The Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA) is an integral part of Florida's $15.2 billion environmental horticulture industry. The association believes that they represent a vibrant network of professionals who strive to make Florida's nursery industry successful. As a member of the association, growers, landscape professionals, brokers, retail garden centers, allied suppliers and other industry members are given the opportunity to work together, as one group, to strengthen the future of the nursery and landscape industry.
The history of the organization goes back to 1951, when the Florida State Nurserymen was a part of the Florida State Florist and Nurserymen Association. In that year, some of the nurserymen members believed that the Florida nursery industry was growing and that the concerns of the nurserymen were not being shared by the florist group. Several members got together and began the planning to create a separate organization. The first official meeting was held in Miami in May 1952. Since then the association has gained strength and popularity. In 1993, FNGLA absorbed the Florida Foliage Association, followed by the Florida Ornamental Growers association in 1995 and then, in 1999, the Florida Landscape Designers Association. It was during this period of growth that the association established itself as one of the largest and most active nursery associations in the country with a membership base of more than 1,800 professionals.
As the association moves into its sixth decade, the association provides a wealth of information and services for its members, and the entire industry at-large. There are 18 chapters throughout Florida which provide grassroots support; educational resources; events and FNGLA certifications to its members. On the state level, FNGLA operates the FNGLA-PAC, a separate fund which supports candidates and advocates legislation that promotes and protects the nursery and landscape industry's interests at the state capital. The association says that their PAC's sole purpose is to increase visibility and provide campaign assistance—on a bi-partisan basis—to Florida state legislators and candidates who actively support the industry. It should be noted that the PAC's money cannot be used for lobbying purposes.
The association also provides a means by which its members can achieve certification this allows the industry to prove that it can regulate itself in the absence of state licensure; increases its professionalism and public image and educates consumers on the various levels of service within the industry. For members and businesses who receive certification it demonstrates to consumers the ability to perform according to industry standards.
At present, FNGLA presents six different certifications ranging from Horticultural Professional (FCHP) and Landscape Contractor (FCLC) to Landscape Designer (FCLD). In order to receive these credentials, members must attend classes at accredited horticultural schools and certification training classes. Once the training is complete the association administers an exam, a member must pass this exam in order to receive certification. The education doesn't stop there, once a member receives certification they are required to earn continuing education units in order to renew their certifications every three years.
In addition to the political activism, research and education, the association is very involved in the community with several exciting programs. First is the Florida Garden Select program which is designed to promote the use of superior and proven Florida plants, which the association believed, benefits growers, garden centers and consumer alike.
Another yearly program that brings excitement to the community is the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Held at Epcot Center in Walt Disney World, the festival is an exceptional event and opportunity for FNGLA to showcase the industry and Florida's gardening offerings—2013 marks the 15th year of participation as a festival partner.
As an official festival partner, FNGLA will serve as the 2013 host organization to the returning theme of Children's Gardening focusing on family gardening fun. The garden area will be themed as “Backyard Play.” The display will set a “backyard look and feel: and will incorporate a variety of fun gardening elements which can be easily recreated by home gardeners. Some of the exciting displays will include a “green roof” doghouse; a topiary pet yard; a soup garden; pie garden; pizza garden, planted bamboo tunnel, vine covered playhouse; and a variety of garden crafts such as stepping stones; bird baths and the like. The garden will have something for everyone for the kid in all of us. The 2013 festival will be held this year from March 6, 2013 until May 19, 2013.
Another community program effort is the Florida School Gardening Competition which encourages teachers to integrate school gardening experiences into their school's curriculum. The association provides workshops and resources to help teachers succeed in getting children interested in gardening. The competition takes place each spring and awards the top three schools in three categories: single class, multiple class and entire school garden.
Continuing with its community outreach efforts, FNGLA provides resources for consumer education. The “GrowSmart!” Campaign aims at spreading the message of water conservation during unusually dry conditions, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and FNGLA have teamed up to bring this campaign forward in an attempt to raise public awareness that encourages water-wise landscaping and promotes the use of “the right plant for the right place” and other Florida-friendly landscaping principals direct to Florida consumers. Additionally, FNGLA hosts a consumer website, www.florida gardening.org, which provides resources for consumers including event listings, tips and more which makes this a “go-to” place for all things consumer gardening.
Trade Show & Industry Recognition
Each year, the association also hosts an expo, The Landscape Show, which attracts more than 400 exhibitors and 7,500 attendees covering more than 200,000 square feet. The Landscape Show offers a complete cast of plants, trees, palms, landscape equipment, hardscape products, irrigation, production equipment, business services and garden center supplies. Attendees will find exciting products and have the opportunity to discover new looks, talent and ideas the industry has to offer. This year’s event will take place September 19-21, 2013.
In 1969, FNGLA created the Landscape Awards program to recognize landscape excellence in Florida. Award-winning landscape projects are showcased on the floor of the annual Landscape Show. All entries are judged during the summer before the show by a panel of distinguished industry jurists. Winners receive their awards on The Landscape Show floor and four "Special Recognition Awards" are announced. Additionally, the association honors dedicated FNGLA member volunteers with the presentation of FNGLA’s industry awards. These awards are given to members, who volunteer their time and energy to better the association and the industry on the whole.
So as you can see, the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association is an extremely active organization that not only helps to regulate the industry, but also provides support, research and education not only for its members but for the general public as well. It's a well-known concept that an educated consumer is the best customer and that is what FNGLA strives to achieve. For more information regarding the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association check out their website: www.FNGLA.org.