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An Internet survey was conducted from 28 May to 8 June 2008 to investigate consumer awareness and interest in attending programming offered at The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, PA). The study was designed to investigate what traditional and non-traditional programs might attract community members to the arboretum and to identify potential barriers, perceived or real, that might discourage community members from visiting the arboretum. Among demographic groups, more females were interested in “hands-on workshops” (42.5%) and “fact sheets, instructional bulletins, and how-to guides” (37.4%) than males (26.8% and 26.3%, respectively). In examining events and activities, significant differences were found for “wine tasting and tours” and “outdoor concerts and live performances” based on household income; however, no significant differences were found among age groups and other demographics tested. Differences in interest in other activities were apparent based on number of adults and number of children in the household. Public gardens and arboreta can use this information as the foundation for modifying programs and services offered, though input from the community and trialing of alternative programs should be considered before completely changing programs and services offered.

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Two studies were conducted to better understand arboreta and community members' attitudes toward programming and benefits offered at arboreta and public gardens. The first study, a mail survey sent to arboreta members, included questions regarding what encourage them to become members and the services they value pertaining to their paid membership. The second study, an Internet survey of consumers residing within a 30-mile radius of the arboreta, also focused on interest in leisure activities and interest in traditional, gardening-related programs offered at the arboreta in an effort to understand what might increase membership. Over half of the members (62.5%) responded that they were “completely satisfied,” with only 3.4% selecting “neither dissatisfied nor satisfied” or some level of “dissatisfied.” The top three reasons that motivated members to join the arboretum's association included “benefits offered” (28.2%), followed by providing the “arboretum with financial support” (22.9%), and “to attend horticultural educational programs at a discounted rate” (22.6%). Interest level in gardening appeared to be greater among arboreta members compared with community members, on the basis of the percentage of both groups who self-identified with phrases such as “skilled and knowledgeable” and “enjoys spending time gardening.” Arboreta member interest in garden programming activities differed from those of local community respondents in all categories except “outdoor concerts and live performances,” “wine tasting and tours,” and “painting and drawing.” The one program/activity that appeared to be more of interest to community members than arboreta members was “cooking and entertaining,” with community members returning an average mean rating of 4.77 (1 = “very disinterested,” 7 = “very interested”) and arboreta members returning an average mean rating of 4.29. On the basis of the results of the survey and the strong interest expressed by both survey groups in program activities offered, arboreta staff should consider offering programming that appeals to both current members and community members at large and in an effort to assure a sustainable membership level.

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The Associated Landscape Contractors of America reported in 2004 that the lawn and landscape industry experienced considerable growth during the last 10 years: an increase of 31% from 2002 to 2003, and 126% from 1998 to 2003. An understanding by landscaping professionals of what factors influence consumers' evaluation and selection process when purchasing landscaping services is instrumental in formulating business and marketing plans that will more effectively target new customers, increase the customer base, and ultimately increase profits. To determine these factors, a questionnaire was developed and mailed to 5000 randomly selected households in the metro-Philadelphia area. Recipients were asked to consider factors deemed relevant to the selection and purchase of a landscaping service provider and rank them in order of importance. Questions pertaining to both the landscape industry, such as types of services purchased or how much was spent on these services, and the participants' demographic status were included. A total of 504 completed surveys were received, representing a 10% response rate. Results indicated that the “quality of work” factor was most important, followed by “cost,” and “types of services offered” when analyzed by both the frequency as well as by an average mean ranking of factors. Further analysis of results showed little or no influence on the ordering of factors by independent variables, such as types of service purchased, how much was spent on the service(s), household income, or education levels of the participants.

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Two separate surveys were administered (17–19 Nov. 2008 and 7–10 Apr. 2009) to consumers residing in five metropolitan areas in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States (1710 for Survey 1 and 1518 for Survey 2) to investigate and compare consumer stated preferences toward locally grown and certified organic produce. In Survey 1, participants were asked to indicate whether they agreed that purchasing locally grown produce was more important than purchasing organically grown produce. In addition, they were asked to report whether locally grown and certified organic were factors in their produce purchasing decision. Compared with their counterparts (each demographic examined independently), White/Anglos, Asian Americans, and those aged 25 years and older agreed that purchasing locally grown produce was more important than purchasing organically grown produce. A greater percentage of participants aged 37 years and older (average of 65%) and 66% of White/Anglo participants selected “produce was grown in my local area.” In addition, a greater percentage of participants aged between 21 and 64 years (average of 32%) and 48% of Asian Americans selected “produce was grown using ‘certified’ organic methods,” compared with their counterparts. In Survey 2, participants were presented with six pairwise comparisons and asked to indicate their stated preference between each of the two options, which included combinations of “locally grown,” “not locally grown,” “certified organic,” and “not certified organic.” Stated preference for locally grown produce was highest among the following participant groups (each group examined independently): those aged 37 years and older, White/Anglo participants, those without children living in their household, females, and participants with income levels $25,000 and greater. In addition, stated preference for certified organic was highest among the following groups (again, each group examined independently): those aged between 21 and 36 years; Black/African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans; those with children living in their household; females; and participants with income levels of $25,000 and greater. Produce industry members in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region (e.g., farmers, distributors, retail store owners, restauranteurs, agricultural extension personnel) can incorporate this research into marketing plans, purchasing decisions, or educational or applied research programs as appropriate.

