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An AmericanHort Member Benefit



COVID-19: An Update to Our Members


The Green Green Industry Sustainability is sometimes considered a fluffy word. It can mean various things given its context, but what does it mean for your business? From soilless substrates to economic growth, supporting students to water management, we know how important sustainability is to your ability to prepare for the future.



Minimize Risk and Grow Profits


HRI Expands Boxwood Health Resources

HRI Announces Three More Scholarship Recipients 8


Key Program Highlight: Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) 10

Sustainable Soilless Substrates 6

UPCOMING EVENTS Retail Webinar Series


New! Women in Horticulture Interview Series





2. Commit to Social Responsibility The volatility of labor resources and social aspects of your business directly hit your bottom line; therefore, worker health and safety should be key focus areas. Examples include anti-harassment policies, antidiscrimination policies, and confidential grievance reporting. •

3 Sustainable Practices to Minimize Risk and Grow Profits Sustainability Action Plan for Horticultural Businesses

Sustainability is a fluffy word. It can mean various things given its context, but what does it mean for horticulture?

First, it is no longer a nice ‘add-on.’ With customer trends changing social, environmental, and economic climates, sustainability has become a necessity for businesses to secure future profitability. Horticulture sustainability practices should encompass: •

the organization’s business philosophy (defined operational parameters and the core motivation for all business decisions); and eco-friendly and saleable product actions (demonstration of full sustainability and risk management practices).

Horticulture businesses need to expand their horizons past ‘current profitability’ and evaluate how they are measuring future profits, anticipating opportunities, and mitigating perceived business risks. •

Identify topics that may impact your bottom line. Develop a financial risk management plan to manage business risks such as access to labor and natural resources, availability of financing, and the changing regulatory environment.

Improve financial stability by maintaining relationships throughout your value chain. Take an active role in understanding the future plans of customers and suppliers—you can incorporate those anticipated changes into your operational planning, ensuring alignment with key stakeholders.

Second, businesses that implement these sustainability protocols typically create multifaceted benefits as the result of improved business processes, increased efficiencies, and sustained profitability. To make the implementation process more manageable, here is a horticulture sustainability action plan that can positively impact your customers, employees, operations, and bottom line.

2 | AmericanHort.org

3. Increase Resource Efficiency and Manage Risks In horticulture, two main environmental production areas to monitor are energy management and pest and disease control. Sustainable initiatives are critical to managing business risks, but they can also serve to increase operational efficiencies and drive productive results. •

3 Actions for Sustainability that Drive Results 1. Build Up Economic Resilience

Implement safety procedures and job-specific training to equip workers with the resources they need to avoid accidents and perform their jobs diligently. In addition to positive impact on employee retention rates, this also shows customers that you care about your workers and take steps to ensure they feel safe at work.

Track energy usage and intensity across operations to make informed decisions about energy investments and minimize costs. With many options for automation, analyzing what makes sense for your business ensures an impactful capital investment. Create a reduction strategy with an energy management plan that outlines current consumption and targets your future footprint. Providing transparency is important for customers demanding more information on the products they purchase.

Monitor pest and disease control practices to adhere to the changing regulatory landscape and customer demand for reduction. Define an integrated pest management (IPM) program and train employees on how to handle, store, and dispose of these products. Ag chemical use can be reduced through various practices—nonchemical controls (such as pheromone traps and beneficials), timely scouting, and targeted applications. An IPM program provides clarity throughout your organization around best practices and expectations.

Other environmental considerations, such as runoff prevention procedures, irrigation management plans, and waste management plans will create guidance for these additional risk areas. K·Coe Isom is the preferred partner of AmericanHort to help horticulture businesses assess and implement sustainability practices. Contact our expert sustainability advisors for materiality assessment, risk evaluation and mitigation, sustainability KPI development, best practices implementation, and data assurance.

COVID-19: An Update to Our Members At the time of printing of this newsletter the world is changing around us due to the global Coronavirus pandemic. Please know AmericanHort is working hard for our members and for our industry to provide the information and resources you need during this difficult time. Given the fast pace of changing information, rather than provide specific details in this newsletter, we encourage you to visit AmericanHort.org/Coronavirus to keep abreast of our communication on this matter. We will also communicate through our Connect and Impact Washington digital newsletters that go not only to business owners, but to all of your associates. We will continue to work on your behalf as we navigate uncharted waters. As an industry, we will get through this. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have. We look forward to working together to ensure the future viability of our industry. For the latest information, go to AmericanHort.org/Coronavirus.

