The Rise Of Young Gardeners

Urban Gardens, Guerilla Gardening, University Horticultural Societies, young people are trying to regain their green fingers.

The internet is a huge part of gardening now, from delivering tips and inspiration to land share schemes. Sunita Mohan, author of the Urban Gardener Blog started writing out of a need to communicate.  She loves gardening and growing her own vegetables and says “Even weeds have their purpose….many are medicinal, others are food sources for butterflies. Everything is interlinked” she goes on to say “just because you live in the city is no reason to cut greenery from your life”.

John Foley is the winner of the BBC Young Gardener of the Year Competition.  He runs Holden Clough Nursery.  It has been established since 1927, he took it over from his father back in 2009 and the business has gone from strength to strength, now turning over £1 million a year.

A humble and approachable young gardener who described winning as “smashing”   he said that the recognition meant his business moved “several rungs up the ladder.” He thinks young people gardening would realise how “enjoyable and satisfying” it is.  “It is easy to do and there are skills to pick up, (you learn by) trial and error”.  According to John, young people get into gardening mainly through family links, either encouraged by grandparents or parents.  He argues that this needs to change.  “There need to be role models; (gardening) needs to be studied in the school system not just after school but as part of the curriculum”.  John loves the “buzz” that the seasons dictate, the differences between each period in the gardening calendar means that “there is always something different happening.”  He thinks the guerrilla gardening movement is inspirational and a great way to tidy up a community.

Alan Titchmarsh lamented last year that gardening was suffering from a lack of interest from youth.  However there are many initiatives to get young people into gardening. The Royal Horticulture Society has a “young school gardener of the year” award that it uses to work with schools and get young children interested in gardening.  Their competition is open to contestants between the ages of 5 to 16 and has been very successful.

Other initiatives include The Princes Foundation which has an Ideal Young Gardener competition it runs every year.  The brief is to think how a limited amount of space can be used in the urban environment that we all live in.  One of the organisers David Domoney is quoted as saying,  “It is such a privilege creating this competition for the young landscapers & designers as they showcase their work for the first time. The amount of hard work that goes into these gardens is truly inspiring."

Young gardeners are getting inspired from many sources. As John argues there is still a lot of work to be done within the education system but with competitions and blogs motivating those with an interest the work is half way done.  Gardening is cool and here to stay.

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