Horticulture Programmes

Horticulture Programmes

“An ounce of practice is generally worth more than a ton of theory.”

― E. F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered


Food is at the heart of Schumacher College as it nourishes our learning community on many levels. Much of learning happens around the kitchen table or while harvesting or peeling carrots. How we grow our food and what we eat is one of the many questions we are constantly asking ourselves. The College gardens use regenerative and ecologically sensitive, low input methods to grow much of the food we eat here. Our horticultural students join a rich six month immersive programme learning how to grow food in a way that maintains and restores soil and ecosystem health.

Growing for the kitchen and community gives a dynamic experience of the challenges and solutions around producing food. By engaging with a local food system you end up engaging with a range of issues from food sovereignty, our place within the natural world and also what it means to be a conscious consumer …..

Our growing areas

We follow ecological cycles as much as possible. Much of the food is grown in the five and half acre agroforestry field – in a system of alley cropping and in the developing forest garden. The field also has fruit trees and bushes; young nut trees; a flock of pasture fed poultry; two wild life ponds, a craft and pollinator garden and a hazel and willow coppice.

Other areas include two herb gardens; four polytunnels; a perennial no dig vegetable garden and several fruit areas. We compost our garden and kitchen waste for use on site, and use green manures for fertility building.

Our students find their time engaging with food growing, and all it entails, a truly transformative time.   Our gardens are as much about nurturing people as plants, and hundreds of students have found the contact with the land and soil to be a rich learning journey.

“I soon learnt that a Grower’s best tool is her eyes. And I found myself among a group of people who sensitively observed rather than approximating or assuming; folk who deeply cared for and truly listened to the land and each other.”                         
C.B. 2017

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

The college pedagogy rests on three foundations of Peer to Peer Learning; Whole Person Learning and Learning by Doing

Schumacher Practical Residency In Sustainable Horticulture

April - October  2021
Application Deadline: 1st November 2020

Join us for an exciting opportunity to learn the practical skills needed to grow food and practice horticulture whilst working with nature and biological cycles. Our current mainstream food system is in need of profound healing and repair. If you are willing to try new approaches to help achieve this, then this six month residency is for you. Explore with us how to protect and restore the soil, foster and sustain a healthy ecosystem, use renewable resources whilst growing an abundance of delicious vegetables for use in the college kitchens.

Schumacher College has an international reputation for its holistic and systems approach to sustainability. We have over nine acres of land integrating food production with beauty, biodiversity and quiet spaces for contemplation. We adjoin Martin Crawford’s 22 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.

Skills You Will Acquire

  •     Soil care
  •     Plant propagation
  •     Composting systems
  •     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 and Duck care
  •     Integrated pest management
  •     Use of green manures
  •     Kitchen – garden liaison
  •     Post harvesting processing


2020 Short Courses

Forest Gardens and Edible Ecosystems 2020

Mon, 04/05/2020 to Fri, 08/05/2020
With Martin Crawford, Caroline Aitken, Ella Sparks and Jane Gleeson

Learn how to design, implement, and maintain forest gardens and other sustainable agroecological systems. Participants will experience both recently planted and well established 25-year old forest gardens, as well as other agroforestry in and around Dartington.Includes sessions on harvesting, preserving and cooking with forest garden produce. Learn More

Gardening as a Spiritual Practice 2020

Thu, 16/07/2020 to Sun, 19/07/2020
With Emma Clark, Satish Kumar and June Mitchell

Gardening has a profound impact on the heart and soul. There will be talks by Satish Kumar on how we are all connected via the profound spiritual essence that is Nature and how through gardening we can connect intimately with nature; and by an expert on Islamic gardens, Emma Clark, on how gardening may be seen as a sacred art and on the spiritual symbolism of the Paradise Garden. Your experience will also include walks around the beautiful Dartington grounds and Qigong bamboo exercises led by the well-known and experienced practitioner June Mitchell. Learn More