. Learn more about our health and safety plans at: AmericanHort.org/Cultivate/Health


In each issue of Connect, we’ll be “hiding” a new small graphic. When you find it, email us at ConnectSeekAndFind@AmericanHort.org, and tell us where you found it.

Brian Kuehl Principal, K·Coe Isom


David Joyce U.S. Congressman, Ohio 14th District

Register Today at




Inspiration from Leading Women in Horticulture Check out our Women in Horticulture interview series to get informed and inspired by our industry’s most accomplished women. Hear their stories about what attracted them to the green industry, how they have overcome challenges, and learn about their keys to success.

Up Next

March 24, 2 PM, ET Dr. Mary Meyer, Professor Emeritus and Grass Collection Curator at the University of Minnesota Dr. Meyer is an expert on the propagation and production of grasses including cold hardiness, and low maintenance sustainable landscaping. She founded the National Grass Trials evaluation with eleven states. Have questions for Dr. Meyer? Email us at hello@AmericanHort.org

Register at AmericanHort.org/WiH

July 9–10, 2021 | Columbus, Ohio USA

Announcing the NEW! AmericanHort Hemp Conference at Cultivate This event is ideal for...

• Both novice and experienced hemp growers • Greenhouse and field growers currently growing hemp • Floriculture operations looking to diversify their business • Anyone wanting to build their network in the hemp industry

A Few of Our Past Guests:

Bridget Behe PhD Professor of Horticultural Marketing, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Cari Peters, PhD Vice President, JR Peters, Allentown, PA

Susie Raker-Zimmerman Vice President, Raker Roberta’s Young Plants, Litchfield, MI

Whether you need a little inspiration, or missed and interview and want to catch up, check out the recordings from all our WIH interviews available at: AmericanHort.org/WiH 6 | AmericanHort.org

A two-day trade show and educational program held prior to Cultivate’21 opening.

Registration for the Hemp Conference is separate from Cultivate’21 registration and discounts are available to those interested in attending both conferences.

LEARN MORE AT TheHempConference.org Interested in exhibiting at the Hemp Conference at Cultivate? Contact Elizabeth Waldo at ElizabethW@AmericanHort.org


HRI’s Funded Research Projects for 2021 By Jennifer Gray, Research Programs Administrator, Horticultural Research Institute, JenniferG@AmericanHort.org The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), the foundation of AmericanHort, is pleased to announce the portfolio of research projects to be funded in 2021. Projects range from innovations to crop production for both greenhouse and nursery segments, emergent consumer research, pollinator research, and plant disease projects.

“Investing in diverse, high-quality research is our mission,” said Jennifer Gray, HRI Administrator. “The 2021 projects selected from a competitive batch of grant applications represent all facets of the industry and touch each of HRI’s four strategic research priorities.” QUANTIFYING PLANT BENEFITS A practical method for rapidly assessing pollinator attraction to plant cultivars | H. Patch, Penn State University With the increase in consumer demand for pollinator-friendly plant stock, there is a clear need for a user-friendly method to routinely evaluate plant attractiveness to pollinators. This project develops a protocol for industry and flower trial assessors to rapidly estimate a cultivar’s attractiveness to beneficial insects in the field trial settings and develops a web tool prototype to analyze data and rank trial cultivars based on their value to insect pollinators.

CREATING INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS Transparent Solar Cell Design for Greenhouses | R. R. Lunt & E. Runkle, Michigan State University This project investigates the optical impact of various wavelengths on a range of horticultural crop species. This is the first step to optimize transparent solar cells designed to maximize both plant productivity and electricity generation simultaneously in the same area for worldwide adoptability. Controlling Flowering of SummerFall Garden Mums with Strategic LED Lighting | Q. Meng, University of Delaware In summer-fall garden mum programs, growers typically use black cloth to trigger flowering of these short-day plants under 8 | AmericanHort.org

otherwise long days. However, pulling black cloth twice a day to create short days incurs labor and material costs with potential heat delay of flowering. This project aims to identify night LED lighting strategies to promote flowering of summer-fall garden mums with reduced or no use of black cloth. Removal of paclobutrazol from captured irrigation runoff using slow sand filters | L. Oki, UC Davis To stabilize water supplies and comply with runoff regulations, nurseries and greenhouses capture runoff from irrigation and storms. Captured irrigation runoff may contain PGRs at concentrations high enough to cause stunting or deformation of nontarget crop plants. Water treatment using slow sand filters may be able to provide long-term removal since contaminants are biologically degraded and the microbes performing the degradation are constantly regenerated. Fluorescence imaging: a low-cost method for early stress detection | M. van Iersel, University of Georgia Plants are exposed to different biotic and abiotic that can negatively impact crop production. Early detection of such stresses is important to mitigate their negative impact on the crop. Such detection typically depends on visual inspection of crops. This project develops and tests a novel imaging approach for detection plant stress before visible symptoms are present.

