Budding Communication: Improving Sustainability and Communication in the Ohio Cut Flower Supply Chain with Availability Calendar and Database

Progress report for ONC22-108

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2022: $40,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Grant Recipient: Central State University
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Alcinda Folck
Central State University
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Project Information


Demand for cut flowers has created an outlet for small-scale, limited-resource farmers to provide field-grown flowers for florists, weddings, and other buyers. Conversations with farmers revealed that challenges existed in marketing and promoting their products to buyers who had limited agriculture knowledge of flower seasonality or familiarity only with international cut flower trade. 

This project will gather data from farmers on field-grown and high tunnel flower production in Ohio including flower species grown, length of growing season, and bloom availability based on regional differences in Ohio. The deliverable of the grant will be a printed brochure and a searchable database that will be available to growers to use for planning purposes and to educate florists and other buyers on the seasonality of cut flowers. 

Sustainable agricultural systems are supported by elements of economic viability, environmental soundness, and social responsibility. Field and tunnel-grown local flowers use less water and have a smaller carbon footprint than most commercially available blooms, which are grown in energy-intensive greenhouses in other countries and rely on refrigerated shipping. The resources generated by this project will help promote more sustainable options to buyers, keep money in local communities, and improve outcomes for flower farmers throughout the region. 

Project Objectives:

The objectives of this project are: 

  1. Generate a digital and printed calendar of seasonal cut flower availability that growers across Ohio can use to provide customers with a resource on seasonal cut flower availability throughout the year. 
  2. Create planting schedules from collected data that growers can use for planning purposes.
  3. Develop a network of local cut flower producers and generate a list of future extension and research opportunities. 
  4. Develop a carbon footprint comparison between Ohio farms and the existing international model of flower distribution to provide accurate sustainability metrics for marketing and research purposes.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Sarah Hennessey
  • Carol Conrad
  • Hannah Stuckey
  • Haley Fannin
  • Rosie Standish
  • Adrianne Roach
  • Marc Amante (Educator)
  • Michelle Wallace (Educator)
  • Dr. Sakthi Kumaran (Researcher)
  • Lyndsay Shafer
  • Dr. Alcinda (Cindy) Folck (Educator and Researcher)


Materials and methods:

Central State University Extension partnered with five cut flower growers located in each region of Ohio (NW, SW, S, NE, SE) to collect plant harvest and carbon sequestering data and information in order to build a digital tool and searchable database to educate buyers on the seasonality of cut flowers. 

The five partnering cut flower farms collected Plant data in 2022 for the following categories: Crop common name / Genus, Variety, Color, [(A) Annual, 9B) Biennial, or (P) Perennial], Seed Start Date, Potting Up-date, Field Planting Date, [Direct Sown (DS), Transplant (TP), or Other], Crate grown (Yes/No), Type of Growing Media if crate grown, Planting in Protected Culture (yes/No), What kind of Protected culture.

The five partnering cut flower farms collected Harvest data in 2022 for the following categories: Crop, Color, Harvest Date, Harvest Stage, Availability at Harvest (Low increasing, Full Harvest, Low decreasing), Planted in Protected Culture (Yes/No), What kind of Protected Culture, Notes.

The five partnering cut flower farms collected Weekly Observations information for the following categories: Date, Weekly Weather Observations, [Soil Amendments or Fertilizers Applied? What, How, & Which Crops], [Pest control measures, which methods, pests, and crops], and [Disease Control Measures Taken? Which method, disease, and crops?]

In addition, soil samples were collected and analyzed for carbon matter from each of the five partnering farms. This information will be compared with existing data together with additional information that will be collected from our historical collaborating farm partners.

All members of the Central State University Extension team partners completed the university-required IRB training and filed for an IRB question approval and IRB exemption. This process has slowed down the collection data from our historical data collaborating farms.  Historical data collection will commence shortly.

The Central State University Extension has been reviewing proposals for the development of the digital tool and database.  Once we have selected a proposal that meets the needs of the grant partners we will commission the development of the web-based digital tool and database.

Participation Summary
6 Farmers participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

5 Consultations
1 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

40 Farmers participated
Education/outreach description:

Grower Communication – Central State University Extension participated in a Grower/ Researcher grant program panel at the 2023 OEFFA conference where we shared information with growers on our SARE project.  We do not have any outcomes to date.  Forty individuals participated in the training event and learned more about the project we are engaged in with information on the proposal, the type of information we are collecting and why, and how the digital tool will be deployed once the project is complete.

Project Outcomes

5 New working collaborations
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.