AFE Board Meetings, Grower Tours, GLFEE + WF&FSA
This month, the American Floral Endowment’s (AFE) Board of Trustees and Staff traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to connect with the industry by visiting with growers and attending the Great Lakes Floral and Event Expo (GLFEE). While there, the Board held its committee and Board meetings. Following GLFEE, AFE staff and trustees continued on to Miami for WF&FSA.
Hands-On Commitment to the Industry – Board Meetings and Grower Tours
Before the Expo, AFE Board members and staff met for their biannual Board and committee meetings to plan for another exciting year of AFE programs and initiatives. The Endowment’s Strategic Plan, which runs through 2025 – focuses on collaborating & partnering with the industry, providing educational and career resources, supporting innovative research, young professional development, and outreach & funding for floriculture.
The Board and Staff also toured three leading production greenhouses in the area that have their eyes on future growth, Spring Meadow Nursery, Neal Mast Greenhouses, and Mast Young Plants.
Spring Meadow Nursery is the shrub producer for Proven Winners. You all know that white pot! One area that’s becoming a new and exciting world in floriculture is the increased use of flowering shrubs for cut flower production. Spring Meadow works closely with the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers and is directing significant resources toward creating a cut flower guide with “how-to” information on cutting stems, processing and post-harvest, storage, and other information related to woody shrub cuts.
Not only does Spring Meadow select plant introductions to meet the highest quality standards from start to finish, but they’re also committed to engaging in conversations with growers, consumers, and retailers to help you produce high-quality plants. They offer a feedback form on their website, a consumer newsletter, a radio show and podcast, and informative social media posts. If you reach out to them via any of those platforms, you can expect to receive a personalized response from a Spring Meadow employee.
The next stop on the tour was Neal Mast Greenhouses and Mast Young Plants. Neal Mast Greenhouses takes great pride in being one of the country’s largest growers of premier indoor and outdoor potted plants. They produce floral-quality products and have earned the respect and confidence of their customers by consistently providing successful programs for their holiday and promotional events. Their focus on the end consumer helps ensure that their plants perform well at retail. They are committed to providing their customers with plants that sell better, turn faster, and produce higher profits. Additionally, Neal Mast Greenhouses has helped open up a whole new world of experiences for students through AFE’s Vic and Margaret Ball Internship Program, where they have hosted numerous interns throughout the years. Their motto of “Connecting People to Plants!” was on full display during our visit and in their industry practices. Mast Young Plants provides a wide range of bedding succulent and foliage plugs to small and large growers. They have specialized small quantities of mixed plugs for small growers.
Looking Ahead with Sustainability in Mind – AFE’s Involvement in GLFEE
AFE’s meetings and tours were held in Grand Rapids in conjunction with GLFEE. This year GLFEE took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from March 3 – 5, and AFE was there in full force to participate in this year’s theme, “A Whole New World,” where “…we find ourselves reflecting upon things we have accomplished and mastered, and how that can propel us into future success and growth.” The theme was a timely one.
At the Expo, one of the hot topics related to the theme “A Whole New World” was sustainability. AFE engaged attendees with three different presentations highlighting the Endowment’s sustainability projects. Dr. Melinda Knuth, NC State University, discussed the goals and outputs of AFE’s Sustainability Project and the positive and negative pressures that are influencing sustainable practices currently used in the floriculture industry. She also led an interactive workshop to identify common themes and perceptions of sustainability in the attendees’ various floriculture sectors. Attendees had the opportunity to provide feedback on what makes an impact on sustainability in their businesses and voice questions they wanted answers to.
Renato Sogueco of BloomNet and Jessica Kegerreis from Syndicate Sales discussed information from the Floral Marketing Fund (FMF) study “Consumer Perceptions & Willingness to Pay for Sustainable Environmental Practices in the Floral Industry,” which both BloomNet and Syndicate Sales have supported as co-sponsors. They previewed initial key findings from the study and shared sustainable best practices such as sourcing flowers locally, practical recycling, and the reuse of materials. They also discussed leveraging social media and in-store events to effectively communicate sustainability practices to your consumers. The full report and findings will be released to the industry through the FMF this Spring!
You can join AFE in propelling the industry into a Whole New World of future success and growth! We are seeking industry participation in a quick, 5-minute survey sharing your challenges, successes, and thoughts regarding sustainability. Scan the QR code or visit bit.ly/AFEsustainability.
Seeing “The Future in Bloom” at WF&FSA in Miami!
Staff and Trustees also headed south to sunny Miami to join hundreds of industry professionals as they came together for the 2023 Floral Distribution Conference “The Future in Bloom” hosted by WF&FSA. The event was packed full of networking opportunities that allowed plenty of time to connect and discuss business with colleagues through discussion groups, speed networking and evening activities. The tabletop displays were buzzing with beautiful floral displays and new innovative products. It was a great event – well done WF&FSA!
Join AFE in Shaping the Future of the Floral Industry!
The Endowment wants to hear from you! Do you have questions about our research, resources, and how you can put them to use in your operation? Are you interested in getting more involved by hosting an intern or with other AFE programs? We at AFE are always happy to speak with you and help provide answers and practical solutions to any of your questions. Please reach out to AFE at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 838-5211.