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Sustainable Horticulture Apprenticeships Programme

How can we work with nature and biological cycles to improve our horticultural practice? And how do we do it without increasing environmental degradation, climate change or consumption of finite resources? These are pressing questions of our time. If you want to learn practical skills to grow your own food and garden sustainably and are willing to try new approaches, this apprenticeship is for you.

Schumacher College has an international reputation for its holistic and systems approach to sustainability. We have been teaching sustainable horticulture for four years, with seven acres of land integrating food production with beauty, biodiversity and quiet spaces for contemplation. We adjoin Martin Crawford’s 20 year old forest garden and are close to his research trials site. We are two miles from Totnes, home of the Transition Movement and are part of the historic Dartington Hall Estate, with its beautiful listed gardens.

School Farm Community Supported Agriculture, on the Dartington Estate, is a social enterprise that engages with the local community through events, opportunities to volunteer, horticultural courses and supplying fresh, organic food. They supply this food through a Community Supported Agriculture model where each household subscribes to the farm for a full year and receives a share of the harvest. Currently working on an acre they aim to expand this market garden while continuing with organic certification and developing low carbon, ecologically sensitive growing technology based on minimum tillage and low mechanisation.


The apprenticeships are full-time for 6 months and will involve gardening outdoors in all weathers for at least 4 days per week. Each week you can expect to be in the Schumacher gardens for 3 days and at the nearby School Farm for 1 day. The remaining day will comprise a mixture of lectures, seminars, laboratory practical activities and site visits. You will also have some morning, evening and weekend responsibilities for watering and looking after livestock, on a rota basis.

You will be part of the College’s international learning community, getting to know students, staff and volunteers through daily meetings and shared activities. There is also a diverse programme of activities and evening talks, offered by college residents, visiting teachers and local experts.

Skills You Will Acquire


The apprenticeships run from Friday April 10 to Friday 10 October 2015. You will have 2 weeks break within July/August, with dates agreed to ensure that no more than 2 apprentices are away at any time.


On successful completion of the apprenticeship you will gain a Schumacher College Award (Apprenticeship in Sustainable Horticulture). You will also gain a Permaculture Design Certificate (awarded by the Permaculture Association), as part of the course. If you already have a PDC, you will be able to start working towards your Diploma if you wish.


Jane Gleeson

Jane graduated in Medical Sciences at Cambridge University in 1990 and spent over ten years working in the NHS mostly within the field of mental health. She also studied theology, looking at religion and mental health. 15 years ago she started gardening and soon was completely hooked. “I was simply bowled over by plants and how endless fascinating they are”. She studied and worked at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew for three years and then taught Horticulture at Hadlow College in Kent. Before coming to Schumacher she taught part time whilst running her own local garden maintenance business.

She says: “I love working at the College with its emphasis on exploring and developing respectful relationships to each other, the planet and the food that sustains us.”

Teachers at School Farm

Jenny Gellatly

For the past ten years I’ve work in environmental education, community projects and campaigning, mostly on issues relating to food. It all began at the Centre for Alternative Technology; from there I completed a degree in Environmental Geography and International Development and then had spells as a Forest School Leader and as the South West Regional Coordinator of the Mapping Local Foods Webs Project. I then spent two years studying sustainable horticulture at Schumacher and was fortunate to move straight from studying into working alongside an amazing grower and mentor, Nick Gooderham, who founded School Farm. I’ve worked at School Farm for the past four years, as a grower and teacher, and am now one of the team leading the establishment of the Community Supported Agriculture scheme. I love the outdoors, the wind, the rain and even the mud, and still believe more than anything in getting stuck into creating a better world..

Melissa Harvey

I have worked with growing food and environmental education for over 10 years, inspired by my mums garden, a feral child hood in a walled garden and holidays spent volunteering on organic farms. My first job was at Garden Organic on the International Programme. Then I started to get my hands dirty working as a Forest School leader and environmental playworker at the Centre for Alternative Technology, as well as free-lance gardening. Another shift brought me to the Level 3 Horticulture course at Schumacher, which I finished in July 2012 and since then I have been helping to set up the Community Supported Agriculture scheme, where my productivity is measured by how muddy my face is at the end of the day. Alongside my days at School Farm I also work with Devon County Council on their Composting in Schools project.

Zoe Jong

In 2008 I left a job as a magazine editor to work on range of food-growing projects across the world, from agro-tourism in Malawi to the Permaculture Research Institute in Australia. In India I came across the work of the Institute for Ecology and Culture (ISEC), which helped me decide to return to the UK to grow food. Since that decision I’ve worked on an organic market garden in Wales, for a farm co-operative and as freelance gardener at some beautiful sites including the Sharpham Estate, completed a Level 3 Sustainable Horticulture course at Schumacher College and taught Level 2 practicals at Schumacher College. I’ve also developed my interest in therapeutic horticulture, recently working on a new enterprise engaging people with learning difficulties. To me Community Supported Agriculture is the model for a fairer food system…and it’s great fun!

Laura Creen

First I was a hitchiking traveller zigzagging across Canada, then I was a square rigged sailor jumping from boat to boat in search of interesting places. Now I’m a farmer in a foreign land who loves learning about vegetables. I completed a 2 year Soil Association apprenticeship on a large mixed farm 5 years ago. Since finishing I’ve been working on CSA projects. I never wanted to be a lone farmer growing crops in a field for supermarkets. I wanted to share all the great things I’ve been learning about vegetables with other people, so CSA’s were a natural progression. When I think of the next 30 years of growing food I think about being resilient and growing in extremes and am determined to keep learning new techniques to make this possible, and I’m excited to do this at School Farm CSA.

Entry requirements

Experience in private gardening, food growing or working in the horticultural industry is expected. A strong interest in organic, sustainable approaches and an open and enquiring mind are essential. Completion of a previous course in sustainable horticulture at Schumacher College would be an advantage.
You should be flexible, energetic, self-motivated, comfortable in groups and open to the opportunities of community living.
You will need to provide your own steel toe-cap footwear and wet weather gear.

Language Requirements

Students must be able to converse and write fluently in English.


Non-EU citizens may need to apply for a student visitor visa. For further information visit

Food and Accommodation

You will be provided with basic accommodation within the Dartington estate and all meals at Schumacher College. You will have easy access to washing facilities and laundry. Our food is vegetarian, almost completely organic and we grow as much of it as we can ourselves. As students at the College, you will be part of the cooking and kitchen clear up teams and you will be expected to clean your own living spaces.


The fees include tuition, accommodation and food for 6 months and are £6000. We have a bursary fund that you will be invited to apply for if you are offered an apprenticeship place. The bursaries will be allocated on the basis of both financial need and individual potential.

Application Process

Application forms can be downloaded here and should be completed and returned by Friday 28th November.

Click here to download the application form >>

Opportunities after the programme

On successful completion of the apprenticeship, you will be eligible to apply for other opportunities at Schumacher College and Dartington:

• being a winter garden volunteer at Schumacher (Oct-Apr);
• being a student tutor on the next sustainable horticulture apprenticeship programme;
• possible access to land for innovative growing projects on the Dartington Estate;
• business start-up schemes.

For further enquiries please contact Jane Gleeson:

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Schumacher College is part of the Dartington Hall Trust, a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and as a charity (company no. 1485560, charity no. 279756). Registered office: The Elmhirst Centre, Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EL, United Kingdom