Sparking the growing revolution has indeed provoked so many opinions and views. It seems whilst everyone has a different take on the topic, we all appear to be on the same page. I’ve been trying to think back to the different stages in my horticultural experience to see where the gaps were, where I was failed and what improvements could be made for future generations.
When I was a kid I loved gardening. Simple. When I had my ten minute careers talk at school I didn’t bring gardening into the conversation because I didn’t know I could have a career from horticulture. Instead, I was told to be a nurse, whilst the teacher simply done a tick box exercise. Not very inspiring. The rest is history, as explained in my previous blog.
“a youngster or someone with low confidence only needs one person to put them off for life”
When I took on my rural allotment, most plots were tended to by the retired and no one spoke to me. Thats not an exaggeration. My new allotment neighbours being more my age, were lovely as have other new allotment holders who later took on their plots. Imagine how off putting a young person would be in that situation! I am the kind of person who doesn’t really care and gets on with it anyway, but would I as a younger person? No I don’t think so. I would say ‘this gardening lark isn’t for me’. When I was marking out my grow beds with my Dad, he told me the guys on the plot chat with him – ‘why is she using that wood? Young people wasting their money’. That waste of money was all recycled wood which has made my plot much easier to work on. I know this wont be the case for many and I’ve heard great stories about allotment communities, but unfortunately I am sure I can’t be entirely alone with my experience. I have excitedly watched a subtle change at the allotment with more families taking up old plots and it is slowly becoming more of a community.
Having horticulture as part of education in some way from a young age is a necessity but to do this the government has to be on board. It never crossed my mind as a youngster that this industry encompasses design and creativity, science and maths, geography and history to name a few and thats without the obvious health and well being benefits but whilst we must inspire the young to love horticulture we also have to educate those already in the industry to understand that succession is needed – just like any business.
“We need inspiring characters of all ages”
By being stuck in the mud means whatever we do to inspire the young, or indeed anyone new entering horticulture, they will face problems with ‘some’ of those already in the industry. I am not speaking for everyone here, but a youngster or someone with low confidence only needs one person to put them off for life. We need inspiring characters of all ages to get out there and talk to our existing gardening clubs, at garden shows, writing in magazines and TV shows to help to spread the word that encouraging new horticulturalists of all ages is an absolute must for the industry. But not just that, they need help in learning how to communicate with the younger generation. I refer to my previous blog again – get savvy and embrace it. Some of the grumps down the allotment might even enjoy it! Why learn so much over the years and then take it to the grave? Pass knowledge and skills on, leave a legacy, keep the wheels in motion like a truly biodiverse garden – keeps on moving through the seasons, everything plays a part all for the good of everyone. There are so many ways to inspire the younger generation and new horticulturalists, especially when you show a passion in the subject yourself. We all have a personal responsibility to play our part. Small steps from many people will contribute to giant leaps in time.