History of Greenhouse Growers Associations in Virginia
by Jeff Miller
On July 25, 1962 approximately sixty florists met at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and adopted a constitution, which allowed the formation of a Virginia Florists’ Association. There were 63 charter members at that time and postage was eight cents and dues were $5.00.
The following officers and directors were elected:
President -- Raymond Lindamood, Pulaski, VA
Vice President -- James H. Burnet, Charlottesville, VA
Secretary-Treasurer -- Mrs. Roy L. Webber, Roanoke, VA
Otto Noll, Hamilton, VA
Ralph Wilbur, Richmond, VA
James Pollard, Newport News, VA
C.L. Martin, Galax, VA
Anthony C. Maier, Bent Mountain, VA
Fred Kirschnick, North Garden, VA
Granville Hall, Gloucester, VA
Education Director -- Dr. Paul Smeal
Size of the industry in 1962
Through an informal survey, Dr. Paul Smeal reported that there was approximately $3 million value of flowers grown and sold within the state and there were approximately 300 retail stores doing a value of about $13 million. P.S. Cook with Norfolk Wholesale Floral estimated that there was approximately $2 million wholesale sales in the Norfolk area in 1960.
A Design School and meeting were held on November 7, 1962 at Lynchburg Wholesale Floral.
January 14, 1963, the board met with Dean Wilson Bell, Dean of Agriculture at Virginia Polytechnic Institute to discuss revising soil test procedures and teaching curriculum in floriculture.
Below are the objectives of the association as outlined in a letter to members (December 5, 1963) concerning the upcoming meeting.
“The objects of this association are to advance the love of floriculture and ornamental horticulture; to promote and encourage the development of the industry; to classify their products; to hold meetings and exhibitions; to cooperate with National and State Governments and horticultural bodies in disseminating knowledge; to encourage and foster business ethics and friendly understanding in and among the various branches of the industry (retail, retail-grower, wholesale and suppliers); to furnish accurate and reliable information to its members always remembering the interests of the ultimate users of its products; and in general to assume responsibility as the trade organization of the florist industry within this region.”
“In our first year of existence from July 1962 to July 1963 we had 115 members, and it is our desire to increase our membership by adding your name to the roster.”
“Each summer a short course will be held at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. The course being planned for 1964 will include a program for growers and retailers. Regional meetings and tours are also sponsored by this organization.”
Incorporated: The association was officially incorporated with 51 members as of their June 18, 1966 meeting in Blacksburg.
1963 - Budget requests for a floriculture extension specialist at VPI and a research associate at Norfolk
“Through the efforts of the Virginia Florists' Association, the Virginia Polytechnic Institute administration has included in their 1964-66 budget, to be presented to the state legislation, two positions that will benefit the ornamental horticulture industry in Virginia.”
“The two positions requested consist of (1) a floriculture extension specialist and research associate, 50-50 division of time located at V.P.I.; (2) a floriculture and nursery crops extension specialist and research associate, 50-50 division of time located at Norfolk. In addition to these positions, $295,000 is being requested for additional greenhouses.”
“Your contact with your state senator and representatives in getting them to support the requests for these floricultural positions in the V.P.I. budget is needed. Therefore, I hope you can help with your support.”
The second annual VFA Short Course was held at VPI on June 16 with approximately 60 florists attending the sessions for growers and retailers. There were 124 members at that time. Guests at the 1964 meeting were Jim Mickkelsen and Al Voight.
James Burnet of Charlottesville was elected President
John Kealey, Fallons of Roanoke was elected Vice President
Mrs. Roy Webber of Roanoke was re-elected as Secretary-Treasurer.
New directors were Mr. G.R. Hall and Col. Walter Mosmiller of Richmond and Ken Dishman of Lynchburg
The VFA requested the following needs for assistance from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the Virginia Department of Agriculture from the Agricultural Conference Board of Virginia.
1. Basic and applied floriculture and research to be applied to Virginia conditions.
2. Assistance in adaptation of new knowledge to Virginia through a more specialized extension program.
3. Accurate and complete census of the florist industry.
The Virginia Florists Association was officially incorporated on December 15, 1965 after a conflict with a retail florist association by the same name in eastern Virginia.
