A Peachy Opportunity

We have a “Peachy” Opportunity for you to join the Education Committee and help NHLA members grow in their professional development. Working on this committee earns you recertification credits and gives you the chance to meet and work with fellow members!

Many Hands Make Light Work

“Many hands make light work” – John Heywood, (1497-1580), British author, got it right when he coined this phrase, and it applies today! NHLA hopes you’ll consider joining the Education Committee! Work is well underway for the Joint Winter Meeting for January with members of NHLA, NH Plant Growers, and UNH Cooperative Extension. Your participation on the Education Committee would be most welcome. In addition to the Winter Meeting, we’re working on the Spring 2020 Conference to be held in March, as well as Twilight Meetings for 2020 and considerations about ways for attendees to earn pesticide credits.

Many viewpoints and experiences will help make the Education Committee work for NHLA members and guests. This committee can determine how we’ll broadcast information about NHLA’s education events, and you may have ideas you’d like to put in motion. Your participation can be centered on one event, one activity, or on bringing a new interpretation of “education” to the committee’s attention to review and implement.

Please consider joining this group! Contact Cris Blackstone, NHLA Education Coordinator, crisablackstone@gmail.com for more information or to say you’ll serve on the committee.
“The More, the Merrier!” (also attributed to John Heywood – he got that right, too!)


What is Happening to the Green Industry?

by Robert W. Pollock, Jr., Landscape Architect

I realize I graduated from Stockbridge School of Agriculture many years ago (1967) my graduating class was 230 graduates out of some 400+ students. In May 2019 I went back to visit my Alma-Mata and found that the Stockbridge School office is in the next thing close to a cloths closet and that there were only 30 students graduating in the class of 2019. Programs have been dropped and enrollment is dropping. Barely 30 new students for the next freshman class.

We have all read that similar issues are happening at the Thompson school. Enrollment is down and programs are being dropped. What is happing to the agricultural/horticultural programs? What is happening to college in general? If this trend continues the trained work force replacements in the Green Industry, for us that are retiring, will be hard to find in the future. Those so-called landscapers who have little training or education in the landscape industry will see the gap and landscapes could become of lesser quality.
Here are the issues as I perceive them:

  1. All of us in the Green Industry are so focused on our careers and work, we do not take the time to reach out and encourage the next generation to explore the creative and satisfying career of landscape design and working with plant materials.
  2. The birth rate is dropping to the point that, in the United States, that the rate is below the replacement rate of those who have passed away or have reached retirement age.
  3. In 2017 US birthrate has dipped to a 30 year Low. In the next 18 years every institution of higher education will be scrapping for every student that they can get. These institutions may have to re-think how they attract students to learn in the fields of horticulture and landscape design. Some of the programs will have to be restructured maybe with more hands-on learning, better opportunities for apprenticeships, and make higher education affordable.
  4. Today’s high school graduates are recognizing that “vocational” occupations are financially more lucrative, they can get on-the-job training, get paid while being trained and not have debt at the end of the training period. In many cases they can earn as much if not more than a person with a typical four-year college education.
  5. With the computer age, high school students get instant gratification seeking out answers to questions and work results. By providing apprenticeships in the industry the need for instant gratification is fullfilled.

What needs to be done to sustain interest in the Green Industry? I do not have all the answers but here are some suggestions.

  1. Make it a point to at least once a month make public presentations to your local Rotary, Kiwanis clubs, or try and get into your local High School and meet with school college or career councilors and through power points or written materials explain what you do. Today’s students are environmentally conscious, your presentations should demonstrate how the Green Industry is fulfilling that need. As an example, Roberts Nurseries and Landscape company has been working with Maple Street school in Hopkinton to introduce horticulture to the students. The program has grown expeditiously.
  2. Provide apprenticeship opportunities for students, start off at a base pay with an incentive for a pay increase in 4-6 months provided that the student shows improvement in skills. A contract should be created that outlines the expectations, ie being to work on time, being present every day, and learning skills of the trade. Many employees complain that the students today are irresponsible in not dedicated to their jobs. This may be partly the employer’s approach. Students really respect a coach and will respond to coaching. They have a difficult time responding to boss type orders. Those of you who coach teams outside of work, you should try to transfer the coaching skills to on the job opportunities. You will have better employees and will have dedicated employees.
  3. Have conversations with your clients. If you do a great job for your client, they may have children, grandchildren, or neighbors’ kids that are interested in what you do. If the opportunity arrives have the student shadow you for a day or two while on job.
  4. Provide an incentive to continue their education, financial help with an agreement that they work for you for an agreed upon number of years that you benefit from their learned skills.
  5. Support your institutions of higher education by recommending that employees take a class at Thompson School or NHTI Concord to learn new landscape skills. With out these two schools there will be no landscape or horticultural programs in the State of New Hampshire.

