Here’s the second part of our review of the ‘Bringing Growers Together’ event, focusing on the afternoon sessions…
Dr Rosie Plummer and Simon Goodenough – National Botanic Garden of Wales
The afternoon’s events began with a brief slot from Dr Rosie Plummer, Director at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, our hosts for the day. Dr Plummer called on the growers in attendance to engage more with the Garden, a point echoed by Simon, its Curator of Horticulture, who outlined his plan to make the NBGW a “stage for the industry in Wales”. He proposed a number of potential ideas, including the possibility of staging plant trade shows at the Garden, the creation of a display garden specifically for Welsh growers, and the development of a special horticulture apprenticeship scheme that would be linked to a number of local growers.
With an air of anticipation filling the room, the renowned writer and broadcaster began by outlining his life-long love of gardening and growing, which was sparked by what he jokingly describes as a “forced horticultural apprenticeship” he undertook as a child in the family garden under the watchful eye of his mother. Monty explained how the soil is always the reference point for him, that the earth matters, and that the growers in the room should do everything they can to connect people to the soil – “to love it, care for it, and protect it”.
Monty then went on to explain how he first got his big break into television and how he now tries to use his broadcasting and writing platforms to inspire a “love of plants and the soil”. There was also a particularly moving segment where he described his work with drug addicts, where by teaching them to grow and to farm he helps them build respect and reward from working with the natural world. He concluded his talk with a passionate reminder to the growers of the real power they have to reach people in an intimate, direct, and personal way.
Following his speech, Monty was also quizzed by the audience on topics as diverse as why horticulture isn’t part of the school curriculum, what more can gardening TV shows do to promote the industry, and whether there is likely to be a ban on the use of peat in the coming years.
Dr David Skydmore – Horticulture Wales
Horticulture Wales’ Project Director capped the day by looking back at some of the challenges the industry has faced during the lifespan of the project, such as ongoing economic uncertainty, issues surrounding food security and plant health, and the need to attract new entrants into the sector. He then reminded the audience what Horticulture Wales has achieved since it was launched in 2010, particularly in areas such as knowledge exchange (through activities such as study tours), sustainability (by initiatives such as its ‘Packaging Toolkit’), and market development (via networking meetings and providing a data portal packed with trends, statistics, and industry intelligence). Dr Skydmore concluded a thoroughly enjoyable and informative day with a look to the future and what opportunities might exist for growers in both edible and ornamental sectors in the years to come.
Click here to read the first part of our review…