Ancaster's gardeners, growers hope Mother's Day results in blooming sales

News May 01, 2020 by Kevin Werner Ancaster News

The Ancaster Horticultural Society has been forced to go into hibernation at the time it's most needed.

The society, said Bob Wilt, had to cancel its popular annual plant sale May 16 because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, an event that provides essential funding for the organization.

“We will lose some money,” said Wilt, of the society. “But we have been good with our nickels and we have some funding in reserves.”

The society is also looking to the city to approve its annual grant for this year.

“If that is pulled, it would be disappointing,” he said.

But the Ancaster community will still be without the society’s expert gardeners as they trim and prune beds around the area, including at the Ancaster’s Old Town Hall and Fieldcote Museum.

The group has also cancelled its monthly speakers series, but hopes to restart the events in September and October.

It remains confident, however, that it will be able to hold its Trillium Awards, honouring 125 of the most beautiful front gardens throughout the town. Nominations are open until June 14.

“It will be difficult to establish physical distancing for the people who are judges,” he said. “We are counting on the Trillium Awards to keep up our visibility.”

The society, which has about 170 active members, has been growing in the Ancaster community since 1961. It maintains a presence on social media with Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Wilt says members are still supporting Ancaster’s garden centres, including Harper’s, which they have done for about 60 years.

Harper’s owner, Michael Simone, told the Ancaster News that the business has seen a constant line of customers purchasing soil and ordering plants for their spring planting. He said the pandemic has given the business an opportunity to emphasize its online resources, supported by curbside pickup and delivery services.

He said because of the pandemic, people are looking at growing a vegetable garden to counter fears of food shortages.

The provincial government announced May 1 it was easing restrictions on garden centres with curbside pickup and online sales by allowing them to reopen May 4.

The announcement should help the area’s commercial growers, which have been financially hammered by not only the pandemic but the provincial government’s restrictions on businesses.

Andrew Morse, executive director of Flowers Canada, said growers depend upon the March to June plant sales, which are essential for growers to survive the rest of the year.

He said it takes time to grow the plants and ornamental flowers that power springtime sales.

But during the crucial Easter weekend growers suffered $52 million in lost sales — that's a hit of about 41 per cent. He said some farmers saw almost 100 per cent in lost sales.

Morse said the Mother’s Day and Easter period is critical for growers’ bottom line as together they account for about 60 per cent of annual sales.

“Failing to meet expected sales for both holidays could be catastrophic for the sector,” he said.

He said the provincial government has been vague on whether or not to allow garden centres to open up, creating confusion and angst among growers and retail outlets.

Morse said some grocery chains and big-box retailers have been able to sell plants, while others are offering curbside or online sales.

But he said it is “insufficient to move the volume of plants which are produced by this sector.” He said some Ontario flower farmers ship tractor-trailers filled with plants every day during spring.

“I think many businesses are hoping that garden centres will be able to open in Ontario and maintain that sales vehicle. But the logistics of transitioning that volume of product to a curbside or online sale is not feasible in the near term.

“It’s a tough situation farmers are going through,” added Morse, who expects some operations to fail this year.

Because of their business model, farmers are unable to take advantage of the federal government’s various relief packages, including wage subsidies and small business loans, he said.

Meanwhile, Ancaster Farmers’ Market officials are in close contact with Hamilton’s public health officials, the BIA, and the market’s board of directors to determine when the market can safely open and under “what circumstances to maintain the best health and safety measures for our vendors and our community,” said Cindy Hawryluk, market manager.

The province in March identified farmers’ markets as essential services during the pandemic.

Hawryluk said a plan will be soon established that will provide a safe and healthy environment for both vendors and individuals to participate in the market.

*** Correction appended May 8: A previous version of this story provided a scheduled start date for the Ancaster Farmers Market. However, as of May 8, organizers are still consulting with the City of Hamilton, public health, the Ancaster BIA and the Ancaster Farmers Market Board of Directors to determine when the market can safely open – and under what circumstances – to maintain optimum health and safety measures.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: With the pandemic in full bloom, we wanted to see how government regulations and social distancing were affecting local gardeners, growers and the businesses that cater to them.

