Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Opportunity versus Challenge

As companies involved in the flower and vegetable seed industries, do we face challenges? You bet! However, in any economy at any time, there are always opportunities for those who want them.

As the executive director of two garden-oriented organizations with optimistic, forward-thinking boards of directors, I’m happy to report that we are striving to uncover the opportunities that do exist and to make the most of them. Over the past year or so, there have been occasions to meet with our supporters to learn where there are gaps and niches that need to be filled; where we can help move the industry forward (read: sell more product!). Some indicators of progress are the National Garden Bureau’s growth in membership, an increase in entries to the All-America Selections trials, more attendees at the AAS Summer Summit, revamped websites, more usage of social media and a new logo for AAS, to name just a few.

At this time, we are reaching out and partnering with other groups on projects that achieve the mission of promoting seeds, flowers, vegetables and plants. One such project has AAS working with Allan Armitage of the University of Georgia on a National Plant Trials Database to help breeders, brokers, packet companies, retailers and others view a side-by-side online comparison of multiple new varieties at multiple trial sites. That project will launch in 2012.

In a similar vein, NGB named 2012 the “Year of the Herbs,” and in doing so partnered with the Herb Society of America for story content and promotional efforts, which has been a win-win for both organizations.

Another example of a successful partnership occurred last August when AAS, NGB and the Home Garden Seed Association shared the costs of a booth at the Garden Writers Symposium in Indianapolis. Visibility among garden writers and bloggers is vital to the success of all three organizations, and those two days certainly resulted in new contacts and increased awareness of all our programs.

We believe partnering with other companies and organizations with mutual goals is a pragmatic way to make things happen while not expending valuable and scarce resources on duplicating infrastructures. Thus, our objective of creating viable long-lasting partnerships will remain a top priority.

However, this does not mean that either AAS or NGB is waiting for partnerships to just come our way. There are some great upcoming projects that we are proactively developing.

By 2014, AAS will allow vegetative entries of ornamentals in our standard trialing process. This will not diminish the importance of seed-propagated varieties, but will allow us to adapt to the current state of the industry and embrace the changes occurring in ornamentals breeding and production.

In 2012, NGB will launch a gardening blog that will be written by our members. The content of this blog will focus on quick innovative ways to use our industry’s product. We want to pique the interest of Generation X, Y and Z.
Beyond 2012, what might the future hold? As we know, it’s difficult to predict the certainties, but both AAS and NGB have some ideas worth exploring:

• AAS can partner with the AAS volunteer judges and breeding companies to find more publicity opportunities.
• AAS winners can enjoy a full five-year marketing plan to maintain the visibility of those varieties for more than just the initial one- to two-year introduction phase.
• Both organizations will continue to pursue all social media opportunities and use what seems to work best to support our missions.
• NGB can broaden our membership base and customize benefits for a wider variety of business-types, as long as those businesses are supportive of our goal to promote the hobby of gardening.
• NGB can look for more partners who value our marketing efforts and want to support them.

Both organizations can find small but national projects that support our mission to promote gardening.
So with that said, let’s go garden!

Diane Blazek, Executive Director, National Garden Bureau and All-America Selections





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