I am honoured to be elected to the office of President of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture.

I would like to thank Gerald for his tireless work and support, also the Management Board, Council and Branch Committees for enabling us to achieve major steps forward.

As I commence my tenure, I am grateful that in the last two years we have taken steps to improve services and provision.

My focus has always been on enabling young people to achieve the best that they can in life. To this end we will be developing our offer to student members. We have had a number of positive meetings with students, and in response we are considering:

  • Student mentoring
  • Career development
  • Student placements
  • Facilitating the transition to full membership

We will continue to develop a framework that will enable existing members, career changers and those coming from college or university to gain Chartership status.

The upgrade in our database will allow us to increase the content of our members section. Helen Sessions (Development Officer) is taking the lead in enhancing the provision to members.

Helen, assisted by CIH committees, will also work to develop national events that will dovetail with branch events. Together we will be able to provide a co-ordinated programme that will contribute to members CPD.

With the easing of lockdown, we are very much looking forward to face-to-face events. The YHoY Grand Final is scheduled to take place at RGBE Logan Garden on 4th September 2021. It will be held in the grounds in a marquee, giving us the best chance of it going ahead. For the first time, round one (replacing the heats), will take place online. It has been a hectic few months developing this provision.

We are very much hoping that we will be able to put on the conference in the autumn. The country is slowly opening up and the next few months will dictate whether this is feasible.

Our industry is undergoing rapid change, and the need for highly skilled, technically advanced horticulturists is a priority. Level T apprenticeships are being developed alongside more traditional undergraduate courses. This, in time, will help to provide our industry leaders.

During the pandemic, parks and open spaces have been a lifeline for people’s wellbeing. It is estimated that across the UK over £34 billion worth of wellbeing benefits per year are delivered by use of parks and open spaces.  Sufficient funding to ensure they are well staffed and maintained must be a priority.

Post-Brexit there is pressure to increase the output in home-grown produce to address shortages. Insufficient staff numbers continue to provide challenges. In the future, robotics may provide part of the solution, but this is not a quick fix. 

The Institute has a bright future with many talented and committed members. By working together, we will continue to grow from strength to strength. I look forward to facing the challenges together.

Susan Nicholas FCIHort