TPIE – My small part in a Big Plant World
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Imagine yourself entering a 200,000 square foot exhibition hall filled with plants from all over the world. For a plant enthusiast like myself that is my version of a little bit of heaven on earth. I had opportunity to visit the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) this January in Florida. This was my first time to attend this convention, and to say I was excited would be an under statement. It is one of the largest gatherings of over 500 exhibitors all under one roof that supply plants and materials to landscapers (for both interior and exterior) as well as to florists. I was exposed a lot new products that stimulated my creativity, plus I came home with tons of information to share with my staff, and customers.
Being the people person that I am, I met fellow colleagues from all over the country. I had lunch with growers from Florida, I met Interior Plantscapers from Minnesota who had to work in sub-zero temperatures (I have NEVER been in weather that cold EVER). I connected with friends I know from the West Coast, and overall got an idea of what is happening in the the horticulture industry on a national level.
I was honored to attend a meeting of some the industry leaders as a representative from PIA (The Plantscape Industry Alliance), where I serve on the board as Education Liaison, that are forming the Interiorscape Industry Coalition (IIC). This group will be collaboration of numerous organizations that represent the Horticulture Industry as a whole, and are creating a forum that will work together to create a stronger cohesiveness in this challenging economy.
Upon chatting with a variety of people from numerous arenas in the industry, much of the discussion involved the effects the current state of the economy has had on the industry. Attendance was down from previous years, but despite the anxiety about what the future may hold (aren’t all of us experiencing this in whatever industry we are in?) the passion for what our industry offers to our clients and the world was far stronger than any apparent unrest. Frankly most people do not enter the Horticulture field to become millionaires. We enter this field because it is a passion, and a belief that our product is not a luxury, but actually a necessity for the well being of not only our clients, but the world at large.
No one can ignore the increasing awareness of the ways our everyday actions impact our environment for future generations. Everywhere you go there are reminders of how we all need to be more green minded. One of the easiest and rewarding ways to accomplish this is to incorporate plants in your environment. At the IIC meeting a very engaging researcher named Dr. Pennisi, explained how her research will take lab results of the benefits of plants and test them in the real world situations. Her results from Project Carbon should be released this summer, so stayed tuned for future posts on this subject.
Attending TPIE was a worthwhile investment of my time for the increased exposure I received to this amazing industry. An industry that despite facing challenging times continues to strive to find ways to enhance our world with beauty, and make it a healthier environment for all. I left enthused, challenged and once again honored to play a very small part in the big picture.