We had a great time at InVigorateU earlier this week! There were so many interesting speakers and fantastic networking opportunities. Here are a few highlights we took away from the event:
- Keynote speaker Dr. Charlie Hall from Texas A&M gave a thorough analysis of our hort industry economy and projections for the future. Labor continues to be a big issue for our businesses with currently over 15 million job vacancies in the US waiting to be filled. Input costs to our industry have risen 22% in recent years but prices are not keep up which results in shrinking margins. Next recession prediction… possibly 2021. Take away – be ready to manage working capital. Here is a link to Dr. Hall’s presentation if you want to learn more: https://www.illinoisgreen.net/assets/InVigorateU/InvigorateU-Hall.pdf
- Nancy Buley from J. Frank Schmidt Nursery highlighted some new tree varieties to keep your eye on. Here is a link to the trees: http://www.jfschmidt.com/pdfs/2019_InVigorateU_JFS.pdf
- In a second presentation, Nancy explained to timeline to market for trees from development to final production. It was fascinating to see the process from start to finish. Did you know that Espresso Kentucky Coffeetree to 20 years from discovery, to R&D, to available production liners??? Then add on production here in the Midwest of another 5 years. Or did you know that Valley Forge Elm took 34 years total to produce a 3.0″ tree??? Here is a link to some more info: http://jfschmidt.com/pdfs/TreesToMarket-IVU-2019.pdf
- Melissa Custic from Morton Arboretu shared an interesting link to Witness Trees in Illinois: http://chicagorti.org/WitnessTrees This program is a follow up to a land survey from the 1800’s done in Illinois. Fascinating stuff!
- Lydia Scott from Morton Arboretum presented an update from CRTI. They are estimating the need for 28 million additional trees to be planted in the Chicago region in coming years. That’s about 12 trees/person! There has been a 17% decline in the Oak ecosystem over time, along with pest threats like EAB, invasive species, and an overall aging canopy. PLANT TREES is on the agenda and as growers it is an exciting time to figure out how to meet the need. You can read more about the CRTI Master Plan 2050 here: http://chicagorti.org/
- In the LA room, I got to see a former U of I classmate, Mark Dwyer, from Rotary Gardens present on Healing Gardens. It brought me back to my roots of design and was exciting to hear about the therapeutic benefits of plants. I cannot wait to go visit his beautiful gardens this summer!
All in all it was a packed few days with so much more to talk about! Feel free to reach out to me if you want to know more about any of the presentations. There was so much more that I didn’t even touch on in this post!