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“It’s time to talk up the future of local horticulture and to talk up the image of the industry.” That was the message of Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff when he spoke to the “Grow with Confidence” event organised by Wychavon District Council last Friday (18th February) at the Civic Centre.
Peter emphasised the need to get young people to start careers in growing and for local companies to offer more apprenticeships to help them do this
The MP quoted reports of shortages of fresh British produce at London markets and said that locally sourced, fresh produce of high quality would be in strong demand in the future.

He acknowledged that many challenges faced the sector, but said that the reputation of produce from Evesham and the Vale should stand local growers in good stead.

Highlighting the need to attract young people into an industry he believed was misunderstood, Peter said,

“Yes, there will still be produce to be picked and packed, and some of that will always be field work, but there are many exciting opportunities in an increasingly technology-driven sector that local young people should be encouraged to embrace.

“If the horticulture of the Vale is to flourish as it can and should, we really need to encourage local people to get involved and develop careers in horticulture. We need to work together to change the image of the sector.

“Some local growers can’t even find can’t even find local people to be tractor drivers – itself an increasingly skilled job.

“There are many highly skilled jobs now in horticulture. Indeed only last year the Fruit And Vegetables Task Force urged the government to see agriculture and horticulture as skilled industries.

“To go round a modern tomato glass house is to see high technology at work. And if you want to see the future, look at two local companies - Westland Nurseries in Offenham and their fully automated, soilless micro herbs production or Applied Principles on Vale Park and their innovative Quality Control system.

“There is a bright future in a fast-changing industry for anyone who wants to get involved – and with excellent FE colleges to train in, there’s no reason why we can certainly “Grow with Confidence!”


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