2020:April | 3


An update to the Index of Prices Paid by Growers By Charlie Hall, AmericanHort Chief Economist

In an age of tight margins, it is essential for firms to have full and accurate information about inflationary trends so that they can better understand the cost of operating their business for managerial decision-making such as SKU rationalization, customer profitability analyses, and determining the need for price increases.

HRI Expands Boxwood Health Resources, Releases Landscape Management Guide The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) has created Best Management Practices for Boxwood Health in the Landscape, a set of practices aimed at dealing with boxwood blight in the landscape. The new BMPs feature new findings from ongoing boxwood blight research and are meant to provide guidance to landscape managers regarding practices and their risk of boxwood blight. The voluntary BMPs address practices to help train personnel, the importance of scouting, reducing the risk of introduction to a property, preventing spread of a confirmed infected area, replanting, and sanitation. The recommendations were developed by an HRI working group consisting of National Plant Board representatives and landscape managers. The BMPs have been endorsed by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). BMPs for nursery production were updated as well to reflect more recent findings by the research community. Of note, 70% alcohol has been confirmed to kill conidia, a type of spore, within seconds. This is a critically important and cost-effective tool to incorporate into sanitation practices such as cleaning pruning tools between blocks and/ or properties.

HRI’s website hosts additional boxwood resources, including downloadable presentations from our recent Boxwood Health Workshop. Visit HRIResearch.org/ Boxwood to download the BMPs.

Do n ate To day! HRI is proud to support research, empower students through scholarships, and provide resources like the Boxwood Blight BMPs that help move the horticulture industry forward. HRI's work strengthens and improves the horticulture community for the benefit of all industry segments and our professional collaborators. Will you help move our industry forward? Visit HRIResearch.org/Donate to contribute today!

The use of the standard Producers Price Index (PPI) and Consumer Price Index (CPI) for this purpose is insufficient because wholesale growers purchase different goods and services from those used for calculating these indexes. The National Agricultural Statistics Service also calculates an Index of Prices Paid by Farmers for the inputs they use during production. However, these indices also fall short in that they contain (or exclude) many items that are not applicable to nursery and greenhouse growers. To overcome this issue, an Index of Prices Paid by Growers was developed that reflects inflationary pressures on the most important inputs used by green industry growers. This index reflects the differences in the prices of goods and services purchased by growers during the last several years. Each costrelated line item is weighted by its relative share of the total of the typical assortment of goods and services purchased by growers for producing, marketing, and shipping plants. Using this methodology, a weighted average rate of inflation in the prices of these grower inputs is estimated, where the weights used to aggregate these individual inputs are the average proportions of grower budgets allocated to each input category. Index of Prices Paid by Growers (2007=100) 2007 Weight Co st catego ry 100 7 .0 9 % Co ntainers 100 3 .9 4 % M edia (peat-based) Pro pagatio n sto ck 2 3 .6 2 % 100 100 Plant pro tectio n pro ducts 1 .5 7 % 100 Fertilizers 1 .5 7 % 100 Labo r (w ages) 3 4 .6 5 % 100 Fuel/Energy 3 .9 4 % M aintenance 3 .1 5 % 100 1 7 .3 2 % 100 Freight and trucking POP, tags, labels, etc. 3 .1 5 % 100 Other expenses 4 3 .5 0 % Weighted index (2 0 0 7 =1 0 0 ) YOYincrease/decrease

2008 1 0 9 .8 1 0 3 .2 1 0 2 .8 1 0 7 .3 1 8 1 .7 1 0 3 .7 1 3 0 .2 1 0 2 .9 1 0 2 .2 1 0 9 .8

2009 9 8 .0 9 0 .8 1 0 6 .7 1 1 4 .9 1 2 7 .7 1 0 8 .1 8 6 .6 1 0 4 .9 9 7 .3 9 8 .0

2010 1 0 7 .9 9 6 .9 1 0 8 .4 1 1 1 .5 1 1 7 .1 1 1 0 .5 1 0 7 .4 1 0 6 .9 9 8 .8 1 0 7 .9

