Champions of the Environment
VGIC Meeting Minutes - June Membership Meeting
The meeting was called to order by President Lin Diacont with the following people present: Curry Roberts, Lorene Blackwood, Lou Kobus, Shelly Arthur, Gwynn Hubbard, Cary Gouldin, Mary Williams, Jeff Miller, Donna Johnson, and Bill Bonwell.
State Fair Update – Curry Roberts made a presentation on the development plans for the new state fair site at Meadows Farm in Caroline County, next to King’s Dominion. A zoning proposal will be made by the end of July and site plans will be finished by September 21. Parking and horse events will be on the south side of Route 40 and there will be a new underpass installed to access the north side where the fair events will be setup and other buildings. An area between the current house and the fair site has been allocated for the horticulture gardens. He asked that the VGIC visit the site and provide any recommendations that they might have for the site. A site visit was scheduled for July 8.
Presidents Report – will be provided later due to computer crash.
Arbor Day – Lin Diacont, who was the master of ceremonies, reported that the Arbor Day tree planting at the Governor’s Mansion was successful with a good attendance.
Executive Directors Report – Jeff Miller reported that the websites usage was up considerably this past spring. Jeff still needs input from the different groups for consumer info on the consumer website (www.VirginiaGardening.com ) as well as upcoming events and info for the green industry website (www.VirginiaGreen.org) . A letter/article will be sent to green industry associations asking them include it in their newsletter and/or mailings to members to encourage them to list in the professional lookup section of the VirginiaGardening website. The Speakers Bureau is almost ready to be setup on the website as a resource for groups looking for speakers.
VGIC consumer press releases had 106,560 impressions in October-December 2004 period, and 110,165 impressions from January thru June 2006.
VGIC Consumer Brochure - copies were distributed of the new brochure which were adapted from the original industry brochure by Rick Baker.
VGIC PowerPoint Presentations – Jeff reported that he and made three presentations to the boards of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (MAC-ISA), the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association (VCTGA), and the Virginia Farmers Direct Marketing Association (FDMA) to explain the goals of the VGIC and how these associations could benefit from partnering with the VGIC.
Treasurers Report – Jeff presented copies of the current balance sheet and income/expenses sheet. He will follow up with contacts to anyone who has not renewed their dues for this year. Minutes – A motion was made to approve the minutes of the last meeting, seconded, and passed with a correction of spelling changing FISMAT to FISMIP.
Communications, Public Relations - Sylvia Wright (out of town)
VGIC Newsletter – Michele Fletcher is working on a new format and soliciting information. The Green Industry Newsletter will be used to market VGIC
Membership - Mary Williams reported that some members have not renewed yet. Jeff will send another notice and Mary will call as needed.
Program and Education - Greg Eaton (absent) There was a long discussion on having a Green Industry Day in 2007 that would be consumer-based with a festive educational atmosphere. Proposed times would be near the state fair dates or possibly at the Strawberry Hill site in April, if the new state fair site is not ready. A budget and plans need to be developed soon.
Legislative - Lorene Blackwood gave a legislative update, and Donna Johnson gave an update from the Virginia Agribusiness Council (VAC).
FISMIP - Rick Baker reported that the final Exit Surveys should be done at the State Fair this fall to compare to the survey the previous year. The survey will be conducted by the Master Gardeners. An extension on the grant has been extended until December 31, 2005 and then there is a period of 90 days to submit the final report. Approximately $14,000 of the $28,000 has been spent to-date. Jim May, Virginia Certified Horticulturist, who writes weekly gardening articles for the Roanoke Times Current edition, will provide some of his columns to Rick to start a syndicated column the VGIC tagline. He has investigated the possibility of a 2-minute radio show and a 30-second ad spot for a cost of approximately $117. He asked anyone with expenses to submit them to him as soon as possible. Also to send him a listing of any in-kind time that was spent on this program.
Agribusiness Council Food Festival 2005 – Rick reported that the Ask the Expert Tent will be setup next to the VTC Pepsi Booth. An email will be sent to members to ask for representatives from the different groups to participate in the “Ask the Expert” and to provide consumer information for handouts. Sylvia Wright will be asked to do a news release for the “Ask the Experts” event. Gwynn Hubbard will be coordinating plants for the area with Lizzy Pine, VNLA President, from Lancaster Farms.
