How can we entice the younger generation into the amazing horticultural world?

How can we entice the younger generation into the amazing horticultural world?

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Horticulture. Ask a young adult/teenage person what this word means and I am almost certain the response would be a rather glazed expression, or a straight up don’t know – perhaps even (as I have had a couple of times) ‘Oh working with Horses?!’. Ummm…No!

“horticulture…has quite a serious image problem”

It is definitely clear that horticulture amongst young people has quite a serious image problem! Not to mention that there is an ever-growing age and skills gap – there is just such a lack of young people wanting to take up a career in horticulture.

Jack Shilley in gardenWhen gardening is mentioned instead of ‘Horticulture’ people often frown and say ‘It’s all just weeding and digging’ – of course we all know there is that element to it but it’s also so much more! I think most of this stems from a lack of gardening interest as a child or young person growing up and also the lack of knowledge of what horticulture is or how big and vast the industry actually is! Couple this with careers advisors saying horticulture is for unskilled persons and the pay is rubbish, then you have a recipe for disaster!

“careers advisors saying horticulture is for unskilled persons…you have a recipe for disaster”

What needs to happen to hopefully remedy this is to try and share with as many young people as possible (Especially those people in secondary school, between the ages of 16 – 18 when they are deciding career paths) how diverse a career horticulture can really be.

I mean there really is so much to choose from! Design & art, Botanical sciences, Retail/Business management, Landscaping etc… – the world within horticulture is truly amazing and with the changes in season and new plants coming in and out of flower and leaf at all different times, there is always something refreshing and new to enjoy and look at. This is what we need to be sharing with the younger generation!

Jack Shilley flowersFrom founding and creating the YoungHort initiative in 2013, I have definitely seen that young people themselves going out and sharing the message of just how ‘cool’ and interesting horticulture can be is incredibly inspirational to other young people, and the more young people there are gardening and joining the horticulture industry the more that will then follow.

I don’t think it’s just as easy as getting more young people on to horticultural TV or Radio (this would sure help though!) but definitely interacting with young people directly through social media, events specifically for young people (Like YoungHort conferences & socials) and also talks and interactive lessons in schools – needs to be the way forward.

“I am a firm believer that change has already started for the better – but we still need more support”

There is always so much more to work on to try and improve this amazing industry and ensure that it remains alive for future generations – and I am a firm believer that change has already started for the better – but we still need more support from as many different organisations in all areas of horticulture as well as more young people to come forward, share their own stories and spread the word of just how awesome horticulture can be!

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  1. 1
    Marcia wrigg

    I carried out extensive research into this topic for my BSc Honours Degree in Applied Horticulture Thesis in 2014 . “Can the UK Horticulture Industry find ways to engage with the youth of today ?” . The statistical analysis of quantitative and qualitative data returned a Null Hypothesis , this rejected that the Industry could overcome the obstacles which stand in the way when attempting the younger generation to consider horticulture as a future career choice. The reasons found were to be that influential peers were unaware of the opportunities which exist in Hort , that it’s viewed negatively , misunderstood , deemed as a lower achievers job , for those of a lesser academic ability. The peer pressure from fellow youths , the disengagement the industry has with the young. ……. Oh don’t get me started here !! What a great article !

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