First public session of the Lords Horticulture committee

Committee in session

Today was the first public session of the House of Lords committee looking into horticulture. Witnesses were:- Tessa Jones, Director of Agri-Food Chain, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Gill Laishley, Deputy Director of Farming & Primary Processing, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Tim Mordan, Deputy Director of Innovation, Productivity and Science, Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

So what were my takes from the session. Straight away for me it became apparent just how wide the term ‘horticulture’ is used for, and how for different people it means very different things. Much as the session was spent talking about farming. To me the amateur gardener thats agriculture isn’t it? But no… horticulture can include growing acres of strawberries under glass for example. So when looking at benefits to mental health as an example, whilst its was rightly pointed out that the benefits of horticulture are clear (and to an extent thats true), it really depends what you mean. Yes being in green spaces, looking and enjoying flowers is of course beneficial. Working in the driving rain, picking fruit, feeling cold and miserable maybe less so. So again… it comes back to what is horticulture.

Issues of funding were discussed. So did horticulture has a fair crack of the whip in access to public funds. Well maybe if we take what could be described as industrial horticulture. But if its smaller scale private horticulture (lets say National Plant Collections given they are close to my heart) I wouldn’t think DEFRA, or the Department of Health and Social Care would know (why should they) my plant collection existed… so there would be no way it could be included in terms of getting public money for public good.

I’m really pleased the committee is looking into so many important areas. I am sure its members will have so so much to consider. I certainly don’t envy writing up a report given it has to cover so much ground. I will definitely be submitting some evidence on areas I think are important and perhaps haven’t been considered yet.

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