The federal government is investing in Oregon agriculture, and several Sandy area businesses could benefit from the plan.

In an effort to grow Oregon’s specialty crop production to more competitive levels, the United States Department of Agriculture announced $1.5 million in block grants that will benefit the state’s fruit, vegetable, nut and nursery crops. Part of the grant money will go to market development and access.

For that purpose, the Oregon Association of Nurseries received $90,250 for its Plant Something campaign, a marketing strategy designed to popularize gardening and backyard agriculture.

“It’s an effort to generate more interest for the retail growers, and that would translate to the commercial growers as well,” said association Marketing Director Ann Murphy. “The Plant Something initiative was started in Arizona, and it has grown to 11 other states, including British Columbia.”

Murphy said only nurseries that belong to the association will participate in the campaign. In the Sandy/Boring/Gresham area, there are four such nurseries. Murphy said she hopes the campaign will grow into a grassroots “Got Milk?’ type of campaign.

“If we can get people thinking about the value of adding plants to their life, then there will be an indirect benefit for the wholesalers,” she said.

The grassroots approach, Murphy said, is a new strategy.

“A top down approach was tried a few decades ago, and it didn’t fly,” she said. “The approach that we anticipate we’ll be taking will have a large social media online component.”

The association will use the grant money to hire a marketing firm to develop the campaign.

“We’ll be putting out a request for proposals to find a partner for it,” Murphy said.

The Plant Something campaign will launch in the spring of next year.

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