A scheme governed by the Plant Healthy Alliance allows organisations to grow, supply and handle plants, both responsibly and safely, regardless of where the plants are imported or grown.
It recognises that the movement of live plants is a high-risk pathway for the introduction of potentially damaging notifiable plant pests and diseases into new areas.
The nursery sector, environmental organisations and government worked together to develop the Plant Health Management Standard (PHMS), published in 2019, and the associated Plant Healthy Certification Scheme, which is set to launch publicly in spring 2024.
Stuart Tickner of Plant Healthy certified Provender Nurseries offers insight into how one of the largest wholesale cash and carry companies within the industry navigates the guidelines set out by the accreditation.
What does it mean to be Plant Healthy?
“To us as a wholesale plant supplier, it means we have a way of recording and monitoring our processes and making ourselves accountable for what and how we do our purchasing, plant husbandry and other relevant processes. It is also a great way for us as suppliers to gain, share and be involved in industry-wide knowledge and how we can improve.”
Becoming accredited in February 2021, Provender Nurseries had applied to be Plant Healthy certified with the intention of being involved and having a voice in how things should and could be done.
But why is it so important to be Plant Healthy?
According to Tickner, “the Plant Healthy certification is important in our day-to-day practices from purchasing, unloading deliveries and plant husbandry and we have found that being Plant Healthy certificated gives our customers peace of mind that as a business we are practicing and continue to practice good principles to our plant supply chain.”
Tickner believes that being Plant Healthy is of utmost importance to the industry, which is why more suppliers and landscapers should get involved. “Working together will enable us to make real changes that are relevant to the entire industry.
“By all importers of plant material being Plant Healthy certificated it will help reduce the risk of importing pest and diseases that could threaten the UK’s and the planet’s natural environment.”
As part of its Plant Healthy credentials, Provender ensures that all its staff are regularly trained in the hopes that across the board, the industry standards can then be upheld with all nurseries having to adhere to the same guidelines.
What did you have to do to become a Plant Healthy company?
“The process is thorough; however, it needs to be. For the first time, getting the accreditation is a hard process, as you must really look at what you do and how you record it, whilst trying to meet the accreditation requirements. But once you have done that the yearly re-audit is fine and a good way to continually improve your standards.”
Its paperwork and practices were studied in detail with every aspect of what they do scrutinized by the Provender team itself to ensure that it met the relevant criteria. “Some of the areas covered by the accreditation process include looking at our supply chain, everyday practices on site, plant passporting and our biosecurity policy. But the most important thing in the whole process is to get our whole team and company to believe, support and implement the entire process.”
For Tickner, the fact that Provender Nurseries can advertise and promote that it is Plant Healthy certificated adds to the business’ credentials. “The title works well as it is now recognized across the industry and delivers what exactly what it says.”
What would your advice be to others eager to join the Plant Healthy scheme?
“Read the accreditation requirements, understand them, and really sit back and look at your business and be honest with yourselves. Be ready to make changes if required.”
Tickner believes that there is no-one in our industry that wants to see the planet damaged, but to truly have a say, those within the industry need to be more involved in the decision and policy making. Plant Healthy is just one of the ways in which the industry can collaborate for change.
“Being Plant Healthy certificated is a commitment, but one well worth taking.”
For more information and industry insights, continue reading… ARE YOU PLANT HEALTHY YET?