Jay Sanders, sales manager for KG Farms, has been involved in the Farwest Show — the biggest green industry show in the West — since 1986. He has served on the show committee and exhibited.
“I’m considered a veteran of trade shows,” Sanders said.
More than 400 exhibitors and 5,000 attendees packed the event in 2018, according to Zen Landis, the Farwest Show’s events and education manager. Because the nursery industry is expanding, Landis predicts even more people will participate this year.
Each year, the show offers seminars, training sessions and continuing education credits for professionals.
This year, Charlie Hall, professor of international floriculture at Texas A&M University, will be the keynote speaker. Hall is nationally recognized for his expertise in green industry crops and horticultural economics. Hall will speak about the economic outlook for the nursery industry. The 2019 show will also offer two Spanish-only seminars.
“Some of the people I’ve known and seen for decades are people I met at the Farwest Show,” said Sanders. “Some have become colleagues, some friends. It creates a relationship that goes beyond the trade show.”
The show hosts evening social events for networking — a pub crawl and happy hour.
Landis said that the show itself is just the door to a broader network. There are two main ways that people can network after the show, she said.
The first is a Facebook group called “Emergent” — where people in the nursery industry can post about job opportunities, answer questions and help each other. The Facebook group is free to anyone. The networking event is free to those attending the 2019 Farwest Show.
The second networking opportunity is through an organization called Women in Horticulture, community for women in the industry.
According to Sanders, conifers have recently surged in popularity.
“Now that the economy is coming back up and people are buying houses, there’s a huge demand for conifers and we’re catching up,” said Sanders.
He said that spruce, pine and Japanese Maples have been the most popular trees this year.
According to Landis, the growing trends showcase theme for this year is “a place to pause,” in response to the increasing popularity of meditation and wellness gardens.
Another big trend this year in the consumer market is a move toward indoor plants.
“There are more and more people moving to urban areas and gardening indoors or outside on little balconies,” said Landis. “We’re seeing an industry shift toward plants that are low-maintenance and high color.”
Gardening is also becoming popular with younger generations. The National Gardening Survey found that consumers 18-34 made up a quarter of plant and garden spending in 2018, despite having lower household incomes and being more likely to live in apartments.
Succulents are especially popular with Millennials because they are hardy and can grow in small pots, said Landis.
“Succulents are a gateway plant,” Landis said. She laughed. “Once a person buys a succulent, they’re more likely to get into other plants. It’s a good way to turn people into lifelong plant lovers.”
Plant lovers and industry experts will unite at the 2019 Farwest Show Aug. 21-23 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon.