Dixon On ... Taking steps to boost horticulture's image

Politically, horticulture's image has lacked punch and impact. Yes, Parliament's British fruit industry group and the gardening and horticulture groups led by Laura Sandys and Brian Donohue ably raise the flag. But they compete against a huge number of sexier groups. Outsiders' views of horticulture are coloured by erroneous images of poor education and low skills. Less than supportive views being aired from high places result.

Just possibly, improved images might be emerging. Cabinet minister Oliver Letwin lauded horticulture and gardening in the Western Gazette. In "horticultural musings", he recognised that "one really can measure a civilisation by its gardens". Horticulture's environmental and social image has, it seems, gained a powerful champion.

Astute bidding into the £160m Agri-Tech fund will boost production horticulture's image. This funding aims at "taking innovative products such as cancer-fighting broccoli from the field to the shopping aisle". Images raised by the Norwich Science Campus broccoli programme have greatly impressed Department for Business, Innovation & Skills minister David Willetts.

The supermarkets have already latched onto opportunities for increased business visibility. Sainsbury's brand director Judith Batchelar stoutly advocates Agri-Tech.

Encouraging fruit and vegetable consumption provides substantial medical and social benefits. Improving diets is an effective means of cutting the diseases of affluence and coping with escalating NHS costs. Serving infants with horticulturally-rich free school lunches could establish lifelong healthy-eating habits.

All horticultural sectors can benefit from this improved political and social image. Stimulated consumer demand must be satisfied by additional home-grown supplies. The public is currently interested in local, fresh, healthy and safe fruit and vegetables. Mobilising political support for "Love Your British Greens" is the next big image-enhancing step.

Professor Geoffrey Dixon is managing director of GreenGene international.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

Is leaving the EU an opportunity to harness the potential of agri-tech?

Is leaving the EU an opportunity to harness the potential of agri-tech?

A group of leading industry and research figures has agreed a series of agri-tech measures that will be recommended to Government as a means of making British farming more profitable and productive post-Brexit.

What do fruit and vegetable growers hope for from a renationalised farming policy?

What do fruit and vegetable growers hope for from a renationalised farming policy?

Defra's "Health & Harmony" consultation paper, which closed for responses this week, has given growers and their representative bodies a chance to shape the largest reformulation of farming and land-use policy in nearly half a century.

Protected Cropping Structures - Polytunnels

Protected Cropping Structures - Polytunnels

Cost factors, ventilation benefits and the ability to fit new advanced films are some of the reasons behind the popularity of these structures, says Sally Drury.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +

Horticulture Week Top UK FRUIT PRODUCERS

See our exclusive ranking of fruit producers by annual turnover. 

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon