Horticulture's age problem

Horticulture's age problem

As nursery managers reach retirement age, the lack of qualified replacements has become a problem.

August 7, 2018

HERSHEY, Pa. — Nora Palmer is a gardener who toils happily in breezy Hershey Gardens, a playground of roses, herbs, old trees and leafy spaces that welcomes, among others, field-tripping grade-schoolers.

“I’ve just finished weeding and mulching here,” she says as she walks through a children’s garden where three fountains, formed as Hershey’s Kisses, whistle as they spout.

Palmer, 21, seems to have gotten off the roller coaster of young adulthood a long time ago, if she ever was on it. She decided in high school, to the bemusement of her guidance counselors, that she was going to be a professional gardener. All is going to plan.

But horticulture is facing its own crisis. As older plant growers, nursery managers and groundskeepers reach retirement age, there are too few Nora Palmers arriving to replace them.

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