HTA celebrates 125 years

The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) marked 125 years of dedicated support for UK Environmental Horticulture at the Garden Press Event.

Fran Barnes of the HTA

Fran Barnes, the Chief Executive of the HTA, addressed attendees at yesterday’s Garden Press Event highlighting the association’s pivotal role in advocating for industry interests, fostering growth, and stressing the significant economic contribution of the sector.

Fran Barnes said: “The HTA has evolved alongside profound social and industry transformations. Initially established during an era when rail transport spurred concerns of plant damage and import challenges, we continue to address analogous issues in the post-Brexit landscape, from border controls to import regulations. Our legacy of resilience was evident during World War I when our lobbying efforts secured essential status for horticultural workers. More recently, our successful campaign to reopen garden centres amid the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the enduring efficacy of our advocacy.

“However, much has changed since our inception, from advancements in communication technology to the adoption of robotics in cultivation, our commitment to environmental stewardship remains unwavering. As we marvel at the innovations showcased at the Garden Press Event, I am reminded of our founders’ enduring legacy, which has nurtured a thriving industry dedicated to enhancing Britain’s green landscape.

“Environmental horticulture encompasses economic vitality, environmental sustainability, and public health and wellbeing. The sector’s substantial contributions speak volumes, with £28 billion added to the British economy, supporting 674 thousand jobs and generating £6 billion in tax revenues. Looking ahead, with adequate support, our industry’s GDP footprint could exceed £41 billion by 2030. There are very few – if any sectors – which can match the economic numbers with the environmental benefits and the social value of environmental horticulture.”

“We have a great story to tell. But we also have challenges – and we need to be clear to everyone – public and politicians alike – that gardens, and the plants and trees around us, don’t just appear by magic. They are developed, grown and planted by experts. And these experts in this industry do require government backing.

“Government support is indispensable, whether in navigating trade complexities or promoting sustainable practices such as peat-free growing media. Our manifesto and letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer outline clear priorities, including alleviating financial burdens on SMEs, combating retail crime, and accessing apprenticeship levy funds to fortify our workforce. We hope to see these acknowledged in a couple of weeks.”