Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Flowers Versus Food: A Tale Of Two Surveys

We received the 2009 Floriculture Crop Summary, which again paints a mildly sad picture of the industry -- the wholesale value of floriculture crops was down 7 percent from the '08 numbers, California down 12 percent, Florida down 9 percent. Number of producers down 13 percent.

But if you look at numbers from the National Gardening Association's 2009 Impact of Home and Community Gardening in America survey, you'll see a very different picture. Food gardening was UP 19 percent over the year before. And 21 percent of food gardening households in 2009 will be new to gardening. Here are a few more stats from that survey on why people reported that they garden:
To grow better tasting food ....58
To save money on food bills ....54
To grow better quality food....51
To grow food I know is safe ....48
To feel more productive .....40
To spend more time outdoors ....35
To get back to basics ....25
To have food to share with others....23
To live more locally ....22
To have a family activity.....21
To teach my kids about gardening ....30
These aren't all about food! 35 percent of respondents just wanted to spend more time outside. Outside! In a white-collar, computer-centric world, people still want to be outside.

Maybe we need to stick the Floriculture Crop Summary in a drawer for a little bit and take a look at what's working, not how we're failing. A few suggestions:

Cross-merchandising. Do you market flowers with vegetable plants? Get that impulse buy going. How about six packs or flats mixed with strawberries and white petunias? Strawberries and cream! Tomatoes and torenia.

Continue to market vegetables in a big way. If people aren't in the garden center, they're not going to buy any kind of plant. If the veggies get them in the door, so be it. Some people are saying they're not sure how long the veggie trend will last. I think it might have more legs than we think. After all, I've already put all this sweat equity into building a raised bed. I should keep using it.

Don't forget about the kids. Direct from the NGA survey: "Nineteen percent of all U.S. households were aware of gardening activities for students at their local school. That contrasts with a majority of households (55 percent) that said gardening activities should be implemented whenever possible (35 percent), or should be implemented in every school (20 percent)."

This is your future consumer. Is there anything you can do to get a plant in a school near you?

What else? It doesn't have to be flowers versus food? How can they work together?


Paul Westervelt said...

Veggie gardening is just a few steps away from flower gardening. What about cross over onamentals? Bright Lights Swiss Chard, heirloom kale like Red Bor and Nero di Toscana, Cardoon, ornamental peppers, rosemary, lavender, sages, parsely. Then plants with edible flowers. Then flowers! I LOVE that we were worried for years about the retiring boomers and their shrinking garden just to have the next generation pick up veggie gardening largely in spite of us. Here's to many more productive yerars in the industry!

Stacey Couch said...

Useful information. Thanks for sharing.