Emma, who won a Student Scholarship of £1,000 while studying Foundation Degree in Horticulture at CAFRE Greenmount College, shares her news since receiving the scholarship…

“Since receiving my scholarship from the David Colegrave Foundation, I’ve completed the first year of my foundation degree in horticulture at CAFRE, achieved my PA1 and PA6 spraying certificates, and competed in the regional final of the young horticulturist of the year competition. I also took some time after finishing my exams to visit London to see the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Kew Gardens, and Chelsea Physic Garden, which I found to be hugely inspiring.

Since the start of June, I’ve been back at college to work full-time in the nursery, in the horticulture development centre, until my studies resume in September. My main responsibility there is to look after the strawberry trials (which are currently halfway through a two-year project) and carry out a range of tasks on a regular basis such as harvesting and watering; monitoring for pests/diseases and changing bait traps; recording data of size and weight, EC and pH levels, and adjusting fertilisers accordingly. The whole project is completely fascinating to me as it’s giving me a glimpse into the reality of what it would be like to grow crops on a commercial scale, as well as the variations that result from growing a crop in different substrates. It’s also afforded me the opportunity to see many of the topics and processes that I’ve learned about throughout the year being put into action, such as using a hydroponic irrigation system and biological controls.

Additionally, I’ve also been assisting with the cut flower trials and have been helping to prepare new beds, and maintain and harvest from current crop varieties of Alstroemeria, Dianthus barbatus and Zantedeschia, among others. I’m thoroughly enjoying my time working on these projects, and it’s only reinforced my decision to study production next year.

I’m extremely grateful to the David Colegrave Foundation as the scholarship that they’ve so generously given me, has not only helped me to pay for my college fees but has also afforded me the opportunity to buy my own polytunnel, which will allow me to practice and experiment with growing techniques at home. I’m currently preparing the ground where the polytunnel will be erected and have used some of the funds to buy a small plastic greenhouse, so that I can continue to grow-on a range of varieties of chillies and tomatoes (that we cultivated and grafted at college) until its ready. I’m eager to plan which ornamental and edible crops that I’m going to grow over the coming year as well as the methods and substrates that I’ll use. I’m constantly learning more every week and aim to incorporate as much of my newly acquired knowledge as I can. I’m particularly keen to include some of the plants I saw at Chelsea Physic Garden which have a medicinal or pharmaceutical use and hope to learn more about them.

This scholarship has been an invaluable help to me as it hasn’t just supported me financially, it has also given me confidence that changing my career to horticulture was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Thank you.”