Ancaster's gardeners, growers and customers patiently wait for better times to grow

#homegrown

News May 01, 2020 by Kevin Werner Ancaster News

The Ancaster Horticultural Society has been forced to go into hibernation at the time it's most needed.

The society, said Bob Wilt, had to cancel its popular annual plant sale May 16 because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, an event that provides essential funding for the organization.

“We will lose some money,” said Wilt, of the society. “But we have been good with our nickels and we have some funding in reserves.”

The society is also looking to the city to approve its annual grant for this year.

Related Content

“If that is pulled, it would be disappointing,” he said.

But the Ancaster community will still be without the society’s expert gardeners as they trim and prune beds around the area, including at the Ancaster’s Old Town Hall and Fieldcote Museum.

The group has also cancelled its monthly speakers series, but hopes to restart the events in September and October.

It remains confident, however, that it will be able to hold its Trillium Awards, honouring 125 of the most beautiful front gardens throughout the town. Nominations are open until June 14.

“It will be difficult to establish physical distancing for the people who are judges,” he said. “We are counting on the Trillium Awards to keep up our visibility.”

The society, which has about 170 active members, has been growing in the Ancaster community since 1961. It maintains a presence on social media with Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Wilt says members are still supporting Ancaster’s garden centres, including Harper’s, which they have done for about 60 years.

Harper’s owner, Michael Simone, told the Ancaster News that the business has seen a constant line of customers purchasing soil and ordering plants for their spring planting. He said the pandemic has given the business an opportunity to emphasize its online resources, supported by curbside pickup and delivery services.

He said because of the pandemic, people are looking at growing a vegetable garden to counter fears of food shortages.

The provincial government announced May 1 it was easing restrictions on garden centres with curbside pickup and online sales by allowing them to reopen May 4.

The announcement should help the area’s commercial growers, which have been financially hammered by not only the pandemic but the provincial government’s restrictions on businesses.

Andrew Morse, executive director of Flowers Canada, said growers depend upon the March to June plant sales, which are essential for growers to survive the rest of the year.

He said it takes time to grow the plants and ornamental flowers that power springtime sales.

But during the crucial Easter weekend growers suffered $52 million in lost sales — that's a hit of about 41 per cent. He said some farmers saw almost 100 per cent in lost sales.

Morse said the Mother’s Day and Easter period is critical for growers’ bottom line as together they account for about 60 per cent of annual sales.

“Failing to meet expected sales for both holidays could be catastrophic for the sector,” he said.

He said the provincial government has been vague on whether or not to allow garden centres to open up, creating confusion and angst among growers and retail outlets.

Morse said some grocery chains and big-box retailers have been able to sell plants, while others are offering curbside or online sales.

But he said it is “insufficient to move the volume of plants which are produced by this sector.” He said some Ontario flower farmers ship tractor-trailers filled with plants every day during spring.

“I think many businesses are hoping that garden centres will be able to open in Ontario and maintain that sales vehicle. But the logistics of transitioning that volume of product to a curbside or online sale is not feasible in the near term.

“It’s a tough situation farmers are going through,” added Morse, who expects some operations to fail this year.

Because of their business model, farmers are unable to take advantage of the federal government’s various relief packages, including wage subsidies and small business loans, he said.

Meanwhile, Ancaster Farmers’ Market officials are in close contact with Hamilton’s public health officials, the BIA, and the market’s board of directors to determine when the market can safely open and under “what circumstances to maintain the best health and safety measures for our vendors and our community,” said Cindy Hawryluk, market manager.

The province in March identified farmers’ markets as essential services during the pandemic.

Hawryluk said a plan will be soon established that will provide a safe and healthy environment for both vendors and individuals to participate in the market.

*** Correction appended May 8: A previous version of this story provided a scheduled start date for the Ancaster Farmers Market. However, as of May 8, organizers are still consulting with the City of Hamilton, public health, the Ancaster BIA and the Ancaster Farmers Market Board of Directors to determine when the market can safely open – and under what circumstances – to maintain optimum health and safety measures.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: With the pandemic in full bloom, we wanted to see how government regulations and social distancing were affecting local gardeners, growers and the businesses that cater to them.

