I grew up with a mother and a grandmother with green thumbs. Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with one! Over the years my mom started growing more and more garden roses, sweet peas, dahlias, hydrangeas and more, and would always give them to friends who were throwing parties, donate them to people in need, and give them away as gifts. A few years ago we decided to create an Instagram account called RoseCandi where we showcased her flowers. Through the power of technology, social media and beautiful pictures, we’ve created a small flower farm where florists and people planning weddings or events in Northern California shop our flowers! I may not be a great gardener, but I enjoy watching them bloom and have experience in technology, so it was a win-win for us!
Over the last few years we have seen how quickly flower farming has changed. There are now more flower farms in the Central Valley than ever. It’s very exciting to see how much this industry has grown since we created our Instagram profile in August of 2013. In fact, nearby Sacramento was once known as the city of trees, but is now widely considered “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital”. More people than ever are interested in field to vase, and farm to fork.
With graduation season upon us, and many people headed to college for the first time in a few months, I was excited to interview Susan Yoder, Executive Director of Seed Your Future about the exciting Bloom! initiative, which is “a vibrant new youth focused campaign designed to help young people unlock that potential of the plant world.” In the next five years there will be 58,000 new careers in the field of horticulture and only 61% will be filled. If you’re a teen who loves technology, or a parent of a child who is interested in drones, engineering and more, you will definitely want to check this interview out! Now is an exciting time and there will soon be an abundance of jobs in the booming horticulture industry.
Susan Yoder Talks Bloom! Initiative
Candie Anderson: Spring is the perfect time to be chatting about plants, especially since so many of our favorites are in bloom or soon will be! Can you tell us about the Bloom! Initiative? What is your goal?
Susan Yoder: “We’re living in a time of great disconnect with plants. Plants are everywhere, yet plants are nowhere on most peoples minds. People aren’t seeing those plants in the world around them, so this phenomenon called plant blindness is especially significant with youth. We’ve created Bloom!, it’s a vibrant new youth focused campaign designed to help young people unlock that potential of the plant world.
In the process, our goal is to introduce them to a lifelong passion for plants, and perhaps even a career in horticulture, which is the art, science, technology and business of plants. We’re calling Bloom the movement to improve the world to the power of plants.”
How Parents Can Help Kids Appreciate Horticulture
Candie Anderson: How can parents help their kids appreciate plants and learn more about horticulture?
Susan Yoder: “We’re reaching kids inside and outside the classroom. We have things for teachers, parents, youth program leaders and kids. It’s all contained in our digital hub which is wearebloom.org. It’s got a number of new resources that we think parents will especially find exciting.
The kids start on the website with a really cool interactive quiz where they answer questions based on their own interests. At the end of the quiz they find their plant power, so there will be a persona that comes through. They can start seeing where plants are in their world, and then working with their teachers, their parents to investigate all of the great opportunities that are out there. We created a digital hub for educator resources for teachers and for parents. We also (because kids told us) during focus groups that we did with them for two years – they want video, they want social media, that’s what they really want. We’ve created a number of new videos that parents can watch with their kids to help explore their plant power.”
Exciting New Horticulture Job Opportunities
Candie Anderson: For those who are interested in a career in horticulture, can you tell us what a horticulturist does?
Susan Yoder: “Horticulture is a vast, diverse industry across the arts, science, technology and business of plants. What I like to say is it’s everything from A to Z. It’s an arborist to a zoological horticulturist. There are about 100 different careers in between. They can find all that information on We Are Bloom . Org. For example: It’s the people who are growing the food that is going to be feeding our growing population. It’s the folks that are researching plant based cures for diseases, maybe people that are solving some of the worlds biggest environmental issues such as pollution and drought, and clean water, and climate change. Creating landscapes that aren’t just beautiful but are in fact providing physical, social and emotional health support, which are so important in today’s world. And folks that are making our athletes safer by working on turf grass for example for our playing fields.
Some of the new horticulture fields that are emerging that we think kids will find really resonant are things in technology. If a youth is interested in robotics, there are so many cool new horticulture jobs with greenhouses. There are new drones, engineering types of jobs. Kids are really into drones, so flying over that field of flowers or food to be able to help identify challenges with the growing.
Finally with the technology – hydroponics and aeroponics are really emerging. Our real point is that there are so many different jobs in horticulture. There really is something for every interest.
Susan Talks Farm To Fork, Field To Vase Growing Movements
Candie Anderson: That is so exciting. Everyone seems to be moving more toward the “farm to fork” movement. It’s so exciting that there are going to be so many opportunities in the future.
Susan Yoder: “Farm to fork is really a great example of some of the growing movements like the field to vase movement in flowers, community gardens, school gardens. What we’ve found is missing though is that connection to the future of horticulture and the opportunity to pursue careers in horticulture.
It’s really a perfect time of talking about plants with kids and their families and the future for them to be interested in plants.”
Susan Talks Horticulture Demand And Careers
Candie Anderson: I love that you mentioned “field to vase”. I have never heard of that! My mom and I have a small flower farm and I’ve noticed that florists want locally grown flowers. They want to deal directly with the farm.
Susan Yoder: “That’s a great example of those kinds of things that are growing, but there just aren’t enough people who are pursuing careers in horticulture. That really was the impudence for the creation of Seed Your Future which is the group behind Bloom made up of horticulture industries who are trying to figure out how do we spread the word and build awareness about plants and plant careers?
It’s really exciting for parents to know that this is an industry where in the next five years we’re expecting there to be about 58,000 jobs opening up annually, and only about 61% of them are expected to be filled. This is a great opportunity to talk with families about the future, and a stable industry that will have jobs waiting for people if we can just show them that diversity of ways they can get involved in horticulture careers. That’s really a remarkable stat. If we can just show people what is out there and have kids understand their plant power, it’s really going to be an exciting time.”
Where To Find More Information On Bloom!
Candie Anderson: Where can we go for more information on everything you mentioned?
Susan Yoder: “If you go to wearebloom.org, that is our digital hub. You can also follow us on our new social media channels on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube where all those great new videos I was talking about will be there. Those are “We Are Bloom”.