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Ball keynoter at VNLA Field Day Aug. 8

By JANE W. GRAHAM

Anna Ball, president and chief executive officer of Ball Horticulture Company, will be the keynote speaker at the Aug. 8 Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association’s summer field day at Battlefield Farms in Rapidan, Va. In her talk, “Trends in the Green Industry,” Ball is expected to share what the trends in colors, plants and styles will be in the coming seasons, said Jeff Miller, VNLA executive secretary.
Ball heads the 107-year-old company which specializes in all aspects of horticulture, including breeding, biotechnology, production and marketing of hybrid flower seeds and other floriculture crops.  It has over 20 locations worldwide. The company is known for developing the award-winning varieties including Wave petunia family, Dazzler and Super Elfin impatiens and Fiesta double impatiens.
Battlefield Farms Inc. is a state-of-the-art, automated facility located in central Virginia. It produces a diverse plant product line year-round — more than 15 million containers are sold annually. Battlefield Farms has 30 acres of covered production area and approximately 20 acres of outdoor production area.
An environmental computer constantly monitors and adjusts the greenhouse environment. Individualized soil mixing on-site, and the ability to choose from drip line irrigation, ebb and flood flooring, or boom watering systems all combine to give Battlefield Farms enough flexibility to ensure that the optimum environment is provided for each variety of plant grown.
A wholesale greenhouse serving the retail industry, Battlefield Farms offers hanging baskets, bedding plants, decorative planters, holiday plants or aquatic plants in addition to annuals, perennials and poinsettias. A full line of trucks makes delivery possible to retail outlets in the Mid-Atlantic region. Three separate tours of the production areas will be offered throughout the day.
Theme of the VNLA field day is “Go Big or Go Home.” Registration begins at 8 a.m. There will also be a silent auction from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to benefit the Piedmont Landscape Association. A plant ID contest during the same time period will help attendees test their plant knowledge and earn CEUs at the same time.
Mark Maslow of the Southern Landscape Group will talk about “How Would Your Clients Rate Your Customer Service? CEO of Mark Maslow Inc., a business consulting firm, Maslow said, “All too often we brag that we have outstanding customer service and offer excellent communication. Well, I hate to tell you, but you are wrong! Just ask your clients. This topic speaks to all of the things you think you are doing right, but really you are pushing your clients further away.”
Before the buffet luncheon, Norm Dart of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will discuss “Boxwood Blight: Background, Skills and Strategies to Help Exclude and Mitigate this Disease in Nurseries.”
There will be two sessions about “Handler Training” taught in Spanish by Roberto Quintero of Telamon. He is the new Pesticide and Workplace Safety Trainer. His primary responsibilities are to provide workshops for growers and their supervisors, and the all-day hands-on training for pesticide handler employees to learn safe pesticide practices and heat stress protection. Participants will receive an EPA Verification Card after learning about how to properly mix, load, apply, and dispose of pesticides as well as clean equipment.  This session will help employers comply with the WPS requirement.
In the afternoon, Dr. Jim Owen of Virginia Tech will outline thoughts on  “What’s Next: Unraveling Virginia Water Regulation.”  He will provide a current update and overview of the impaired waters and total maximum daily loads program that is being implemented in the Mid-Atlantic region.  He will discuss the watershed implementation plan submitted by Virginia and discuss implications to Virginia ornamental producers.
VNLA Summer Tour kicks off with an open bar, so bus transportation will be provided to and from the Comfort Inn in Orange to Montpelier, home of James and Dolly Madison. Guests may join private ticketed tours or enjoy on-your-own tours of the extensive grounds. A wine and beer reception begins at 7:30 p.m., followed by a gourmet barbecue dinner.
On Aug. 9, the group will have an early morning opportunity to tour The Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation. The Library of Congress uses this state-of the art facility to keep its comprehensive collection of films and broadcast media.  It is a former Cold War United States Federal Reserve bunker built into the side of Mount Pony in Culpeper County. The underground bunker is covered with 228,000 square feet of green and meadow. Tour participants will experience the facility’s green roofs and surrounding landscape along with a presentation of the plantings and the theatre.
The tour continues with visits to Tre Sorelle, the home and garden of Mary Lew and John Sponski, and to The Inn at Willow Grove, an elegant boutique hotel in the heart of Virginia wine country. Jessica Primm, who worked on the landscape design, will be present to answer questions following the tour.
Buses return to the Comfort Inn in time for lunch “on-your-own” at one of many delicious Orange eateries.
Registration details are posted on the VNLA’s website, www.vnla.org, or you may call (800) 476-0055. A special VNLA Field Day rate is available at the Comfort Inn. Call (540) 672-3121.