Garden Press Event debate hears worries over shortage of young people in horticulture

The Garden Press Event has heard a debate on the future of gardening, with panellists at the Garden Tags event concerned about the lack of young people moving into horticulture.

"The future of gardening: How do we spark a growing revolution?" was the topic of debate at the Barbican in London. Jane Perrone, Adam Frost, Skinny Jean Gardeners, Agamemnon Otero and Emma Worrollo discussed the issue.

TV gardeners Skinny Jeans said people needed to "grow for purpose", while Pineapple Lounge's Worrollo, who has completed market research on the issue with young people, said she wanted young people to "consider gardening to be as normal as any other activity...part of daily life, less of a thing".

Otera, who founded Re-Powering London as a not-for-profit co-operative specialising in local energy after finding the Edible Bus Stop, said he wanted to see "socially inclusive, financially viable gardens".  

Garden designer Frost said he wanted to see horticulture properly taught at secondary schools. He said his Homebase garden academy having 1,500 applicants for 40 places meant the desire was there.

Worrollo said 14 year olds were "fluent in the benefits of gardening" but those associations were "not strong enough triggers to get into gardening". She said she thought this was because children wanted "on demand living" and so gardening needed to be "bite-sized" or "snackable".

She said making a cool idea for the windowsill was more important to them than beautiful gardens. Worrollo said there was a lack of role models for young gardeners and that the "careers service is out of touch". She said there were commercial opportunities by letting children to use tools, which they thought they would be allowed to. Worrollo said parents are "key" and that "children who garden with their parents have very emotive stories", with grow your own strong with younger children and "exotic stuff and being creative" bigger with tweens and teens.

Skinny Jeans Gardeners criticised "the use of knowledge" for bogging down young gardeners and said they should be left to "beautifully fail". They added that they wanted more relevant gardening TV and said: "We want to break from the herd but it's very, very difficult because of lack of money...let's not be driven by money, let's be driven by change."

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