PHOTO COURTESY GREEN CITY GROWERS
BROOKE N . BATES
Multi-Purpose Plants Support Foodscaping
You expect your phone to do more than make calls . Shouldn ’ t plants do more than just look pretty ? Across industries , consumers are demanding multipurpose products to make life easier . Even in the garden , younger generations want plants to serve a purpose beyond purely ornamental value .
Several executives , who were interviewed recently for Garden Center Magazine ’ s List of Top 100 IGCs , mentioned this need for function , often citing edibles as the main example . “ Plants that perform , look good and do multiple things in the garden , whether it ’ s producing food or attracting pollinators , that ’ s what consumers are focused on right now ,” said Monte Enright , president and chief operating officer of Armstrong Garden Centers and Pike Nurseries , noting that edible plant sales are on the rise . Though growing food is nothing new , modern growers are reinventing edible
Green City Growers maintains Fenway Farms , a 5,000-square foot rooftop farm that provides fresh , organic fruit and vegetables to the Fenway Park EMC Club restaurant in Boston . gardening by redefining where , how and why . To effectively communicate with them , we have to address the shifts that give plants purpose today .
GOODBYE , GARDENERS
Changing how we talk about gardening is key to staying relevant . So , don ’ t call it gardening , and don ’ t call them gardeners . People growing plants today don ’ t identify with that , according to AmericanHort ’ s SHIFT research initiative . Brie Arthur certainly doesn ’ t . A national speaker and public television personality , this North Carolinian considers it foodscaping — integrating edibles into ornamental landscapes . [ ed . note : Brie ’ s book , The Foodscape Revolution : Finding a Better Way to Make Space for Food and Beauty in Your Garden , is due out on March 15 ]. Her goal is sustaining a zero-kilometer diet without upsetting the homeowners association . She hosts parties , such as her tomato tasting that raised $ 2,500 for the local arboretum .
Brie says growers identify with what they get out of gardening . “ They may consider themselves farm-to-table chefs , windowsill herb growers , self-sufficient homesteaders or engineers tinkering with hydroponic pumps . Address these profiles instead of generalizing gardeners .”
“ The key is to know your audience ,” says Desiree Heimann , vice president of marketing at Armstrong Garden Centers in California and Pike Nurseries in Georgia . “ The more you know your audience and their feelings about gardening , the more you can relate and inspire them .”
Writing about the value of growing food is not just writing about gardening . Garden writers have to get comfortable covering topics more technical than soil fertility . Garden writing could include technology — whether you ’ re covering landscape design software , hydroponic growing systems or mobile gardening apps like GrowIt ! Writing about edible gardening may also involve genetic modification or food safety , which could overlap health and science topics . Many of the horticulture executives interviewed say their best ideas come from other industries , so writers should also look beyond horticulture for inspiration .
HIP ON HEMP
Medicinal value is an increasingly widespread reason for growing , now that the legal cannabis industry is the fastest growing in the country . GIE Media even acquired Cannabis Business Times last year into its group of horticulture trade publications . As this segment keeps gaining legitimacy , prepare to write about marijuana .