So here’s the question: is farming sexy? If it truly is, then what does that make horticulture? Especially commercial horticulture? You know, the one with the long laborious slog, early starts, late finishes and low pay. Mustn’t forget the pay, even though we do, and quite often.
Anyway, I pose this question as, apparently, farming is now sexy while horticulture is not. No boys’ toys to race around in, you see — and, of course, fewer gadgets. Far fewer and a tad smaller, so no fun there for today’s thrusting young bucks, so off they go to "ag" and not "hort", apparently.
I suppose on a hot day the lads can always get their tops off while powering their latest combines in a kind of Poldark way, if you will. No such luck for us "horts". I mean, heaving along a Danish trolley or barrow sprayer just doesn’t really cut it in quite the same way.
I am, of course, being a little playful, but maybe farming really is now more appealing in a more modern, automated and ready-for-action kind of way that horticulture is not.
And maybe this is why, at least in part, we are still failing to attract sufficient young talent to our ranks. I am not sure farming is that much better paid but it does appear to have more kit and a higher media profile than working on a nursery. Prime-time Countryfile can’t do any harm.
Of course, the grants and subsidies of farming have not always found their way to our door, so there has arguably been less scope for reinvestment. In short, there’s still not enough money in the job to pay high wages and to recapitalise ailing nursery infrastructures.
But credit to the "ags" because they also have their problems, as any dairy or sheep farmer will quite rightly tell you. Competing in global markets has never been easy. Yet modern farming attracts talent and so must we if we are to succeed and compete. Jesting aside, image really is everything and we can do much better, and it needn’t cost the earth.
Andrew Hewson is a freelance writer and columnist