South African heads up International Garden Centre Association

It is encouraging to see  South African’s recognized on the international stage thereby  drawing attention to our “little world” in the South. I am certain Nic will be a fine leader and have much to contribute in bringing fresh ideas and perspectives to a potentially moribund industry. Garden Centres and gardening is often viewed as a frivolous past time by Urbanists and Landscape Architects but as many Urban Ecologists point out gardens are one of the largest habitats for wildlife that like us, have adapted  to city life, without these extensive habitats, covering thousands of square kilometers, and the loss of “wild” habitats to large scale agriculture and urbanisation, our environment would have less biodiversity and  we much poorer. Furthermore the role of gardens in providing infiltration for storm-water runoff , acting as sinks for urban pollution, inspiring people to look after their surroundings and create unique neighborhoods with a local sense of place, provide food and not least of all being a relief form the intensity of city-life with a small corner of nature to care for and contemplate. From
At its international congress, currently running in Italy, the International Garden Centre Association (IGCA) appointed Nick Stodel, MD of Stodels Garden Centres, as president. He is its first president from the African continent and the Southern Hemisphere. Stodel will serve as president for two years and then as past president for another two.

Nick Stodel, the new president of the International Garden Centre Association.

The IGCA provides a forum for the mutual exchange of information and benefit of similar minded independent garden retailers on a world-wide basis. This objective is achieved through an annual congress held between August and October, in a different host country each year. In addition to the AGM, the congress offers a concentrated business study tour, a social programme and individual study tours organised on an ad hoc basis by national groups, which have special learning requirements.

“There have been South African board members before, but not a president,” says Stodel. “They seem to have kept it to Europe and North America before me. I was asked to join the IGCA board five years ago. As a member of the South African Nursery Association, one automatically becomes a member of IGCA.”

His main responsibilities will be to facilitate networking and communications between garden centre owners and association administrators. “We do this via online communication, an administrators’ meeting once a year and a tour of garden centres in a specific country once a year. It is also the president’s job and that of the board, to ensure that we make the right choices on which countries to visit and that the standard of the tours are exceptional.”

Before Stodel (36) joined the board of IGCA as VP, it was made up of older people who had retired from the business. “IGCA felt they needed younger generations in order to help grow the organisation. I was brought in to help with that. In the time that I’ve been there, the board has changed a lot, the biggest change being a decision we made to move the administration and secretariat from Switzerland to Canada, which allowed us to have a fresh approach,” he concludes.

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