In February 2013, New England Grows gathered commercial horticulture professionals for a two-day industry-wide celebration in Boston, Mass. More than 11,000 guests experienced the event and thousands participated in cutting-edge educational sessions, as well as hands-on workshops and exposition demonstrations.
The exhibiting companies--550 of them, nearly 100 of which were new to New England Grows this year--saw heavy foot traffic throughout the two-day event, as well as steady business from green industry decision-makers. Many spent time with customers who were placing orders and taking advantage of "Grows-only" show discounts. All saw the benefit of face-to-face networking with fellow industry members.
"New England Grows is a super venue for making new business contacts, and it's held in a fabulous city!" said longtime exhibitor and wholesale grower Tom Whitcher of Sheridan Nurseries, Ltd., in Ontario, Canada.
The Garden Center Success seminar was a highlight of the New England Grows educational lineup. More than 500 garden center professionals signed up to participate, and those who attended agreed with Nan Ingraham of Hyannis Country Garden on Cape Cod, who said, "I absolutely loved all the speakers you had ... they were very motivational, with many great ideas to work on at our own store!"
The well-known New England Grows education program impressed once again with seminars that focused on innovation, emerging trends and research finds. 2013's top-notch speaker lineup included: Lynden Miller, Dan Pink, Kirk Armstrong, Richard Cowles, Jim Flott, Bill Calkins, Kip Creel and Cass Turnbull, among others, who delivered trending topics like: Bare Root Tree Transplanting, Low-Maintenance Perennials, Sustainable Design, Environmentally Responsible Grasses, Global Climate Change, Online Marketing, and Integrating Edibles.
Ask the Experts sprint sessions, an interactive learning opportunity at New England Grows, drew a steady stream of visitors. Extension personnel and university faculty offered tips, trends, and takeaways in rapid-fire, 15-minute educational bursts right on the exposition floor.
A new CEU tracking system was introduced to rave reviews this year. Participants' badges were scanned at educational sessions, and they are now able to download customized Certificates of Attendance online at www.NewEnglandGrows.org
Typically a three-day event, New England Grows was cut short by a day due to the blizzard of 2013. The storm began on Friday, February 8, 2013, and brought more than 2 feet of snow to the city of Boston. In addition to a state of emergency, the governor of Massachusetts declared a 24-hour travel ban--something that has not been seen in the state since 1978. Fortunately, every New England Grows visitor was able to get safely out of town before the storm hit on Friday.
"New England Grows drew thousands of industry professionals to Boston," said Mary Hallene, president of New England Grows. "We are truly grateful to our wonderful exhibitors, speakers, volunteers, and staff. Everyone rallied, and in the face of a historic blizzard, we were able to deliver an outstanding experience for our industry!"
New England Grows is an educational partnership between the New England
Nursery Association, Massachusetts Arborists Association, Massachusetts Association of Landscape Professionals and Massachusetts Nursery & Landscape Association. Its co-sponsor network includes 40 allied green industry organizations. New England Grows supports the green industry through annual grants to the region's Cooperative Extension Systems, the FFA Organization, local horticultural schools, and more.
Next year, New England Grows is scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, February 5-7, 2014, at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. For the latest information, visit www.NewEnglandGrows.org
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