Cultivate’22 – Inspiring and Educational

By Mandy Gerace, CGG, 2022 CNGA Board President

CNGA Board President Mandy Gerace, CGG

If you were in the greenhouse industry 40-50 years ago, summer was the time for your family vacations after a very busy spring season. Of course, if you had field crops, you would take turns and plan far in advance for that sacred time away. Over the years so much has changed. Maybe your business grew into something with regional or national demand. Suddenly your summer vacation was blended with a trip to California to visit a breeder while taking your children to Disneyland.

Many of us have been in and around this industry for many years and some of us, our entire lives. We have seen so many changes, some for the better and some we had to learn from. We are now in an accelerated pace of change in every aspect of our lives. Technology has made many things easier, yet it brings new challenges. If you were seeking answers and education, you made time to visit Columbus for the OFA Short Course, which has become an industry trade show called Cultivate. As trade shows around the country suffer from COVID and new ways of working, Cultivate seems to be holding its own and still engaging the bulk of our industry. Let’s explore the history, some highlights from 2022 and explore why this trade show continues to thrive.

The Cultivate trade show was once the OFA Short Course Conference. OFA (Ohio Floriculture Association) formed in 1929 and was the Association of Horticulture Professionals developed by graduates of The Ohio State University. It was a nonprofit organization to support and advance the industry. Their mission was to be the leader in education for the United States horticulture trade. The Short Course Conference took place for over 80 years and offered not only education, but also products and events for members of all areas of the industry including growers, garden centers, florists, interior landscapers and horticulture students. In 2014, ANLA (American Nursery & Landscape Association) and OFA consolidated and AmericanHort was born to truly represent the entire industry including breeders.

Cultivate’22 was held July 16-19 at the Columbus Convention Center. As always it was packed full of trade show exhibits, educational sessions, as well as the latest plant and product launches. We go to Cultivate for inspiration, celebration, and the latest innovations from our industry. Cultivate has grown to be a great time for our industry to gather and celebrate because it is the only time we are all in the same place at the same time. AmericanHort gave their annual political and economic update with VP Craig Regelbrugge and Chief Economist, Charlie Hall. GPN Magazine celebrated the 2022 Class of 40 Under 40, and gathered for the first in-person reception since 2019. Jean Steel provided inspiration at the 2nd annual Women in Horticulture Luncheon as she spoke about embracing change and how to look at things in a positive light.

Education, innovation, inspiration, and comradery are the reasons Cultivate continues to be successful today. To continue to thrive in our everchanging world, we must be flexible, give options and make sure there is a reason people can’t miss it. Anytime I attend Cultivate I feel empowered and so happy to be with the people who have the same deep passion of horticulture as I do.