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Nurseries Seeing Slight Comeback

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EUGENE, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Agriculture says its finally seeing a pattern of recovery among its leading industry–nurseries.

The sector has seen a nearly 50-percent cut to its revenue since 2005, but the future is looking brighter lately.

Since the recession began, taking a negative toll on the housing market, landscaping has been considered a fringe commodity by homeowners, meaning business has been bad for both landscapers and nurseries. The good news is, though, numbers from the state Department of Agriculture over the last few years has shown a slow but steady climb for businesses.

This winter has been the busiest Randy Baarstad can remember.

“As far as jobs lined up, there’s just literally months worth,” Baarstad said.

He says work orders at Cutting Edge Landscaping have finally started picking up again, now that people are starting to put money back into their yards.

“This year has just been the best year we’ve ever had. Now that the work is continually coming in, you finally feel like your feet are back underneath you,” Baarstad said.

Increasing work for landscapers means the same for nurseries, like Bloomer’s in Eugene.

“It is slowly improving, yes. This year is better over last year, but I think it’s going to take us several years to get out of the recession and if we do,” said Jenny Bloomer-Lakey, Bloomer’s Nursery Wholesale Manager.

But even though orders are upping, Bloomer-Lakey says they’re not what they used to be.

“The orders that the landscapers are putting in and buying are smaller, remodels of homes and re-landscaping of homes, as opposed to new installs. There’s not a lot of new homes being built and not a lot of new industrial buildings being built,” Bloomer-Lakey said.

Since Oregon’s nursery plant production peaked over $1 billion in 2005, business hasn’t been the same. Production value was at 40 percent less than that $1 billion in 2010. And while numbers show a gradual climb over the past few years, the greenery game is just barely out of the woods.

“I think we’re looking at a completely new normal. We’re not ever going to get back to those boom years of 2004, 2005 or 2006. So we’re just adjusting, learning to live with that, but everybody, I think everybody in every industry, in every walk of life in this country is having to make adjustments to their lifestyle. So, it’s kind of a new normal for everybody,” Bloomer-Lakey said.

For those nurseries who have seen better numbers over the last few years, they’re hoping that trend continues. But there are nurseries who haven’t seen any recovery at all, and they hope that’s in the near future for them.

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