Horticulture is an industry with a diverse range of sectors including fruit and vegetable production, landscaping, turfgrass, nursery and garden centres to name but a few.
There is no doubt that the downturn in the Irish economy had a negative impact on the Irish horticultural industry. This, along with cheap imports has led to many commercial companies coming under severe pressure and struggling to survive. The last year however; has seen renewed opportunities for horticultural graduates with an increase in jobs advertised in all horticultural sectors. Paul Hennessy, College Principal at Kildalton College said that “The number of vacancies advertised in many areas of the industry has seen an increase especially since the new year. It is wonderful to see renewed growth and confidence in this sector, creating more opportunities for our graduates.”
Kildalton College has been providing courses in horticulture for over 43 years. It boasts extensive facilities for horticultural training, including a commercial nursery, the production of many protected crops, fruit and vegetable production, a turfgrass facility as well as extensive grounds where the students learn a wide range of skills and practice using a wide range of equipment. The college is currently a hive of activity with students’ busy working in the horticultural unit. Since January students’ have been planting strawberry plants in the glasshouse which will be fruiting in early May, pruning an array of fruit bushes and trees such as raspberries, blueberries, gooseberry and currant bushes as well as trees in the college orchard, potting up shrubs in the nursery, as well as sowing onion, cabbage and broccoli seed and potting up bedding plants. Next week the level 6 students’ will be ploughing, planting a range of trees and shrubs in the college grounds, and designing and building gardens as part of landscape design. It is these facilities and the hands on experience that students receive that ensures that Kildalton graduates have a head start when seeking employment.
In recent years Kildalton College has seen a renewed interest from young school leavers in courses. Paul Hennessy, College Principal says that “It is encouraging to see, young people coming back to the industry and seeing the potential in this diverse and important sector.” The horticultural courses on offer have changed over the years but Kildalton continues to offer students’ the opportunity to study and gain skills in many of these industries due to the vast range of commercial facilities at the college. Students at Kildalton College can opt to study horticulture on a part time basis,
a one year full time Level 5 Certificate, a Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Horticulture through to a Level 7 Bachelor of science in Horticulture in conjunction with WIT.
Kildalton is now expanding the range of courses available to horticultural enthusiasts as well as catering for those who want to study on a part time basis. “For many years we have had requests to offer horticulture courses on a part time basis and we are now delighted to be in a position to do this” said Paul Hennessy.
For many horticultural enthusiasts committing to a full time course is impractical. Students can opt to study many different subjects one or two days a week on topics of interest.
People with no prior background in horticulture can study plant identification and use, horticultural mechanisation, plant propagation and plant protection.
These modules involve both theory and practical elements, giving students the basic skills in these subjects.
For people working within the horticultural industry for three or more years, there are a range of further courses that they can complete to further expand on their knowledge and skills. Students’ can choose from a suite of horticultural subjects and study one or two days a week if they so wish. Modules available on a part time basis include nursery stock production, market gardening, landscape design and construction, garden centre operations as well as tree and shrub management.
Kildalton also offers a full time Level 5 Certificate in Horticulture. This course is a basic introduction into the skills and theory of horticulture. Due to the range of staff experiences in many aspects of horticulture, students’ studying at Kildalton are exposed to many different elements of the horticultural industry. According to Eamon Kealy, Lecturer at Kildalton “This is the beauty of the level 5 course. Many students’ attend Kildalton intent on studying one area of the industry. This course however exposes them to other sectors they never even thought about.” This course comprises of a mixture of theory and practical, as well as the opportunity for students to gain work experience in an area of the horticultural industry that they are interest in.
Advanced Certificate in Horticulture
The Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Horticulture offers students’ the opportunity to further explore the area of horticulture they are most interest in. Students’ opt to study one of four streams: landscape design and construction, nursery and garden centre operation, market gardening or turfgrass. This course also offers students’ the opportunity to gain more extensive work experience in their chosen area of study. For some this means going further afield, with many going to America or the UK. Students then spend 16 weeks in Kildalton from January to May. Edmund Doherty a recent graduate of the level 5 and 6 certificate courses said that “I left Kildalton in good stead for a job in professional horticulture. The practical horticultural experience I received has helped me greatly as well as the colleges’ hands on approach to machinery”. Edmund now works for in Cliveden Gardens, a 70 acre National Trust garden in the UK.
Bachelor of Science
The Bachelor of Science in Horticulture has run as a joint course with Waterford Institute of Technology and Kildalton College for 15 years now.
This has been a very successful partnership with many graduates working within the industry. Students’ who have completed the level 6 Advanced Certificate in Horticulture can apply for direct access into second year of this course.
Kildalton College are holding a horticultural open day on Friday the 13th of May. This day will provide a unique opportunity for anyone interested in completing a course in horticulture to experience a day full of horticultural knowledge and practice. The day will consist of workshops in the college orchard and cut foliage unit as well as other sections in the horticultural unit. Anyone interested in learning more about these courses or finding out more about Kildalton College should contact the college directly on 051 644400 or firstname.lastname@example.org check out the Teagasc Kildalton College facebook page to get a taste for life in Kildalton.