In May 2017 Northern Ireland’s Horticulture Forum exhibited at the Balmoral Show for the first time. Forum members were keen to showcase the significant contribution that horticulture makes to Northern Ireland.

On entering the Forum’s marquee, many visitors remarked on the wonderful scent of the cut flowers on display. As well as smelling beautiful, locally-grown cut flowers normally have a longer vase life than imported flowers.

Some local strawberries were also available, despite the strawberry season not yet being in full swing. Those lucky enough to sample them commented on their superior flavour compared to imported fruit.

The warm sunny weather enjoyed by visitors on Wednesday and Thursday created a thirst that was satisfied by delicious locally-produced apple juice. While drinking their juice, visitors learned about the famous Armagh Bramley apple, which was awarded Protected Geographical Indication Status, in recognition of the variety’s quality and distinctiveness, under the EU Protected Food Name Scheme in 2012.

Visitors to the marquee were intrigued by the vegetable plug plants, unfamiliar to many, on display and impressed by the range of vegetables grown locally. Compared to imported vegetables, locally-grown produce is fresher with fewer food miles.

The attractive displays of ornamental plants mounted by the nursery and landscaping sectors served as a powerful reminder of horticulture’s contribution to our wellbeing and the tourist industry.

Visitors to the Horticulture Forum’s marquee came away with a fresh understanding of the industry’s contribution to the local economy, environment, food security, tourism and health and wellbeing.

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At an apple juice reception, Keith Crawford, Chair of the Horticulture Forum, highlighted the impact that horticulture has on the economy, our health and well being and tourism as well as creating employment for over 10,000 people in Northern Ireland.