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Pick Ontario still blooming

February 20, 2009  By Dave Harrison

The Pick Ontario “buy locally grown flowers” campaign has entered its second year, and the momentum is growing.

Scott Lindeboom, at left, and Jason Adomeit both bought into the Pick Ontario campaign early.


The Pick Ontario “buy locally grown flowers” campaign has entered its second year, and the momentum is growing.


The Flowers Canada (Ontario) campaign debuted last year with a number of marketing highlights. Chief among these was a free cut flower giveaway to 5,000 Union Station commuters in downtown Toronto, and the campaign’s high-profile displays by 10 growers at the entrance to the Canada Blooms Show.

Pick Ontario also sponsored billboard, poster and transit vehicle advertising throughout Toronto. The Pick Ontario website ( also received its share of attention, posting plant care advice and information on all the major crops grown in the province.

Surveys in the Toronto region show good recognition levels for the campaign’s logo and advertising.

Yellow roses at Lindy’s Flowers
The Pick Ontario logo is prominently displayed on cut flowers sleeves.  
Dish baskets designed at Lindy’s Flowers include locally grown flowers.


“We’ve had good feedback from numerous sectors,” said Pick Ontario marketing director Gary Gander. “The major grocery retailers all endorse our campaign and logo and have been starting to integrate its use in seasonal promotions. I expect to see more of that this year.”

More attention will be spent this year spent with florists and at wholesale locations, such as the Ontario Flower Growers auction.

■ For the industry, Pick Ontario is a true win-win-win situation. Participating growers, wholesalers and retailers usually saw sales gains.

One good example was a three-week campaign at Longo’s food stores in Toronto last summer. It was initiated by Jason Adomeit of Flowers by Millgrove, a leading bouquet company that includes as much local product as possible. The company ( recently celebrated its 50th year in business. Its main customers are specialty stores, and some chains, in the Toronto region.

Adomeit prefers locally grown products because he values the close relationships the company has with many Ontario growers.

He says the Pick Ontario campaign will effectively brand local products in the market. “The logo is such an important marketing tool.”

Longo’s was very receptive when approached, says Adomeit. The company prominently promoted the Pick Ontario products – the ad stretches across the top of the back cover – in highlighting five bouquets. The Pick Ontario logo was displayed twice, and each
bouquet included the description, “locally grown.”

Consumers responded positively. Millgrove’s bouquet sales to Longo’s increased by 70 per cent during the campaign.

Featured were sunflower, lily, lisianthus, mum and rose bouquets. The roses were from Lindy’s Flowers of Dunnville.

Scott Lindeboom said they bought into the Pick Ontario program early and have been quite impressed. “It’s gone over very well with our customers.”

Lindy’s Flowers has maintained a niche market in southwestern Ontario, with some sales to other wholesalers. They have two wholesaling trucks on the road, serving customers throughout southwestern Ontario. Fresh rose sales can be cyclical, says Lindeboom, but sales have been steady of late.

Pick Ontario will reinforce in the minds of consumers the freshness of locally grown flowers. Unlike imported flowers, there’s very little time tied up in coolers or in transit. Flowers harvested one day in Ontario can be on store shelves – or consumer tables – a day or two later.

“It’s just like the Foodland Ontario campaign,” adds his dad, John. “If this kind of thing works for produce, why shouldn’t it work for flowers?”

■ Pick Ontario promotional items educate consumers on the value and availability of the 50 varieties of fresh cut flowers and the more than 150 varieties of potted plants all grown locally. Buying locally supports an industry of 650 growers employing more than 10,000 people working in 54 million square feet of greenhouses. Ontario greenhouse floriculture, the campaign notes, has an economic impact in the province of $2.7 billion.

Consumers are increasingly looking for more homegrown products. The 100-mile diet movement founded in British Columbia has raised consumer awareness of the benefits of buying locally. The initiative has spread throughout Canada.

And lovers of fresh flowers and potted plants are no different. Research shows that “supporting our local farmers” is the Number One reason consumers select Ontario flowers and potted plants.

Gander says reaction from consumers, florists and growers is quite positive. “Those that know about floriculture in Ontario typically say ‘it’s about time,’ and those that don’t (consumers) are thrilled to learn just what’s available locally.” ■

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