The North Carolina Nursery & Landscape Association (NCNLA) recently recognized Hoffman Nursery by naming it Grower of the Year for 2011.
"NCNLA is proud to present the 2011 Grower of the Year Award to Hoffman Nursery in recognition of more than 25 years of premium plant development and its expanded production facility," said Ross Williams, NCNLA Executive Director. "The award also recognizes Hoffman's active support of horticultural research, environmental stewardship, and community service."
The Grower of the Year is an NCNLA member that exhibits a high level of professionalism in the management or ownership of a field or container nursery in North Carolina (or other states where that operation may be located). In addition, the Grower of the Year exhibits leadership in the nursery industry through participation in local, regional, state, and national organizations.
John and Jill Hoffman started Hoffman Nursery in 1986 on 45 acres in rural Durham County. Specializing in ornamental and native grasses liners, they ship to wholesale customers all across North America. With the increased popularity of grasses, the nursery has expanded to include a production facility with automated mixing and potting equipment and over 60 cold frames and hot houses. While their focus is on producing premium plants to fill this niche, Hoffman Nursery has a broader vision to actively support horticultural research, environmental stewardship, and community service.
To improve horticultural practices, the Nursery collaborates with several researchers from NC State. Current projects include working to find safer and better pesticides for containerized grasses, developing a Miscanthus that won’t self-sow, and searching for more effective ways to use beneficial insects. They also run an active trial program and partner with public institutions to test the grasses in a range of environments.
In their operations, Hoffman Nursery tries to reduce resource use and minimize their impact on the environment. They use Best Management Practices such as micro irrigation in the houses and cover crops on stock fields. They handle all stormwater on site with a series of bioretention basins and bioswales. In addition, they practice Integrated Pest Management and continually seek ways to reduce pesticide use. Their horticultural and community connections are also important to the Staff. The Nursery hosts student groups and donates plants and time to community projects. These connections, as well as those with the research community, keep the staff current and build their expertise.