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Midwest Groundcovers Establishes The Peter and Irma Orum Research Fund

Published September 18, 2019

Will Provide Critical Resources for Cutting-Edge Horticulture Research

Christa Orum-Keller, chairman,  Midwest Groundcovers and Midwest Trading, is announcing the establishment of The Peter and Irma Orum Research Fund, administered through the Horticulture Research Institute – the AmericanHort Foundation. The newly-establishing Fund honors Orum-Keller’s parents, the companies’ founders, and is part of Midwest Groundcovers’ 50th anniversary celebrations.

“The Fund marks the companies’ important milestones and provides crucial funding for cutting-edge horticulture research for years to come,” Orum-Keller says. “Our pledge over the next five years is to establish the Fund at the $50,000 level to mark Midwest’s 50th year.”

Irma and Peter Orum worked tirelessly to build their companies through the years since Midwest’s founding in 1969. Staunch supporters of the Horticulture Research Institute (HRI), the couple, along with Midwest’s leadership and staff, is committed to learning and education – and to giving back to the industry they love. Since its founding in 1962, HRI has provided more than $7.5 million in funds to research projects covering a broad range of production, environmental and business issues that are important to the green industry. Nearly $11 million is committed to the endowment by individuals, corporations and associations.

“Establishing this Fund is a fitting way to honor my parents’ commitment to their employees and the companies they built, and to recognize their decades of service to the industry,” Orum-Keller says. 

Through the years, Peter Orum has served on the HRI board and has been instrumental in establishing many HRI funds, including four sponsored by the Orum family and their companies. Gary Knosher, Midwest Groundcovers’ long-serving former president and current board member, is president-elect of HRI and will begin serving his term as president in January 2020.

“At HRI, we are especially pleased to see the establishment of this new fund,”  he says, “not only because it will provide and support much-needed industry-directed research, but also because it honors and recognizes Peter and Irma for all they have done for Midwest Groundcovers and our association, as well as the entire green industry.”

Likewise, Orum served as president of HRI before joining the American Nursery and Landscape Association board, where he was president from 2004 to 2005. He most recently served as HRI treasurer from 2010 through 2015.

“The Fund’s purpose, like most HRI sub-funds, is to enable HRI to support or initiate research essential to the plant industry,” he says. “HRI is able to leverage substantial research funds and also step in quickly when problems arise.”

Industry friends and colleagues have honored Peter and Irma Orum and Midwest Groundcovers’ 50th anniversary by pledging more than $30,000 toward the Fund already.  Pledges to The Peter and Irma Orum Research Fund are being accepted online at www.HRIresearch.org/donate, at the $500, $1,500, $2,500 and $5,000 levels. An official announcement of the Fund’s establishment and pledges raised will be made at MANTS 2020, Jan. 8-10 in Baltimore.

Proceeds from “Inspired by Nature,” a day-long education workshop and networking event held at Midwest Groundcovers, St. Charles, Ill., on Wednesday, Sept. 11, also will benefit the Fund.