A breakfast briefing with Diarmuid Gavin was one of the high points of Glee 2016 for Nathan James Dodd, when the discussion focussed on how to attract young people into the gardening industry.
A familiar face on television, Diarmuid Gavin is an award winning gardener who passionately wants to increase the attraction gardening as a career. As part of the team that won one of the Glee 'Power Buyers' awards, I was asked to join him for a breakfast briefing.
Diarmuid had given the show's keynote speech, so he's clearly someone worth listening to, and I was keen to discuss what GardenSite has done to attract youngsters together with the resultant mutual benefits.
It was obvious to everyone that social media has a huge role to play in increasing the perception of gardening among school leavers, but not all employers are comfortable with this relatively new strategy.
At GardenSite we have always realised the significance of social media and used apprenticeships to invigorate the business with youthful enthusiasm.
In essence, we can teach an apprentice about gardening but as a business we can also prosper, as the people we take on are very knowledgeable about social media trends, apps and latest technologies.
Employers can learn from people such as Jamie Oliver who staffs one of his restaurants purely with unemployed young people, teaching them culinary skills for better future and concurrently creating a restaurant where I've enjoyed more than one wonderful meal.
As for GardenSite, it's beyond doubt that over the past four years our apprentices and the business have both benefited greatly from the experience.
Engagement with the community is also a winning strategy, we need to inform and educate, and establish horticulture as a part of a school's curriculum.
Mainstream education can learn from Forest Schools where children develop their confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland or natural environment.
For our own part, we invite school children to visit our garden centre. Encouraging these children to engage with gardening at an early age will hopefully sow some seeds of interest that will grow stronger in the future when they are considering careers.
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with Diarmuid, a great opportunity to share ideas with someone who is determined to revitalise gardening as an aspirational career that school leavers see as a positive and rewarding career path – something I whole heartedly agree with.