Hedging bets on nursery growth

| Print |  Email
Archives - April 2009
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.”

BEN JACKLET

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

 

More Articles

Farm in a Box

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Most of the food Americans consume is trucked in from hundreds of miles away. Eric Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Gro-volution, wants to change that. So this past spring, the Air Force veteran and former greenhouse manager started work on an alternative farming system he claims is more efficient than conventional agriculture, and also shortens the distance between the consumer and the farm.


Read more...

Stemming the tide of money in politics

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
 jeff-lang-2012-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Jeff Lang and his wife Rae used to dole out campaign checks like candy.  “We were like alcoholics,” Lang says. ”We couldn’t just give a little.”


Read more...

Loose Talk

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

When gossip crosses the line.


Read more...

Oregon needs a Grand Bargain energy plan

Linda Baker
Monday, June 22, 2015
0622-gastaxblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Clean Fuels/gas tax trade off will go down in history as another disjointed, on-again off-again approach to city and state lawmaking.


Read more...

Reader Input: Energy Overload

June 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers to weigh in on the fossil fuel-green energy equation.


Read more...

Quake as metaphor

Linda Baker
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
071515-earthquakia-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Big One serves as an allegory for Portland, a city that earns plaudits for lifestyle and amenities but whose infrastructure is, literally, crumbling.


Read more...

Reader Input: Fair Play

May 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Former Governor John Kitzhaber's resignation in February prompted some soul searching in this state about ethical behavior in industry and government.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS