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Connecting People & Plants

Goals
Timeline
Pro Plant Selections
Plant Library / Member Locator

IGIA Specialty Crop Grant Project

Each year, the USDA allocates funding through the state departments of agriculture that is used to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. The Illinois Department of Agriculture received more than $591,000 through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Producer groups, trade associations, nonprofits, colleges, and universities were eligible to apply for these funds, which were split between ten projects intended to strengthen the state’s specialty crop industry.  

In April 2020, IGIA applied for grant funds that would allow us to create a digital platform where motivated buyers can connect with the quality plant material they seek, ultimately linking them to a local producer where they can complete the purchase. The funds would also provide for a digital campaign to drive traffic to the platform to promote plants and IGIA members.

In October, we were notified that we received funding to proceed with the project! 

Project Goals

1. Drive customers to independent retailers for high quality plants using social and digital marketing tactics.
2. Promote the professional status of ICN Pros with Pro Plant Selections and the benefits of working with a professional on a planting project.
3. GardenIllinois.com will serve as a resource for campaigns like CRTI so motivated buyers can be directly linked with our suppliers (retail and wholesale).
4. Nurture the next generation of plant parents and gardeners that started during the pandemic, using the educational resources of IGIA members and industry partners.
5. Social media campaign can be used to bring awareness to plants we want customers to know more about. Ex: planting for pollinator health, alternatives to plants with invasive tendencies, substitutions for plants that are in short supply, etc.

Project Timeline

Phase One (Retail Consumer Focus)

  • Redesign the gardenillinois.com website to enhance the educational offering, focused on the physical, emotional, environmental, and economic benefits of plants
  • Offer a plant finder tool that will help connect consumers with plants that meet their individual needs
  • Connect the catalog offering (not real-time inventory) of IGIA retail members to the plant finder tool so motivated buyers are matched with the local retail garden center, nursery, and/or greenhouses in their community that offers the plants they seek
  • Conduct a targeted digital marketing campaign will drive traffic to the plant finder on GardenIllinois.com
  • Timeline: January - September 2022
Phase Two (Wholesale Focus)
  • Connect the catalog offering (not real-time inventory) of IGIA wholesale growers to the plant finder tool
  • Link landscape professionals, municipalities, and garden centers looking to purchase high-quality plant material from Illinois producers that service the wholesale market
  • A targeted marketing campaign will be conducted to drive traffic to the online platform to boost overall sales of plant material 
  • Timeline: October 2021 - December 2022

ICN Pro Plant Selections

As part of the GardenIllinois.com redesign, we will have a renewed focus on promoting Illinois Certified Nursery Professionals. One way we'll do that is by promoting favorite plant selections, as recommended by ICN Pros, on GardenIllinois.com and social media.

Pros are not limited to what type of plant they can promote as their favorite selection, but it would be best for a Pro's selection to be in alignment with the plants their employer actively promotes since we will be encouraging customers to visit their website and/or retail location as part of the call-to-action.

We are asking for 2021 Pro Plant Selections to be submitted by January 30, but we can make exceptions if needed. You will be asked to update your selection again when you renew your certification next December.

If you are not currently employed by a green industry business that operates in a retail capacity, we can still share your Pro Plant Selection, but it won't link customers to a specific business.  If you are employed by a green industry business that is not an IGIA member, we will still share your Pro Plant Selection, but it won't be linked to a specific retail location.

SUBMIT YOUR ICN PRO PLANT SELECTION NOW

IGIA Members - Plant Library / Member Locator

All active IGIA members will be included in the member locator, just as they are on the current GardenIllinois.com website.  We would like all of our retail members to be part of the plant library, but we will give you an opportunity to opt-out if you do not wish to participate.  We will also give you the opportunity to submit your customized plant list.  We'll work with you to load your plant catalog (not real-time inventory, just the list of plants you carry throughout the season) into our system.  The easiest way to accomplish will be via Excel upload.  If you don't already have your plant list available electronically, we recommend you spend time in January and February getting the list entered into an Excel spreadsheet.  If you do not want to have a customized list made available, then we will use the generic list of plants for your garden center, which will be created based on the compilation of multiple IGIA members' lists.

Wholesale growers will have the opportunity to become part of this process in Fall 2021.  More details will be communicated at a later date.