President's Letter: It is time to start guiding the narrative

May 13, 2022

In the Kingdom of Palms, a young farmer packs up his modest belongings and gives a deep sigh as he prepares to leave the home that his great grandfather built. At the edge of the property, the Knight Marshall stands guard, ready to escort the young man off his family’s land. With a suitcase in one hand and the best seeds he could salvage in the other, he closes the door and wonders how things got to this point…

Not long ago, King Narro and his Majesty’s Court respected Min’s family and the services they provided. Decades prior, Min’s great grandfather settled on a plot of land at the edge of the Kingdom and began cultivating the wild daisies he found there. Daisies soon adorned the great halls and gardens of the King’s palace.

For Min, life as a fourth-generation daisy grower and gardener had been good - that is until Lord and Lady Rev moved in next door. Lady Rev heard from a friend of a friend in a neighboring Kingdom that daisies were causing a plague. Fear capsized any sense of logic in Lady Rev’s mind, and she began spreading rumors about the dangers of daisies.

For months, Min ignored the rumors. He believed that if he just worked hard and continued providing the beautiful flowers the Kingdom loved, the rumors would go away. Plus, there was no evidence to support her theories. With four generations of daisy production and distribution there had not been a single case of plague in the Kingdom. 

Despite the lack of evidence, Lady Rev persisted. The rumors eventually made their way to Lord Gobble, a prominent member of the King’s Court, who had his eye on Min’s land. With Lord Gobble’s endorsement and Min’s silence on the subject, the stories began to take hold. Over time, Min was handed an onslaught of taxes and levies to add barriers, safety testing, and new protocols for disposal and cleanup of potentially contaminated flowers. When that wasn’t enough, Min was eventually forced out - all because of a story told with conviction but no merit.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we possess.  It can also be one of the most dangerous weapons used against us. When we fail to tell our own story, we create the opportunity for others to tell it for us, and chances are we aren’t going to like the narrative they’ve come up with.

Because Min’s story is set in a Kingdom, it’s easier to accept he was unfairly taxed and kicked off his land without just cause. But what if I told you that stories like Min’s are happening here? Let’s replace the Kingdom of Palm with Palm Beach County and replace Min with our friends and members in the landscape segment of our industry.

While the details of their stories differ, the result is our governments (who profess to act under the guise of freedom) are willing to impose undue prejudice on our businesses because of motives driven by fear, misinformation and hidden agendas.

Unlike Min, we cannot and will not stay silent! It is time to start guiding the narrative. I encourage you to share your story with friends and neighbors outside of our industry. Share the benefits of lawns and landscapes. Explain why it is not economically viable to be wasting or misusing fertilizers and other inputs. Visit with your elected representatives and bring a few friends (strength in numbers). And, most importantly, make sure your FNGLA Chapter and the State Office are aware of any rumors or opposition you are facing so we can help!

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