Fact-finding visit allows cabinet secretary closer view of horticultural sector

Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, visited Ashbrook Nursery in Arbroath recently to find out more about the Environmental Horticulture sector.
​Cabinet Secretary Mari Gougeon plants a tree donated by Ashbrook Nursery at inverbrothock Primary School in Arbroath.​Cabinet Secretary Mari Gougeon plants a tree donated by Ashbrook Nursery at inverbrothock Primary School in Arbroath.
​Cabinet Secretary Mari Gougeon plants a tree donated by Ashbrook Nursery at inverbrothock Primary School in Arbroath.

Her visit was part of the Horticultural Trades Association’s (HTA) outreach on its Scottish Growth Strategy, which was brought to Holyrood earlier this year to allow industry and politicians to engage in improving the environment, economy and health through trees and plants.

The HTA has been working closely with MSPs and the Scottish Government to produce the Growth strategy, which has seven key ambitions for Scotland: Health – to create a healthier Scotland through horticulture; Economy – develop green economic growth, high-quality jobs, and invest in education/skills; Environment – to mitigate climate change; Local – increase the use of Scottish and UK-grown plants as import substitution; Industry – drive Scottish growth through investment, development grants and reducing the cost of doing business; Urban Nature – produce a greener planning system and Biosecurity – enhance and protect Scotland’s natural capital.

As part of the launch, MSPs pledged to plant a tree in a community place, which in this instance was donated by Dr Anne Webster, Ashbrook Nurseries directory.

Ms Gougeon chose Inverbrothock School to plant hers, with Ashbrook supporting the local school’s garden project, which has seen students benefit from having an engaging space to enjoy nature.

The cabinet secretary, who was a guest speaker at the HTA’s strategy launch in May, saw first-hand the workings of both an ornamental plant nursery producer and a retail garden centre at Ashbrook.

She said: “Horticulture contributes significantly to the Scottish economy through retail, job creation and employment opportunities in green careers. I would like to thank Ashbrook Nursery for showing me around their family-run business and we have planted a tree at Inverbrothock primary school, which I hope will be enjoyed as a symbol of all the benefits horticulture can bring to society.”