A $300 yearly scholarship was setup for a student in horticulture at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
John Kealey, Jr. was elected President
Otto Noll was elected Vice President
One of the concerns of the VFA was the “lack of attendance at the retailers portion of the meetings”, as well as how to increase grower membership which was approximately 104 at that time.
The association participated in the State Fair with an exhibit. In a letter from Executive Director of the Commission of the Industry of Agriculture, he said: ‘With your help, this year’s show was the largest yet. There was a total of 34 exhibits. I believe that our building served to tell the story of Virginia’s largest industry, the Industry of Agriculture, to the citizens of our state.”
Otto Noll was elected President.
C.L. Martin was elected Vice President
Robert Johnson and Willie K. Carter were elected directors.
The VFA decided to hold a joint meeting in 1967 in Roanoke with the Middle Atlantic Florists Association.
Kenneth Matthews was awarded the VFA Scholarship of $300.
Linda Finley was the recipient of the VFA Scholarship.
The VFA board met with Olin Wetzel, Florist Mutual Insurance Company to discuss greenhouse insurance for Virginia growers. The annual meeting was held on September 24 at Keel’s Greenhouse in Richmond. Dues were raised to $15.00.
Delmar Wilson Jr, son of Norton Floral Company owner received the VFA Scholarship for $300.
Robert Johnson, Abingdon was President
C.L. Martin remained as Vice President
The annual meeting was held jointly with the Tri-State Growers Association in Roanoke on October 19 and 20. Registration was $15.00 which included the banquet. Programs and name tags were printed and paid by Florists Mutual Insurance.
Program topics included:
● Poinsettias and Growth Retardants in Flower Production by Dr. James Shanks, University of MD
● Bedding Plant Production by James K Rathmell, Penn State
● New Ideas in Geranium Production, A.J. Bowden Greenhouses, Lenoir City, TN
● Carnation Production, Mr. A.C. Maier, Bent Mountain Greenhouses, VA
● Horticulture in Virginia’s Community Colleges, Dr. Don Kunze, VA Western Community College, Roanoke
● European Floriculture, by Dr Richard Lindstrom VPI&SU (Banquet Speaker)
● Virginia Tech Floriculture Research, Dr. Richard Lindstrom
● Weed Control in and Around the Greenhouse, Dr. James Coartney VPI&SU
● Greenhouse Automation, James K. Rathmell
● Horticulture in the High School Vocational Agriculture Program, Julian Campbell, State Dept of Education
● Glass Substitutes for Greenhouses, Panel of Growers
Critical issues - “A critical situation has developed in the shortage, as well as extreme price increases, in Industrial Fuel Oil. This has largely come about in the last few months and it appears that relaxing of oil import quotas is imperative to avoid disastrous effects to our industry. Oil is probably the most common heating fuel used by the commercial flower growers. In some areas of the country, oil prices have already increased 100%.”
“Please convey our concern to the White House Administration and, in addition to taking whatever other action you can in this matter, advise us of anything we as individuals or the association may do.”
Members were urged to contact their congressmen and senators on this issue.
A.C. “Tony” Maier was elected President
Kerry McCarty, of Vinton received the VFA Scholarship.
There were 71 members.
On October 5, there was a tour of greenhouses in Richmond:
Keel’s Greenhouse, Henry Keel
Stone’s Greenhouse, Durwood Stone
The Greenhouse, Gilbert Miles
Mosmiller Greenhouse, Robert Hook
Steak Dinner at the Charcoal House for $7.00
John Kealey moved from Fallow Greenhouses in Roanoke to Abingdon to become head grower at Johnson’s Greenhouses where they had just begun construction of three 180x42 ARCHII greenhouses and a 60x42 service building to grow roses for Christmas and Valentine’s Day as well as expansion of their existing crops.
February 2, 1972
TO: Virginia Flower Growers & Florists
At the October 5 Virginia Florists Association Tour and Conference in Richmond, it was with great pleasure that President Robert Johnson presented a letter from our Richmond Lawyers stating that the State Tax Department had finally agreed to consider Commercial Flower Growers as "Farmers" and this is retroactive. Please note, as Farmers, we are only exempt from the Sales and Use Tax as it pertains to their list of "tangible personal property used by a farmer in agricultural production for market".