Ancaster's gardeners, growers and customers patiently wait for better times to grow

#homegrown

News May 01, 2020 by Kevin Werner Ancaster News

The Ancaster Horticultural Society has been forced to go into hibernation at the time it's most needed.

The society, said Bob Wilt, had to cancel its popular annual plant sale May 16 because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, an event that provides essential funding for the organization.

“We will lose some money,” said Wilt, of the society. “But we have been good with our nickels and we have some funding in reserves.”

The society is also looking to the city to approve its annual grant for this year.

Related Content

“If that is pulled, it would be disappointing,” he said.

But the Ancaster community will still be without the society’s expert gardeners as they trim and prune beds around the area, including at the Ancaster’s Old Town Hall and Fieldcote Museum.

The group has also cancelled its monthly speakers series, but hopes to restart the events in September and October.

It remains confident, however, that it will be able to hold its Trillium Awards, honouring 125 of the most beautiful front gardens throughout the town. Nominations are open until June 14.

“It will be difficult to establish physical distancing for the people who are judges,” he said. “We are counting on the Trillium Awards to keep up our visibility.”

The society, which has about 170 active members, has been growing in the Ancaster community since 1961. It maintains a presence on social media with Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Wilt says members are still supporting Ancaster’s garden centres, including Harper’s, which they have done for about 60 years.

Harper’s owner, Michael Simone, told the Ancaster News that the business has seen a constant line of customers purchasing soil and ordering plants for their spring planting. He said the pandemic has given the business an opportunity to emphasize its online resources, supported by curbside pickup and delivery services.

He said because of the pandemic, people are looking at growing a vegetable garden to counter fears of food shortages.

The provincial government announced May 1 it was easing restrictions on garden centres with curbside pickup and online sales by allowing them to reopen May 4.

The announcement should help the area’s commercial growers, which have been financially hammered by not only the pandemic but the provincial government’s restrictions on businesses.

Andrew Morse, executive director of Flowers Canada, said growers depend upon the March to June plant sales, which are essential for growers to survive the rest of the year.

He said it takes time to grow the plants and ornamental flowers that power springtime sales.

But during the crucial Easter weekend growers suffered $52 million in lost sales — that's a hit of about 41 per cent. He said some farmers saw almost 100 per cent in lost sales.

Morse said the Mother’s Day and Easter period is critical for growers’ bottom line as together they account for about 60 per cent of annual sales.

“Failing to meet expected sales for both holidays could be catastrophic for the sector,” he said.

He said the provincial government has been vague on whether or not to allow garden centres to open up, creating confusion and angst among growers and retail outlets.

Morse said some grocery chains and big-box retailers have been able to sell plants, while others are offering curbside or online sales.

But he said it is “insufficient to move the volume of plants which are produced by this sector.” He said some Ontario flower farmers ship tractor-trailers filled with plants every day during spring.

“I think many businesses are hoping that garden centres will be able to open in Ontario and maintain that sales vehicle. But the logistics of transitioning that volume of product to a curbside or online sale is not feasible in the near term.

“It’s a tough situation farmers are going through,” added Morse, who expects some operations to fail this year.

Because of their business model, farmers are unable to take advantage of the federal government’s various relief packages, including wage subsidies and small business loans, he said.

Meanwhile, Ancaster Farmers’ Market officials are in close contact with Hamilton’s public health officials, the BIA, and the market’s board of directors to determine when the market can safely open and under “what circumstances to maintain the best health and safety measures for our vendors and our community,” said Cindy Hawryluk, market manager.

The province in March identified farmers’ markets as essential services during the pandemic.

Hawryluk said a plan will be soon established that will provide a safe and healthy environment for both vendors and individuals to participate in the market.

*** Correction appended May 8: A previous version of this story provided a scheduled start date for the Ancaster Farmers Market. However, as of May 8, organizers are still consulting with the City of Hamilton, public health, the Ancaster BIA and the Ancaster Farmers Market Board of Directors to determine when the market can safely open – and under what circumstances – to maintain optimum health and safety measures.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: With the pandemic in full bloom, we wanted to see how government regulations and social distancing were affecting local gardeners, growers and the businesses that cater to them.