In light of the recent success of the Royal Horticultural Society’s School Gardeners of the Year competition, Pro Landscaper speaks with Alana Cama, skills development manager at the RHS to discover the benefits of school competition and what is being done to promote landscaping and horticulture as viable career options.
How do competitions like School Gardeners of the Year engage younger audiences?
Our School Gardeners of the Year competition showcases the myriad ways that young people can get involved in gardening – from growing veg and creating wildlife habitats to greening their community – and its role as a place for learning and relaxation.
It’s also a way of reminding schools that finance shouldn’t be a barrier to gardening. Gardens come in all shapes and sizes and are an excellent way of connecting people to the community from where important partnerships and support can be found.
What is being done to promote landscaping and horticulture as a viable career option in schools?
The RHS launched its Horticulture Matters campaign in 2013 with the aim of tackling the growing skills shortage in UK horticulture. Through our work with more than 20,000 schools we’re helping to share the economic, scientific, cultural and social benefits of horticulture; inspiring the next generation of gardeners, landscape architects, botanists and pathologists.
This campaign also includes teaming up with industry ambassadors, delivering horticultural ‘test drives’, such as our annual Green Plan It Challenge where teams of pupil’s design school gardens with industry professionals who provide guidance and support to schools to get growing.
What more do you believe could be done to promote the industry towards school age children?
The RHS Campaign for School Gardening has been running for 10 years now, providing teachers with resources and knowledge to give young people outdoor learning experiences.
We’re also starting to speak directly to pupils. Through our new project, I Can Grow, we want to learn more about what motivates young people to grow plants – perhaps it’s because they want to grow their own food, support wildlife, help support our changing environment, or they just want to create relaxing spaces where they can feel peaceful and calm.
Once we understand what motivates young people and what they care about, we at the RHS can start showing them the amazing ways they could continue this into their working life and become the care takers of our planet for the future.