This agreement took over 18 months to obtain and cost over $5000 of contributions from Greenhouse Growers plus much work by many of our members and their friends. As your Legislative Committee will continue to represent all Virginia Flower Growers and Florists on Legislative matters, it was voted that the $448.15 remaining in the Growers Account be reserved, at interest, for Legislative matters. This year our V.F.A. annual $300 Scholarship was presented to Kerry McCarty, Vinton, Va.
Our October 1 Treasury Report showed a balance of $408.15 and a Savings Account of $123.28.
Dr. Smeal was granted $200 as our share in reprinting the Virginia Tech brochure "Your Career in Horticulture".
The following officers were elected:
Mr. Anthony C. Maier -- President
Mr. C. L. Martin -- Vice President
Mrs. Roy L. Webber -- Secretary-Treasurer
A spring conference is planned for Virginia Tech to demonstrate the research work in progress, the results obtained, and probably a speaker of interest to all.
A Holiday Plant Day was held at VPI&SU Greenhouses on December 5 which included research being conducted on the use of fungicides on poinsettia and roses; the effect of photoperiod on the flowering of carnations and the use of growth retardants on the growth of Georgia lilies.
Jeffrey Miller was elected President
Clark Anderson was elected Vice President
Boiler and Pressure Vessel Safety Regulations were adopted on June 4, 1974 by the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Commission to provide for the protection of human life and property from unsafe construction, installation, operation, maintenance and repair of boilers and pressure vessels in this state.
The State Board of Agriculture and Commerce issued a Land Use Position paper to help keep agriculture land in agriculture use.
There was a national campaign to have the rose named the national flower before the Bicentennial year of 1976.
Fallon’s Greenhouses in Roanoke closed October 1.
Susan Angelino from Springfield, VA was selected as the recipient of the VFA Scholarship.
Letter to the membership from Jeff Miller, February 12, 1975 as follows:
“We were all saddened by the sudden passing of Raymond Lindamood of Pulaski Flower Shop & Greenhouses recently. Flowers were sent from the Virginia Florists' Association.”
“It has been brought to my attention that we might remember this gentleman by naming our Virginia Florists' Association Horticulture Scholarship, which is given to a Horticulture student at VPI&SU each year, the Raymond Lindamood Memorial Scholarship.”
“Also a new piece of legislation is now going through the General Assembly which will affect us all very soon. This is the pesticide legislation, required by the federal government, which will require users to be tested and licensed and will place a greater restriction on the uses of many of our current pesticides. The Virginia Agri-Business council, of which the VFA is a member, has been monitoring this for us in Richmond. We will keep you up to date as more information becomes available”.
“If anyone has any problems or suggestions on how the VFA can be of assistance to you or the florist industry in general, please let me know a and I will be glad to look into it”.
Floricordially, Jeff Miller, Pres.
The Tri-State Growers Association and the VFA held a joint meeting at the Red Lion Inn in Blacksburg on October 10-12.
Energy Conservation was the big topic in 1979 due to the energy crisis. The price of oil was increasing at an unbelievable pace, deregulation of natural gas was on the horizon and no relief was in sight. The only solution was to drastically reduce energy consumption.
February 21-22, Dr. Lindstrom held a short course for people who had never been in the industry but wished to find out more about job potentials in the flower business. 130 people registered.
On August 21-22, a clinic was held in Henrico offering a “Business Management for Greenhouse Operators” with Dick Luckham and Robert Reynolds for VPI&SU Ag Econ doing a program on operations costs.
On November 11, 1979, the Virginia Florists’ Association Inc. officially voted to change the name to the Virginia Greenhouse Grower’s Association to better reflect the memberships makeup and purpose. Signed by William Gouldin, Vice President, Clark Anderson President, and Jeffrey Miller, Secretary-Treasurer at the John Marshall Hotel in Richmond. Speakers included Paul Ecke Jr, of Paul Ecke Poinsettias, Robert Oglevee of Oglevee Floral, and Gary Hudson of Goldsmith Seeds.
In June, Dr. Richard Lindstrom published the first official newsletter entitled “The Virginia Flower Grower.”