National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture

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The National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH) creates a unified voice to promote the benefits and value of horticulture. NICH brings together academia, government, industry and nonprofits to cultivate the growth and development of a healthy world through landscapes, gardens and plants – indoors and out.

This movement nurtures a passion and appreciation for plants and increases the demand for gardening, from horticultural grants at universities to attendance at public gardens to foot traffic in garden centers.NICH brings together

What’s in it for me?

More consumers create…

more demand, more sales, more engagement, more funding, more relevancy and longevity.

Greater collaboration leads…

to more efficiency, power and impact with decision makers.

Comprehensive research expands and documents…

the social, economic and environmental benefits of consumer horticulture.

Increased awareness promotes…

the vital role gardening plays in a healthy lifestyle, healthy community and healthy world.

What are the financial impacts of NICH?

By developing a cohesive voice, we will position consumer horticulture to be more successful in leveraging public funding to use to grow the entire industry – from conducting comprehensive research to implementing prioritized objectives. Be assured, this is not a marketing promotional order.

Who is involved?

The current group of industry leaders includes researchers, extension agents, master gardeners, non-profits, growers, retailers and industry providers.

How can I help?

  • Join our unified effort to make this happen
  • Offer your expert advice
  • Spread the message
  • Get Involved with a committee that suits your time and talent
  • Recommend someone who should be involved

Executive Committee

  • Chair: Casey Sclar, Ph.D., Executive Director, American Public Gardens Association
  • Co-Chairs: Dr. Ellen Bauske, University of Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture; and Tom Underwood, Executive Director, American Horticultural Society
  • Secretary / Treasurer: Dr. Gail Langellotto, Associate Professor, Oregon State University Urban and Community Horticulture Extension, Statewide Master Gardener Coordinator
  • Marketing: Susan McCoy, President, Garden Media Group
  • USDA Liaison: Tom Bewick, National Program Leader, USDA

Committee Chairs

  • Community: Pam Bennett, Associate Professor, State Master Gardener Volunteer Program Coordinator, Ohio State University
  • Economic: Debbie Hamrick, Director of Specialty Crops, North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation
  • Environmental: Julie Weisenhorn, Associate Extension Professor, Department of Horticultural Sciences, University of Minnesota
  • Marketing: Susan McCoy, President, Garden Media Group

Council CHAIRS

  • Academic/Government: Margaret Pooler, Research Leader, USDA/ARS U.S. National Arboretum; and Rick Durham, Extension Professor and Master Gardener Coordinator, University of Kentucky
  • Commercial: Clint Albin, President, Clint Albin Consulting
  • Non-Profits: Shannon Spurlock, Director of Public Affairs and Policy, Denver Urban Gardens; and Tom Underwood, Executive Director, American Horticulture Society

Join us today and help grow consumer horticulture.


Become a Grant Reviewer

Help Bring Horticulture to the USDA Grant Review Table

To ensure the most critical horticultural projects are considered for funding by the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH) is looking for volunteers with expertise in horticulture to serve on review panels to prioritize pre-applications and help decide grants recipients for the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative.

Reviewers must be engaged in, or have been previously engaged in, horticulture, both indoors and out, either breeding, growing, or selling. Representatives from trade associations and other similar organizations who represent those engaged in horticulture are also eligible.

Each program receives far more applications than can be funded. Congress and the public want to support programs that are going to be most successful in achieving high-impact results. We need reviewers who can identify horticultural projects with the highest potential that will help grow the industry.

What Would I Have to Do?

Volunteers are assigned to a panel of reviewers and given a list of proposals covering topics closely related to your expertise. Serving as a relevance reviewer involves roughly 20 to 25 hours of your time to read, complete an evaluation form and prepare brief comments on each proposal. Each program has its own grant review process, but grant reviewers in all of the programs generally:

  1. Attend an orientation webinar: December 15, 2016
  2. Read and submit written comments on grant proposals. A grant reviewer submits electronic reviews for up to no more than 15 proposals, depending on the program. USDA estimates that it takes about an hour to comment on each pre-application proposal. Reviews due: January 14, 2017
  3. Participate in a panel review meeting conference call: week of January 19 – 23, 2017– The panel reviews proposals over the phone or in person (in Washington, DC or at regional locations) to recommend and rank proposals for funding. Each reviewer provides an oral review of his or her assigned proposals. These calls should take 2 hours or less, depending on the number of proposals and the nature of the discussion.

How do I Sign Up?

Get in touch with Thomas Bewick, USDA National Program Leader for Horticulture and tell him you are interested. He can be emailed at tbewick@nifa.usda.gov or call him at 202-401-3356.

NICH brings together academia, government, industry and nonprofits to cultivate the growth and development of a healthy world through landscapes, gardens and plants – indoors and out. This unified voice promotes a passion and appreciation for plants to increases the demand for gardening, from horticultural grants at universities to attendance at public gardens to foot traffic in garden centers.


Please visit our website for more information: ConsumerHort.org