On Thursday 5th October, Hannah and I headed over to the ICC in Birmingham to take part in the HTA Conference. It was a busy day packed full of talks from keynote speakers and expert panels.
We heard from a range of Horticultural professionals including the Minister of State at DEFRA and Dr Tim Leunig. Personally, the expert panels were my favourite part of the day. I feel you learn so much from these, having differing opinions and suggestions makes a huge difference.
We listened to a talk focussed on ‘Making our Industry Sustainable.’ One notable point I took away was from the MD of Greenwood Plants, Melanie Asker. She explained how Greenwood has a huge focus on sustainability and one way they get employee engagement is to ensure any ideas that come from employees are recognised internally – something that’s so important!
The Growing Media: Life Beyond Point, left the room with lots to consider. There’s no doubt that peat vs. peat-free is one of the biggest challenges in Horticulture, so it was great to hear more about this. It was suggested that the name ‘Multipurpose Compost’ needs changing for the amateur gardening market, because each peat-free mix has different properties, and we need to educate. There was also a huge emphasis on how UK and European growers need to be on a level playing field.
I also sat on one of the panels, Growing the Leaders of Tomorrow. This panel was designed to educate businesses about the benefits of retaining staff, succession planning, having mental health support and taking on apprentices. There are so many quick wins businesses can do to save money and retain staff – and I hope I left people leaving the conference with things to think about!
The day was hosted by the fantastic Michael Perry (Mr Plant Geek) who is also an ambassador for YPHA.
It was Hannah's first conference in Horticulture, and she comments: “I found the conference to be exceptionally insightful and it enabled me to gain a greater understanding of the industry. There’s a number of challenges going on, but everyone seems to be tackling it head-on and showing the resilience of the sector.”