- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 1, 2007

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. (AP) — A pretty flower, a lovely scent, a fitting name and the cooperation of two countries could grow into an international business based in Somerset County, Md.

Daniel S. Kuennen, director of the Rural Development Center at the University of Maryland at Eastern Shore, wants to cultivate an orchid and a profitable relationship with a university-based orchid producer, the U.S. Orchid Laboratory and Nursery. The producer is the North American headquarters for Beijing’s Jet Green orchid producers.

To help marketing efforts bloom, Mr. Kuennen suggested to the Jet Green president the concept of an orchid named for Princess Anne.

“I discussed the idea, and he liked it,” Mr. Kuennen told the Salisbury Daily Times. “We will meet soon and discuss it some more.”

The process to create a new variety of the flower using a cultivation process of tissue is complex, said Mr. Kuennen, who also is thinking about an orchid named “the Somerset,” after Somerset County.

He said Jet Green based the lab on the Eastern Shore to enter the U.S. marketplace. He said he can’t think of a better way to market the venture than to name the new variety of flower after the town in which it is located.

Mr. Kuennen was a key player in attracting the Asian producer to the campus. The plan is to introduce, within five years, local growers to the orchid process as alternative agribusiness. After three years, Mr. Kuennen said, the lab and nursery, which operate in a 2-acre greenhouse on the campus, is poised to recruit growers.

The path was not always rosy.

“The company had to overcome obstacles,” Mr. Kuennen said. “There is the bare-root shipping process and customs inspections. The [company also] just completed $1 million in improvement to the greenhouses to get them up to standard.”

About 20,000 orchid bare-root systems are shipped at a time to the orchid greenhouse outside Princess Anne. The company receives six shipments a year, Mr. Kuennen said.

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