Further to my note to members last week I wanted to devote this edition of the April e-Hort to the current pandemic affecting the world and to explore all of the current support systems for Horticulturists working in the UK & Ireland.

Never before has horticulture food production taken centre stage for the nation. The restriction on the movements of people has placed even greater focus on domestic agricultural and horticultural production and perhaps may initiative a sea-change in provenance, air miles and how vulnerable we are to imports. The call for the UK population to sign up on farms is gathering traction and may provide a greater focus to horticulture growing and technology.

Ornamental horticulture has of course been heavily affected by the closure of garden centres and the prioritisation of food products over ornamentals at supermarkets. Government have responded well to date, but I hope that support is timely for our growers and garden retailers as UK Garden Centres are veritable institutions for gardeners.

I am aware of the helpful links provided by the trade bodies in horticulture and you can access the specific green industry trade links through our Coronavirus update on our website for further Covid-19, employer and employee information. In addition, the key government web site is also identified for members.

All Committee, Management Board and Council meetings have now been postponed until the end of June or as otherwise advised by government. Our secretariat is now working remotely at home and our national events have been postponed until September as outlined below. We now go into a trying period for growers and garden managers and I hope that government support will see us all out the other side healthy and raring to march on with the rest of the year.

The Chartered Institute of Horticulture has a healthy balance sheet, good structures, enthusiastic volunteers and an efficient secretariat to weather this storm. But most importantly we have a broad church of 1800 global professional horticultural members, who will emerge from this pandemic and look forward to re-shaping horticulture once again.

One final but important item is that the Chartered Institute of Horticulture exists for its professional members. To this effect it is important that you continue to enjoy the membership and fellowship that CIHort provides at the local and national level. For the last thirty-six years we have supported our members through the good and difficult times, by offering a ‘grace period’ from membership subscription and this commitment will sustain through this current period. We have now taken steps to postpone subscription renewals until May. If you should have any difficulty in meeting the request for payment, please do contact Rachel Kemp at the secretariat for support: cih@horticulture.org.uk

Gerald Bonner CHort, FI Hort