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Sun, 14 April 2024

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New phase of HTA's 2024 peat-free work and support launched

Horticultural Trades Association

3 min read Partner content

This week has seen a big push of member support and engagement by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), with another successful technical workshop to support growers on the journey to peat-free, hosted at Melcourt and a meeting of the Growing Media Association (GMA).

The HTA has built on its wide-ranging work of 2023 and continues the Growing Media: Life Beyond Peat campaign, which has encompassed its programme of activities focused on raising the importance and understanding of the value of growing media, a need for a sustainable transition to peat-free and ensuring support for the growth of UK environmental horticulture. 

The new boost to this work is its outreach to members – from growers to manufacturers – directly, through workshops and at the GMA meeting, to send in details of what support they need. In particular, this call is seeking the details of machinery and equipment, with the opportunity open to see what Defra-led funds, such as the Farming Equipment & Technology Fund, could be accessed to support the transition. The HTA is also seeking other new support needs – whether fiscal or regulatory barriers – in anticipation of a Government Spending Review in 2025.

James Barnes, HTA Chairman, commented:

“The environmental horticulture sector has made huge strides on its journey to peat-free and sustains its ambition to manufacture, grow in and retail consistent, high-quality and affordable alternative growing media. 

“Much time and resources have been spent grappling with understanding shifting ban dates and uncertainty over legislation. Our ask for clarity from the government, clear communications, and achievable dates to support our sector to thrive remains. However, given the electoral cycle and the criticality of this transition to HTA member businesses, our priority today is working with the industry and government to secure greater support for this journey.  

“We must celebrate our record lows of peat-use in bagged growing media and professional mixes, something that has been achieved through a huge commitment and dedication.”

Boyd Douglas-Davies, interim Chair of the GMA, commented:

“This week’s call to GMA and wider HTA members to help get that detail of the support needed to allow the investment, particularly on equipment and machinery, to support them becoming peat-free is a really important opportunity. From my experience in garden retail and the wider industry, I know the hurdles and challenges businesses face and how these can change from season to year, store to store, and customer to customer. The sector must work together and set out clearly to the Government what those needs are.”

Wayne Brough, Technical Horticulture Manager at the HTA, said:

“This week’s HTA Nursery Network event, hosted at Melcourt, focused on ‘Building momentum towards peat-free production’. UK businesses are at various stages in their transition towards peat-free plant production, so it’s important that experiences and knowledge are shared to permit the entire ornamentals industry to develop and meet the challenge, alongside the various growing media manufacturers. The agenda included insights from Catherine Dawson of Melcourt Industries and Raghavendra Prasad, who is leading the RHS peat-free fellowship and shared an update on nursery consortium progress. At each workshop and technical event, we are building on knowledge sharing, awareness and practical advice for member businesses.”  


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