The New England Nursery Association Leading the Northeast's Growing Industry

 The New England Nursery Association (NENA) is dedicated to providing landscaping  and nursery professionals with high quality information and an array of  services and professional development support to keep the region growing their  businesses and relationships, according to  www.newenglandnurseryassociation.org, the group’s website.  

 Since 1912, NENA has worked to benefit those in the business of growing and  selling green goods. Founded by New England industry members, the group boasts  a long and successful history of promoting and building relationships that  benefit both nursery professionals and their businesses. The association,  according to its website, provides an expanding array of informational services  that both facilitates and ensures an up-to-date understanding of consumer  needs, market demands and emerging trends. These are all essential factors in  ensuring profitability for member businesses and for building the New England  green industry.  

 Centennial Celebration

 The organization which has 110 members consists of a management team and a  president, vice president/treasurer plus a three-member Board of Directors.  Leading the way in 2013 are president Peter House of East Haven Landscape  Products in East Haven, Connecticut; Ed Bemis of Bemis Farms Nursery in Spencer, Massachusetts, who will be vice  president and treasurer, and the directors are Carol MacLeod of Evergreen  Gardens of Vermont in Waterbury Center, Vermont; Joe Majelka of Westcott  Perennials of Ashaway. Rhode Island; and Jake Pierson of Pierson Nurseries in  Biddeford, Maine.  

 NENA recently celebrated its 100th year anniversary this past September, with an  event at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts. The members  swapped stories and toured the beautiful Tower Hill property, planting a  commemorative tree in honor of their anniversary.  

 Trade Show Partnership

 One of NENA’s most popular events is the New England Grows trade exposition, which took  place February 6-8, 2013 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center,  according to past president Robin Struck, the owner of D.R. Struck Landscape  Nursery in Winthrop, Maine. New England Grows is an educational partnership  between the New England Nursery Association, the Massachusetts Arborists  Association, the Massachusetts Association of Landscape Professionals and the  Massachusetts Nursery & Landscape Association. Its co-sponsor network includes 40 allied green industry  organizations.  

 “Our most recent achievement has been partnering with New England Grows, which is  the largest green industry horticulture trade show,” says Struck. “It takes place in February every year and it's a convention with vendors who set  up on the trade show floor. We have a huge education component as well. We  usually get about 12,000 green industry people who are anywhere from  architects, arborists, garden center owners to landscapers and educators.”  

 Programs and Gatherings

 NENA members participate in a “simple” gathering annually, which provides networking opportunities for all members and  a chance to catch up on the latest innovations in the growing industry. “We have been having a simple gathering in September [every year]. We gather  again at one of our member’s businesses and take a tour of their facility—it could be a garden center or it could be a grower—and we see their business and how they operate,” Struck says. “It's a good networking opportunity and gives members a chance to meet up once a  year. We're also busy with our businesses it's hard to take time to do monthly  meetings.”  

 In order to further encourage creativity and individual innovation in the  growing industry, NENA also offers members an opportunity to apply for the  Green Leaders Innovation Grant Program. The grants range from $250 to $1,000  and are awarded multiple times a year.  

 The group also holds a volunteer summit for its members. According to a NENA  press release, “On November 3, 2010, more than thirty association leaders from throughout New  England joined together for NENA's Volunteer Leaders Summit. This leadership  experience is designed to connect trends in association leadership and  management with the regional green industry. The ultimate goal is to strengthen associations to benefit member services and  experiences. According to Struck, the program will become biannual starting  this year.  

 “All the New England states send their volunteer leadership to Massachusetts and  we have an all day mini-conference and brainstorm ideas about our industry, our  individual businesses, what we should be doing differently, some of the hot new  topics we should be aware of within our industry and we leave with some good  ideas for our own businesses. Five years ago the big take away was we decided  we all needed to be on Facebook. We all seriously got back to our offices and  signed up. That was probably one of the best methods of getting everybody  really motivated to do something.”  

 Community Outreach & Benefits

 While NENA members are known to exchange gardening tips and tricks among  themselves at various networking gatherings, they are sure to spread the wealth  of horticultural knowledge among their New England communities as well. “Our members, especially the garden center owners, will have a huge educational  component for the community,” Struck says. “Whether it be a short, one-hour lecture on how to prune your roses or how to  start a 10-foot-square vegetable garden, or how to plant fruit trees, we all  try to do that with our garden centers and promote people coming to learn more  and really have hands-on experiences. Maybe it’ll be planting a window box or having their children come in and plant a pack of  marigold seeds to get people interested in growing at a young age.”  

 NENA strives to provide its membership with all the latest information about  growing innovations in New England, ensuring they have a competitive edge in  the industry. “They get a quarterly newsletter, which is jam-packed with information,” Struck says. “Usually we highlight a member of the association and you get to know a little  bit more about that person and what's going on in our industry and meetings  that can be attended. We also have different articles such as one about a new  plant that's going to come out onto the market that's been developed,  especially in the last few years there's been so many hydrangeas—that's been a hot topic.”  

 Overall, NENA aims to not only enrich the gardens, minds and businesses of its  members, it hopes to increase horticultural awareness and boost the industry as  a whole throughout the Northeast. “Our mission is to promote the green industry within the New England area and get  the public, as well as our entire industry, more aware of new innovations coming down and keeping up with modern times and how we can  achieve better results with all of our businesses. Not only to make them better  businesses, but to be more community-oriented and give back.”    

 Enjolie Esteve is an editorial assistant at New England Condominium.  

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