Mile High in Denver

Soft Secrets
20 Jun 2011

Co-hosted by the Progressive Gardening Trade Association (PGTA) and Maximum Yield Magazine, the show was held from March 31st to April 3rd. At one mile above sea level, Denver's air takes a little getting used to, so if you visit, be prepared to drink plenty of fluids. However, the people are friendly, and the law of the land is reasonably pot tolerant.

Normal-looking doors opened into a gardening wonderland. The mysterious, multicolored fluids pumping through auto-dosing equipment would not have looked out of place on the set of a science fiction movie. Short towers of Just Right Xtra soil, a pyramid of General Organics Go Boxes, and a psychedelic bus made for an unusual landscape. A sea of hydroponic chatter washed though the room, and Nickel City Wholesale Garden Supply's ongoing prize drawing announcements boomed through the hall. Over 240 exhibitors filled the expo. Sexy sirens sang songs of bigger yields and new products to try. An oversized ballast waved and shook hands with visitors, and barely-dressed women in tempting outfits drew in the crowd to view their wares.

Friendly faces vied for attention as products were displayed, discussed and demonstrated. As I wandered from stall to stall, I was greeted with smiles, and had my questions answered pleasantly and thoroughly. It was a nice stroll, and by the time I reached the end I was pleased with the experience. The smoking section was both popular and uncovered, which had its drawbacks under a light spring snow. It was interesting to note that several people braved the weather (myself included) to share a smoke with friends, rain or snow. Beyond the spectacle of the trade show proper, the event really shined in the opportunities for learning and making new contacts that it presented. Business cards were traded by the hundreds, and industry folks who had previously only spoken on the phone had the chance to meet face to face.

Authors Ed Rosenthal, Jeff Lowenfels and myself were on hand signing books and answering questions. I had a chance to chat with Mr. Rosenthal and Mr. Lowenfels, and I walked away with a handful of handy new tips from each. Jeff and Ed were a hit with the crowd, and often had a line waiting to speak to them. I had the chance to meet Lee and Beau from Chlorophyll Hydroponics, who explained their new fully-functional indoor greenhouse that runs inside their store. The produce from the sealed room is used by local gourmet restaurants. Such mainstream activities help integrate the industry into the local economy instead of just skirting the edge of respectability. With more and more trade shows being scheduled every year, organizers are going to have to compete for attention. In these tough economic times, vendors and visitors will have to pick events in which to participate carefully. For me, the Denver Indoor Garden Expo was well worth the trip.

Soft Secrets