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Sustainable Horticulture Apprenticeships

How can we work with nature and biological cycles to improve our horticultural production? 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 sustainably and are willing to try new approaches, this apprenticeship is for you.

vocational horticulture apprenticeshipsSchumacher College has an international reputation for its holistic and systems approach to sustainability. We have been teaching sustainable horticulture for four years, with four acres of land integrating food production with beauty, biodiversity and quiet spaces for contemplation. We adjoin Martin Crawford’s 16 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

  • Gardening techniques (composting, mulching, seed sowing, planting, propagation, seed saving etc.)
  • Cultivation of annual and perennial food plants, including forest gardening
  • Understanding soil and plant science
  • Observation and experimentation skills
  • Site design (using permaculture principles)
  • Chicken care
  • Integrated pest management
  • How to run a no-dig, organically certified market garden (horticultural and business skills)

Sustainable Horticulture Apprenticeships Programme Schumacher 2014 from nu project on Vimeo.


The apprenticeships run from April to October 2015. You will have two weeks break in July and 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.

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.  You should be flexible, energetic, self-motivated, comfortable in groups and open to the opportunities of community living.

Language Requirements

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

Food and Accommodation

You will be provided with accommodation within the Dartington estate and all meals. The accommodation is a single room with communal bathroom and laundry facilities. 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.


On successful completion of the apprenticeship, you will be eligible to apply to be a student tutor on the next sustainable horticulture apprenticeship programme (one post)


Please send a complete application form to

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