The national initiative for consumer horticulture: Focusing on the critical role of communication and collaboration to further research, extension, and industry goals

Sheri Dorn, Lucy Bradley, Debbie Hamrick, Julie Weisenhorn, Pam Bennett, Jill Callabro, Bridget Behe, Ellen Bauske, Natalie Bumgarner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH) is a diverse consortium of leaders who provide a unified voice for promoting the benefits and value of consumer horticulture (CH). NICH endeavors to unite national research efforts with the goals of the diverse stakeholders in the industry, the public sector, and the gardening public in an effort to advance knowledge and increase benefits and application of horticulture for cultivating a healthy world through landscapes, gardens, and plants, and an improved quality of life. Benefits of CH are broadly applicable, whether economic, environmental, or community-and health-related. A benefits approach to marketing sets the stage for unprecedented collaboration, such as that demonstrated by NICH. NICH members have developed three broad goals: recognizing CH as a driver of the agricultural economy; highlighting that CH restores, protects, and conserves natural resources through research and education; and cultivating healthy, connected, and engaged communities through CH. Three NICH committees (Economic, Environmental, and Community andHealth Benefits) have focused their efforts onNICH goals for the past 10 months. The three committee chairs, representing ≈30 committeemembers, presented the results of their efforts and future directions for their committees. The Economic and Environmental committees have proceeded with campaigns to better market CH by promoting the benefits of plants and to increase environmental benefits by changing consumer behavior. After reviewing current research, the Community andHealth Benefits Committee suggested that a gap exists in research related to specific benefits ofCHand personal gardening (as opposed to benefits accrued by enjoying forests, horticulture therapy, indoor atriums, community gardens, parks, and other public places). The committee suggested that overcoming this gap requires strategic collaboration of skill and expertise from a more diverse group of industry representatives, specialists, and scientists. This approach has tremendous potential to affect the CH marketplace, especially when drawing multiple sources of value from the products and experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-421
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper was part of the workshop ‘‘The National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture: Examining Research on the Social, Environmental, and Economic Benefits of Consumer Horticulture’’ held 19 Sept. 2017 at the ASHS Annual Conference, Waikoloa, HI, and sponsored by the Consumer Horticulture and Master Gardeners Working Group. Contributions from Bodie Pennisi and Jo Brown are appreciated. As well, the authors recognize and appreciate the vision and contributions of Diane Relf, Emeritus Professor of Horticulture, Virginia Tech, and pioneer in the field of horticultural therapy and human issues in horticulture.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, American Society for Horticultural Science. All rights reserved.


  • Community
  • Gardening
  • Health
  • Interdisciplinary studies
  • People-plant interaction
  • Research trends
  • Well-being


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