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Three separate marketing studies were conducted during 2000 to determine consumer purchase behavior, use, and potential for purchasing edible flowers. First, a telephone survey was administered to 423 randomly selected residences in the Metro-Detroit area. Participants with some college education were more likely to have eaten edible flowers, would be more likely to eat them, and would be more likely to buy them. A second survey conducted with 25 Michigan Master Gardeners collected more detailed responses about edible flower purchase and use. Females were more likely to purchase edible flowers than males. Single-person households were less likely to have grown edible flowers than larger households. Participants with an annual income ≤$39,999 were half as likely to have purchased edible flowers as the higher income group. A third consumer survey was conducted over a 6-week period with three Metro-Detroit area grocery stores where consumers purchased containers of edible flowers with an attached survey form. A total of 243 of 360 containers of edible flowers were sold, and we received a 27% response rate. All respondents (100%) with an annual income ≥$30,001 were likely to like the flavor of the flowers. Across all three studies, there were few significant differences between demographic characteristics, which indicates that a homogeneous marketing strategy may effectively reach consumers. Based on these results, there appears to be is consumer interest in edible flowers, some consumers have had experience using and serving them, and will purchase them in grocery stores if marketed to attract the consumers interest.

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Two identical surveys were conducted with separate samples to determine consumer perceptions of the quality of five edible flower species. Participants were either members of a class that reviewed the history and uses of edible flowers at an annual, 1-day event (Garden Days) or Michigan Master Gardeners who attended a similar class. Participants were shown a randomized series of projected photographic slides of five edible flower species and asked to indicate whether they found the flower quality acceptable. The slides depicted a range of ratings of mechanical damage, insect damage, or flower senescence on a Likert reference scale (1 through 5) developed by the researchers. A flower rated 5 was flawless, while a flower rated 1 had substantial damage. Nearly one-half of all participants had eaten edible flowers before the study, and 57% to 59% had grown them for their own consumption, indicating many individuals had previous experience. Both samples rated flower quality equally and found pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana `Accord Banner Clear Mixture'), tuberous begonia (Begonia ×tuberhybrida `Ornament Pink'), and viola (Viola tricolor `Helen Mount') acceptable from stage 5 to 3. Both groups found the nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus `Jewel Mix') flowers acceptable at only rating 5. Garden Days participants rated borage (Borago officinalis) acceptable from ratings 5 to 3, while the Master Gardeners rated their acceptability from only 5 to 4. Participants also rated flower color (yellow, orange, and blue) as equally acceptable.

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A consumer-research study was conducted in two locations in Pennsylvania utilizing two survey methods: intercept and telephone. This study was designed to assess: 1) what national brand name plant material participants purchased in the past; 2) the consumer's awareness of the Pennsylvania Gardener Selects (PGS) program; and 3) the gardening habits and demographics of Pennsylvania gardeners. The first survey was an intercept survey of 390 self-selected participants who attended Ag Progress Days (APD), a 3-day outdoor educational event and farm implement show from 20-22 Aug. 2002. The second survey was a telephone survey of 500 randomly selected households in the metro-Philadelphia area and was conducted from 20 Aug. through 17 Sept. 2002. Only responses from Pennsylvania gardeners were used in the analysis of the results. A comparison of survey results indicated that metro-Philadelphia-area participants spent more on plant material annually than APD participants, who primarily resided in rural locations. The results showed that metro-Philadelphia-area gardeners tend to live in single-adult households and have one or more children, whereas APD gardeners tend to live in a household with two or more adults and have no children. Eighty-one percent of APD participants and 62% of metro-Philadelphia participants reported that they would be willing to purchase plant material that has been evaluated and chosen as being outstanding for use in all areas of Pennsylvania, a premise for the PGS program.

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Attendees at the 2001 Philadelphia Flower Show participated in an interactive-quiz-formatted survey on touch-screen computers to determine their knowledge and use of plant health care (PHC) and integrated pest management (IPM) practices. Participants answered 15 questions in three categories: 1) PHC practices (criteria for proper plant selection, correct planting practices, and reasons for mulching and pruning); 2) IPM practices (insect identification, plant and pest monitoring, and maintenance of records on pests found and treatments applied to their landscape plants); and 3) demographic and sociographic questions to aid in characterizing the survey population. Over half of the participants (58%) were interested in gardening and a majority (77%) were interested in protecting the environment. Most participants (66%) were between 36 and 60 years of age with a mean age of 47 years, 76% lived in and owned a single-family home, and greater than half (56%) had never purchased professional landscape services. Most recognized PHC criteria for proper site selection, although not all environmental site characteristics were recognized as being equally important. Nearly half (49%) identified the correct planting practice among the choices offered; while an equal number of participants chose among the several improper practices listed. Although reasons for mulching were properly identified by the respondents, excess mulching around trees was considered a proper planting practice by over 39% of the participants. When questioned about IPM practices, a majority reported that they identify pests prior to treating them (71%) and that they scouted their landscapes (82%). However, only 21% kept records of the pests that they had found and the treatments that they applied for those pests. Participants' responses were further examined using cluster analysis in order to characterize the participants and identify meaningful consumer knowledge segments for targeting future extension programming. Three distinct segments were identified: 1) horticulturally savvy (69% of the participants), 2) part-time gardener (25% of the participants), and 3) horticulturally challenged (6%). At least 47% of the horticulturally savvy and part-time gardeners correctly answered plant health care questions (44% of the total survey participants). These two segments included more individuals who were interested in gardening and protecting the environment and are potential targets for future PHC and IPM extension education programs. In contrast the horticulturally challenged recorded no interest in or opinion on gardening or protecting the environment. It is apparent that a majority of consumers are learning and employing PHC and IPM concepts. Proper site selection, planting practices, and mulching along with record keep- ing and pest identification proficiency remain key educational areas to be developed. Although not all gardeners are well versed in all subject matter, a basic knowledge of PHC and IPM is being demonstrated.

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