I can’t say we’re back, because we never left. This year’s Urban Landscape Summit is a continuation of the important conversation we had in 2020 to point toward how we think about Florida landscapes’ future.
Yes, this means Zoom. This is how we ran our agricultural best management practices summit last year while we reorganized our urban landscape summit event and much of our water quality work under the new umbrella of the UF/IFAS Center for Land Use Efficiency. Going virtual with the BMP summit was a hit: Nearly 1,100 people attended, more than 10 times the number who were at our last in-person summit.
We expect the largest-ever crowd for the urban landscapes event when we start this serial summit on Jan. 20 to talk about Florida’s future residential and commercial landscapes. We’ll continue on Jan. 27. And on Feb. 3. And so on, every Wednesday through March 31.
In addition to more of you, we expect more government participation. Agencies which previously could afford to send perhaps a single representative can now “send” teams to the summit. This increases opportunity for connection among government, industry and academia. This should promote greater coordination on mapping out a future for the green industry.
You’ll hear about that future from our state extension specialist in landscape design, Gail Hansen, who has both an urban ecology book and her Florida Friendly Landscape Stylebook ready for publication in 2021. Hansen is looking ahead to how cold hardy zones and other climate stressors will change what thrives in Florida and how we’ll have to adapt in our landscape choices. She’ll share some of her designs to bring to life the principles she presents.
Hansen makes the case: landscapes play a critical role in biodiversity and we need to consciously incorporate this role into design. She promotes installing a wide variety of plants with different trait-based functions to foster biodiversity and aesthetic preferences. She incorporates plants into her designs based on the specific roles they play in supporting biodiversity: Which insects do they support? Which birds? How much CO2 do they absorb?
In-person events aren’t going away. Conversations we call collisions - creative accidents which yield ideas and insights from unexpected encounters - are much more the province of in-person than virtual. We’re thinking about how to incorporate an in-person element to future summits to continue creating collisions, but I believe virtual is here to stay.
Come join Ben and I as we kick things off with a State of the Industry session on Jan. 20 with Rick Hudak of Lennar Homes, FNGLA Landscape Division Chair and board member Phillip Hisey of On Top of the World, Mike Sweeney of the Toho Water Authority, and Adam Jones of Massey Services.
And keep coming back every Wednesday until Ben wraps things up with public policy leaders to look into the future of landscape regulation. See you on January 20.
What You Need to Know
2021 Urban Landscape Summit
Wednesdays on Zoom from 1 - 2:30 p.m.
Jan. 20 – Mar. 31
Register in advance at:
CEU credit offered
Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).