State Fair Horticulture Garden Update – Gwynn Hubbard reported that Carol Smallwood is already collecting plants for the gardens and various growers are growing other plants for the displays.
Next Meeting Date will be Friday, September 23, 9 a.m. – noon, at the State Fair Office in Mechanicsville. Then we will adjourn to participate in AgDay at the State Fair where the candidates for Governor will be invited to speak. Meeting attendees will be provided passes to the Fair.
Adjourn 4:30 pm
Promoting America’s Anniversary Garden
Background: The America’s Anniversary Garden Committee, a group of Virginia Cooperative Extension faculty, has developed and is beginning to promote a statewide theme garden concept to support the commemoration of America’s 400th anniversary. The Garden Committee has selected an initial limited list of suitable plants for this garden that includes annuals, perennials, shrubs, and small trees. We are in the process of preparing color extension publications detailing the plants selected, proposed planting designs, and planting and care instructions for America’s Anniversary Garden, a garden of easy care plants with a red, white, and blue color theme. These brochures will be distributed to the public and green industry members throughout the state through VCE contacts and programs as well as through our industry partners.
As a VCE-led effort, local extension agents will help us by acting as information conduits to county officials and/or local Jamestown 2007 committees, local garden centers, and other green industry members. Local Extension offices will also work with local VCE-Master Gardener Units and other volunteer and garden groups that may be interested in developing demonstration gardens or containers, or American’s Anniversary Garden kits as a fundraising activity. With the statewide resources of VCE and the VCE-Master Gardeners, we can distribute and promote the anniversary garden concept and design.
We will introduce our America’s Anniversary Garden concept - to promote red, white and blue gardens in a “show your colors for Virginia” campaign - on a statewide basis in the fall of 2005. Beginning in spring 2006, this campaign will include promotions to garden clubs and civic groups who will be planting entrance corridors to towns and cities across the state in order to have a unified state program. The Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs will be a participating partner in this effort and we expect them to focus on these corridor plantings. Our early promotion also will include providing plant selection information to Virginia growers and retailers in preparation for a full promotion of the garden design to homeowners for spring 2006. In 2007 we will have a follow-up promotion with additional plants and expansion designs.
We also hope to develop a seed packet of red, white, and blue annuals for America’s Anniversary Garden. This packet can be used as a promotional item (e.g. given out at Garden Fairs and Flower Shows) for commemoration activities. To enhance sales and implementation of the gardens, participating garden centers will be provided with full-color point of purchase (POP) material to advertise the commemoration of America’s 400th anniversary with our America’s Anniversary Garden. Additional materials will include banners and posters featuring planting designs and photographs of finished demonstration gardens. These items will all bear the special logo we’ve developed (top left).
Benefits to the Virginia’s Horticulture Industry: The America’s Anniversary Garden Committee is partnering with Virginia’s major green industry groups, including the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association, the Virginia Flower Growers Association, and the Virginia Society of Landscape Designers. Other partners are being sought. Development of a planting campaign across Virginia will enhance the sales opportunities for Virginia producers and retailers. Our planting designs and promotions are intended to attract new gardeners to join in these commemorative efforts all across Virginia. The initial theme garden design will be introduced in spring 2006. This will be followed by promotions for fall bulb additions to the America’s Anniversary Garden in fall 2006, and an expansion kit for established gardens in spring 2007. Kits or collections of these plants, combination containers using these plants, and/or seed packets also may be marketed to tourists or Virginians alike under the America’s Anniversary Garden name. The design and plants used are intended to provide success for even the most inexperienced gardeners in hopes that they will continue gardening long after 2007. The benefits to Virginia’s green industries will therefore be both immediate in the promotion of the planting plan and plants for America’s Anniversary Garden, and potentially long-term by increasing the customer base for garden plants and products.
Members of the America’s Anniversary Garden Committee: Joyce Latimer (VCE, Blacksburg), Bonnie Appleton (VCE, Hampton Roads AREC), Leanne DuBois (VCE-James City County), Dave Close (VCE-Blacksburg), Ross Richardson (ex officio, Jamestown 2007).