How do we inspire the next generation of horticulturists?

How do we inspire the next generation of horticulturists?

One of the growing concerns I personally feel and can be felt throughout the industry here in Ireland and in England is the lack of young people to pursue careers in horticulture. Why is this? It’s true that yes you need to have a true love and passion for it, no you’re not going to make a quick million, and yes it’s not the most glamorous work. But despite all this there is a power that horticulture has; what other career could you grow your own fruit or start the life of a tree.

“What amazes me the most though is the lack of gardening programmes compared to the likes of food which we seemed to be swamped with”

TV. To be fair with yas I wouldn’t be a massive fan of television, I love my sport and I would watch the farming and gardening programmes but that would be mostly that. What amazes me the most though is the lack of gardening programmes compared to the likes of food which we seemed to be swamped with at the moment.

BlueberriesAlso in connection to the gardening programmes currently showing on TV there seems to be a reoccurring theme on age, target viewers and the actual content. I feel like these programmes are ill equipped and cause a blurred version of the true professionals in the industry. A lack of a role model also exist that a young person can aspire to and also would help in gaining recognition with the older generation in the industry.

With the ongoing drive and enthusiasm of food programmes, can’t something similar be done with gardening TV? With numerous food shows to suit everyone’s requirement it’s a surprise that something similar hasn’t been put in place with gardening. Gardening seems to be refined to particular genre: either a design/landscaping type or grow it yourself type programmes. Why can’t we see more of a variety that would appeal to a wider audience?

ApplesWhy can’t we mix it up a little and have an experimental gardening show? This could include different demonstrations and techniques either suggested by viewers or research carried out. For example blueberries require acidic soils, but what happens if you grow them in alkaline conditions? Or present soil testing experiments to show the different soils that are commonly found and how to examine them– mix it up so that it would be career inspirational but also entertaining for other viewers.

Social Media. I’m an advocate of the power of social media and I absolutely love being on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and now even Snapchat. I believe these all hold key to also leading to a revolution of the younger generations. But I find it very hard to escape the shackles, the image that has been imposed and get it out to share my story with people. I have appeared on radio on a number of occasions and the common comment I receive is either I’m too young to be involved in this area or sure what would I know.



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  1. 2

    As a hort. instructor currently teaching 17/18 years olds, I can say with some certainty that TV programmes will make little difference to the numbers coming into the sector – youngsters don’t watch much TV these days. What we need is horticulture to be taught from early on in their schooling, so they understand the opportunities, its importance (to feeding the world, and combating climate change for example), and to get them thinking.

  2. 3
    Ben francis

    In reply to Anne. Go look at the Horticulture Matters report from the RHS. We’ll written though, I thoroughly agree with everything being said. There are plenty of people trying to push this point, I don’t know how well it’s being heard!

  3. 4

    Anne, only courses with lots and lots of free places.. a high attrition rate and a massive shortage of skilled younger horticulturalists..

  4. 5

    It’s also got to be down to employers and job opportunities. Ireland has many great gardens and a few great nurseries, but even so, they are very few and far between compared to UK for instance. Mindless large-scale Nursery work can’t be as rewarding as working at a professional level in a garden or choice plant nursery! Also, the wages in horticulture are ABYSMAL, barely sometimes paying above minimum wage as a starting rate and only very slowly crawling up to about the low 30,s for a head gardener position after years of experience (unless you’re lucky). More quality apprenticeships need to be offered and kids thrive off of enthusiasm, it’s not hard to hook a kid’s interest if you treat them as an equal and engage them in conversation about horticulture. If they are genuinely interested and they are enabled with training by an employer (RHS exams for instance), it is possible to get youth on board. Employers need to up their game and stop abusing the skilled individuals who create the industry by simply, paying a living wage and providing training to those who take an interest. College isn’t for everyone, that doesn’t mean the individual isn’t intellectually capable of grasping complex horticultural elements, another stigma about gardeners by the general population!

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