Sponsored by Oregon Business

Hedging bets on nursery growth

| Print |  Email
Wednesday, April 01, 2009

STATEWIDE Alice Doyle has been in the nursery business long enough to pick up on a powerful trend in plants. She and her small team at 60-acre, 25-greenhouse Log House Plants in Cottage Grove have been busy since last October assembling a new line of “grab and grow” garden kits to match the palates and climates of a whole new crop of Northwest gardeners.

She came up with the concept on a hunch that the movement to eat locally will accelerate as the recession deepens, and so far her hypothesis is playing out. “We have so many pre-orders that we have basically created a monster,” she says.

Oregon’s nursery industry became the state’s first agricultural sector to top $1 billion in sales in 2008, but it will be hard-pressed to continue the growth it has enjoyed for 17 years. Hedges and ornamentals for residential landscaping are a tough sell when the housing market has stalled to a standstill.

Inventory is building, and several Oregon growers are still waiting to be paid for major orders shipped last year. “Home remodeling, residential construction and commercial development have all taken a real beating and that affects everything in our business,” says John Aguirre, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries.

Given that backdrop, the outlook for large-scale growers who ship their plants out of state is not good. But for seed-growers, vegetable wholesalers and fruit tree specialists, opportunity awaits.

Jack Bigej, owner of Al’s Garden Center, with five growing centers and three retail outlets in Oregon, says he isn’t expecting strong sales for pricey lawn furniture and fancy shrubs, but fruit trees, blueberries and strawberries have been moving briskly.

“With all the problems with imported food these days, people are thinking that local is better,” he says. “How much more local can you get than your own back yard? It’s edibles that are carrying the market.”

Bigej recently sold 700 blueberry plants in five days, and he has had to re-order fruit trees several times to meet demand. But even with those boosts, his tree sales are down 20%. “The industry got spoiled,” he says. “That housing boom seemed like it was going to last forever, but it’s gone.”


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


More Articles

Reader Input: In or Out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The refugee crisis has put immigration and border issues on the front burner, in Europe and at home. In Oregon, attitudes toward illegal immigration haven’t changed dramatically since 2006.


Let it Rain

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

This year has been so dry we were caught napping when it finally started to sprinkle. Hopefully you didn’t get caught in a downpour while eagerly awaiting — don’t deny it — our curation of Oregon-grown wet weather wear.


Fare Thee Well, Company Town

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Corporate headquarters are no longer a marker of economic prowess.


Not Your Father's Cafeteria

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Corporate food service reaches out to foodies.


There's a great future in plastics

Linda Baker
Friday, October 30, 2015
103115-lindachinathumbBY LINDA BAKER

This is a story about a small plastics company in wine country now exporting more than one million feet — 260 miles worth — of tubing to China every month.


100 Best Nonprofits announced

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

1015-nonprofits01Oregon Business magazine has named the seventh annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon. The rankings were revealed Wednesday night during an awards dinner at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland.


The Cover Story

The Latest
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
100515-cover1015-news-thumbBY CHRIS NOBLE

As we worked on the October cover, it became evident that Nick Symmonds is a hard man to catch — even when he’s not hotfooting it around a track.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02