December 8th 2016
The first group on the Gardeners’ Company Future Gardeners project completed the Silver Course with flying colours in December of last year and were presented by the Master with certificates to mark their achievement at a special ceremony at Glaziers’ Hall.
Eight people from a mixture of backgrounds finished the course which is intended to be both an introduction to horticulture and preparation for entering the workplace. They were required to attend for two days a week for six weeks.
One day a week was spent at Walworth Garden Farm in Southwark where they all successfully completed the Award Level of the City & Guilds horticulture qualification. The second day each week was spent working at Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST) with Future Gardeners organiser Louisa Mansfield.
They learned about planting container-grown plants, bulb planting, mulching, composting and rose pruning. They also had talks from various industry figures including speakers from The Royal Parks and The Royal National Rose Society. An employment advisor from Love London Working, a training and employment programme which helps young people find work, gave advice on CVs and job applications.
All the trainees are keen to progress to the Gold Course which begins in late February. They will continue their studies at Walworth Garden and expand on their practical work. They will also have training on subjects such as interview technique to prepare them for employment.
According to Louisa next steps also include updating CVs, doing volunteer work in an area they are interested in and getting experience in contract garden maintenance. “I am also organising work experience for them with different organisations such as Chiswick House, The Horniman Museum and The Royal National Rose Society”, she said. “They have also been offered the opportunity to have mock interviews with the contractors for Regent’s Park and also with the Royal Parks themselves which is a great opportunity for them”.
The Company’s partners in the Future Gardeners project are BOST, The Royal Parks Guild and City & Guilds. Roots and Shoots, another vocational training organisation in south London, have also contributed. Tim Wood, chairman of BOST said at the Glaziers’ Hall ceremony: “Some of the Silver graduates have already got jobs. It’s been an amazing start and a fantastic six weeks!”.
The Master, Paul Rochford, added: “This is the first time the Gardeners’ Company have got into the nitty-gritty of a training programme and I want to thank our partners BOST, the Royal Parks Guild, City & Guilds and Roots and Shoots for helping us put together such an excellent programme”.
Twenty-year-old Luke Ferguson said after receiving his certificate: “I was keen to do something and I am definitely going to sign up for the Gold Course. This course has helped me by making me get up on time in the mornings, by giving me the chance to meet people and to learn how to focus on work. Not spending all my time on my phone but instead getting on with the job! I really would like to have a career in gardening.”
The start of the Gold Course next month will be followed by a new Silver Course in May.