The purpose of this annual study is to document the costs of inputs used to produce plants. Results from this analysis indicate that the summary weighted Index of Prices Paid by Growers ranges from 100 in 2007 to a high of 129.6 in 2019. This means that the overall cost of producing nursery and greenhouse crops is almost 30% higher in 2019 than it was in 2007, with labor experiencing the largest increase (41.6% higher in 2019). The year-over-year (YOY) increases are also presented, reflecting the inflationary pressures of costs over time. YOY costs associated with the tracked expenses in 2019 increased about 2.5% over what they were in 2018. It is important to note that this is a national index and certain factors of production (e.g. labor) may vary depending on the region of the country. This index also serves to document the cost-price squeeze for the green industry, specifically the rising costs of inputs. Armed with such information, firms will be in a much better position to understand the inflationary pressures on their relative costs of production and use these data in making more informed pricing decisions (since total costs represent the price floor and willingness to pay on the part of the customer represents the price ceiling). 2011 1 1 7 .2 9 5 .3 1 1 1 .9 1 1 2 .1 1 5 2 .4 1 1 1 .7 1 3 7 .2 1 1 1 .2 1 0 3 .2 1 1 7 .2

2012 1 1 9 .9 9 5 .5 1 1 4 .2 1 1 8 .2 1 5 4 .6 1 1 3 .2 1 3 6 .2 1 1 4 .5 1 0 6 .8 1 1 9 .9

2013 1 2 4 .1 9 9 .1 1 1 5 .9 1 2 1 .6 1 4 7 .4 1 1 8 .0 1 3 5 .0 1 1 5 .5 1 0 8 .4 1 2 4 .1

2014 1 2 9 .3 9 7 .6 1 1 7 .8 1 2 2 .8 1 4 4 .1 1 2 1 .3 1 3 4 .3 1 1 7 .6 1 1 3 .8 1 2 9 .3

2015 1 1 6 .7 1 1 0 .9 1 1 7 .9 1 1 9 .4 1 3 2 .9 1 2 3 .4 8 7 .1 1 1 7 .7 1 1 8 .3 1 1 6 .7

2016 1 1 1 .2 1 2 4 .9 1 1 9 .5 1 2 0 .7 1 0 9 .5 1 2 8 .3 7 6 .3 1 1 7 .9 1 1 7 .6 1 1 1 .2

2017 1 1 7 .0 1 1 7 .2 1 2 2 .0 1 1 6 .6 1 0 0 .9 1 3 1 .4 8 6 .7 1 2 0 .0 1 1 9 .8 1 1 7 .0

2018 1 2 2 .7 1 1 6 .3 1 2 5 .0 1 1 2 .9 1 0 1 .7 1 3 3 .3 9 7 .5 1 2 4 .1 1 3 0 .0 1 2 2 .7

2019 1 1 7 .8 1 1 5 .3 1 2 8 .1 1 1 2 .7 1 0 1 .7 1 4 1 .6 9 4 .7 1 2 7 .6 1 3 0 .5 1 1 7 .8

1 0 0 1 0 6 .1 1 0 3 .7 1 0 7 .1 1 1 1 .8 1 1 4 .0 1 1 6 .8 1 1 9 .8 1 1 8 .5 1 1 9 .7 1 2 2 .3 1 2 6 .5 1 2 9 .6 --- 6 .1 3 % -2 .3 3 % 3 .2 9 % 4 .4 5 % 1 .9 4 % 2 .5 0 % 2 .5 6 % -1 .1 0 % 0 .9 8 % 2 .1 9 % 3 .4 3 % 2 .4 9 %

A printable version of the table above is available in the AmericanHort Knowledge Center. 4 | AmericanHort.org

2020:April | 5


Innovations and Challenges in the World of Sustainable Soilless Substrates By Dr. Brian E. Jackson, Associate Professor and Director of the Horticultural Substrates Laboratory at NC State University, Brian_Jackson@ncsu.edu

At no point in the past 50 years have more advances and industrywide efforts been initiated to improve the performance and product offerings of soilless substrates for horticultural crop production. North American scientists and industry professionals are partnering on key initiatives regarding product sustainability, environmental stewardship, and securing future substrate resources/supply needs in very big ways. Innovations and challenges await our industry on the horizon, but rest assured that big plans and strategic actions are already underway to support current and future growth of the aggressively expanding container plant production market. One of the key innovations in substrate science has been the utilization of MicroCT image analysis as a tool to better understand (by non-invasively seeing inside) rootzone systems, water movement, and plant root growth in them (Fig. 1). Under the appropriate conditions, these images can reveal remarkable detail in a plant’s root architecture. Similar to substrate characterization, 3D rendered root systems can be characterized by root volume, length, surface area, and diameter. The spatial distribution of the root system can also be characterized with the same analyses used to generate data for water distributions within a container. This non-invasive imaging tool has horticultural implications in three main areas: the substrate, the pores, and the plants. With such wideranging implications for this type of high6 | AmericanHort.org

Figure 1: Tomographic reconstruction of a Sphagnum peat substrate highlighting the solid particles (brown) and open pores filled with air and water (blue).

tech substrate research, it is our goal to identify as many practical applications from this innovative, foundational research as possible.

