New Sustainable Horticulture Course
09 Jun 2010
This year, 17 students became the very first graduates of a new Certificate in Sustainable Horticulture. A pioneering food-growing course will give students qualifications fit for the 21st century
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Earlier this year, 17 students became the very first graduates of a new Certificate in Sustainable Horticulture.
The National Certificate level 2 course is aimed at educating a new generation of students in techniques that will reduce environmental damage and fossil fuel dependency. It is the result of a partnership between the Dartington Hall Trust and Duchy College – Cornwall’s College of the Countryside. Also facilitating the course is Landscope, whose mission is to keep alive the founder’s vision of a vibrant and sustainable rural economy on the Dartington Estate.
The course has attracted students from all sorts of backgrounds and a wide range of ages (17 – 61), from school leavers to postgraduates and older people looking for a complete change of direction.
One such graduate, Francis Deutsch, 49, recently left behind his office job of many years to move to the countryside. Having bought several acres of land, he intends to put what he has learned into practice: “We’ve covered a huge range of subjects,” he said, “from Gaia theory to the correct way to tap a pot to make the compost settle!”
To accommodate work and childcare needs, the course has been run over three days a week, with mornings of theory and afternoons of practical education. The three sites are one of the highlights of the course: the Grade II listed Dartington Hall Gardens, the forest and kitchen gardens of Schumacher college and School Farm organic market garden. These locations have given the students experience of a wide range of horticultural situations, from maintenance of the fully established heritage gardens to progressive organic food production systems.
Guest lectures from an assortment of distinguished speakers have also proved an outstanding feature, covering topics as diverse as agro-forestry, composting, community supported agriculture, mushroom growing and top bar beekeeping.
“The course has been fantastic,” says graduate Laurel Ellis. “It has given me lots more confidence and a gardening job, which I never expected. The only downside is I don’t want it to end!”
Practical session at Dartington estate
Photo: copyright Ian Prescott
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