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  • Author or Editor: Coleman L. Etheredge x
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Increasingly, consumers are indicating that they would be willing to pay a premium for floral designs from a more sustainable floral provider. During the past several years, more environmentally sustainable floral foams and foam alternative media have been developed as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional floral foams comprised of phenol-formaldehyde plastics. Phenol-formaldehyde foam breaks down into microplastics, which ends up in landfills, soils, and waterways—including the planet’s oceans—if not disposed of properly. Eco-friendly foam alternatives are made from natural materials such as basalt minerals and coconut (Cocos nucifera) fiber (coir). The objective of this study was to investigate eco-friendly floral substrates for their commercial viability in the floral industry by analyzing the vase life of five of the most commonly use cut flower species in traditional vs. eco-friendly foam alternatives. Flowers selected for the experiment included ‘Freedom’ rose (Rosa hybrid), ‘Orange Queen’ alstroemeria (Alstroemeria hybrid), ‘Atlantis Yellow’ chrysanthemum (Dendranthema grandiflorum), ‘Pink Nelson’ carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus), and ‘Million Star’ baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculate). The flowers were selected based on their importance to the floral industry with regard to their overall volume of use in floral arrangements and volume of production. The findings from this study indicate the traditional phenol-formaldehyde–based floral foam maintained vase life longer for a majority of the flowers tested when compared with basalt floral fiber medium and coir pouches. However, the basalt floral fiber medium maintained a vase life of more than 7 days for all flowers tested, indicating it is an adequate medium to use in retail floral design production. The coir pouch did not maintain the customer-expected vase life of 7 days for all but one of the cultivars tested. This indicates that coir pouches are generally not suitable for traditional everyday retail floral design use, but could potentially be acceptable for special occasion designs in which the consumer prefers or specifies a more sustainable approach and/or can accept a shorter vase life.

Open Access

Retail florists in the United States were surveyed from Oct. to Nov. 2020 to document business practices and innovative approaches to marketing, designing, and delivering flowers during Mar. to Sept. 2020 of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Slightly less than half of the responding florists (45.0%) closed operations for an average of 31 to 60 days (15.6%). City or county COVID-19 restrictions caused 34% to close their storefronts to customers. Nearly all offered no-contact delivery service. Approximately one-third of these florists used social media marketing consisting of still images and video posts, and a similar number offered no-contact shopping options. Two-thirds of the florists made no changes to the way they designed flowers (60.6%). Event-oriented stores reorganized their business models and sought daily work to replace postponed or canceled wedding orders. Three-fourths of the florists who terminated employees because of shutdowns hired or planned to rehire all terminated employees.

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As Generation Z (born 1995–2012) students replace Millennial (born 1981–94) students on college campuses, instructors may begin to evaluate and structure their courses based on how this new generation best learns. Generation Z students were exposed to such things as the internet, smart phones, personal computers, and laptops since infancy and, hence, are very comfortable with technology and multitasking. The purpose of this study was to compare students’ overall grades and perceptions of the course and instructor in a face-to-face vs. an online/hybrid basic floral design course taken by a majority Generation Z student population. The face-to-face course consisted of live lectures that met twice per week for 50 min at an assigned time; reading materials and standard lecture slides were used. The hybrid course had content placed online within weekly modules and released to students in an asynchronous manner each Monday. Both versions of the course had a face-to-face laboratory that met once per week. Comparisons of grades between the face-to-face and hybrid course formats were made using analysis of variance tests. A Mann-Whitney U test was used to determine if there were statistically significant differences in the way students in each course format answered the end of semester course and instructor evaluation survey. Of those that took the course, a majority [466 (98.3%)] was between the ages 18 and 24 years, within the Generation Z era. When comparing grades within this group, it was found students in the hybrid course received more A and B letter grades overall [223 (91%)] compared with the students of the same age range in the face-to-face course [198 (88.7%)]. Overall, seniors and juniors scored higher grades in both the hybrid and face-to-face course when compared with the sophomore and freshmen within the same class. No significant difference was found between the face-to-face and hybrid students’ responses to any of the 11 questions on the course and instructor evaluation survey. Results showed an overall high level of satisfaction (4.50) for both the face-to-face and hybrid format.

Open Access

In the United States there has been a push to convert industries to a more environmentally sustainable business attitude in recent years. Environmentally sustainable practices are not only good for the environment, but there is increasing evidence these practices lead to an increase in customer loyalty. The trend of self-regulation, willingly imposing more stringent environmental policies than required by the government, is progressing toward a time where environmentally friendly practices will be a competitive necessity for businesses to survive. The main purpose of this research was to investigate the perceptions of environmental health of retail flower shop owners and their willingness to recycle fresh cut floral waste produced at retail flower shops for use as compost and to determine if there is a statistical correlation between environmental awareness and willingness to compost fresh cut flower waste. A mailing list of retail florists from across the United States was compiled. A total of 1974 florists from all 50 states were sent a standardized e-mail explaining the purpose of the study. Embedded in the e-mail was a hyperlink that redirected willing respondents to the survey. Each person on the mailing list was emailed one time. Of the 300 retail florists who took part in the survey, a majority, 190 (63.33%), were ranked as having “high concern” for environmental health. A majority of florists 247 (82.33%) “agreed” or “strongly agreed” to collaborate with Master Gardener programs and other organizations if it meant they could recycle their floral waste through composting. Through the creation of industry- and state-sponsored certifications, florists could brand and promote their business as more environmentally conscious by composting their floral waste. This could possibly, in turn, stimulate sales and increase profit margins while having the added benefit of reducing the amount of waste entering landfills.

