Mairi Gougeon, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, was given a closer look at the Environmental Horticulture sector on a visit to Ashbrook Nursery in Arbroath. This was part of the Horticultural Trades Association's (HTA) outreach on its Scottish Growth Strategy, which was brought to Holyrood earlier this year so that industry and politicians could engage in improving the environment, economy, and health through trees and plants.
The HTA has been working closely with MSPs and the Scottish Government to produce the Growth strategy, which has seven key ambitions for Scotland:
- Health – to create a healthier Scotland through horticulture
- Economy – develop green economic growth, high-quality jobs, and invest in education/skills
- Environment – to mitigate climate change
- Local – increase the use of Scottish and UK-grown plants as import substitution
- Industry – drive Scottish growth through investment, development grants, and reducing the cost of doing business
- Urban Nature – produce a greener planning system
- Biosecurity – enhance and protect Scotland's natural capital.
As part of this Strategy launch, MSPs pledged to plant a tree in a community place, which was donated by Dr Anne Webster, Director of Ashbrook Nurseries. Minister Gougeon chose Inverbrothock School to plant hers, with Ashbrook Nurseries supporting the local school's garden project, which has seen students benefit from having an engaging space to enjoy nature.
Minister Gougeon, who was a guest speaker at the HTA's Holyrood Reception to showcase the HTA's Environmental Horticulture Growth Strategy in May, saw first-hand the workings of both an ornamental plant nursery producer and a retail garden center at Ashbrook. The gardening industry supports contributions of £2.8bn towards GDP and over 64,000 jobs in Scotland, and these figures have the potential to rise significantly over the next decade. However, the HTA has explained that this can only happen with the support of the Scottish Government, reflected in the key asks in their Growth Strategy document.
These tasks include greater protection and investment in public parks and green spaces – particularly in urban areas to offset pollution and mitigate climate change. They also call for greater emphasis on skills and careers required in an ever-evolving sector to fill skills gaps. This includes provision at further education colleges with land-based and biodiversity qualifications.
Minister Gougeon commented: "I am delighted to fulfill my pledge to plant a tree in support of the Scottish Environmental Horticulture Growth Strategy, in which the Horticulture Trades Association outlines a robust and sustainable future for the sector."
"Horticulture contributes significantly to the Scottish economy through retail, job creation, and employment opportunities in green careers. Not only does the sector help to benefit the environment through the provision of plants and trees for public landscaping and domestic gardening – it also plays a key role in improving people's mental and physical health. Gardening in schools introduces young people to new skills and inspires potential career routes while providing a positive impact on their wellbeing."
"I would like to thank Ashbrook Nursery for showing me around their family-run business here in Arbroath. We have planted a tree at Inverbrothock primary school, which I hope will be enjoyed as a symbol of all the benefits horticulture can bring to society."
Anne Webster said of the visit: "We were delighted to show Minister Gougeon the workings of a local nursery. We grow our own plants and cut flowers and were able to demonstrate how this affects a considerable reduction in the 'carbon footprint' of our produce as compared with other garden centers."
"She met with representatives of local businesses and community groups with whom we work to promote horticulture and its beneficial effects on the environment and wellbeing. The advantages of apprenticeship schemes and work experience in association with the local college were also discussed."
For more information:
Horticultural Trades Association