Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Waterwise Gardening

NCDA&CS, nursery/landscape industry team up to promote water-wise gardening, landscaping Grant from Golden LEAF helps fund public information campaign

RALEIGH - The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the state's nursery and landscape industry have launched a campaign to educate the public about how they can successfully grow plants in the home landscape even during periods of drought and water restrictions, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced today.

The Water-Wise Works! media campaign is a partnership between the department, the N.C. Green Industry Council and N.C. State University's Department of Horticultural Science. The campaign emphasizes ways that will help homeowners maintain an attractive landscape with less water.

"Drought and water restrictions across North Carolina have severely reduced demand for nursery and greenhouse plants and related services," Troxler said. "Many of these businesses report that sales have declined as much as 40 percent, and employee layoffs have approached 30 percent. This campaign will help people understand that even during a drought, you can still enjoy beautiful North Carolina-grown plants if you practice water-wise gardening.

"These tips make sense even as we return to more normal rainfall patterns," he said. "They focus on making the best use of the resources we have and not being wasteful. They're good principles to live by."

The statewide campaign is using public service advertisements on radio and television to tout the importance of water-wise landscaping and gardening. They feature NCSU horticulture expert Bryce Lane, host of UNC-TV's "In the Garden." The ads refer consumers to the Web site Tarheel Gardening for tips and other information. The site was developed by the N.C. Nursery and Landscape Association and NCDA&CS.

The campaign is supported by a $215,475 grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation and funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

TV spots are slated to run across the state from now through May. Radio ads have been running since late March. Ads also will be running in Our State magazine.

"Golden LEAF is pleased to support this project as the green industry is such an important sector of the agricultural economy in North Carolina," said Valeria Lee, president of Golden LEAF. "In addition, the whole state benefits as we adopt these practices for wise water use."

A report released last year estimated that the green industry contributes $8.6 billion to North Carolina's economy and employs more than 151,000 people. The industry comprises growers of greenhouse/nursery stock, Christmas trees and flowers, sod producers, and related businesses such as landscape and irrigation contractors, lawn care professionals, arborists and retail lawn and garden centers.
Visit Green Industry Council for more information.

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.