GATHERING CONSUMER INSIGHTS Gardening purchase motivation and satisfaction during COVID-19 isolation and their effects on likelihood to buy again | B. Behe, Michigan State University The COVID-19 pandemic ignited a big interest in plants. This project aims to understand why and how much of that will influence future plant purchases through a survey both plant purchasers and nonpurchasers. Results from 2021 data will be compared to 2020 data. Growers, wholesalers, and retailers should all benefit from a better understanding of consumer perceptions this study will provide to improve their sales and communications. Growing Green Industry Profits from an Emerging Market of Plantspeople | J. Campbell, University of Georgia Recently, the horticulture world has seen an influx of new plantspeople entering the marketplace. These new consumers are providing new challenges and opportunities for our industry. This project will provide insight and tools, developed from consumer research, to equip horticulture industry stakeholders to better engage emerging audiences and convert them into lifelong buyers.

PRODUCING PRACTICAL AND ACTIONABLE SOLUTIONS Fertility, population dynamics, and pollinator attractiveness of standard and “sterile” cultivars: Buddleia as a case study may inform the way forward for our national industry | R. Contreras, Oregon State Plants such as butterfly bush have escaped cultivation in some regions such that they have been banned. To address this, breeders have developed new cultivars with the goal of reduced fertility. This project aims to understand what happens to pollinator attraction with reduced fertility and identify the fertility of a suite of modern cultivars compared to old classics to establish if a “safe” threshold of fertility can be determined. A holly jolly Christmas starts with disease-free hollies| F. Hand, The Ohio State University

An emergent fungal fruit rot disease is severely affecting deciduous holly production in Midwestern and Eastern U.S. States. This project will screen deciduous holly cultivars for disease susceptibility, to provide growers with selection recommendations when establishing new plantings. Additionally, this project aims to identify antifungal compounds naturally present within different cultivars fruit that can suppress pathogen proliferation. Characterization and Modeling of Physical and Hydraulic Properties of Wood Substrates | B. Jackson, North Carolina State University The demand for soilless substrates continues to increase as ornamental/floriculture markets grow and as more traditionally field-grown crops are transitioning to soilless growing systems. To meet significant demand, wood products will play a major role in future substrate formulations. The aim of this work is to provide indepth characterizations and testing of commercially available engineered wood components. Early detection of Phytophthora spp. on nursery-grown ornamental plants | S. N. Jeffers, Clemson University Diseases caused by Phytophthora species are a constant and substantial problem in U.S. nurseries and greenhouses with few sustainable management options. While the use of fungicides can be effective temporarily, the best long-term solution is sanitation. This research will evaluate methods for efficiently detecting Phytophthora spp. on nursery-grown plants and investigate factors that may affect detection. Developing Native Plants for Sustainable Green Industry Production | Y. Sun, Utah State The introduction of novel native plants for landscaping has the potential to infuse new energy into the Green Industry. Many natives are not used in the industry because they are so difficult to propagate, produce, and/or maintain. This project aims to develop snowbrush ceanothus (Ceanothus velutinus), a broadleaf evergreen shrub, for sustainable horticultural production and landscape use.

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This Spring, Be Sure to Utilize the Agricultural Exemption By Tal Coley, Director of Government Affairs, AmericanHort, TalC@AmericanHort.org

A key legislative priority for AmericanHort over the past few years has been clarifying the “agricultural commodity” definition that was in use for transportation policy. AmericanHort fought hard to get the definition clarified, through both organizational and grassroots efforts. In November, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ruled that it considers “plants, including sod, flowers, ornamentals, seedlings, shrubs, live trees, and Christmas trees, within the scope of the definition.” This clarification means that the transportation of those goods listed above qualifies for the agricultural exemption pertaining to hours of service (HOS) rules. So what are the details of the ag exemption? From the FMCSA website:

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The exemption provides exceptions from the HOS rules, during planting and harvesting periods as determined by the State, for the transportation of agricultural commodities within a 150 air-mile radius from the source of the commodities. The exception also applies to the transport of farm supplies for agricultural purposes shipped from either a wholesale or retail distribution point to the location the supplies will be used or from a wholesale distribution point to a retailer.




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In short, commercial drivers can operate within this 150 air-mile radius and not accrue time to daily and weekly totals. This is key for an industry that tends to have long loading and unloading times. It is key to note that if a driver does leave the radius, then HOS regulations apply. Feedback we had received from the industry to this point suggested some were already utilizing this exemption, but the majority were hesitant due to the uncertainty around qualification, especially those that utilized common carrier. In 2021, there is no more uncertainty—the industry is included. Utilize the exemption if you prefer. The FMCSA website has a wealth of information on the ag exemption on their website. Visit fmcsa.dot.gov for additional details.

