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Exploring Sustainability in the Floral Industry

Sustainability. This has been the hot new word not only in the floriculture industry but also in everyday life. “Sustainable Living,” “Sustainable Products,” and “Sustainably Sourced” are common terms that are used in marketing and promotional materials. Yet, what does sustainability mean? How can we, as an industry, become more sustainable?

Through a special project led and funded by American Floral Endowment, Dr. Brian Jackson and I (Dr. Melinda Knuth) have set out to discover, compile, and provide best practices for sustainability in floriculture.

Our first goal is to collect, analyze, and synthesize all the relevant information related to sustainability that is relevant to floriculture or floriculture-adjacent industries. Once all this information is synthesized and distilled down, it will be converted into resources that are applicable and useable by all businesses, small or large, within the floriculture supply chain. This project will cover not only growers and suppliers, but also retailers and what the end consumer prefers as well.

In this effort, we will be holding industry round table discussions at IPM Essen, Cultivate, and other major industry events. To make sure the information is navigable for industry members, a Sustainability Task Force consisting of industry leaders will be created. Members of the Task Force will be directly involved in cultivating the generated resources. Every sponsor will have a seat on the Task Force, including Altman Plants, Armellini Logistics, Ball Horticultural Company, Kennicott Brothers Company, Mayesh Wholesale Florist, Smithers-Oasis, and Tagawa Greenhouses. Sponsorships are still available and needed to help drive this important initiative.

Through the partnership with AFE, we will be releasing these resources through the end of 2023 and the beginning of 2024. This project will not only provide vital resources for the industry but also, lay the foundation for future support of research and education in floriculture sustainability. 

Do you have information related to sustainability in the floriculture industry that you’d be willing to share? Please send your documentation to Dr. Melinda Knuth at melindaknuth@ncsu.edu. You can read more about the Sustainability Project here.

By: Dr. Melinda Knuth, North Carolina State University