I am 38 and always loved gardening although I wasn’t quite so interested in my teens. I worked hard for 18 years in Business Management until my stress levels couldn’t take much more and I decided to quit to work in gardening full time. Surprisingly the change has led to article writing, TV presenting and garden retail which has become an extraordinarily fantastic career.
So, I am one of those ‘in the middle’ horticulturalists. The career changers. Neither young or old. I appear to be the ‘middle’ child, the one that doesn’t really get noticed much but I am no less valuable in horticulture.
My pre horticulture career was in construction and oil. I started reading blogs, articles and the continuing debate over encouraging the younger generation into construction (sound familiar)? I spent a great deal of time working with young people, attending careers sessions and talking about construction to teenagers. I could make it look enticing – Architecture for a start encompasses design, IT, team work, travel. I would show the progression of design from Gaudi to Foster with interactive BIM models, funky presentations and a good laugh.
“Horticulture doesn’t have to try and look ‘sexy’, it just has to move with the times”
It’s not just horticulture looking to entice the young. It’s undoubtedly linked to the ageing population which means horticulture is competing against all other industries for a small pool of candidates. Horticulture doesn’t have to try and look ‘sexy’, it just has to move with the times. We all know once a spark of interest has been enticed, being hooked is inevitable. School children are being taught IT coding from age 4! The education system is different now, the word is different now. We must take the history of gardening and all of the experience our key ‘older’ gardeners have and turn it into a way to communicate with the younger generation – this is the same in almost all sectors. Horticulture needs to get savvy.
“we must never forget, how the ‘older gardeners in checked shirts’ are now too often ridiculed but they are absolutely key”
Thats why social media is incredibly powerful, the reach is immense. Apps will play a part in this. But remember, we cant ‘make’ people like horticulture or any one industry. It’s about getting the word out there, connecting with young people in a way they understand so those who have an interest can have a path to pursue when they are ready. We all have a responsibility to communicate it in a way that the younger generation can understand and link with. However, we must never forget, how the ‘older gardeners in checked shirts’ are now too often ridiculed but they are absolutely key to this and have tended to our land, gardens, open spaces with care, knowledge and love for generations.
Let’s not forget by encouraging ‘in the middle’ career changers can help as well, they are often overlooked and have a huge skills set to bring to horticulture. Its working together at all levels and knowledge, opening our minds and learning to communicate across generations that will help the future of horticulture.
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