How did economic and political turmoil change the horticulture industry in 2020? AmericanHort is excited to offer you our member-only 2020 State of the Industry whitepaper to assist you and your business as you plan for a successful 2021. The whitepaper provides a comprehensive economic review of 2020 discussing the impact of the Coronavirus on the green industry and analyzes topics like consumer spending, industry sales, pricing, unemployment, political ramifications, immigration, and more. It also examines likely economic scenarios and business recommendations for the next year. Access the whitepaper at AmericanHort.org/2020Whitepaper

Calling HR Professionals Join the HR Peer Sharing Group! Available to all AmericanHort members, this group of human resource professionals convenes monthly by phone and video conference to discuss relevant HR related topics. UPCOMING CALLS: March 10 | 2 PM: Monika Colunga, UA EEOC Outreach & Education Coordinator to speak April 7 | Discussion on diversity Want more details? Contact Mary Beth Cowardin, VP of Marketing & Member Engagement at MaryBethC@AmericanHort.org

HortScholar Application Now Open! The HortScholar program sets students on a path to success by exposing them to the breadth of the horticulture industry, its opportunities, and its leaders at the largest all-industry event—Cultivate’21. HortScholars spend several days onsite at Cultivate’21 in Columbus, Ohio volunteering with set up, learning, and networking. They attend facilitated meetings with industry leaders, learn in education sessions, present on a horticulture topic of their choice, and network at various social events. This program is a unique experience designed to help create long-lasting industry connections, find future jobs and internships, and experience some of the most exciting aspects of the industry.

Applications are due March 1. Apply and learn more at AmericanHort.org/Scholars

Apply Today!

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HOS regulations do not apply to the transportation of agricultural commodities operating completely within the 150 airmile radius by for hire or private carriers. Therefore, work and driving hours are not limited and the driver is also not required to use an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) or keep paper logs. In an operation where a driver uses a vehicle equipped with an ELD, a driver that is exempt can use an “Exempt Driver” account or annotate the time as exempt ag operation.

AmericanHort 2020 State-of-the-Industry Whitepaper Available to Members

2021:February | 11


Everde Growers More Than Just a Logo: Lessons Learned Through Rebranding As if the year of 2020 wasn’t hectic enough, Everde Growers, formerly known as Tree Town USA, decided to undertake the arduous task of a nation-wide rebranding. With 14 farms across the US, 33 million plants grown a year, 5000 unique varieties, 6000 acres in production, and taking into account the over 160 years of combined experience from each location—the goal of rebranding was an ambitious one. After a successful launch of their new brand in December, AmericanHort caught up with Everde Growers’ David Kirby, Executive Vice President; Nicholas Staddon, Public Relations and Spokesperson; and Leigh Schaffer, Marketing Manager, to reflect on the rebranding process and lessons learned. Why did Tree Town USA decide to rebrand to Everde Growers? “The story really starts back in 2015 with Jonathan Saperstein’s vision to grow the business beyond that of a tree farm,” said David Kirby “With that vision, he set off to acquire other businesses over the next several years that had similar values and a channel strategy that aligned with Tree Town USA’s dedication to serving both the landscape and retail side of the industry. We were very proud of the companies and employees that were acquired, but with 14 farms growing much more than just trees our name no longer fit our company.” “We also gained so much experience from the people at the newly acquired facilities and we wanted to utilize that experience in determining our core values and vision for the future of the company,” said Nicholas 12 | AmericanHort.org

Staddon, “We wanted everyone to be proud and excited to be working for us and the rebranding was a big part of that.” What steps did you take in the rebranding process? “We hired a branding company early on and they interviewed key stakeholders to help articulate who we are today and most importantly, what we want our future to look like,” said Kirby. “Throughout 2019, we had lengthy, in-depth conversations within the leadership team about these topics and conducted a survey with the entire organization to help us refine our Core Values.” “It was important for us to involve our fellow employees, and even our customers, in this,” said Leigh Schaffer, “There is a big difference between just changing the company name verses undertaking a full company rebrand. We wanted to take the time to do it right.” “After that, we chose our name and tagline, then brought in a graphic designer to create the logo, determine brand colors, font types, etc.,” continued Kirby, “We did run into an interesting snag when we discovered that the Everde.com URL was owned by a seed company in Romania, but after a long chain of emails, the involvement of a Dutch contact, a German Tradeshow, and a lot of confusion on both of our parts, we ended up being able to buy the URL and move forward with the rebranding.” “The actual unveiling of the new branding ended up being a bit of a struggle as