Figure 2: Sampling of some commercial engineered wood fiber substrate materials currently on the market.

Figure 3: Peatland reclamation efforts (after harvest) by peat producers are proving very successful and are improving the sustainability of peat moss utilization.

A second substantial innovation well underway in substrate science globally is the development, characterization, and utilization/adoption of engineered wood substrates (Fig. 2). A significant amount of scientific research has been conducted on the use of these materials in recent years. Confidence has risen (notably since 2015) based on a variety of factors including the consistency of results across differing studies, similarity of data/results on east coast and west coast, repeated results from trials spread out over a decade, notable positive plant growth response across a wide range of species and production system types, etc. With the use of wood substrates and substrate components on the rise, one of the many questions often asked by growers and the general public is about the sustainability of using wood and the long-term impacts and supply of one of our most valuable (economic and environmental) natural resources. One way to address that legitimate concern is to take a look at forest lands and resources in the U.S. The most productive forest region in the world is right here in the Southern forests of our great country, known as the “Wood Basket of the World.” These wood resources are extremely versatile, malleable, and sustainable and in abundant supply for all current and foreseeable wood-based needs.

and involvement in sustainability and environmental stewardship. There continues to be debate and, in many instances, false narratives about peat and its sustainability in the future. A few things my travels and engagement with the peat industry both in North America and Europe have taught me are that they 1) are committed to sustainability efforts; 2) are proactive with peatland management and restoration (Fig. 3); 3) are adamant about maintaining proper harvesting techniques; 4) invest vast resources and efforts into product consistency and quality assurance; and 5) are willing to evolve as horticultural production needs and challenges arise in the future.

In addition to discussions about wood fiber and other “alternative” substrate materials for our current and future cropping systems, I would also like to applaud the peat industry for all that they are doing in support of continued substrate science and product development as well as their collective extreme awareness

No other industry within horticulture is more invested or focused in the future of production horticulture (ornamentals and consumables) than our substrate colleagues. Substrate scientists at NC State University are actively involved in national and international organizations, societies, and coalitions that are coordinating research and outreach efforts to meet the high demand and expectations of growers around the globe! Grow on! 2020 :Apr


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HRI & ADV UPDATE OCACY S HRI Ann oun Scholarsh ces Three Mor ip Reci e pients Key Prog 8 ram High Specialty light: Crop Rese Initiative arch (SCRI) 10

UPCOM ING EVE NTS Retail Web inar Series New! Wom Horticult en in ure Inter Series view Cultivate ’20


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2020:April | 7



The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), the AmericanHort foundation, believes in helping students obtain the education necessary to successfully pursue horticultural careers. Our generous donors have created seven scholarship opportunities for students to support their academic journey. Backing motivated students today plays a vital role in protecting and growing the industry tomorrow. Three more recipients have been announced for the following scholarships. Mugget Scholarship Annika Kohler, a first-year graduate student at Michigan State University, has been selected as the recipient of the 2019-2020 Mugget Scholarship, presented by the Horticultural Research Institute.

Annika realized a career in horticulture was her true calling during her undergraduate

Carville M. Akehurst Memorial Scholarship The Horticultural Research Institute, in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show, Inc. (MANTS), is pleased to announce Virginia Tech Junior Nicholas Dzurenda as its 2019-2020 Carville M. Akehurst Memorial Scholarship recipient.

Did you know? HRI joins the United Nations in Celebrating the Year of Plant Health! Plant diseases and pests cause 20-40% loss of food production globally. With plants accounting for 80% of the food we eat, improving plant health is a key component in tackling hunger and food insecurity issues worldwide. 8 | AmericanHort.org

The Horticultural Research Institute, in conjunction with the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association (ONLA), has named Ohio State University graduate student Coralie Farinas as its 2019-2020 Bryan A. Champion Memorial Scholarship recipient. The funds will help Coralie continue her mission to contribute to plant disease solutions for ornamental plants. As an ambitious green industry student, Coralie holds undergraduate degrees in both horticulture science and plant biology. She is currently working on her graduate degree studying phlox and powdery mildew.

