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A look ahead to community and education horticulture in 2019

New apprenticeships, expanding links in China, and community initiatives will see 2019 become and busy year for the trade.

Teagasc, An Taisce, and UCD give us their outlook on 2019.



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2 January 2019

As the New Year begins – bringing with it new opportunities, experiences, and many horticultural events – we spoke with key leaders across the education and community horticulture sector to give us their outlook on 2019 and where they see this year’s trends developing.


“Overall the outlook is very positive. In the Teagasc college at the Botanic Gardens there is an increasing demand for our full and part time courses in Horticulture at all levels and we will continue to offer these courses in 2019.

“In 2018 Teagasc published an education vision document which serves to guide our delivery across all land based learning for the next decade.

“In terms of new developments we are eagerly looking forward to facilitating two horticultural apprenticeships with the industry. One is an Applied Apprenticeship in Horticulture which will cover the landscape, nursery, food, and the service sector in the industry and then the Turfgrass apprenticeship which will cover the sportsturf sector. We are having continued engagement with our stakeholder groups on this journey and we feel that it will be a major contributor to the labour issue in the sector currently. Autumn 2019 is our target date for this. This whole initiative stems from ‘The action plan to expand apprenticeship and training in Ireland 2016-2020’ which recognises the need for alternative education and work place experience routes to develop hands on capabilities.

“In 2019 we will see a continuation of our specified training days with industry partners. For the past two years we have collaborated with sectors in Landscaping and Turfgrass to provide bespoke specified training for staff that are employed in these sectors that may not have had formal training in Horticulture in the past but have excellent experiential knowledge. For this and all our training we continue to have the benefit of the plant collection that is the National Botanic Gardens and we continue to use and resource our new Horticulture Education and Research Facility at Teagasc Ashtown that was officially opened in 2018. For further details on Teagasc’s plans for 2019, contact the college here.”

John Mulhern, College Principal, College of Horticulture Teagasc, National Botanic Gardens.


“The New Year will bring many opportunities for professional horticulturists as the economy expands and we deal with Brexit. Horticulturists with a very strong foundation in the sciences underpinning horticulture will be in demand to manage the many technical and regulatory advances impacting our industry.

“UCD’s Level 8 honours degree in Horticulture Landscape and Sportsturf Management provides students with an advanced education. In 2019, our successful links with China will expand to include Yangzhou University which will join SCAU Guangzhou as partners. A new one year Level 9 MSc Horticulture master’s degree will also be launched.” Professor Owen Doyle, Head of Horticulture, Landscape and Sportsturf Management, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science.

An Taisce

“From the perspective of An Taisce Green Communities the two most significant events for 2018 were the expansion of the Green Flag Award for parks scheme. This allowed for free applications from community gardens to apply for Green Flag Community Awards. Opening the way for sites managed by volunteers and community groups to participate within the Green Flag Award for parks scheme for the first time. Five of Ireland’s 48 Green Flag Awards this year were for the new Green Flag Community Award.

“Also new in 2018 was the first An Taisce Green Communities Garden Photography Competition. This culminated with an exhibition which opened with the Green Communities Photography Awards on Thursday, September 13. This was included as part of 2018 Culture Night on Friday, September 21, and was on the Culture Night Trail for Dublin City, Monto, and North Georgian Quarter. Nearly 40 different community gardens, allotments, orchards, and community parks entered this first year of the new garden photography competition. With a prize fund of over €1,000 there were three categories in the competition: Garden Activity, Nature in the Garden, and Landscapes/Cityscapes.

“Both initiatives are supportive of community horticulture and it would be worthwhile keeping an eye on their development in 2019.

“Also operating in 2019 are the new GROW Observatories. These empower tens of thousands of growers across Europe with knowledge: growing food and managing soil and land; on preserving the soil for future generations; and on making a vital contribution to global environmental scientific monitoring. They are looking for people who grow food, who care about their local environment and who want to contribute to climate change adaptation. Email to find out more or complete the GROW Places participation form on our website.

“Another community agricultural initiative to watch out for is the Dublin City Farm which is scheduled to open in Spring 2019. It will be located within Dublin’s Green Flag Award winning Saint Anne’s Park, and will be run by volunteers in much the same way as a community garden operates. Check out their Facebook page for more.

“Looking ahead, as both the human and natural world becomes ever more mixed-up, we will continue to see even more inventive use of community green spaces. Both as a refuge from, and for society. Increasingly community gardens, particularly in urban areas, are becoming hubs for multiple community events and organisations: Mens Shed Groups, GIY Groups, Schools, Art Projects, Corporate CSR Events, Educational Workshops, Community Celebrations, etc. All these are beginning to operate out of the same shared public green spaces. Presumably this trend will continue with increasing collaboration between such groups. Indeed there is no limit to the ingenuity of community agriculture – given a bit of space.”

Robert Moss, Green Flag Award for Parks Manager, An Taisce.


Growtrade is continuing to grow its market share with its audience increasing by 118% year-on-year (figures comparing 11/12/2017-11/12/2018 over 11/12/2016-11/12/2017). This increase in audience is owed to Growtrade’s dedication to grow a strong, connected, and professional readership through the production of focused, dedicated, and relevant trade news and features that the sector wants to hear about.

One such story, which also happened to be one of our top stories of 2018 followed the journey of a young Irish greenkeeper from Wicklow to California thanks to overseas placements organised by Donal Kearney of the Irish Institute of Sports Surfaces.

In 2018, we expanded our social media efforts to further our reach and presence in the market. We were delighted to see this push saw the number people accessing our site through social media grow by 500%.

This gives us great confidence in our strategy and is something we will look to continue pushing in 2019.

At the heart of Growtrade is strong Search Engine Optimisation implementation. Ranking on the first page in Google Search is imperative so to see our audience acquired from Google searches increased by 109% encouraged us to know that we were doing something right.

Across email, social media, and ranking in Google search, Growtrade is continuing to grow its audience and exceed expectations. We continue to make core, technological improvements to our website, ensuring that our readership has a fast and responsive experience both on mobile and desktop.

Growtrade has grown into something that is quite unique in production. We’d like to continue to develop content partnerships at home and abroad with key horticultural stakeholders; broadening our reach but also ensuring we stay focused on what matters.

2019 will hold many horticultural events in Ireland and abroad, but few bigger than our very own Garden Landscape Amenity Sportsturf (GLAS) trade show which will take place on Thursday, July 18, 2019. GLAS 2018, which was a sold-out show of 145 exhibitors, focused on its core value of bringing together market and industry leading professionals.

Under one roof from 9am to 5pm just over 1,000 people attended the show from all areas of the business-to-business horticulture trade industry.

According to the exit polls from GLAS 2018: 92% of exhibitors surveyed described their participation as “worthwhile” or “very worthwhile”

A key feature of the GLAS trade show was the expanded Learning Theatre. In 2018, GLAS was proud to present two Learning Theatres, proudly supported by Bord Bia and Teagasc respectively. The Learning Theatres were a particular success bringing together key experts in the trade to present the latest updates and findings on key horticultural issues. We plan on making GLAS 2019 an even bigger success than last year. Be sure to join us on Thursday, July 18, 2019.

Growtrade has grown massively over 2018 and it is our full intention to continue providing quality, relevant, and interesting content for our readers through 2019 that brought us many successes in 2018.

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