well,” said Kirby, “We were planning on having a rollout party at the summer trade shows, namely Cultivate’20 and TNLA, but then COVID hit. Instead, we had a socially distanced, virtual rollout party with our staff in December during our annual Family Round Up Meeting (top right photo). It was great to see the excitement for our new branding and the cumulation of a project that we had all worked on for well over a year. The act of physically implementing the new brand at all of our locations—such as the graphics on our fleet of trucks—is being worked out in stages, but things like updating our farms’ signs and sending out new uniforms to our employees was done as part of the initial rollout.” Everde Growers is a unique name, yet it feels familiar. What made you choose it? “This was one of the hardest parts,” said Kirby, “We probably came up with 50 different names, but one key word kept standing out to us—Evergreen. We decided that ‘making up’ a name with the same connotation as Evergreen would work best and it led us to Everde Growers. It’s both familiar and new and speaks to who we are, who we’ve been, and who we aspire to be as a company. Evergreen spoke to our roots as a tree grower, but it also spoke to our focus on continual improvement and being an evergreen business. The addition of “Verde,” meaning green in Spanish, was a nod to our legacy in the American Southwest, like many of our current customers and workforce.” What are the most important lessons you learned? “A project like this takes time to do it right,” said Kirby, “If you think it’s going to take 6 months, plan on a year. A true rebranding

is much more than just picking out a new name and logo—it’s a deep dive into who you are as a company and who you want to be. This holds true no matter the size of your company.” “My advice would be to take stock of who you are, do a ton of research, and don’t rush the process,” said Schaffer, “We are in the Information Age and there are so many resources out there to take advantage of, so make sure you have as much information as possible before moving forward since, once you rebrand, you are in it for the long term.” “We also learned an important lesson on company culture and collaboration,” said Staddon, “Asking our employees who they wanted us to be as a company was a more important step than I could have anticipated. Going through the process of rebranding really made us look inside the company and listen to each other. As a result, our culture got even stronger.” Katie Gustafson Marketing Communication Specialist, AmericanHort KatieG@AmericanHort.org 2021:February | 13


Mastery Series

Retail Tour


Interested in organizing and streamlining your e-commerce and curbside pickup offerings for spring 2021? AmericanHort‘s E-Commerce Mastery Series, taught by digital marketing expert Katie Elzer-Peters, is the best place to learn.




Workshop 1 | E-Commerce Quick Start Recording Available for On-Demand Purchase Workshop 2 | Curbside Pickup Powerup Recording Available for On-Demand Purchase Workshop 3 | Online Marketing Quick-Start February 17, 2-3:30 PM, ET

A Virtual Experience

Discover the key to excelling with events and education, learn tips for getting your garden center involved in the community, explore ways to diversify your business, and take a special look at how other garden centers do business around the world by purchasing the Retail Tour recording at AmericanHort.org/RetailTour

2 –2 : 3 0 PM , E T WEBINAR

Learn more at AmericanHort.org/EcommerceMasterySeries


Congressional Kickoff


Join the AmericanHort advocacy team, issue experts, Congressional members, and government officials to discuss the state of key industry issues in the upcoming 117th Congress.


D I G Conference Disease, Insect & Growth Regulators

Deadline to register and access content extended through March 1 for on-demand access Attendees can log back into the DIG platform at any time to view all sessions via the DIG webpage banner. If you missed the live days of the conference, it’s not too late! You can still register for DIG at AmericanHort.org/DIG

Hello@AmericanHort.org 2130 Stella Court Columbus, Ohio 43215-1033 USA (614) 487-1117 Main 14 | AmericanHort.org


Hear from Dr. Mary Meyer, Professor Emeritus and Grass Collection Curator at the University of Minnesota about the lessons she has learned throughout her career and what advice she has for women coming into the horticulture field.


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Save your seat at AmericanHort.org/WiH

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Register for free at AmericanHort.org/CongressionalKickoff

AmericanHort Connect 2021:February





©2021 AmericanHort. All rights reserved. This material may contain confidential information and it is for the sole use of AmericanHort members. The information contained herein is for general guidance and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. It cannot be distributed, reprinted, retransmitted, or otherwise made public without prior written permission by AmericanHort. Please contact the editor at (614) 487-1117 for permission with acknowledgment.

Save-the-Date for the largest all-industry trade show and conference for the horticulture industry. It is the industry event that brings the entire professional community together to make an even greater impact. PreRegistration

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Rates increase June 18. Learn more at AmericanHort.org/Cultivate

About AmericanHort AmericanHort is the national association of horticulture businesses and professionals across the spectrum of the industry. Perform better, grow stronger, and prepare for the future as a member of AmericanHort, the green industry’s leading association. AmericanHort.org 2021:February | 15


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Questions? Contact Amanda Holton at (614) 884-1153.

To make sure your employees are receiving the benefits of your AmericanHort membership—such as discounts for registration to events like Cultivate’21, access to education resources, and industry news— be sure to update your company roster on your company profile page of AmericanHort.org

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