Horticulture needs our European friends

Sue Lamb
Sue Lamb
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Winter gone, summer round the corner, tulips coming to an end and summer flowers just starting.

This week, we have seen the start of Mattioli from under the glass, next week Peonies from under tunnels followed by outdoor Sweet Williams, Alliums etc.

Crops at the moment look very good, but there are problems in the shadows.

Most horticultural crops are labour intensive when it comes to harvesting and there lies the problem. The labour shortage is apparent in the vegetable crops now and it will still be with us when we get to fruit harvest.

This could result in crops lost and left in the ground. The window for cropping is usually short, often hours, occasionally days.

I was one who voted to leave the EU and I am still convinced it is the right thing to do. I was always aware it would not be easy and there would be a period of pain, there usually is when you try to bring about change.

Even in this local area we don’t talk about horticulture as an attractive industry to come in to. Schools aren’t aware of some of the careers it can lead to. Children are sent to the industry for work experience often when they are a problem in the class, not when they show an interest in nature or an aptitude to growing.

Teachers don’t appreciate we need students that are academically bright and enthusiastic, it is not about moving boxes from A to B anymore. So without these people entering the industry we are ever reliant on our European colleagues.

Without them the job with grind to an abrupt halt and many of our other jobs like mechanics, plumbers, electricians etc will not be needed to keep the machine or the pack house running.

The product, be it flower, plant, vegetable or fruit will no longer be grown locally, but will be imported. One hopes for this industry to survive the resolve of labour is soon one put to bed.