The Future Gardeners shaping the future of horticulture

Future Gardeners is a training and skills programme with a difference. With inclusivity at the heart, it is more than just a chance to learn new skills. 

Friday 2 February 2024

Future Gardeners trainees. Credit: BOST

Future Gardeners trainees. Credit: BOST

With a 76% rate of progression into the horticulture sector the Future Gardeners programme, run by environmental and volunteering charity Bankside Open Spaces Trust, is an excellent route into working in growing. With the horticulture workforce falling initiatives like this can help to plug the gap whilst providing meaningful learning opportunities. 

Targeting underrepresented groups in the London Mayor's Workforce Integration Network including Black men and Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black women, over 50% of the learners are from such backgrounds. The programme removes the largest barrier to education and training access for many people: cost. The course is free with travel covered and equipment including boots and secateurs provided. 

Future Gardeners consists of an innovative training and work experience scheme to develop entry level skills for the horticulture industry without any minimum education qualifications. 

The scheme includes a City & Guilds qualification, work experience across London's parks and gardens, and direct contact with employers. The programme helps people from underrepresented backgrounds get into a sector that from the outside can seem elitist. Programme coordinator Shereen Chung-Blake explains,

"The Future Gardeners programme support those interested in pursuing a career in Horticulture. We believe that the horticultural industry should be inclusive, and the programme addresses systemic inequalities by supporting our students with the training, skills and experience they need to gain employment and progression in the sector. "

Participants carry out work experience across a range of sites and gardens including the prestigious locations of Hampton Court and Kew - workplaces that are typically hard to get your foot in the door. The work experience placements have been tailored to accommodate cultural backgrounds and special education needs which will contribute to the programme's success. 

Future Gardeners course participant Natanya said,

“I feel empowered to be able to think of myself as a gardener, having my own equipment and to have valuable knowledge to contribute. I would recommend to anyone considering a career change or who wants to get a foot in the door of an incredible world!” 

By centering the needs of learners, Bankside Open Spaces Trust have created a programme that not only helps to fill gaps in the horticulture sector but also which empowers and motivates people about gardening and growing. 

Applications are currently open for the April 2024 course! For more information and to apply head to the Future Gardeners webpage. Further courses run in September and January. 




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