by Michael Wren
BOXBOROUGH, MA — Wednesday, Nov. 7 began the first day of the 2018 Northeast Greenhouse Conference and Expo at the Boxborough, MA Regency Hotel. The two-day event is the Northeast’s premier trade show for the horticulture industry. Since the first conference in 1972 in Lynnfield, MA the conference has continued to grow considerably and now accommodates over 1,000 attendees and almost 100 vendors.
Growers and retailers alike attend this show, held every two years, to network within the industry as well as stay on the cutting edge of equipment, trends and pest and disease management. The conference also allows attendees the ability to earn pesticide recertification credits for the New England States and New York.
Two days of educational sessions offered in tandem with the trade show served to educate growers on everything from plant disease management and proper use of fertilizers to business management and social media marketing.
Educational sessions were offered in English as well as Spanish. The classes were given by experts in the industry including extension representatives from universities throughout the Northeast including University of Connecticut, University of Maine, UMass Extension, Cornell University, University of Rhode Island and UVM Cooperative Extension. These classes are a staple to keeping growers and retailers up to date on the ever-changing market trends and techniques in the industry.
A trending theme this year was properly marketing your business, from keeping your retail space clean and organized to conventional marketing techniques and more importantly, having a strong social media and online presence.
The keynote speaker, Carmen Johnston of Carmen Johnston Gardens, gave an eye-opening presentation on the value of social media, not only to show potential clients what your business has to offer, but also as a way to view the upcoming trends of what people will be looking for next year. Johnston points out that most customers search for a website or social media site before actually going to a new store. They look for hours, reviews, deals and product selection.
She stressed that whatever platform(s) you use, it should be updated at least once a week and needs to be kept professional looking. Johnston also pointed out that no matter what you business is, “Your customers will always absorb your enthusiasm… or lack thereof.”
As the consumer base changes to a younger generation it remains important to keep your product accessible and relevant to everyone.
A growing trade show and larger number of attendees provided a great experience for both exhibitors and attendees.
“The show has been great,” says Sandy Merrill of NeSeed, “The first day people came to talk and the second day they came to talk business.”
According to the Northeast Greenhouse Conference website, “One of the benefits of producing a perennially successful educational program is the growth of related projects.”
This event is held every two years and serves to educate, inform and connect growers from all across the Northeast. If the conference and expo continue to grow a larger venue may be needed. For information on the 2020 Northeast Greenhouse Conference and Expo visit their website at www.negreenhouse.org.