January 15, 2010
President of the Ontario Horticultural Research Foundation John Wright has announced that the organization has agreed to contribute the first $100,000 for an endowed research chair at Vineland and the University of Guelph. The position will be hosted at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, but shared with the university.  

LO executive director Tony DiGiovanni explained, “One of the main reasons for the contribution is that the government is willing to provide support, as long as the industry participates in funding the research. Dollars raised can be leveraged three to nine times through government support programs. This means that the benefits of participating in this fundraising effort are enormous for the industry. Where else can dollars be leveraged by that amount?”

Benefits are not short-term

DiGiovanni explained that it is believed that having a permanent research chair will make the industry immune to potential government cutbacks in the future. “The role of research, innovation and education in the development of an industry is not commonly understood, because benefits are not felt in the short-term.” One example he cited is the original research on pot-in-pot production at Vineland. “This led to revolutionary improvements in tree growing techniques that now benefits the industry and society in countless ways,” said DiGiovanni.  

The Foundation notes that Vineland should be supported as it is an industry-directed research and innovation centre that is focused on commercialization, economic development, environmental stewardship and partnerships. The funds announced by the Foundation will be paid over a three-year period

Exciting co-operation

The link between the industry, foundation, Vineland and the University of Guelph is an exciting and unique development, bringing all four organizations working together to raise funds for the research chair. “We have formed an alliance entitled Landscape and Environmental Horticulture Alliance (LEHA). It is aimed at raising awareness for the societal benefits of the green industry,” says DiGiovanni. Members of LEHA include Bill Ingratta of Vineland, John Wright, LO member Mark Ostrowski, Kathy Elton of the University of Guelph, Rene Van Acker, associate dean at the University of Guelph, Ric Jordan of the Guelph Arboretum and Tony DiGiovanni. The group has formed a special fundraising committee. That committee includes Paul Olsen, Hank Gelderman, Bill Mori and Bill Stensson.