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Chartered Institute of Horticulture

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

Statement from Dr. Owen Doyle, President of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture...

“I am very much looking forward to the next two years in the CIH where I see the profession of horticulture receiving ever increasing recognition and being valued more among the general public and government policy decision makers.

I am fully supportive of the RHS and SciencefortheGardener in advocating the sciences which support horticulture. We need to encourage students to appreciate the diversity that a career in horticulture can bring.

Horticulture is a global industry founded on science. Starting with the science of geology and soil formation, of plant growth and development, of insects, pests and diseases, of pollinators (insects and bees), of biology, chemistry, physics and much much more.

There are horticultural qualifications for all levels of study right up to research for a doctoral degree and beyond. So I encourage students to jump in and study horticulture and take your studies as far as you desire.

My old horticulture professor used so say “Have a career in Horticulture and see the world”. Thanks to NASA and astronauts like Tim Peake we can now say “With a career in horticulture you can reach for the stars”. How exciting is that!”


Developed economies around the world are looking to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as the key drivers of innovation for future economic growth and development. Government policy decision-makers have focused on industries that they can easily identify as being grounded in these STEM subjects, such as information and communications technology, biotechnology, biopharmaceuticals and other such sectors.

However, right under their noses are the indigenous industries of agriculture and horticulture that are the products of the direct application of STEM subjects. Horticulture, in particular, provides plenty of opportunities to teach these subjects and to communicate effectively with the general public the importance of STEM in their lives, be it food (advanced mushroom production, glasshouse technologies and precision field cropping) or non-food horticultural products or services (tissue cultured plants, landscape architecture design and construction of private and public spaces).

Over the last number of decades funding for research, training and education in horticulture, particularly at degree and post-graduate education levels, has reduced dramatically. At the apprenticeship or practitioner level funding has also been significantly cut. STEM subjects are absolutely vital for future innovation, development and sustainability of our horticulture industry, to ensure food security and guarantee the supply of safe, healthy and nutritious food.

Communicating to the general public and policy decision-makers that horticulture is an applied science, and that STEM subjects are the essential foundations of this very important sector, could result in an increase in applications for horticulture training and education courses. It is essential that individuals with the ability to research, interpret and apply these key subjects are available to our industry and they will be vital for the future success and sustainability of horticulture.

Horticulture has the capacity to engage and educate the public by showcasing the application of science, technology, engineering and maths through the vast array of examples offered by our industry. As horticulture is also defined as the art, science, technology and business of plant cultivation, it will fit nicely into the new acronym currently used, in some countries, to engage the general public in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). While recent research has shown that 50% of the public feels poorly informed about STEM, this research also confirmed that a majority (58%) are interested but lack confidence as they feel that developments in science and technology are too specialised for them to understand, thus they miss the vital connection to the role that science plays in their lives.

Horticulture can easily demonstrate that STEM is part of normal, everyday life, from the food and drinks we consume, to the landscapes in which we live and the plants surrounding us. Horticulture can stimulate the awareness and excitement of what STEM really means to our lives and explain and showcase the importance of studying and appreciating these subjects.

Editors note, this vital statement is mapping out the strategic parameters of the Horticulture World being communicated to the public at large and educational world in particular and most important policymakers please take note!!


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