Editorial - September 2013

August 26, 2013
Written by
You have to learn a lot to know a lot,” as a lot of wise people have shown in various ways.

Today’s grower is dealing with technological advancements being introduced at an amazing rate. There are remote sensors, advanced environmental control systems, LED lighting, and automation/robotics in the greenhouse.

If you stop learning, you’ll be more vulnerable to pest and disease threats, and may miss exciting new market opportunities and technologies.

It was Albert Einstein who once said, “It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”

We’re approaching the heart of the conference season in Canada, with several scheduled over the next few months. The CanWest Hort Show gets things started on Sept. 18-19 in Vancouver, followed by the Flowers Canada Pest Management Conference (Oct. 8 in Niagara Falls), the Canadian Greenhouse Conference (Oct. 9-10 in Niagara Falls), Garden Expo (Oct. 23-24 in Toronto), the Saskatchewan Green Trades Show (Nov. 8-9 in Saskatoon), the Ornamental Hort Show (Nov. 6-8 in Montreal), the Green Industry Show & Conference (Nov. 14-15 in Edmonton), and Hort East (Nov. 18-20 in Moncton).

The educational sessions alone are exceptional, incredible value for the dollar. But beyond that is the expertise available on the trade show floor, provided by industry suppliers who make their living solving grower problems and offering up a range of solutions.

In short, the answers are out there, and you owe it to yourself to invest the time and the registration fees to learn more to earn more. But more importantly, the conferences are great for staff training, and keeping them up-to-date with the latest varieties and programs. Even the most experienced growers will benefit. “That is what learning is,” author Doris Lessing explains. “You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.”

And the more members of your staff you involve in the process, the more profitable your business will be. “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn,” said Benjamin Franklin.

Many of the sessions at this year’s Ohio Short Course were quite busy, with few empty seats. The busiest, in my experience, were those sessions looking at alternative crops and products. Urban agriculture, it can also be said judging by attendance at that particular Short Course session, is also quite popular.

Not only are growers looking for new ways to do things, they’re also prepared to tackle completely new crops. “Change is the end result of all true learning,” said author Leo Buscaglia.

I recently spoke with a veteran ornamental container grower in the U.S. who is switching to vegetable crops. The market for locally grown year-round vegetables is growing, he explained. “The pendulum could swing again,” he added. “I could be back here in 10 years talking about growing flowers again.”

Being aware of your options makes good business sense. Conferences are full of alternatives and opportunities.

Comedic actor Jonathan Winters said it best: “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it!”

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