“Horticulture is an important industry in New Hampshire. It is made up of over 800 businesses who sell, install, and care for landscape plants (trees, shrubs, perennials) green house crops/flowers and turfgrass. The value of this Green Industry exceeds $522 million each year in sales of products and services.” (From https://extension.unh.edu/programs/landscape-installation-maintenance.

If we all don’t get on the advocacy “bandwagon” and find ways to introduce the Green Industry to the future generation there will be the potential of a major impact on our own industry and the economy of the State of New Hampshire. Advocating for any of the Green Industry opportunities is the responsibility of all of ua, not just your Association officers.

What are you going to do today to advocate for the landscape profession in New Hampshire?


Water, Water Everywhere

by Cris Blackstone, NHCLP
October-November 2019

Using the Earth’s water resources is a focus around the world. We have seen the photos of different groups of people, walking several miles each direction daily, to bring fresh, clean water home. Photojournalists have covered stories of pallets and pallets full of water bottles being distributed after disasters in many communities, often weather related, across our country. From the many ways we learn about the water cycle in elementary school, to the expertise in municipal water departments, water is a common topic now more than ever before.

Clean, unpolluted water in private wells, and clean water filtering through our watersheds, is no longer “a given.” Landscapers are among the front line professionals seeing how water can help plants flourish, or how misuse can cause ideal conditions for plants to host diseases and become undesirable on a property. Through professional development and sheer interest and concern, landscapers, plant growers, and designers can all help community stakeholders learn more about the importance of viewing water as a resource to be guarded closely.

California may be at the leading edge of water being regulated and intensely monitored. Last year, the average per person use of water there was 85 gallons per day. With new statewide conservation laws in place, indoor water use is going to be regulated at 55 gallons per person per day, in six months. There’s a goal of 52.5 gallons by 2025, and 50 gallons by 2030. There are also pending requirements for irrigation systems being certified by landscape architects, with the exact details being worked out.

Cynthia Bee, the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Jordan Valley Water Conservation District, outside Salt Lake City, UT, was a tour coordinator for the Garden Communicators 2019 Conference, which was held September 4-7. One of her goals was showcasing gardens, both public and private, that were at the helm of the water conservancy programs and moreover, mindset, of gardeners and landscapers in Utah. While there are still vast numbers of properties sporting expansive monoculture lawn areas requiring intensive watering, there is a strong movement going on to help educate homeowners and municipalities to plan lawn areas more effectively. The Garden Communicators had many lively and engaging conversations about the use of irrigation and water consumption, from their viewpoints coming from many states, as well as Canada and Australia. I was happy to know that New Hampshire is in the forefront of understanding water use, minimizing monoculture lawn areas, being mindful of how playgrounds in parks and at schools are designed, and encouraging plants that are more drought-tolerant to be used.

UNH Cooperative Extension is working with representatives of many like-minded professional groups from our government (DES) and groups such as Soak Up the Rain, among others, to create new programming which will be introduced in 2020. Recent meetings with representatives, including Master Gardeners, Natural Resources Stewards, and several departments from UNH Cooperative Extension, reviewed materials presented in the past, from the Landscaping at the Water’s Edge book and program. Over the coming months, this curriculum will be updated and made available to garden groups, civic groups, and professional organizations. With volunteers presenting to their peers through garden groups and library presentations, and professionals presenting to landscapers and plant growers, all proprty owners should be educated and invigorated to be a part of this conscientious movement. Topics will include proper irrigation, best plants to be used to create the most natural landscape possible, and considerations for habitat from the ground level to higher up in shrubs and trees. The landscapes chosen for the water’s edge, have tremendous effect on the quality of water in streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and ultimately the ocean.

Water problems considered are not only the need to ensure fresh, clean, potable, and pollution-free water for human use and recreation, but for all things in the natural world. When we have increasing storm negative effects, flooding and subsequent pollution occur. That damage is not only costly, but is damaging to the habitat and can be impossible to repair. Across the US, we see many ways to mitigate damaging storm water. From ways steps are built as simple frames, filled with gravel, to slow down the water travel from a hillside to the water’s edge, to ways storm water is diverted from gutters to catch basins, slowing down the damaging speeds water can travel during and after a storm, are becoming commonplace.

Our drinking water depends on everyone doing their fair share, maybe even more than that – to ensure all water, drop by drop, is considered valuable. The tours in Utah showed ways the western states are grappling with long periods of drought, and ways they embrace new styles of plants and gardens to reflect sensible water use. While slow to catch on, it’s a positive approach, brought on by people like Cynthia Bee, in roles such as Outreach and Education for the Jordan Water Conservation District.

In New Hampshire we have many watershed groups, from the NH Lakes Associations to town Conservation Commissions and our County Planning Commissions, to thank for being aware and actively promoting efforts to conserve water and use it wisely. Landscapers have a strong, visible role to play in this important movement, helping to work with homeowners to appreciate responsible designs, that will offer year ’round interest and be beneficial to all the wildlife that type of property can attract and support. Learn and share with your local garden centers and wholesale suppliers, to ensure your clients are learning what they can about wise water use.