Voting is open until April 10, 2020 for the AmericanHort Board of Directors. Vote today at AmericanHort.org/ BOD-candidates-2020

Timothy S. and Palmer W. Bigelow, Jr. Scholarship First-year University of Connecticut student, Felicia Millett, has been selected as the recipient of the 2019-2020 Timothy S. and Palmer W. Bigelow, Jr. Scholarship. Felicia has been awarded $3,000 to pursue a plant sciences degree with concentration in ornamental horticulture. After seven years under her belt working as an arborist, Felicia became aware that much of her work revolved around tree removal, but she desired a career focused more on maintaining healthy plants. Felicia is currently climbing to new heights to obtain her Associate of Applied Science degree and is eager to study plant breeding of native plants to replace invasive plants, with specific interest in woody plants.


The Mugget Scholarship is one of HRI’s oldest scholarship funds, representing the power of individuals in the green industry working together. The scholarship was started by a group of industry leaders who often got together for social events in the early ‘80s. The group coined the term 'Mugget' as a name for a pretend plant. Their fake plant inside joke quickly morphed into a scholarship fund that offers real financial support to deserving students like Annika.

studies at University of Georgia while working for UGArden, the university's student-run, sustainable farm. An internship opportunity at a local greenhouse later inspired Annika to focus her career to aid greenhouse operations with better management practices and sustainable solutions. Her current research efforts are focused on young plant production in controlled environments.

Bryan A. Champion Scholarship

Cast Your Vote for the AmericanHort Board of Directors


By Jennifer Gray, Research Programs Administrator, Horticultural Research Institute, JenniferG@AmericanHort.org


I EK & F


HRI Announces Three More Scholarship Recipients

Dzurenda, who is pursuing a Landscape Horticulture and Design degree, is a standout candidate because of his demonstrated leadership, superior work ethic, and his sense of service to the green industry. Dzurenda plans to pursue research in environmental sustainability with specific attention to soil-improving agriculture and native-species gardening to complement his minor in Civic Agriculture and Food Security.

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. For this issue, respond by April 1.

Congratulations to the following AmericanHort member who found the February icon in our SEEK & FIND and is the winner of our drawing.

Joanna Shires Sampson Nursery, Godwin, NC —————

2020:April | 9



Key Program Highlight: Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) By Tristan Daedalus, Director of Advocacy and Policy Communications, AmericanHort, TristanD@AmericanHort.org

What is SCRI and what does it do? The Specialty Crop Research Initiative, or SCRI, is a program housed in the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The program supports the range of specialty crops (defined by federal law as including horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture, fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, and dried fruits) by researching, developing, and disseminating science-based tools to address their needs.

• •

NIFA stresses the importance of outreach in the SCRI program. If the industry does not know about the new information generated, the research is essentially meaningless. AmericanHort also helps on that end by frequently participating on advisory panels for funded projects relevant to environmental horticulture. Through this, we can learn new information in a timely manner and help share it with stakeholders. We also lobby to ensure adequate funding of the SCRI program and address funding issues


Identification and mitigation of threats from pests and diseases. Improving producers’ productivity, efficiency, and profitability.

How does AmericanHort support SCRI?

Novelty Manufacturing Company, PA

We've been involved from the beginning.

A & D Landscaping, Inc, UT

Improving crop characteristics through breeding, genetics, genomics, and other methods.

Research and development of new and innovative technology.

Developing methods to improve food safety.

Why is SCRI important? The SCRI was created to ensure that specialty crops would have some funding available to address their specific critical needs. In general, research on specialty crops is often not funded as robustly as research on row crops. Crops that fall under the specialty crop umbrella are diverse and numerous but do not represent large acreages (as row crops do). Collectively they represent about one quarter the value of all U.S. agriculture, or roughly $60 billion. 10 | AmericanHort.org

The USDA’s NIFA mandates that all SCRI projects must support a valid industry need. To that end, NIFA built a review process that starts with a review by industry members. If a proposal is not prioritized through an Industry Relevance Review Panel, it is not invited for full consideration by the Scientific Merit Panel. In addition to recruiting stakeholders as volunteer reviewers, Members of AmericanHort and the Horticultural Research Institute’s team volunteer as reviewers themselves. Two members of AmericanHort’s advocacy team frequently participate in the review process. Dr. Jill Calabro has twice served as the Industry Relevance Panel

as they arise. Since passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, AmericanHort has tirelessly worked to fix an omission that threatened investment in SCRI’s research. While research programs like SCRI typically have requirements that researchers provide one-to-one matching funds for any federal investment, the USDA’s research programs have traditionally included the ability for the Secretary of Agriculture to waive these requirements where the research is in the public interest. While other research programs kept these waivers in the 2018 bill, the SCRI program did not. This omission threatened to direct much needed investments in research elsewhere. AmericanHort made this a key issue of our 2019 Impact Washington Summit, and we’re happy to report that the matching funds waiver was reinserted to ensure continued investment in the program.

Welcome New Members!

Projects are typically supported in the multimillion-dollar range over a multi-year period, often across multiple regions. A key feature of SCRI projects is that research teams must fully tackle the entirety of the problem – not just one or two facets. For example, in the case of a pollinator project, the research team cannot just encompass entomologists. Economists, outreach specialists, chemists, market analysts, survey specialists, etc. must all be included to fully address the issues.

The program has a mandate that its funds support work in five main areas: •

This program has become a critical tool to advance research in environmental horticulture and an important means to help our industry succeed. Examples of SCRIfunded projects that benefit our stakeholders include management of rose rosette disease, lighting optimization in production, management of crape myrtle bark scale, and plant production that protects bees.

Manager and once as a Scientific Merit Panel reviewer. Craig Regelbrugge is often an Industry Relevance Panel reviewer as well. AmericanHort’s Jennifer Gray, along with Jill and Craig, also supplies letters of support for many of the projects that benefit environmental horticulture. Strong letters of support are key to a proposal’s success.

Mucci Farms Ohio, OH

Plus Container Centralen, FL Korea Seed & Variety Service, South Korea Premier Coir Products, India Coast of Maine/Master Nursery Soils, ME DP Industries Inc, ME

TropiCare of Oregon, OR

Gakon Horticultural Projects, Netherlands Capital One Spark Business Card, VA

Meyabond Industry & Trading Co, Ltd, China

Lori Ockels, Everbloom at Ockels Acres, DE

Matthew Graham, Diebel Nursery, AL

Power Planter, Inc, IL

Greg Thran, BotanicArts, CA

Jessie Laux, Planthropy, OH

Ginger Wyman, Ritters Garden & Gift, WA

Gary Allen, Beloit Greenhouse, KS

Hunter Latham, Lathams Nursery, Inc, NC

Patsy Savchuk, Savco Enterprises, PA

Samantha Todaro, Tanimura & Antle, TN

Kara Beaumont, Ardmore Nurseries Ltd, New Zealand

Green Hoe LLC, NJ Red Twig Farms, LLC, OH Fortis Products LLC, WA H2O Engineering Inc, CA TAPKIT–Hydroponic Systems Ltd, Israel Senninger Irrigation Co, FL GEKA Quick Connects / Stonecasters LLC, IL NB Metalworx LLC, LA R. Plants Nursery Wholesale, FL Brandkamp Gmbh, Germany


Jet Harvest Solutions, FL

Amanda Goldberg, Planted Design, CA


Joanne Young, Greenery Office Interiors Ltd, AB

Kekkilä-BVB, Finland Kurt Lee Products, CT

Julie Farrow, Plantscapers Inc, CA

Climate Control Systems, Ontario

Jeniffer Fossett, San Diego Botanicals, CA

Bull Gartenbau, Germany

Adam Smith, Fast Growing Trees, SC Erin Blake, Peachtree Plants, GA Antonietta Carino, Con-Tech Construction Technology, Inc, NY Karen Naugle Living Spaces, Living Spaces, KY Paul Lukaskiewicz, Lazy Lady Farm, MA

Academic Nicholas Flax, Penn State Extension, PA Jim Mason, Des Moines Area CC, IA James Owen, USDA-ARS, OH Craig Corby, Abrahamson Nurseries, MN

