Duluth, GA – Horticulture experts and enthusiasts from all over the state recently gathered for the annual Wintergreen Trade Show and Conference.
Whether it was plants, equipment, or even pine straw you were looking for, you could find it all under one roof at the Infinity Energy Center in Duluth, as it played host to the premiere horticulture showcase in the state. Those in attendance got a unique chance to meet a number of the region’s top vendors face to face and get an update on an ever-changing industry.
Chris Butts, Executive Director of GGIA says, “essentially what it offers is a world of contacts all under one roof. It would take days, weeks, and months for you to be able to go and visit with all these vendors and suppliers from across the country. It offers you the convenience of being able to visit with all these folks under one roof. It’s the largest event for the greens industry in Georgia, three full days of education along with exhibitors from across the country.”
This is Georgia’s only multi-day trade show and conference with experts holding seminars through the three-day event. It’s information that is not only important to the individuals, but the industry as a whole.
“Professionalism in our industry is a big deal. We want our members and the industry in general to be up to date on different trends but also in regulations as far as pesticide application and that sort of thing. So, it increases that professionalism. It’s also a draw to bring those folks in and while they’re here they can go to the show. They can meet new vendors for different supplies for their business,” says Butts.
While there is plenty to look at in this trade show, it’s pretty clear to see what this year’s trend is.
Dr. Michael Dirr, horticulturist says, “color, color, color, and color. What colors? Yellow, purple and red, blue, but never green. Green is not a color. The industry has kind of gotten to a point where we’re kind of like decorators and that’s the trend. It’s smaller because many of our gardens, our landscapes are smaller, but they still want the color element, whether it’s hydrangea three feet or whatever it might be, a gardenia with white flowers and fragrance.”
And that’s good news for an industry that was in dire straits following an economic recession just over five years ago. But with the economy gradually improving since, it’s an industry that has never been in better shape.
“We lost 30-40% of our nurseries and production capacity. Gradually, we’ve built back up. Building starts are high everywhere, commercial and residential, and that is largely driving the big number in sales. There’s nothing but positivity. Everyone is feeling that. This is a great year, record sales, sold out in many cases, so, our future looks good. Let’s hope we can keep it going,” says Dirr.
And that’s important to the state as a whole, as the horticulture industry has a major financial impact in a number of different sectors.
“The industry has an estimated economic impact on the state of $7 billion a year and employs up to 70,000 Georgians. Like you said, that includes everything from turf grass, to pine straw, to flowers, shrubs and trees. It’s touches the lives of many Georgians and that’s an important part of Georgia’s agricultural economy,” says Butts.
By: Damon Jones