Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Sustainable Growing for Beginners 2020: 6-month Online Course

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Sustainable Growing for Beginners 2020: 6-month Online Course

Person planting seed
Key Info: 
  • Garden planning and basic design
  • Practice and enhance your gardening skills alongside professional growers throughout the season
  • Follow the teaching for three or six months - see below for link to three-month course
£ 250.00
This course is full.

About this course

The Schumacher Growing team will use a combination of video and photographic content to lead participants on a real-time 6-month growing journey through the busiest time of year in the Schumacher gardens. Alongside this there will be weekly demonstrations of what can be done at home as the season progresses. These demonstrations will be supported by downloadable information sheets and an online private Facebook group where questions can be asked and experiences can be shared. In addition, once every two weeks there will be an online Zoom meeting offering a more in-depth Q&A session hosted by the Schumacher College Head Gardener. 

Who is this aimed at?

The course is aimed at people who are new to vegetable growing, but will also be of interest to those wishing to further their knowledge of growing their own food. It will offer people the chance to be part of an online community of gardeners who can help and inform each other as they develop their growing skills.

Topics covered

Garden planning and basic design | Rotation of crops | Seasonal tasks to carry out in the garden | Essential information on a list of popular vegetables | Planting out and preparing the ground | Seed sowing and pricking out | Watering | Compost making | Growing in a greenhouse/polytunnel | Container growing | No dig gardening | Weeding| Harvesting | Green manures

Why is this different to other online courses?

Instead of a traditional linear teaching method where information is simply delivered from teacher to student, this course will evolve as the season progresses. This will allow the teaching material to be tailored to the needs of the group and will foster the creation of a community of gardeners.

Students will be encouraged to form a peer group who can discuss the teachings and share their experiences of growing at home, which will help to create a support network amongst themselves that will complement the support offered by the course. Students will leave with a good understanding of organic growing principles, and will have carried out the tasks themselves leaving them with a deeper practical understanding of growing, as well as the confidence to continue growing in their own situation. Course Structure Each month a set of topics will be covered which will relate to the seasonal tasks being carried out in the garden at the time. Each topic will be supported by written material and video demonstrations of the tasks being carried out in the College gardens. Each week there will be a set of tasks to be carried out at home which relate to the suggested list of crops to be grown. Alongside the teaching there will be a Private Facebook group where students can share and discuss ideas relating to the material being taught with some input from the College team. This will be further strengthened by a fortnightly online Zoom call where students can nominate questions to be discussed. These will then be answered live by the College Head Gardener. He will also use this moment to draw together the learning outcomes for the previous two weeks. The College Garden team will be also be sharing what they are doing on a larger scale in the college gardens via regular video and photo updates.

We caught up with Colum to find out more about his career in gardening and what makes him tick. Colum Pawson Q&A >

Further information

Still have questions about this course? Make sure you check out our FAQs page >


£250 for 6 months or
£150 for 3 months - view and book the 3-month course here >


You will be responsible for providing all of the tools and seeds you need. For seeds, we recommend ordering online from - a company selling organic seeds, based right here on the Dartington estate.

This course is full.
Colum Pawson

Colum Pawson

Colum manages the growing areas around Schumacher College and teaching our horticulture students. Born in Glastonbury, Somerset, Colum admits he is rarely happier than when in a muddy field. He has run a number of small agriculture businesses and also worked as a freelance horticulture consultant. He has run a market garden, worked with community supported agriculture, spent a year as part of an intentional community at Radford Mill, near Bristol, and WOOFed (worked on an organic farm) his way around France and Spain. His spare time is spent walking with his wife and two children, singing and improving his unicycling.

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A place can not be guaranteed unless we receive your deposit or payment on your chosen course. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please do this before making your course application.


Short Course Bursaries create an opportunity for an individual to experience the powerful transformative learning by joining a course that assists the participant to inspire their wider community and benefits from the participant’s own unique contribution. It is our hope that our bursaries support a wide cross section of participation on our short course programme. The number of bursaries available is limited, competition is strong and funding is not always available for every short course. Please be aware that most bursaries are in the region of 10% – 20% of the course fee so please be prepared to raise funding from other sources.  A bursary award is not intended to cover travel or incidental expenses.

Applications are viewed on a case-by-case basis and we are unable to enter into discussions on any decisions. We generally have many more applications for bursaries than we have funding available. We can only offer one bursary per person per year and priority is given to those who have not attended the college or received a bursary before. To help us support as many people as possible, please only apply if you would be unable to attend the course without a bursary.

How to apply for a bursary

NB: Please do not pay your deposit for the course yet. Any applications received where a deposit has been paid will be rejected and the deposit refunded.

Six weeks before the course is due to start all bursary applications will be considered and responded to.  If successful you will be required to accept our Bursary Terms and Conditions.

Please answer the following:

  1. What does a bursary mean to you?
  2. How will your attendance on this course benefit the wider community?
  3. If your financial situation justifies you applying for a bursary, how much are you able to contribute towards attending this course?

Please be prepared to supply an appropriate reference in support of your application.