Progress Edition: Green industry producing more than just plants

SALEM, Ohio – Although the outlook seems grim for some parts of agriculture, Ohio’s nursery and landscape industry is one sector of agriculture that’s flowering in today’s economy.

The results of the 2001 Ohio Green Industry Survey show that plants aren’t the only green coming out of Ohio’s nursery and landscape industry.

In 2001, overall sales by certified nursery stock dealers and producers in Ohio were an estimated $2.79 billion. Since 1996, the nursery and landscape industry has seen an annual sales increase of 8.5 percent.

Important to ag. The green industry is often ignored as part of traditional agricultural production. “When you think about agriculture, most people don’t think about nurseries and landscaping,” said Gary Gao, Clermont County horticultural extension agent.

However, a recent Ohio State University study found that in 2000, the green industry made up 42 percent of Ohio agricultural production. In 1995, it made up only 23 percent.

Ohio’s green industry contributed about $1 billion to the gross state product in 2000.

According to Gao, the green industry is the No. 1 commodity in agriculture.

Consistent success. The survey findings were a “nice surprise,” said Bill Statler, executive director of the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association.

Statler added, however, that the results of the 2001 survey should not have come as such a shock because it has been nearly two decades since the nursery and landscape industry saw difficult times. Since then, increases have been consistent.

Reasons for interest. According to Statler, nursery and landscape products are growing in popularity for a variety of reasons.

People want their homes to be beautiful, and landscaping can add to the retail value of a home, Statler said.

Gardening can be done in relatively small places, so even those with limited space can grow plants.

Maintenance can be fairly low for plants as well, so people with limited time can garden too.

Affected by 9/11. Statler said another reason for the surge in the green industry is that since 9/11, consumers are spending leisure money on outdoor improvements rather than travel.

Gao agreed, saying that people are more likely to spend their money on improving their homes since they are spending more time there.

Landscaping services alone generated $1.16 billion in Ohio in 2001.

Helping the economy. The green industry contributed about $274.9 million in taxes in 2001 and employed 96,576 individuals in 2001.

Getting answers. Statler said the surveys began when the industry started to get active in legal issues. According to Statler, lobbyists wanted to know how big the green industry really is, and since the green industry was not included in other agricultural surveys, this survey was necessary to determine its actual contributions.

The survey is repeated every four years to benchmark the growth or decline of the industry.

Similar surveys were conducted in 1988, 1992 and 1996.

Who’s included. This survey was limited to Ohio’s 6,629 licensed nursery dealers and producers. It excluded all other businesses dealing in nursery products, like florists and lawn care companies.

Future forecast. Gao said he was not surprised by the results of the survey. He said gardening is one hobby that most people like and do well at.

“I would say our future is extremely bright,” he said.

There are currently 1,700 members in the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association.

The survey was conducted by Ohio State University Extension and funded by the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association.

(Janelle Baltputnis welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 21, or by e-mail at janelleb@farmanddairy.com.)

About the Author

Former reporter Janelle Skrinjar wrote for Farm and Dairy from 2005 to 2009. More Stories by Janelle Skrinjar

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