Having a garden or allotment should be compulsory, Monty Don has argued, as he advocated a sharing scheme in which the elderly, disabled or those who are too busy let others tend their land.
Don, the television gardener, said having a “stake” in the land was essential to ensure a new generation was interested in plants and flowers.
Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, he argued that everyone should have access to land they can tend, saying all houses must come with a garden, and all flats an allotment.
Failing that, he said, he would like to see a “sharing scheme”, where people who can’t manage their garden, or are “simply happy to share it” could work with those without.
Don was speaking to publicise his latest book, The Road to Le Tholonet: A French Garden Journey. When asked how best to inspire the next generation, he told an audience: “It is a problem. There aren’t enough young people coming through, there aren’t enough young people working as gardeners. And you need to get people interested.
“It’s very easy to get people interested in primary school but by the time someone’s 13 or 14, they don’t want to be thought of as a kid.
“We have a huge drop-out rate at about the age of 10, and then they come back to it about the age of 30. There is a real gap. And yet, whenever I give a talk or go anywhere, the most knowledgable, the most passionate, the most interesting — as well as interested — people are usually somewhere between 22 and 32.
“So why aren’t we tapping into that reservoir? I think it’s partly to do with home-ownership and access to a garden; access to the land.
“If you don’t give people a stake in this land, how are they going to develop?
“I would like to see a garden or an allotment compulsory, so if it’s a flat, it comes with an allotment, and if it’s a house, it has to have a garden.
“I’d also like a sharing scheme, where people who can’t manage their garden, can’t manage all their garden or are simply happy to share it in some way could do so with people who register.
“It does happen where people dig up a garden, grow veg, they have all the vegetables they want and so do the household who owns the garden. Also the grass is cut.
“It’s by doing it that we get interested in gardening. Nobody is going to get interested in gardening by reading books and learning Latin names.”