Following a detailed discussion Friday with Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th District, on the need for immigration reform to address workforce demands, representatives of a family-run greenhouse operation in Orange County called for increased efforts in public education to steer students toward careers in horticulture.
“We need skilled people, we need managerial people, we need head growers and propagators in our industry and to reach into at a low enough level in the school system to position horticulture more attractively,” said Craig Regelbrugge, a policy analyst and lobbyist with Washington, D.C. based AmericanHort. “We don’t need everybody to graduate from college with a four-year degree anymore. Trades ought to be honorable.”
He was part of the more than hour-long discussion at Battlefield Farms, founded in 1990 by Dutch immigrant Jerry van Hoven as part of a greenhouse operation that’s now the largest in the state. His sons and daughter run various divisions of the business and several of them weighed in on solutions for their workforce shortage during the candid conversation.