Mollie Higginson, co-founder of the Young People in Horticulture Association, sits down with Pro Landscaper as she reflects on building a community, redefining the perception of horticulture and being a woman in the industry.
Mollie Higginson is fast becoming a household name within horticulture. Having been named among Pro Landscaper’s 30 Under 30 in 2022, she is one of the founders of the Young People in Horticulture Association (YPHA), as well as an operations supervisor and sales representative at New Leaf Plants.
The YPHA – founded by Higginson, Natalie Porter and Liam Cleary, set out to create a network and community for young people in horticulture. Three years on, the YPHA has over 400 members.
Despite reaching those original goals, continuing to evolve and grow the network remain at the heart of the association. In addition to this, Higginson now has education in her crosshairs, saying the YPHA wants to change “how education sees horticulture and making sure that it’s not seen as something that’s a ‘side line’ thing to do”.
She continues, “It’s an important, growing industry that needs a lot of knowledge. The YPHA is educating people in horticulture, teaching them about different grants and bursaries that are available, and how they can enhance their CV and their career.
Diversity is a major goal of Higginson’s, as demonstrated in her ‘Five minutes with’ feature in Pro Landscaper January.
“The shocking thing about horticulture is that if you look at the generation aged 50 above, hardly any of those that are in high senior roles are women. Most of them are men. Most of them are white British. I don’t think that anyone means to (not be inclusive) but horticulture can seem like quite like it’s a boy’s club”.
She adds, “Being a young woman in horticulture comes with its very own challenges of being seen as not knowledgeable, not knowing enough about our industry or you know, not being seen as a person who could be in charge.
“What I find really nice about the YPHA is that you don’t feel that when you’re with that mix of under 35. Everyone always seems on the same level, no matter your gender or your age within that group, it is really quite a neutral level to be going into.”
Higginson’s advice for young women in the industry is: “Don’t be afraid to stand your ground. I think sometimes when you go into a room, and you are intimidated with a bunch of men, seek other women because they will know exactly how you feel. I think women really do need to stick together in those situations.
“And just try everything. Any opportunity that does fall onto your lap, make sure you give it a try or at least research into it to make sure it’s something you don’t want to do because you never know. It might be a job that really interests you and could be something to do for the rest of your career.”