GardenComm Annual Conference & Expo
Dear GardenComm Members and Colleagues,
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Some easy. Some not so much. Your GardenComm board has decided to cancel our 2020 Conference and Expo, August 10-13 in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. The Executive Committee and Finance Committee participated in this decision after evaluating the challenges and uncertainties presented by COVID-19.
The Kellen management team continues to negotiate with the hotel in Colonial Williamsburg regarding our contract. Part of the negotiation is to hold the 2021 GardenComm Conference and Expo in Colonial Williamsburg.
We are looking at the week of Aug. 27 to Sept. 4, 2021. We have double-checked other major shows and these dates do not conflict with:
- Perennial Plant Association, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, July 26-30, 2021
- IGC, Chicago, Aug. 10-12, 2021
- FarWest, Portland, Oregon, Aug. 18-20, 2021
Becky Heath and the Colonial Williamsburg local arrangements committee are working with the private gardens and other venues lined up for 2020 to see if they will still be available in 2021. Our goal is to keep to the same schedule we laid out for 2020, but the situation remains fluid. We will send a follow-up e-mail to confirm the new dates as soon as possible.
What to look forward to
The Education Committee is contacting the speakers lined up for 2020 to see if their programs would lend themselves to a virtual format. The volunteers also are asking if the speakers are interested in presenting in 2021. We are also reaching out to vendors and sponsors to gain their commitments for next year.
One program from this year is “Schedule C,” which looks at ways we can take advantage of business deductions on our taxes. Ellen Zachos was to do this program in Williamsburg and has agreed to do a virtual presentation for our members this summer, so keep an eye out for details.
Diane Blazek and the National Garden Bureau have agreed to sponsor the popular New Plant and New Product presentations, which will be virtual. One session will cover new plant introductions for 2021 and one will give us a look at the latest tools and other new products. This will probably be in August or September. Again, details to come.
The Education Committee has developed a more concerted effort to bring members, and in some cases the consumer, more education programming. C.L. Fornari’s two hydrangea Zoom sessions were very well received, with more than 60 participants each, including about 25% nonmembers. It also had sponsorships from Endless Summer Hydrangea and Proven Winners ColorChoice.
Ellen Zachos’ “Backyard Foraging” refreshes our idea of a homegrown Victory Garden and introduces us to plants we didn’t know we could eat. This program will be 4 p.m. EDT, May 28. Brent and Becky’s, BackyardForaging.com, Bailey Nurseries and Proven Winners ColorChoice are sponsoring this program. It is free and open to the public, so please spread the word.
Ellen and C.L. donated their time for these programs to help bring in funding through registration fees, new members and sponsorships.
What you can do
No matter what the decision was regarding the conference, GardenComm was going to take a financial hit. We are doing our best to minimize this and are investigating ways to improve our revenue streams. The virtual programs are one way and we’d love to hear what ideas you have to help us recover. Please share them with your respective National Director.
We also need to stay connected with other members. We’re heading into summer, so I hope some of us will set up virtual gatherings from their gardens so we can talk about what’s going on and how we are maintaining our sanity. Many members will already be out and about soon as the states loosen restrictions. Some will still practice social distancing and wear a mask.
Please post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other social media about what you are doing to stay inspired and to inspire other members. We all feel better when we are connected.
Until we meet again, please stay safe.
Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp