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Labor Issues in Horticulture Are Being Challenged by Seed Your Future

Labor Issues

It’s no secret that the horticultural industry has struggled with labor issues both in terms of cost (minimum wage increases) and availability (immigration reform; lack of skilled workers).

To provide some perspective on the severity of the situation, we reference a recent study conducted by the American Society for Horticulture Science.

What they discovered is that many postsecondary horticulture programs have experienced a sharp decline in undergraduate enrollment. In fact, between 1997 and 2017, the total number of institutions offering horticulture-related degrees fell by 53% (a dramatic decrease).

ASHS predicts that if this trend continues, 2-year and certificate programs may soon be completely eliminated altogether – adding to the current burden of labor issues.

Cole Mangum, Vice President of Production at Bell Nursery in Burtonsville, MD recognizes that much of the struggle regarding labor issues can be attributed to a lack of interest in the industry. “There’s an age gap in commercial horticulture, a drastic and obvious lack of people under the age of 40. Our largest concern is in finding that next generation of greenhouse growers.”

According to a report by and conducted by VJR Consulting, who specializes in research on youth, media and families, teenagers in the U.S. spend (on average) more than seven hours per day using screen media technologies for entertainment, and tweens spend nearly five hours.

It’s worth noting that these statistics do not reflect the additional time tweens and teenagers are using screen media technologies for academics such as homework, reports or remote learning.

In an article by Danielle Cohen on the Child Mind® Institute website, “In the early 1980s, a Harvard University biologist named Edward O. Wilson proposed a theory called biophilia: that humans are instinctively drawn towards their natural surroundings. Many 21st century parents, however, would question this theory, as they watch their kids express a clear preference for sitting on a couch in front of a screen over playing outside. The national panic about kids spending too much time indoors has become so extreme that the crisis has a name: nature deficit disorder.”

There’s a growing hypothesis that the nature deficit disorder is causing the younger generation to have little to no interest in what horticulture is all about.

But Seed Your Future is hoping to change all that and help reduce the overall labor issues facing the industry.

Seed Your Future is an organized movement to help promote horticulture by inspiring young people to pursue careers working with plants. To provide education so that everyone understands and values the importance of plants and how they impact the world we live in.

From the Seed Your Future website: “Horticulture is the art, technology, and science of plants. It is the food we eat, the landscapes we live and play in, the environments we thrive in. It is the business of managing and using what we grow while maintaining the health of our soil, air, and water, and the well-being of our children, our communities, and our world. In short – it’s all about plants!”

Working with communities, governing bodies and educational organizations, Seed Your Future – through awareness, education, workforce development, partnerships and resource development – is committed to help solve the labor issues the industry will undoubtedly face well into the future.

The HC Companies is a proud supporter of Seed Your Future and we encourage you to get involved to help promote the horticulture industry where you are.

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