Open Access

Research suggests consumers are willing to pay a premium for goods from industries that design products using environmentally sound practices and that these practices lead to customer loyalty. Using environmentally friendly practices can differentiate a business from competitors through branding, which has been known to help increase profit margins and stimulate demand in a saturated market. The main purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of consumer perceptions and willingness to pay as they relate to retail floral providers’ sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. A total of 2172 people responded to an online survey. The sample used in this study was a random selection of individuals 18 years and older living in the United States. Survey responses were collected from 21 Dec 2022 to 27 Jan 2023. Respondents indicated the use of locally sourced flowers followed by the recycling of flower waste through composting as the two sustainable attributes that would increase their willingness to make purchases the most. Respondents indicated the strongest willingness to pay 10% or more for locally sourced flowers (61.7%), followed by flower providers composting their floral waste (59.5%). In addition, 50% or more of all respondents indicated a willingness to pay 10% or more for all the sustainable attributes for which they were asked. The methods in which retail floral providers source floral material, create floral designs, and market and brand their company are important considerations when promoting their services toward environmentally conscious consumers and in creating a valuable repeat customer base.

Open Access

Consumers have become increasingly concerned about the environmental standards of industries from which they purchase products. Because consumers’ environmental concerns are increasingly becoming part of their purchasing decisions, industries have begun to restructure their business model to one that is more environmentally sustainable. Studies have indicated consumers’ actions and motivations for purchasing sustainable products vary based on consumer demographics. The main purpose of this study was to compare the differences in consumers’ perceptions and willingness to pay as they relate to retail floral providers’ sustainable and environmentally sound practices based on demographic traits. A total of 2172 people responded to an online survey. The sample used in this study was a random selection of individuals 18 years of age or older living in the United States. Survey responses were collected from 21 Dec 2022 to 27 Jan 2023. Data were analyzed using analyses of variance and post hoc tests as well as descriptive and frequency statistics. Results indicated there was a difference in the way respondents answered the survey questions based on demographics. Respondents 34 years of age or younger with college experience indicated the most willingness to make purchases and pay premiums from floral providers that incorporate sustainable attributes into their business model. Males indicated a stronger willingness to shop at a floral provider based on several of the environmental statements when compared with other genders. The results provide evidence of the value of the integration of sustainability practices into the business model of floral providers to make it more competitive.

Open Access

A university faculty-managed and student-run service-learning program provides seasonal plants and floral designs for holidays and special events on campus. Native and well-adapted plants for client personal use are also promoted and sold throughout the semester. Students propagate and grow greenhouse and nursery crops and create floral designs through service-learning applications in classes. Floral designs and greenhouse/nursery products are advertised via e-mail to members of the university's faculty and staff. The purpose of this study was to document program fundraising over time, as well as to measure the experiential value to the students and the quality of life benefits to the campus community. Economic benefits were evaluated by reviewing overall and average costs and earnings from the program over a 13-year period. Results indicated the average profits for the program were $6578 annually, with most sales occurring during the late spring semester. Surveys collected qualitative data from students participating in the program and indicated the experience was a valuable hands-on horticultural teaching tool, but also helped students build confidence, learn business skills in management and networking, and find their passion within the industry. Unsolicited comments from faculty and staff found that the program brought joy, had educational value, and provided a service to departments.

Open Access

In the last quarter century, the epidemic of overweight and obese Americans has increased strikingly. This, in turn, has caused a substantial rise in the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cholesterol, hypertension, osteoarthritis, stroke, type II diabetes, specific forms of cancer, and other diseases. The main purpose of this research was to investigate the influence of gardening activities on activity levels, body mass index (BMI), allergies, and reported overall health of gardeners and nongardeners. The sample population was drawn from two sources: an online survey and an identical paper-pencil formatted survey, which was distributed to church, garden, and community service groups within Texas and parts of the mid-western United States. A total of 1015 people participated in the study. Results from this study indicated nongardeners were less physically active when compared with gardeners. However, frequency of gardening did not have a statistically significant impact on gardeners’ BMI. There was also no difference in BMI between gardeners and nongardeners. Gardeners indicated having more frequently reoccurring symptoms for “ear infection/ear ache,” “high cholesterol,” “kidney stone,” “gallstones,” and “arthritis,” indicating gardening may be being used as a distraction therapy, helping gardeners to cope with pain and remain active when other forms of exercise may not be an option. There was no statistically significant difference in incidence of allergies between gardeners and nongardeners.

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In the United States, there is an increasing demand for field- or greenhouse-grown, specialty, locally grown cut flowers. However, certain cultivars of cut flowers are not readily available in the market. The purpose of this research was to produce a crop of novelty sunflowers (Helianthus annuus ‘Firecracker’) and study the marketability of the cut flowers to wholesale and retail florists and consumers. The plants were grown in greenhouses. Stems were harvested and shown to local floral wholesalers/retailers who were individually interviewed on their perceptions of the cut flower as a product. Farmers’ market patrons were administered a quantitative survey to determine their perspectives on locally sourced products and willingness to pay (WTP) for the specialty cut flower (SCF). Results indicated half of the local florists interviewed responded positively to locally grown floral products in general, with all florists willing to pay at the least the same amount for the SCF as they are currently paying for their standard commercially grown, imported cut sunflowers. Farmers’ market customers expressed a WTP of $1.34/stem and/or $10.13/bunch of 10 stems for the SCF with participants who expressed a higher concern for sourcing local products often more willing to pay a higher price for the SCF. Furthermore, among demographic comparisons, there were no differences in WTP based on age, income, and education. However, females were more likely to purchase the SCF when compared with males, and African-Americans were less likely to buy the SCF and willing to pay less for 10-stem bunches when compared with respondents of other ethnic backgrounds. Although many buyers responded positively to the product, results indicate women and those who prefer to buy local would be a good target demographic market for the product.

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