May, 2016
        I hope this newsletter finds everyone safe! The wind, rain and hail has kept all of us on our toes. Seems like we just clean up from one storm and another is on the way. But, this is spring in Texas and we continue on knowing things will change in a few months,
        In March, I was privileged to go to the  Texas Recreation and Parks Society convention where I was able to promote the NTNGA and each of you. Most attendees were from various city Parks and Recreation Departments, in charge of the public parks in their municipality. There was a lot of interest in our plant guide and appreciation of our attendance at their trade show.
        This is a busy time for our industry, but don't forget to stop every once in a while to remind yourself why you do what you do. Don't get too busy taking care of business that you don't take care of your business.   While business is hopping, it is important to stay connected. There are webinars and articles on topics that are important to your business ranging from business management to plant disease. Also, getting to know other people in our industry and the sharing of ideas is a great way to stay connected.
         Speaking of meetings, we will be having our May meeting at Bruce Miller's Nursery in Edgewood, on Thursday, May 19th. Dan Hunter, our Assistant Commissioner for Water and Rural Affairs will be our speaker, and of course we'll be treated to Bruce's great steaks and grilled corn on the cob. Don't miss this opportunity to connect and share.
In This Issue

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The Floriculture Industry Needs A Unified Message To Promote Plants, Flowers, And Gardening
        Seeing the sneak preview of the new varieties that will be presented at California Spring Trials (CAST) spurs a visceral reaction in me. I'm giddy and excited about these gorgeous plants, having taken in some of their beauty and excellent performance already at Costa Farms' Season Premier. I'm excited to travel to Spring Trials and that spring is coming, and I'm ready to dig in and get gardening. I'm guessing many of you feel the same way. And it's likely that consumers do, too.
        Nearly a year ago, upon returning from California Spring Trials, I lamented the absence of ideas translated from CAST to retail. The beautiful displays, the breathtaking combinations, the clever marketing - somehow, all of that effort and enthusiasm focused on business-to-business promotion is not being funneled effectively to the consumer. As an industry, we are not good at working together to market our products in a clear, consistent, unified way. And in this day and age, with more and more noise competing for consumers' attention, we need to work together to make it happen. We need a unified message to promote plants and flowers.
        And yet, perhaps the way we can work together best is less about marketing new varieties, and more about the benefits of being around plants and flowers. According to our younger industry set - and backed up by mountains of marketing research conducted on the Millennial age group - our next influx of customers is less concerned about what's new than they are about what our products can do for them. How do plants and flowers make their lives better? What value do our products bring? And that goes beyond financial value to include things like supporting local growers, being sustainable, growing something that's alive, and helping others (i.e., making them happy with flowers). We need to tell the story about the industry that we not only profit from, but that we love and live, every day. In Millennial marketing speak, that's called "storyliving."
We talked about this at length during Greenhouse Grower's 2015 GROW Summit in December. The event is an annual forum for our GROW Partners to discuss five goals or pillars for growing the industry and everyone's share of "the pie."
        Every year we try to steer around the topic of marketing, frankly because it is a big, scary elephant in the room, and every year, that's the big issue everyone wants to talk about. But it felt different this time. There was some frustration aired, yes, but overall, the general attitude was we're at the point that we really need to do something. We need to work together to find a solution, and hopefully at least move the boulder that sits on our collective backs. We decided that a national effort is in order, and we have to start somewhere.
        Believe me, I have heard all of the arguments:  "People don't want to pay into a promotion order because our products across the industry are too different.  "There is too much competition for all of us to work together effectively."  "It costs way too much for a national advertising campaign. Where are we going to get that kind of money?"
I don't know how many times I have heard people say in this industry, "A rising tide lifts all boats." But the difference between saying that phrase and actually working together to make it happen, is what needs to happen here.
         Begin we will, and we'll look at a few different areas - marketing our industry's products and benefits, and marketing careers in our industry. Want to help? We'll take all the ideas and input we can get. This may be starting with GROW, but we recognize it needs to be a collaborative industry effort.
         It's worked for the Blueberry Council and the Pistachio Growers. The Mexican Avocado Council pitched in to drive a marketing campaign that included a Super Bowl ad this year. And within our industry, we have the California Cut Flower Commission's successes to look to for inspiration, plus the three organizations in Canada that worked together to develop the Plants Love You campaign, which is ramping up its efforts to promote the benefits of plants.
         We can do this, and we'll all be better for it. Are you in?

article taken from:Greenhouse Grower Magazine

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 News and Articles from the Green Industry                 

How (And Why) You Should Calibrate pH And Electrical Conductivity (EC) At Your Greenhouse by Brian Sparks      
         Spring is in full swing in most greenhouses. Vegetative cuttings are being stuck, plugs are being transplanted, and finished product is being shipped to areas where spring has sprung.
          In the middle of all this activity, it is easy to forget the basics such as making sure your pH and electrical conductivity (EC) meters are calibrated correctly. According to an article from Heidi Wollaeger with Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, the measurements you take with your meters are only as good as the calibration. If your pH and EC meter provides you with an inaccurate reading, you might falsely make a management decision that is detrimental to your spring crop. read more

Growing Vegetables In Winter Is A Competitive Advantage For Four Seasons Greenhouses  by Carol Miller
        One of the main drawbacks of the locally grown trend is the off season. Restaurants and other venues want to be able to tout all their ingredients are sourced within the region, but when winter hits, that's a tough proposition. And that's why Four Seasons Greenhouses' vegetables are as profitable as they are.
        Vic Vanik, who co owns Four Seasons with his wife, Gail, grows only during the off season. The Vaniks operate a retail garden store in Delores, CO, which is a small town southwest of the popular ski resort Telluride, not far from the Four Corners. Four Seasons growing division is just a half acre, all within a greenhouse. read more 
What Gets You Up in the Morning?  by Sally Helgesen
         What keeps you up at night? It's a question we've heard posed in nearly every panel and senior leader interview conducted in recent years, and as a result, it has become tiresome and rote. But I believe the effect of this query is more pernicious than simply boring - stay awake long enough to think it through, and you'll recognize its essentially negative nature. The question assumes that leaders are in the habit - indeed, that they have a responsibility - to let worry pervade their every hour, even those precious few required to refresh, balance, and sustain human effort. read more 
 Events around the area                

Thursday, May 12, 2016  2:00pm 
    WEBINAR:Texas Superstars with Brent Pemberton   
Talk Texas Superstars with Brent Pemberton!
To watch the webinar live, please visit the Webinar page on TNLA Online.

Thursday, May 19, 2016 
     TNLA III / NTNGA Combined Meeting     
  Bruce Miller Nursery, Edgewood, TX  5:30pm
August 18-20, 2016 
TNLA Expo Houston, Tx  
If you know of any events in  your area, or if you are hosting an event, please let me know and we can post it here.
Stay safe in this crazy weather, and I hope to see you at our meeting later this month. 
Charlotte Yorkson
Executive Director
Northeast Texas Nursery Growers Association