How Progressive Are You? By Tim Hodson

Calling all progressive growers! It’s time to enter the 2008 GPN/OFA Sustainability Progress Awards.

As I mentioned in the January issue, we are looking for growing operations that are truly making inroads on their journey toward a sustainable future. We want to let all growers know what is being done by creative and cutting-edge growers to help make a difference and preserve Earth’s resources for future generations. We want to highlight the achievements of those forward-thinking companies so the entire industry can benefit from their experience.

These growers know that by incorporating sustainable activities into their operations, not only will the environment benefit, but their bottom line will, too. Sustainability makes good business sense — and in this tough economy, who can’t use more of that?

Who Should Enter?

Entrants do not need to be certified as “sustainable” by a third-party organization. This award will recognize the progress a grower has made on that journey toward sustainability. Each applicant will be judged on its own merits, so remember: Effort is just as important as the overall end results.

Applications will be evaluated by an independent panel of judges. These judges will be looking for growers who have developed innovative growing techniques and novel business methods that are helping contribute to a better tomorrow.

The Sustainability Progress Awards, sponsored by GPN and OFA — an Association of Floriculture Professionals — recognize those growers, large and small, who have advanced their efforts toward sustainability in any or all of the following areas:

  • Environmental sustainability
  • Social and community sustainability
  • Product integrity
  • Economic sustainability

Take a look at what you’ve done in any one or more of these areas. The aspects that will be considered by the judging panel include, but are not limited to:

Environmental sustainability. What is being done to enhance sustainable crop production? How are existing resources being conserved? How is energy efficiency being promoted? What is being done to protect the ecosystem?

Social and community sustainability. What is being done to promote social and economic sustainability? Are fair and safe labor practices being used at all times? How has the local community benefited from this growing operation’s sustainability efforts?

Product integrity. How is overall product integrity being ensured? What measures have been taken to ensure product safety at each handling stage, from the greenhouse all the way to retail?

Economic sustainability. Which of these practices or procedures saved operational or general business costs for your company? Do you expect to see additional cost savings for your business with the implementation of more sustainable practices?

We are looking for specific examples and details on what is currently being done by those growers who are looking to the future. We want to know how they are impacting both their growing operations and their bottom line. Why were these methods implemented? What influence have they had on overall operations? Are these processes repeatable and economically viable? How will they impact the future?

The deadline for submissions for the 2008 GPN/OFA Sustainability Progress Awards is June 6, 2008. The winners will be recognized at the opening ceremonies at the OFA Short Course in Columbus, Ohio, in July and in a feature article in GPN’s September issue. For more details on entering this year’s program, turn to page 18.

Knowledge Is Key

GPN and OFA continue to be on the forefront of helping growers learn even more about this incredibly complex issue.

We have always included articles in GPN on sustainability and eco-friendly growing and business practices. But in the coming months, you will see even more of this information. Look for the sustainability symbol (see image on the left) that will direct you to these articles.

OFA continues to be very active on the sustainability front as well. In fact, at Short Course this July, there are many different sessions being offered to help you learn more about sustainability. You can find out more about these sessions by going to OFA also has created an online resource to help you stay informed on the development of an industry standard on sustainability at

Now is the time to acknowledge those who have made that commitment to a sustainable future. We all NEED to learn from them to ensure that future generations will have the resources they need.

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GPN recognizes 40 industry professionals under the age of 40 who are helping to determine the future of the horticulture industry. These individuals are today’s movers and shakers who are already setting the pace for tomorrow.

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