Call for focus

Palmstead Nurseries organised a two day seminar to debate mitigating climate change and education. It attracted over 200 delegates drawn in from all corners of the horticultural industry
Mark Gregory called for a ‘sexing up of the industry’. An award winning contractor, Gregory has unrivalled experience of building designing Chelsea Award winning gardens with over 38 Chelsea and 70 RHS gardens to his credit. Gregory said: ‘We need to sex the industry up; make it appealing. It’s still not a career choice. I went to my son’s school and horticulture wasn’t on the radar. We need to spend a lot in our trade bodies making the industry sexy. We need to learn from others, grab change and rise to the challenge.’
Chris Beardshaw says ‘At the age of 13 my careers teacher sat me down and pulled out a multiple choice form. I put him in the picture – I’d started growing plants at 4, worked in a nursery at 11 and I wanted to go to Pershore College, ten miles away to study horticulture but my careers teacher had never heard of it. We added up the multiple choice form to see where we went from there. My career according to my teacher was to join the Navy. More specifically – submarines. To make matters worse, because I wasn’t in the remedial stream I couldn’t do environmental sciences. This was a good secondary school, who saw horticulture as something that was only suitable for those who had nothing intellectual to contribute to the world. Is it any wonder that when we try to recruit we struggle to get the right calibre’ Most people have been turned off from the moment they arrive at school even if they’ve been enlightened in the early years.’
Beardshaw is currently writing a book about biodiversity with Kew and his impassioned plea to be ‘sustainable’ was welcomed by the delegates. After the event he said; ‘Biodiversity and sustainability is something that I’ve become very passionate about. It’s an exciting time for horticulture as we’re right at the forefront with this subject. My careers teacher was wrong – there’s huge opportunity in horticulture for personal and environmental reward’.
Nick Coslett, Marketing Manager at Palmstead and organiser of the event, which continues said; ‘ We’ve got contractors, designers, growers, a whole spectrum of the industry here today talking about concerns common to all of us and how we can make a change. Our industry can and OUGHT TO make its contribution and help its clients mitigate climate change, improving the lives of our clients and mitigating the pressure on the environment’.
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