Matt Zerby, Wasco Nursery Inc, IL


Samantha Young, Young Hollow Nursery, Inc, LA

Suzanne Warrick

James Van Til, Van Til's Greenhouse, MI

Kevin Cloud, FL

Shauna Carpenter Brittany Noble Vicki Cox Patrick Haynes, OH

Theta Retail, GA Agnetix, CA Garden Solutions, MI

2020:April | 11


North Creek Nurseries Landenberg, PA By Katie Gustafson, Marketing Communications Specialist, AmericanHort, KatieG@AmericanHort.org

AmericanHort caught up with Tim and Kathy McGinty and Steve Castorani to learn more about the North Creek Nurseries business model and dedication to sustainability. “North Creek strives to promote sustainable outdoor environments,” said Tim McGinty, General Manager and COO, “As a wholesale propagation nursery, we specialize in growing starter plants and plugs of perennials, ornamental grasses, ferns, vines, and shrubs with an emphasis on Eastern US native plants. Our vision is to be a leader in the development and practice of sustainable horticultural systems.” When describing North Creek Nurseries, Kathy McGinty, Office Manager and HR Manager, said, “We are not a family business, but we are a business of families and that value carries through everything we do. The nursery started in 1988 and our mission and values have always focused on sustainable practices, investing in our employees, and the responsible growing of native and ecologically beneficial plants.”

“Over the past years, we’ve developed a robust strategic plan and that has helped us stay focused.” said Steve Castorani, President and CEO of North Creek, “Creating this dynamic document gave us a roadmap that we all could follow as a team. It changes as needed, but our values and long-term vison stay constant. It took us a while to get it established, but it was well worth the time.” “Our core purpose is to provide the world with ecological, garden worthy plants that stand the test of time,” continued Steve. The phrase Where Horticulture Meets Ecology™ can be seen in both their motto and logo, while their dedication to this idea can be seen in their staff’s passion and their nursery’s sustainability strategies. Growing Native Plants. “We mainly grow natives at North Creek, but we don’t discount non-native plants that provide ecological services.” said Tim, “We’ve also extensively tested plant material in our trial gardens to be sure that we are only selling established, strong plant varieties. In the trials, we pay close attention to hardiness in the landscape and attraction to pollinators.” North Creek has also developed a product called Landscape Plugs™ for use in ecological landscaping, vegetating stormwater management systems, and native habitat enhancement. Plants grown as Landscape

12 | AmericanHort.org

Plugs™ are carefully chosen based on their ecological benefits, and depending on root morphology, specially grown as plugs that have a 5 inch or 4 inch root structure. “Our Landscape Plugs™ are extremely popular with townships, municipalities, and landscape designers from high-end firms – especially those working on LEED and/or SITES™ compliant projects.” said Tim, “We also sell plants in traditional plug sizes for rewholesalers, growers, and retailers.” Water Responsibility. North Creek has massively reduced the use of potable water and runoff from irrigation. “We developed stormwater management BMPs and built our own stormwater gardens to trial our plants,” said Tim, “We have 3 acres of what we call ‘living laboratory’ stormwater gardens. Based on data from these trial gardens, we have provided consulting services to both the EPA and PA Department of Wildlife, offering our horticultural knowledge to the people designing green infrastructure systems for cities.” Being located in southeastern Pennsylvania, North Creek has to comply with very stringent government regulations relating to water runoff due to the Chesapeake Watershed, but Tim has no worries about meeting them. They estimate that they capture 85% of runoff at their first facility and 100% at their second, newer facility through their trial gardens. “We are confident that we’re putting clean water back into the watershed and doing our part.” Diverse IPM strategies. “We utilize an array of beneficial insects, biological control, and biofungicides, in our IPM plan.” said Tim, “We use biorationals as a last resort and believe in using soft chemistry for all our IPM strategies. We have become SANC certified* and are very proud of this accomplishment. It validates that our plants pose a reduced pest risk and gives us more options for shipping our plants.

