From the Editor: November 2009

November 16, 2009
Written by
Are we doing enough to promote the industry? Marketing is an essential business tool; if we’re not selling the benefits of ornamental plants and vegetables to consumers, we shouldn’t be surprised if the market isn’t growing.

The Pick Ontario campaign of Flowers Canada (Ontario) is into its second year of promoting sales of locally grown flowers and plants, and we’re sure it’s having an effect. The concept could be transplanted into any other region of Canada.

There is another very effective plant promotion marketing tool available to the industry. Communities In Bloom is a national non-profit organization effectively fostering increased civic pride, environmental responsibility and beautification. It’s a friendly competition among similar sized communities, and it attracts 500 municipalities across Canada each year in provincial programs and the national campaign.

This year’s population category winners included four from Alberta (Gibbons, Pincher Creek, Leduc and Edmonton), and four from Ontario (Dryden, Minto, King and Canadian Forces Base Petawawa). Other winners included Grenfell, Saskatchewan and Kamloops, British Columbia. Strathcona County in Alberta and Goderich, Ontario, were winners in the International Challenge, while Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, earned bragging rights as the Best Blooming Community in Canada for its aggregate score in both the CIB and WinterLights Celebrations.

Communities In Blooms gets people talking about green space, planters and gardens. Considerable local media coverage is afforded the program. In talking to officials with both Communities In Bloom and America In Bloom, there is anecdotal evidence that the campaigns encourage more people to invest in their landscapes and buy more plants.

CIB was launched in 1995, with a lot of guidance and nurturing from Britain In Bloom, Tidy Towns of Ireland and Villes et Villages Fleuris de France. Twenty-nine communities participated the first year. “The pride, sense of community and feeling of accomplishment generated through participation are visible in communities all over Canada,” noted the CIB website. “These benefits make Communities In Bloom a program where everyone wins.”

Growers and garden centres are well represented in offering their time and expertise to local organizing committees.

The programs are highly respected. America In Bloom, for example, received the American Horticultural Society’s 2009 Urban Beautification award. This award recognizes an individual, institution or company “for significant contributions to urban horticulture and the beautification of American cities.”

One major difference between the CIB and AIB is the level of industry support. AIB has about three dozen companies listed as “Stewards” or “Friends.” CIB isn’t quite as fortunate at the national level, though the “Sponsors” and “Friends” who are already on board are especially dedicated to the campaign.

CIB clearly needs more industry involvement. Communities In Bloom is a great way to grow the market, and excite more people about the joy and wonder of plants. It’s an industry success story that’s been quietly paying dividends for many years. It just needs a little more support, both at the corporate level with sponsorships, and at the grassroots level with horticultural expertise to community campaigns. It’s our only national plant promotion program. The more it grows, the larger our markets grow.

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