Cutivate’14 has record attendance, AmericanHort gifts $100K

July 21, 2014 -  By

Cultivate’14 concluded in Columbus, Ohio, July 15 with more than 10,000 attendees, the nonprofit event’s best attendance in more than a decade.

Horticulture professionals came from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and more than 22 other countries representing Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, Middle East, Oceania and South America.

Formerly known as the OFA Short Course, it was the 86th year of the event that was rebranded this year as “Cultivate.”

“Cultivate is not just a trade show,” said Michael Geary, AmericanHort president and CEO. “It’s a remarkable experience that also offers many educational programs, introduces new varieties and products and offers multiple networking events. There is something for everyone, and that’s why I think more and more people are attending.”

The increased attendance also reflects the improving confidence in the economy, which is leading to better business conditions for our industry, Geary added.

Several new programs and activities were introduced this year, including the addition of a 50,000 square foot exhibit hall, called the Retail Terrace, to accommodate more companies to exhibit products and services for garden and floral retailers. The Live for Retailers pavilion offered multiple hands-on workshops and demonstrations. An all-day tour was organized on the first day of the event for participants to visit model garden centers in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and a walking tour of Columbus’ Short North Arts District provided retailers with examples and inspiration for successful merchandising techniques.

Thousands of attendees also participated in educational programs for greenhouse and nursery growers. These included three tours on greenhouse and nursery production and controlled environment edible crop production. New was the Live for Growers pavilion that offered programs on biocontrols for pest and disease management with a heavy emphasis on pollinator health. The Association of Natural Biocontrol Producers supported this area.

“Cultivate provides an opportunity for AmericanHort to connect our vertically-integrated industry, and that includes providing the best technical production and business education to help growers offer the best products for the marketplace,” said Mark Foertmeyer, AmericanHort’s chairman of the board and owner of Foertmeyer & Sons Greenhouse.

In hand with that effort, AmericanHort pledged at Cultivate’14 to support the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) with a gift of $100,000, committing $50,000 and matching up to another $50,000 in gifts from other individuals and companies.

“The HRI is one of the most important organizations in our industry and is our partner in supporting the development of horticulture and all of our businesses,” Foertmeyer said. “It’s important that our industry has a strong research-focused organization so we are proud to contribute to the endowment.”

Harvey Cotten, president of the HRI, said: “This is a very generous gift from AmericanHort, and it will go a long way in supporting our efforts. It’s important that others give so we can access the matching funds offered by AmericanHort.”

Earlier this year, the HRI unveiled it will grant in fiscal year 2014 $400,000 in financial support for 16 new projects that investigate solutions in the areas of horticultural production, pest management, environmental stewardship and business and marketing. The organization also distributed more than $20,000 in scholarships to college students.

Matching contributions or multi-year pledges can be made online at or by contacting the HRI at 202-789-2900.

Several trade and industry-promoting organizations co-located their events in conjunction with Cultivate’14. Most notable was the annual gathering of the Plantscape Institute of America. The American Grown Coalition was also represented and it provided American Grown Flowers, which were used exclusively in the floral design competition.

The keynote speakers included P. Allen Smith who spoke about the need for the industry to engage consumers. He energized the audience with stories about how he built his businesses and shared strategies on how to build an audience for products and services.

On Monday morning, speaker Alex Goldfayn reinforced that marketing value is how to differentiate one’s products and this will “kill the commodity” perception of the horticulture industry’s products and services. “Whether you’re B2B or B2C, we can no longer compete on just price,” he said.

At the conclusion of the convention, the remaining plants, trees and hard goods were distributed to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. These included the Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens, Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, Franklin Park Conservatory, Habitat for Humanity, Homeport, Ohio State University, Ohio Wesleyan University and the University of Cincinnati.

Cultivate’15 will be held in Columbus, Ohio July 11-15. Registration and housing is expected to be available in March 2015, but reservations for exhibit space are being accepted now. For more information, visit



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