We are living in strange times. In our wildest dreams of crisis planning, who could have anticipated this situation? The whole industry has had to adapt and be nimble and flexible at the busiest time of the year. And sometimes just doing business was a major accomplishment.
When CNGA got word that Colorado was headed toward quarantine, we proactively reached out to the Governor’s office as well as the Department of Agriculture, stating our case that the green industries of Colorado are vital to the state and should be allowed to stay open as essential workplaces. Through the efforts of GreenCO, our allied industries group, most nurseries, greenhouses, garden centers, and landscape companies have been allowed to operate as they choose – whether through in-person sales or curbside pickup, with little interaction with authorities.
New Mexico’s close order came later, and was much more of a struggle. The executive order from the Governor didn’t contain specific language saying that nurseries, greenhouses and garden centers had to close, but it did not exempt them either. Several operations were visited by the state patrol and some were given cease and desist orders. We were able to get our Colorado lobbyists involved and reach out to connections within New Mexico and throughout the U.S. to aid in our efforts. Through intense communications with the New Mexico State Department of Agriculture, the state Health Department, and the Governor’s office, eventually a compromise was obtained that allows nurseries, greenhouses and garden centers to be open for curbside and delivery. We are currently working to get their businesses open again for in-person sales.
Following our work in New Mexico, I had a pawn shop owner reach out to me and ask for help in getting pawn shops re-opened. Not everyone is lucky enough to have someone speak up for them, with the power of their members behind them, advocating with one voice for the organization. Colorado nurseries and greenhouses should give up a big “thank-you” to the predecessors who started this organization, ensuring one strong, powerful voice for industry in times like these.
This is why we have associations, folks. So there is a point of contact and a united voice when a crisis arrives. We know you are all busy right now, and we want to keep you that way. Your staff and lobbyists develop and maintain connections with the folks in government who issue orders and make rules and laws, so that we can protect you and your right to do business. We appreciate your membership, and we need it now more than ever. It allows us to continue to do this work, and help both members and non-members continue operations in these very strange times.
Keep fighting the good fight. Doing business this year is much more of a struggle than it has ever been, but you are MORE NEEDED NOW than ever. Citizens who have been stuck in their homes and frustrated by their inability to do anything are able to plant something – whether it be vegetables to feed their families, flowers to add beauty to the world, or a tree to be a legacy for the future. Our industry matters, and it matters a great deal right now. Keep your chin up, be proud of what you do, and know that we will come out on the other side together, for the better.