A few weeks ago, I once again, found myself on a plane headed to the West Coast for the 2015 California Spring Trials (aka CAST, Spring Trials and Pack Trials). The week-long event highlights the newest plant varieties and packaging sale programs within the horticulture industry. The event was spread across the state and featured 10 facility locations with 40+ participating companies, including our friends at Benary and Pacific Plug & Liner.
With so many facilities to visit, I made it my mission to experience as much as possible. It was a big task, but over the course of five days, I managed to see and conquer the 2015 trials.
During my trip I visited 6 facility locations and saw over 20 different company’s trial presentations and displays. Although I came back to Chicago with a head full of horticulture knowledge, inspiration and California dreams, here are my three big takeaways:
While exploring the event spaces and the displays that companies had come up with, it was hard not to be impressed. Pacific Plug & Liner upped their game from last year with their Labyrinth theme, which channeled the look and feel of a conservatory in the 1800’s, concepted by none other than the BatesMeron team.
Benary went back in time with a disco theme, using an unbelievable number of disco balls, a hidden chill-out room and DJs to liven up their displays. Even Gold State Bulb Growers had a fun tiki hut to serve up some drinks to keep their showcase festive.
Finally being able to see where Plug Connection has gone with their grafting program was fascinating. They had on display TomTato’s Ketchup ‘n Fries product which is a hand-grafted, non-GMO plant that produces potatoes and cherry tomatoes. Being a city dweller who loves to garden, this product already had me exited to set aside one of my planting containers for the summer.
Having only worked with, and not in, the horticulture industry, I understand I’ve only been exposed to some of what the industry does, but the facility at the Floricultura Pacific location was absolutely amazing. The sheer size of the facility was one thing, but the automated operation that oversees the growing of thousands of orchids is impressive to say the least.
Being able to spend some time in California in April was the cherry on top of an already great trip! Even with extensive hours of driving and a day sick with a stomach bug, the daily sunshine and 70-degree weather made for a perfect spring experience.
So thank you, California. You made my business trip feel like a vacation, and I love you.