Provide Safe, Fair, and Empowering Working Conditions. “We have a heavy focus on educational and professional development at North Creek,” said Kathy, “We bring in suppliers and other industry experts to educate our employees and have a formal training program for both management and supervisors. We also make sure to pay a true living wage and provide growth opportunities for all our employees. Therefore, employee retention is extremely high thus making our business more sustainable.” Kathy uses strategies like a weekly newsletter, which is posted to the break room TVs and sent to employees by email, to increase communication—an effort highly successful because of the team approach North Creek believes in. The newsletter focuses on ways the nursery and its employees are “winning” (passing pesticide exams, shipping record number of flats in a week, achieving personal milestones, etc.) as well as announces upcoming trainings, plant-of-theweek spotlights, English/Spanish education, lessons about pests and diseases, quality control efforts, safety topics/concerns, local horticultural events, and webinars and other educational opportunities. “In addition, Cultivate is one of our greatest resources for training our people.” said Kathy, “We take everything we learn at the show back to the nursery, translate it, and share throughout the company. The AmericanHort HR peer sharing group is also a huge help.” North Creek Nurseries practices sustainability in many other ways at their farms. From selecting sustainable substrates, recycling, composting, and continually updating facilities and equipment to use less energy, North Creek is dedicated to continually improving their bottom line, in a sustainable nature. *The Systems Approach to Nursery Certification (SANC) Program is a voluntary audit-based program for plant production facilities that use a holistic approach to reduce pest risks associated with plant trade.

2020:April | 13


About AmericanHort


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AmericanHort is the national association of horticulture businesses and professionals across the spectrum of the industry. Without you there is no us, so AmericanHort undertakes the critical task of protecting, preserving, and promoting the national horticulture industry so that people like you can do what you love in an industry that thrives. Perform better, grow stronger, and prepare for the future as a member of AmericanHort, the green industry’s leading association. Learn more at AmericanHort.org.


AmericanHort represents the entire horticulture industry.

Retail Webinar Series Presented by Dr. Bridget Behe, this webinar series is for retailers looking to enhance their signage, displays, and merchandising skills. Part 1: Enhancing Retail Signage for Improved Sales Recording now available in the AmericanHort Knowledge Center.

Part 2: Creating More Compelling Retail Display Recording now available in the AmericanHort Knowledge Center.



May 6, 2PM, EST: Kathy Fediw, Interior Plantscape Consultant, Author, Trainer, and Speaker June 3, 2PM, EST: Jennifer Moss, Owner/Director of Sales and Marketing, Moss Greenhouses Register for all AmericanHort webinars at AmericanHort.org/Webinars.


2 PM , EST

— M AY


2 PM , EST



Business Plus




2 PM, EST Interior Plantscape


Generation Next


Garden Retail


General registration is now open for the largest all-industry trade show and conference for the horticulture industry. Cultivate is the industry event that brings the entire professional community together to make an even greater impact. Learn more at AmericanHort.org/Cultivate




Quarterly Advocacy Brief

to register.

April 8, 2PM, EST: Susie Raker-Zimmerman, Vice President, Raker Roberta’s Young Plants


2 PM , EST



AmericanHort is pleased to present this educational interview series with accomplished women from the green industry. Hear their stories of accomplishment, challenges overcome as they’ve navigated their career that will provide you inspiration and encouragement.

No matter your specialty, we have the resources you need to cultivate a successful business.

Register for all AmericanHort webinars at AmericanHort.org/

Email Amanda Holton at

Women in Horticulture Interview Series


Part 3: Shopping from the Consumers Perspective

AmericanHort premium members get exclusive access to the AmericanHort Advocacy and Research Team during this advocacy webinar series. Join us to get the latest news from Washington D.C. and ask questions on how it affects your business.

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(614) 487-1117 Main AmericanHort Connect 2020:April © 2020 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.

Each year, the IGCA Congress is hosted in a different country and this year we are traveling to South Africa! The 2020 IGCA Congress will included a concentrated business tour of garden centres and excellent social programing while exploring South Africa.

18-23 SOU T H A FR I C A

Register at IGCA2020.co.za

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2020:April | 15


Register Now

You’re sure to learn something new, with education tracks for all experience levels in Garden Retail, Greenhouse, Hemp Production, Nursery, Landscape, Interior Plantscape, Business, and Human Resources.

Don’t Miss Out on any of the 190+ Education Sessions at Cultivate’20!


*Additional Registration Fee

Saturday, July 11: New! Pests Diagnostic and Technology Workshop, Company Culture Workshop, It’s All About the Workforce Workshop, Manager Bootcamp, Garden Retail Workshop, and Moss Wall Workshop

Hands-On Workshops*

Saturday, July 11: New! Landscape Zoo Tour, Greenhouse Tour, Garden Retail Tour, and Nursery Tour

Production Tours*

Monday, July 13

NEW! Women in Horticulture*

There’s something for everyone at Cultivate’20.

Us expla digendi genemporum, aut inciaspero inci sum, ute volo invelenture!

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AmericanHort Connect April 2020  

AmericanHort Connect April 2020