Background & History
DGA was organized on June 26th, 1934 at a meeting of the Michigan Nurserymen’s Association. Thirteen (13) nurserymen who were currently publishing retail nursery catalogs envisioned the need for an organization that would bring about closer cooperation among mailorder nurserymen.
These 13 nurserymen were headed by such foresighted men as Frank Beatty, Ben Greening, Vernon Krider and Ralph Emlong. They named the new organization the “National Mail Order Nurserymen’s Association” and elected Eldon Burgess of Burgess Seed & Plant Company as their first president. Mr. Burgess held this office for six years while the organization gained members and grew in stature.
In January 1965, the name was changed to “Mailorder Association of Nurserymen, Inc.” and in 1980, the position of Executive Director was created to assist with the management of the Association. In recognition of the increased number of women in management positions within many mailorder nursery firms, in July 1987, the name of the Association was changed to the “Mailorder Association of Nurseries.”
DGA has promoted many worthwhile programs throughout the years including “Roses Around the World” and the “American Plant Selections.”
DGA members were most proud of the establishing of a national “Kids Growing with Dutch Bulbs” grant program for schools and gardening community organizations. Our first international joint effort, DGA invited the International Netherlands Flowerbulb Center and the Dutch Bulb Exporters Association to serve as co-sponsors. The North American Flowerbulb Wholesalers Association has since joined as a sponsor. The National Gardening Association administers the program on DGA’s behalf.
In our first year (1994), one hundred and sixty schools received over 40,000 flower bulbs for their school or community. In 1995 DGA expanded the program so that schools in the warm climate areas were also able to participate in the program.
In the summer of 1995, the membership approved a decision to change the name of the association to the “Mailorder Gardening Association” which more accurately reflected the varied make-up of the member firms.
At the turn of the century, the ways of doing business and reaching customers changed due to technological advances. The invention of the internet gave garden marketers a new way to sell their products. As a result, in 2010 the membership again voted to change the name of the Association to the “Direct Gardening Association.”
DGA’s mission has been to provide a forum for the industry to gather, learn, exchange and network. The two annual conventions remain the most significant benefit of membership. Member committees are very active and continue to explore new programs that will be of value to the membership.