MY name is James Simpson and I am currently studying Level 3 Horticulture at Greenmount Campus, CAFRE. I am in the second year of my studies and I am thoroughly enjoying all aspects of my course, in particular the practical element of the course which takes advantage of the great grounds and horticulture production facilities at Greenmount Campus.
The extensive grounds are the outdoor classroom, along with the glasshouses and other production facilities – this provided an excellent practical learning resource enabling me to ‘learn by doing’. The theory side is really interesting too, and is delivered both face to face in the classroom and by remote learning due to Covid-19 restrictions.
I am from County Down, near Rathfriland. I have lived in and loved the countryside my whole life. My family own a small garden centre which has been my first contact with the horticulture industry. I have been helping for years, doing many different jobs, for example potting plants, setting up new product displays, advising the customers at the garden centre and delivering items to them at home.
I love horticulture for many reasons and find the industry really exciting. I love being outside undertaking physical activities, working with the machinery used in landscaping and helping on the nursery/garden centre side of the business.
I came to CAFRE to improve my understanding of plants and landscaping and to decide which horticultural sector I would like to focus on in the future. So far CAFRE has introduced me to so many different aspects of horticulture that I had never even though of.
I have been able to build on my practical skills and develop a deeper understanding of horticulture and the fantastic and varied opportunities it presents. The facilities and resources are excellent and the staff here have made my learning experience most enjoyable.
I haven’t quite decided yet what I will do after completing my course, but I have a few options. I will most likely do some landscape gardening for a few years to gain a good work ethic and then move back to the family garden centre, but its early days yet and who knows what the future holds.